Category Archives: Young Adult

REVIEW {35} This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

THIS LULLABY

SERIES: Stand Alone

AUTHOR: Sarah Dessen

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 8th 2004 by Speak

EDITION: Paperback; 345 pages

ACQUISION: Purchased

CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, 4 Star Rating, Speak, Review, Sarah Dessen

RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.07/5.00



WHAT IT’S ABOUT: She’s got it all figured out.

Or does she? When it comes to relationships, Remy’s got a whole set of rules.
Never get too serious. Never let him break your heart. And never, ever date a musician.
But then Remy meets Dexter, and the rules don’t seem to apply anymore.
Could it be that she’s starting to understand what all those love songs are about?

MY THOUGHTS: There is something about a Sarah Dessen novel that just keeps me coming back for more! I don’t read very much contemporary romance, but when I do get in the mood for a good love story, I find myself reaching for a Sarah Dessen novel because her characters are so real, so flawed and imperfect, that you can’t help but love them!

I instantly loved Remy’s character, and was completely smitten with Dexter! I will admit that I was annoyed with how long it took Remy to realize that Dexter is completely amaze-balls, but she did, eventually, and everything was right in the world again!


I could definitely relate to the whole band scene too, and loved how passionate the boys in Truth Squad are about their music – doing whatever was needed to make money to succeed. 
Another great element is Remy’s group of friends. They really remind me of the girls on the Carrie Diaries. I wish I had a group of friends like these when I was in high school!
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary romance and just an all around feel good story without a perfect heroine thrown at you. I’m a Dessen fan for life!

SIMILAR READS: Bloom by Elizabeth Scott | When it Happens by Susane Colasanti | Second Helpings (Jessica Darling #2) by Megan McCafferty | The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti | It’s Not Summer Without You (Summer #2) by Jenny Han | Going too Far by Jennifer Echols
Happy Reading!

Laura
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REVIEW {40} A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

A Mad, Wicked Folly
SERIESStandalone
AUTHOR: Sharon Biggs Waller
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: January 23rd 2014
EDITION: Hardcover, 448 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Review, 5 Stars, Historical Fiction, Romance, Art, Feminism, Coming of Age, Cultural
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.96/5.00

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: 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?

MY THOUGHTS: Considering historical fiction is one of my top genres to read, and I was an art major in college, I didn’t think there could be anything to make me dislike this story – and guess what? I was right, because I adored this book! Like wanted to hug it to my chest and dance around my room with it, loved it!

Let’s talk about how amazing Vicky’s character is. She is so strong willed and dream driven that nothing – and no one – will stop her from getting what she wants! At the beginning of the book Vicky did what she was passionate about, but was still held back by her station in life, thanks to her wealthy upbringing. Once she’s kicked out of her school in France and moves back to London, Vicky finds herself living the life she’s always wanted – except she’s doing it in secret.

I am not very knowledgeable about the suffragette movement, so that was an aspect of the book that I quite enjoyed. To see how these women fought and endured for their freedom – the freedom we as women still benefit from today – is quite incredible. And to have Vicky become a part of that world makes me see her as an even stronger character than I had already come to see her as.

Another wonderful character is Sophie Cumberbunch, Vicky’s lady maid. She is living a similar “Hidden” life like Vicky is forced to – keeping her involvement in the WSPU a secret so that she may gain employment with families such as the Darlings. It is Sophie who really helps Vicky become the person she wants to be. She dresses her in art-centered clothing to bring out Vicky’s passion for art. She helps her sneak out to WSPU events and also art events under the guise of charity work. Luckily Sophie gets her happily ever after at the end, because she really deserves it!!
The romance that blossoms between Vicky and Will is so real and believable. It wasn’t a passing fancy, no matter how hard Vicky tries to convince herself that she doesn’t love him, and can make herself love her fiance, Edmund. It’s sad that at this time in history, this is probably how a lot of young women felt. 
This book is a wonderful read, and I would recommend it really, to anyone!! The only thing I noticed that kind of upset me, is that it seemed to end a little abruptly. I wasn’t ready to end my adventures with Vicky yet! But we get a nice ending with sufficient closure, so there really isn’t much for me to complain about there.

Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {37} The Diviners by Libba Bray

THE DIVINERS
SERIES: The Diviners #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Lair of Dreams #2 (Releases August 5th 2014)
AUTHOR: Libba Bray
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: September 18th 2012 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
EDITION: Hardcover, 578 pages
ACQUISITION: Own
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Review, 4 Stars, Libba Bray, The Diviners, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Ghosts
RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.98/5.00
WHAT THE COVER SAYS: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.


As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

MY THOUGHTS: Horror is not a genre that I typically read, and when this book came out, it was the setting – 1920’s New York City – that drew me in. Whatever I expected this book to be, it wasn’t. Immediately I was absorbed in Evie’s story from her small town life in Zenith, Ohio to her adventures in New York City and new friends Mabel, Theta, and Henry, while appeasing her guardian, uncle Will, and his assistant Jericho.
What I didn’t expect, were the multiple story lines. We followed Evie as well as Memphis Campbell, and even got other little side stories of the murders. There were tons of characters, but it was pretty easy to keep everyone and everything straight.
I am not the type to really read books that delve into the horror of murders. This book doesn’t spare too many gory details. 
I enjoyed the writing style, but felt the book was overly long. While it didn’t feel like it dragged too bad, I did find myself rushing through pages at some points.
The romance of the book doesn’t even occur until the end, and I didn’t feel it was very believable. Throughout the whole book Evie didn’t have any feelings whatsoever about Jericho, and even wondered what Mabel saw in him. But then suddenly she’s daydreaming about his sweaty muscles and kisses on her lips.

Overall, I will definitely be picking up the sequel because I am curious and interested enough and invested in the characters to see where the future takes them.

SIMILAR READS: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron | The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | Ask the Passengers by A.S. King | Fathomless by Jackson Pearce | Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride | Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama | Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys | The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan | Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {39} Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam

ELUSION
SERIES: Elusion | Book #1
AUTHOR(S): Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 18th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
EDITION: Paperback, 400 pages
ACQUISITION: ARC from publisher
CATEGORIES: Review, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, Virtual Thriller, 2 Star Rating, 2014 Release
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.60/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Soon Elusion will change the word and life as we know it. 
A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor, and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications – or consequences – of real life.
Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.
Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion – accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous – Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty … a decision that will affect the lives of millions.
Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.
MY THOUGHTS: I went into this book unsure of whether I’d really enjoy it, because virtual thrillers really aren’t my cup of tea. Dystopians – yes, computer ruled futures – not so much. But the cover of this book was just too beautiful to ignore, so when I ended up with an ARC, I knew I had to give it a go.
The first thing that I noticed, is that the concept of the story really didn’t seem that unique to me. I didn’t at any time really find myself wanting to continue reading the book so much as I wanted to finish it so I could get a review up. The writing itself was okay, I don’t think it was necessarily spectacular or horrible in any way. I did have issues with the world-building though. It’s set in a “Near Future” Detroit, but they are suffering from pollution (and something called Florapetro?) and acid rains which require 02 masks and special umbrellas to be used nearly 24/7. There is mention that the rich usually are above the pollution clouds in their penthouses and offices, so they can go without and even open their windows sometimes. While this leads me to believe there is a caste system of some type, this isn’t really explored past explaining vaguely the different Sectors the residents live in, and what they are like now. There also isn’t any explanation of why the world is so polluted, so you’re left assuming why it happened.
There were only a few instances as well, where we got to experience Elusion with Regan, the main character. Users can go into Escapes (pre-existing destinations such as mountains or Thai beaches. etc) with other people using an invite code, and no one is supposed to be able to be injured in an Escape. Users can experience Escapes in 1-hour increments and they are equipped with wristbands that have an emergency button that yanks them out if trouble occurs. But no trouble should ever occur, right?
The main character Regan lacked in my opinion, the characteristics of a kick-ass heroine. In fact rarely did she manage to do anything on her own, and required damsel-in-distress saving from either her best friend, Patrick, or the new hottie bad-boy, Josh. I really had no connection to Regan whatsoever, and never felt for her. She seemed quite gullible, and didn’t seem to have much common sense. She tended to believe what she was told, and acted really offended and surprised when she realized that the bubble she lived in was slowing losing air.
The fact that Patrick was supposed to be Regan’s best friend was lost on me. I didn’t feel any type of connection between them, and even Patrick’s affections towards Regan bordered on creepy-stalkerish. Especially considering he kind of had something going on with one of Regan’s classmates, Zoe. I never at any point wanted these two to get together.
Josh’s character wasn’t one I connected with either. He was fueled by his own personal problems – his missing, possibly Elusion-addicted sister, Nora. When he meets up with Regan, she suddenly finds her world turned upside down – not sure who to trust and believe – but she seems to put all her faith and trust into Josh… even though they barely know each other.
Overall, I just wasn’t able to get into any of the characters, and with the lack of world-building I wasn’t able to really enjoy this one. I know it’s gotten good reviews and ratings on Goodreads, but this one just wasn’t for me.

I RECOMMEND THIS TO: Fans of sci-fi, virtual thrillers where society relies heavily on technology and giant corporations willingly risk the health and safety of citizens with little or no remorse, leaving it to a group of teenagers to bring them down.

SIMILAR READS: Starters by Lissa Price | Glitch by Heather Anastasiu 
Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {38} SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer
SERIES: Stand Alone
AUTHOR: Morgan Matson
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: May 7th 2013 by Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
EDITION: Paperback, 468 pages
ACQUISITION: Own
CATEGORIES: Review, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, Family, Death, Loss, Four Star Rating, Morgan Matson, Second Chance Summer
RATING: 4.00/5.00
GOODREADS RATING: 4.13/5.00
ADD TO GOODREADS

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak. 

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.


Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.


As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

MY THOUGHTS: Rarely will I ever pick up a book that deals with the C-word… Cancer. It’s a topic way too close to home for me, as I know it is for many people. I like my stories upbeat and happy, but this one just called out to me and I decided to go ahead and read it.
What I liked about the book, is that there was equal parts fluff and heavy stuff. Even though it’s technically a beachy summer read, I needed a break from the doldrums of this snowy, cold winter and joined Taylor Edwards and her family on their vacation in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
I really liked the growth in Taylor’s character throughout the book – even though there were moments where she drove me crazy! She was likeable enough, but she just annoyed me at times. Throughout the beginning of the book, we learn that something happened between Taylor and her first boyfriend, Henry, and best friend, Lucy. I spent all this time thinking, oh man! What could she have done to make them hate her this much? And then when I found out I was like, oh. That’s it? So I think that was a little let down.
Another enjoyable aspect of the book is watching the Edwards family come together and change into something they never had been before. They all rally around Mr. Edwards to give him the best last few months of his life, and learn things about each other that they had never known before. Out of grief comes a sense of togetherness.
The friendship between Taylor and Lucy was fun to read about, and once they talk again they are able to pick up right where they’d left off all those years ago. The relationship between Henry and Taylor is sweet and endearing. They truly make a great, cute couple but I definitely think Warren and Wendy getting together is even sweeter!
Overall, if you’re looking for a quick, cute summer (or a break from winter) read, I’d recommend this one at will.
SIMILAR READS: Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker | In Honor by Jessi Kirby | The Story of Us by Deb Caletti | Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy | Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams | Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf | Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti | Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole | First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky 
Happy Reading! 
Laura

Review {36} HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins

HEX HALL

SERIES: Hex Hall | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Hex Hall #1 Demonglass #2 Spell Bound #3

AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: March 2nd 2010 by Hyperion Books

EDITION: Paperback, 323 pages

ACQUISITION: Own

CATEGORIES: Hex Hall Series, Young Adult, Review, 4 Stars, Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic, Vampires, Witches, Faeries, Shapeshifters, Supernatural, Demons, Rachel Hawkins, 2014 Read

RATING: 4.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.99/5.00


WHAT THE COVER SAYS: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she is a witch. Her non-gifted mother has been supportive, consulting Sophie’s estranged father – a warlock – only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who exiles her to “Hex Hall”, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, fairies, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day, Sophie has three new enemies, a futile crush on a warlock, a tag-along ghost, and a vampire roommate. Worse, Sophie soon learns that an unknown predator has been attacking students. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries converges, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: An ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book more than I expected to! I first picked this book up from the library when it first released, and had trouble getting into it, and ultimately didn’t finish it. But then the reviews started pouring in, and some of my favorite fellow bloggers really enjoyed it and were saying great things about it. So, I bought it when it released in paperback. 

Sophie was a likable character because it was easy to sympathize with her when she starts learning all of the secrets that have been kept from her all of her life – important secrets that probably could’ve really been useful to know! When she attempts to help a girl at the prom get her dream date, the spell goes horribly wrong – landing Sophie at Hecate ‘Hex’ Hall as punishment. 

There weren’t many elements of the story that I didn’t like. I really enjoy that there are many different paranormal creatures – Prodigium – at Hex Hall, but I feel like there were too many to really get to know any one group more than just on a superficial level. I am really hoping that in the next two books we get to know more about the workings of the faeries, shifters and witches. We get a main story on how they were “Created” from angels/fallen angels, but I did want more background.

The pacing of the story moved quickly, and there was always some type of action or event occurring on each page. I liked the dynamics of all of the characters, each was different and individual and held their own. I really enjoyed Jenna’s character, and how she and Sophie work together as roommates-turned-friends. 

I didn’t like how secretive everyone was; however. It wasn’t just Sophie’s parents (including her Warlock father whom she’s never met) but Ms. Casnoff, the head of Hex Hall as well. Nobody wanted to tell Sophie who she truly is, her family lineage, or the dangers that face her now and in the future. I feel like keeping everything a secret was even more detrimental, than had everyone been open with her. I cannot imagine the feeling of finding out these secrets about yourself and your family from other students, especially when you’re already new and feel out of place.

The aspect of the book that I really liked, was the ghost of Sophie’s great-grandmother, Alice, who takes it upon herself to teach Sophie how to protect herself. But things aren’t always as they seem, and when things start to get a little weird, Sophie starts to piece everything together and we are left with a pretty crazy cliffhanger. I do like that Hawkins isn’t afraid to kill off characters and not give them happy endings, but I’m curious to see how the series proceeds now without a few key players.

SIMILAR READS: AWAKE AT DAWN (Shadow Falls #2) by C.C. Hunter | THE GHOST AND THE GOTH (The Ghost and the Goth #1) by Stacey Kade | Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White | SHADE (Shade #1) by Jeri Smith-Ready | ONCE A WITCH (Once a Witch #1) by Carolyn MacCullough | FIRESPELL (Dark Elite #1) by Chloe Neill

Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {35} THE FIERY HEART by Richelle Mead

THE FIERY HEART
SERIES: Bloodlines | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Bloodlines #1, The Golden Lily #2, The Indigo Spell #3, Silver Shadows #5 (Release Date: 7/29/14)
AUTHOR: Richelle Mead
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: November 19th, 2013
EDITION: Hardcover, 438 pages
ACQUISITION: Own
CATEGORIES: Bloodlines, Richelle Mead, The Fiery Heart, 5 Star Rating, Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Witches, Review, Love Triangles, 2013 Release, 2014 Read
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.47/5.00
ADD TO GOODREADS

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 Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn’t over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there’s still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

MY THOUGHTS: *MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS* Considering I have absolutely loved every book in this series so far, as well as the entire Vampire Academy series, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d absolutely adore this latest installment in the Bloodlines series as well.
Can I just take a minute to state the obvious, and tell you all what the best part of this book is? I can do it quickly in just three words. Ready? Sydney and Adrian. They are full steam ahead with their relationship – which we all know is totally not okay by Alchemists standards – but really, the heart wants what the heart wants and Sydney’s wants, needs, has to have, Adrian.
This book follows suit with it’s non-stop action and “Whoa did that just happen?” moments. We have all the regular players, plus a new dhampir named Neil, whom Jill and Angeline both are crushing on. But Neil’s heart lies in a recently-restored-from-Strigoi named Olive. And besides – Angeline can’t stop thinking about Trey (Yep, that Warriors of Light Trey), and Jill and Eddie are both interested in each other, but Eddie can’t get over his feelings of not being good enough for a Princess. Luckily, Jill takes the first step towards showing Eddie she doesn’t care if he’s “just” a dhampir. 
The main theme of the book, is Sydney’s continuing to help Marcus and the rebel ex-Alchemists, while juggling her job in Palm Springs in the midst of hiding her relationship with Adrian from her Little-Sister-Turned-Alchemist who is disgustingly loyal and obedient to their controlling Alchemist father. Sydney’s magic use and training goes even further, when she joins a coven and starts working on her own formulas to make the ink Marcus needs to break the Golden Lily tattoos that Alchemists are given to control them.
Everything is going great – Sydney’s able to hide her love for Adrian, keep Zoe under wraps, and make sure everything’s running smoothly. That is she thinks everything is going great. Unfortunately, it’s the person she loves nearly as much as Adrian who betrays her and causes her entire world to come crashing down.
I loved every minute we got to spend with Sydney and Adrian together. They are the textbook definition of opposites attract, and their dynamics work so well together. I usually do not like dual-narration in books, but I think Mead was able to wonderfully give Sydney and Adrian their own voices, and gave us the ability to see things from both of them – as well as what was going on with one when the other wasn’t there. They both have their fair share of struggles and inner demons carried over from the previous books, but one challenge we experience with Adrian, is his choice to start taking medication to help control Spirit, after he is left to suffer the consequences of a “Spirit Hangover”. He fights within himself to justify that the meds will help, and in true Adrian fashion, begins beating himself up when he needs Spirit and isn’t able to access it because of the pills. One of my favorite Adrian-isms is his “Escape Plans” for himself and Sydney.
We see more of how controlling the Alchemists are when we spend time with Zoe. Sydney sees so much of her former self in her younger sister, and hopes she can help Zoe see that the Alchemist way of life isn’t the best choice. Unfortunately, Zoe is under her father’s mind-control, and ultimately causes the destruction of Sydney’s life in Palm Springs, and that of everyone she loves and cares about. With the details of their parents divorce, we can see love isn’t something the Alchemists tend to really consider being important. 
The Fiery Heart leaves us at a gnarly cliffhanger, which is Mead’s M.O. We have Sydney in a “jail” cell being held captive by the Alchemists, who are ready to re-educate her; and Adrian and Jackie Terwilliger who are desperate to save her. I cannot wait to read Silver Shadows, number five in the series to see if Sydney and Adrian are able to find their way back to each other.
SIMILAR READS: Daylighters (The Morganville Vampires #15) by Rachel Caine | Revealed (House of Night #11) by P.C. Cast | The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa | Oblivion (Nevermore #3) by Kelly Creagh | Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L Armentrout
Happy Reading!
Laura

REVIEW {34} VENOM by Fiona Paul

VENOM
SERIES:Secrets of the Eternal Rose | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Belladonna #2
AUTHOR: Fiona Paul

PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 30th 2012 by Philomel
EDITION: Hardcover, 435 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Thriller, Italy, 2 Star Rating, Philomel, Review
RATING: 2.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.79/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.





MY THOUGHTS: I adore historical fiction. Anything set in Renaissance Italy really gets me excited to read! Unfortunately, I was let down by this tale. I found there to be some inaccuracies in the setting and time period, as far as what was occurring in the story. These parts didn’t detract from the overall story, however I can see some people turned off by it. While I did notice them, I would not necessarily say it ruined the book for me.

I had trouble connecting with Cass, the main character. I really didn’t feel anything towards her, or what happened to her. If you are a teenage girl of marrying age, engaged to someone, you shouldn’t be out traipsing about with another man, one of a lowly station at that. And – one who creeps around cemeteries at night, lies to you, keeps things from you, etc. I wasn’t a fan of Falco, at all. In fact, I really didn’t like any of the characters. I believe that they were well written, I just didn’t have any characters that I was interested in knowing.

The writing style itself overall was decent, but the story didn’t go anywhere for me. It was one of the slowest plotted books I’ve read, and that definitely affected the overall rating that I gave the book. You really don’t learn anything – except two things that are major factors in the book; who sent Cass the creepy letter and was at the Dubois party whom she danced with; and what Falco does for a living that was his “big secret”. As far as what the Order of the Eternal Rose is? No idea. Cass’s Fiance mentions it really quick in the few last pages of the book, but that’s it. I’m all for leaving some strings untied at the end of the first book of a series, but this one literally left everything untied, and I felt no satisfaction when I finished the last page and closed the book.

“How terrible it must be to be a member of the noble class. So many rules. Such restraint. You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the side of it’s golden prison.”

One thing that I did enjoy about the book, is the overall darkness and creepiness of it. It definitely had that going for it. I am curious to see how the series continues, but I don’t know if I’ll read the actual book, or just other blogger’s reviews. There could be potential if the plot picks up in the second book, and if there is more depth to the characters and some questions are answered.


SIMILAR READS: The Innocents by Lili Peloquin | Gilt by Katherine Longshore | Dark Star by Bethany Frenette | The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski

Happy Reading!

REVIEW {33} Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
SERIES: Throne of Glass #2 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Throne of Glass #1;  The Assassin and the Pirate Lord #0.1; The Assassin and the Desert #0.2; The Assassin and the Underworld #0.3; The Assassin and the Empire #0.4
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: August 27th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
EDITION: Hardcover, 432 pages
ACQUISITION: ARC from publisher/BEA
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Magic, Mystery, Romance, Adventures, Fairies, 5 Star Rating, Bloomsbury USA, ARC, Review
RATING: 5.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 4.61/5.00 (pre-release)

WHAT IT’S ABOUTAn assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

MY THOUGHTS: I am still completely awestruck after finishing this book. Being the second book in the series, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be just as good as Throne of Glass, but I have to say it was, if not better! There was so much action and suspense and mystery and romance in this one that every single page turbo-charged my emotions and left me with a wicked book hangover!
When I finished Throne of Glass I had marked Celaena down as my #1 Favorite Heroine of All Time. When I finished Crown of Midnight, that statement was confirmed ten times over. Everything that Celaena goes through would break any other person, but she is able to navigate it all with calm and grace. She is one of the strongest, most selfless people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.
Crown of Midnight really puts Celaena to the test. She is now the King’s Assassin, and is sent out on routine missions to take out any of the people he suspects are starting a rebellion against him. But, Celaena of course has secrets of her own – ones she keeps even from Chaol, her maybe-more-than-just-a-crush, and her first true, best friend Nehemiah. She’s still in an awkward spot with Prince Dorian, but luckily we see their friendship resurrected, and become even stronger.

All of the characters in this series are wonderful! They are so well developed that they feel truly 3D and real. Maas has no problem putting her characters in completely crazy scenarios and letting them live, die, figure out secrets, solve mysteries, you name it. This series has a little bit of everything (including a talking door knocker named Mort!) so no matter what your usual genre is, you’ll definitely be able to find something you love in this series.

One of my favorite things about this series, is that it goes places you are not expecting, and introduces characters you’ll be thinking about long after you finish the book. I cannot think of anything that I would change that happened plot-wise in the second installment of this series. Everything is so unique and different but ties together in the end. I cannot wait to see where book three takes us, because I know that it is going to be different from the first two books, but I think Celaena’s adventures are just getting started.  

This is one series that I already find myself recommending to people, whether they read high fantasy or not. It’s one that I do find myself thinking about weeks after I’ve finished the book. Maas is an absolutely incredible storyteller, one that I’ll happily read without a second thought.

SIMILAR READS: Deception by C.J. Redwine | Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Shadowscale by Rachel Hartman | Toxic City by Theo Lawrence | Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Happy Reading!

REVIEW {31} BOOK CLUB REVIEW {1} FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes

FALLING KINGDOMS
SERIES: Falling Kingdoms #1 | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Rebel Spring #2 [Releases: 12/3/13]
AUTHOR: Morgan Rhodes [Michelle Rowen]
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: December 11th 2012 by Razorbill
EDITION: Hardcover, 412 pages
ACQUISION: Borrowed | Library
CATEGORIES: Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, Romance, 3 Stars, Razorbill, Review, Book Club Book, Falling Kingdoms
RATING: 3.00/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.82/5.00
ADD TO GOODREADS

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: The gripping New York Times  bestseller that is Game of Thrones for teens.
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

MY THOUGHTS: So for our first book club meeting, we decided to read this fantasy book by adult author Michelle Rowen, whom I have not read before. I started this book before I left for BEA (at the end of May) and when I got back I was so into The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, that I never picked it back up… until it was chosen for our book club book for July!
I am glad that I ended up finishing it because it turned out to be pretty good.
I saw on GoodReads that someone had referred to it as; ‘Fantasy-Lite’ and I believe I agree with that. While definitely a fantasy, I do not think it was a high fantasy, or anywhere near the level of Game of Thrones, which it is compared to.
The world that Falling Kingdoms takes place in is called Mytica. Mytica is divided into three kingdoms; Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros, and also The Sanctuary. While it’s told in multiple points-of-view, I feel like Cleo, the princess of Auranos, is the main character. The book quickly throws you in the midst of the events that set up the theme for the rest of the story, and while there were times that I felt it moved just a little slowly, for the most part the pacing was fine.
Since most fantasies do have multiple narrators, I feel that this one could’ve been stronger in each narration. While I felt I was being told a story, save for a few parts, I didn’t feel a ton of emotion. If I want to laugh, cry, or throw a book across the room because I’m so mad at what just happened, then I know it’s an amazing book! I did find myself getting a little worked up at certain parts, but again, it just didn’t wow me.
This book has a lot going on, and I felt that the different characters didn’t have unique enough voices to really stand out and stand apart from each other for me. I didn’t have a favorite character, but would choose Jonas if I had to.
I also had issues with the world-building. I got the differences in the kingdoms, and could tell what was different between them, but I didn’t really see the world in my mind. I couldn’t really imagine what it was completely like, and found I was hoping for just a little more.
Overall, I did enjoy the story for the adventure and fantasy aspects, and I will read the rest of the books that come out in this series. I believe it has potential to get really good and I have a feeling the characters are going to grow and change a lot in the next book.

SIMILAR READS: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst | The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke | Venom by Fiona Paul | Poison by Bridget Zinn | The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Happy Reading!

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