Category Archives: Dystopian

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’m sure by now you know that The Lunar Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite series out there. I’ve grown obsessed over the years and yet somehow, I hadn’t re-read any of the books. With Winter coming out this November and bringing the series to a close, I knew I wanted to stack up some re-reads back to back to back to refresh my memory of the details of the series and also just to enjoy the books all over again.

I’ve already done one formal review of CINDER back when I first picked up the series in January 2013 so I thought I’d compile a mini-review with some more feeling-related thoughts since you can see my initial review for my first reactions!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Cinder by Marissa MeyerTitle: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: January 3, 2012 by Macmillan
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 20, 2015
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 
    Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT CINDER

  • NERVOUS. Why nervous? It’s always a scary thing for me to re-read a book or series that I fell in love with. The great thing about this is that it wasn’t one single book — Since The Lunar Chronicles is a series, I’ve been falling more and more in love with these books and these characters over the years, but it’s always a big deal to re-read a favorite for the first time! I’m scared it won’t be as good as when I first read it. (I totally had nothing to fear. It’s still awesome.)
  • FAMILIAR. I loved starting this re-read and totally falling back into this world. It’s always so wonderful to revisit a world that I love so much and it was really fantastic to have that feeling again!
  • FRESH. Despite the fact that I’ve read this book before, it still felt like a very fresh tale to me. It’s been more than two years since I actually read CINDER so it was really fun to start the series over from the beginning! It was nice to rediscover all of these things again.
  • IN-THE-KNOW. Of course I already knew the big surprises scattered throughout the book so they didn’t seem as epic to me… But it was really neat to read the book already knowing what they were! It allowed me to pick up on things that I hadn’t seen on my first go around.
  • IMAGINITIVE. My mind wandered a bit more while I was listening (I read the book on audio) because I was already familiar with the world-building and the characters. I think I got to dig deeper into everything and let connections form and ideas expand!
  • SASSY. I don’t remember Cinder being such a sassy and sarcastic character! Maybe I didn’t read her voice in that tone when I was reading the print version but… I kind of liked it! Rebecca Soler narrates the audiobooks and she was just fantastic! I’m really excited to listen to her portrayal of other characters.
  • SWOONY. I’ll admit that Cinder and Kai were my least favorite couple throughout the series but I finally got into their romance in CRESS. Re-reading CINDER? I don’t know why it took me so long! Did the narrator really bring everything to life that much more? Is it because I already know about their relationship and I finally got to the point of swoons? Whichever way you slice it, I really got into their romance on my re-read! They seemed to have so much more chemistry than I initially felt!!
  • EXCITED. I still love all of the action that takes place here! Cinder is a fantastic heroine and I love her attitude and determination. She loves her family (well, the family that treats her well) fiercely and she will stop at nothing to help and protect them… which creates some very high-tension moments!
  • AMAZED. I still love how this story comes together and everything it sets up for the rest of the books. Knowing what I learned from SCARLET and CRESS really allowed me more insight and I love seeing how much of those books are already established in CINDER but it’s hard to see until you read them. The layers are really fantastic and I’m constantly impressed with Marissa Meyer’s writing!
  • IN LOVE. Yes, I’m still in love with this book! And this series! It just makes me even more excited to read all of them all over again and I’m even MORE excited for WINTER. (Is that even possible???)

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Re-read it!

Let’s all let out a huge sigh of relief that CINDER was just as wonderful as when I first read it. WHEWWWW. Okay! (Not that I really doubted it that much but you know.) This series is just so well done and it’s one of the few that I’m SUPER impressed with as far as plotting goes. There are so many elements that have been established from the beginning and the sequels aren’t just extra books — they’re really extra layers, exposing secrets that were there from the start and expanding on current plots.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CINDER

             HARRY POTTER 1

Firefight (The Reckoners #2) – Brandon Sanderson

Firefight (The Reckoners #2) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Firefight (The Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: January 6, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audible
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Superheroes, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 8, 2015
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

    They told David it was impossible--that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand.
Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.
Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

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** This is a spoiler-free review for FIREFIGHT but there WILL be spoilers for book one, STEELHEART, if you have not read it. Readers be warned! **

Well, Brandon Sanderson, you did it again. I start a series, I binge read everything. Except unlike when I started Mistborn, I have no where else to go from here. FIREFIGHT just came out January… and I think I’ll be waiting another YEAR for CALAMITY (but then again, I guess I can always read more Sanderson books in between that time, right? RIGHT). Anyway — my point is that I just ended up loving these books so much that once I started, I couldn’t stop!!

FIREFIGHT was a special kind of book to me because so many big bullet points about it about it SHOULD have made it fall into the “second book in a series syndrome” category but it definitely did NOT. AND I REJOICED! This really made the book even more magical. I realized it while I was reading but once I finished, it dawned on me that not only was this book great in general, but Brandon Sanderson managed to turn things that I usually don’t get along with into things that I ended up loving and appreciating. I guess it really, truly does depend on the book and how it’s put together!

But that realization aside, FIREFIGHT was already awesome. The action and intensity definitely increased a notch but the same characters and overall goals were there. FIREFIGHT actually takes place halfway across the country from STEELHEART and that actually didn’t bother me like it usually does. The plot felt gracefully carried over and ultimately connected so the change in scenery was actually welcome and interesting instead of foreign. It opened up a new part of this altered world to me and I loved discovering it alongside David. (He’s also a great tour guide to follow!) Even though Steelheart has been eliminated, there are always more Epics to stop so the action definitely doesn’t stop with Steelheart’s defeat. In fact, things continue to escalate and as the characters come to know more about each Epic as well as their abilities, the plot continues to thicken!

We meet a new cast of characters to accompany some familiar faces like David and Prof. I usually have a hard time getting to know a bunch of new characters later in a series simply because I’ve become attached to the original ones, but I actually really liked the newbies too! I don’t think I connected to them AS much but I always felt like their presence was vital to the story and it was interesting to see a different string of Reckoners!

In true Sanderson form, of course there are some GREAT SURPRISES. They kill me but oh, how I love them. As you can see from my status updates below, some of them really caught me off guard and some of them absolutely terrified me but all of that really just enhanced my reading experience. Once again, I was afraid of ugly sobbing in my car as I listened to the audiobook, but that’s just a sign of a really great connection to the book so I always take that as a win! I really become attached to these characters and after I finished the book, I was already missing this crew and that feeling I had as I was reading.

FIREFIGHT just continued another great series from Brandon Sanderson and I will constantly be awaiting his next book so I can quickly gobble it up and then feel full and hollow all at once! I’m so glad to have started this series and I’ll be anxiously awaiting CALAMITY to see what in the world will possibly happen next!

(And yes, Megan is noticeably absent from my review. I had to go find out what happened to her, where she went, and what everything means for her and David in this book so you will too! Trust me — it’s all worth it.)

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Thank you again to Audible for hooking me up with this audiobook to review! As always, MacLeod Andrews is flawless. I just LOVE his narration and GOSH, these books. I mean, between Sanderson and his narration, I just FEEL all the feels, you know? These aren’t even crying books but somehow I sobbed at both. A huge bravo and I highly recommend his narrations!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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David // Character Obsessions: Megan, heroism, answers, teamwork, improvising.
I still love David. He just feels like such a REAL person. Maybe he reminds me of someone I know? But there’s just something about him that makes him so charismatic. He really just leaps off the page and I totally have a soft spot for him!
Epics // Character Obsessions: Power, domination, control.
WELL. There were some new characters in this book, but I’d rather talk about the Epics for a minute. The reader really gets to peel another layer back in the history and functionality of the Epics and it is just SO interesting. I love seeing even further into what makes them tick and I can’t wait to see what other kind of information pops up in the next book!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Book two, apparently! I can really think of soooo many times that book two has been my least favorite in a series and somehow FIREFIGHT just totally blew me away. This is what a second book SHOULD feel like!
Left Me Wanting More: Original team. I actually wasn’t missing them as much as I normally would but I really did miss the other pieces of the original team that didn’t travel with David and Prof. Wondering if there will be a big reunion in the last book? I’m hoping everything comes back together because I grew to love them and want to see them back in the action!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

Ahhhh I am so in love with this series. Something about it is just so refreshing and addicting. I’m already anxious for more and this book only just came out!

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BOOKS LIKE FIREFIGHT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

VICIOUS   READY PLAYER ONE

Mitosis (The Reckoners #1.5) – Brandon Sanderson

Mitosis (The Reckoners #1.5) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Mitosis (The Reckoners #1.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: December 3, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audible
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Superheroes, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 29, 2015
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

    From "New York Times" bestselling author Brandon Sanderson's action-packed novel "Steelheart" comes "Mitosis," a short story set in the world of The Reckoners series, exclusively available in the digital format.
Steelheart may be dead, but Epics still plague Newcago and David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back.
Catch all the action before "Firefight," the exciting sequel to "Steelheart," hits shelves in January 2015

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MITOSIS was a really fun short story! I know not everyone is a fan of novellas and for STEELHEART fans who are in the same boat, you don’t NEED to read it but you may WANT to read it! Firstly because it’s Sanderson and it’s just plain fun, but also because the novella does set up a few points for FIREFIGHT.

MITOSIS is a quick in-between story to bridge the gap between STEELHEART and FIREFIGHT and the focus is more on David and less on the Reckoners as a team. They’re still working together but not all of the characters appear on scene, so to speak. It’s a quick hunt to take down another Epic and this one happens to be important for FIREFIGHT because he brings up a few good ideas and points when the characters start to theorize some more. Obviously I won’t go into the details, but this is also one of the many reasons why I’m encouraging you to read the novella! I think the information comes in handy and I think it’s easier to read in MITOSIS first!

Other than that, the formula sort of follows suit from STEELHEART — David is nerdy and funny (sorry, David. You are a nerd), Epics are still terrorizing, the Reckoners are awesome. I don’t want to say TOO much more about it because the novella isn’t incredibly long but I had so much fun listening to it and it made me even more exited for FIREFIGHT — so much that I had to start it right away! (Seems to be a trend with me and Sanderson books.)

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE MITOSIS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

VICIOUS   READY PLAYER ONE

Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: September 24, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Gift
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Superheroes, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 29, 2015
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

    Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning - and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

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I became a BIG Brandon Sanderson fan this past year… and luckily for me, after I binge-read the Mistborn series, there were still plenty of books for me to catch up on! Naturally, being a mostly YA reader and with the release of the second book in Sanderson’s Reckoners series FIREFIGHT, STEELHEART was high on my radar! When Audible contacted me to see if I was interested in the audio, it was the final gentle push to start this series immediately — and I was more than happy to!

STEELHEART was excellent. So far from Sanderson I’ve read high fantasy, fantasy meets steampunk meets Western, and mystery meets psychological so I was already fairly convinced that Sanderson can dabble in anything he wants to and I will straight-up love it. From the synopsis I gathered that STEELHEART was more superheroes meets dystopian and that was fairly spot on. It’s definitely more of a superhero/science fiction feel in somewhat dystopian society and I really just gobbled it up!.

The characters, as always, are excellent. Each character has SUCH personality and they really just leap off the page (or in my case, make themselves individual while I listen to the audiobook). David is an excellent main character and he’s just so relatable. He’s got it out for Steelheart ever since a life-altering event when he was a kid and ten years later, all of his well-laid plans are finally starting to come together when he comes across the Reckoners — a group of individuals who hunt down Epics. I loved David so much because HE’S not the superhero. He’s an average kid who had some stuff happen in his life and he does what he has to in order to get by. He’s clever, crafty, detail-oriented, and also your average guy/teenager who wants to be the badass who gets to hunt Epics and do some cool movie-type stunts (but in real life). He works hard for what he wants but he’s also very passionate too (which also tends to get in his way).

The other characters are great too. It’s another fantastic ensemble and a really great range of people and personalities. They don’t always all get along perfectly, but they come together to form a really cohesive team. I LOVED the banter between Megan and David (bring on the banter!!!!) and he really took it so well. David always cracked me up and even when he was having a hard time with things, he was a really easy-going person and took everything in stride.

The overall concept was really interesting as well! I love how the Epics were superhero-types but… they weren’t the good guys! And the limitations and structure of their abilities was so well-crafted and cleverly explored as the plot progressed. I really liked how STEELHEART was a sort of mash-up of so many elements that just clicked. A bit dystopian from the current state of the US after the Epic takeover and tyranny, a bit fantasy from the Epic powers BUT more science-fiction based on how they came about (that we know of so far) and of course overall action and adventure with a little bit of romance.

STEELHEART was so excellent. I laughed, I gasped, I even ugly cried, you guys. Who expected that? (But it IS Sanderson and sometimes he just hits you where you least expect it.) I loved the feel, I loved the plot, I loved the characters and of course, I will be coming back for more!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

A big thank you to Audible for approaching me to try the audio version of STEELHEART! I actually didn’t even check out who the narrator was before I started (oops, that’s not always a good move) but I was in good hands with MacLeod Andrews! I was so excited to find out he was the narrator for STEELHEART because I had previously listened to Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown and just loved his narration on that. His voicing of the characters was fantastic — each very unique and always so genuine. I fell right into the book and could really just picture in my head almost like I was watching a movie. If you’re looking for a good audiobook, this is one I highly recommend!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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David // Character Obsessions: Steelheart, the Reckoners, revenge, looking cooool.
David was the best. He was kind, funny, determined, smart and he had just SUCH a big personality! He was hilarious and definitely the kind of guy that I always root for! Just loved him.
Megan // Character Obsessions: Teamwork, plans, action.
Megan was my other favorite — and naturally, since she was pretty much the other main character. She dished everything back to David and he handled with ease… but I also wanted to break that steely exterior (no pun indended) SO BADLY. By the end of this book, I was totally shipping them. HARD.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes! Well, they were called Epics, but the concept is more or less the same. I don’t think I’ve read a superhero book before!!!
Left Me Wanting More: Answers! Not like there weren’t enough, but I love how Sanderson sets up SERIES with series-long questions and discoveries… too bad I’m impatient and want them all nowwwww.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I am even more so a Sanderson fan now but if you haven’t read his adult books yet, you should start off with this YA series! It was SO much fun and incredibly interesting. It really had it all for me!

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BOOKS LIKE STEELHEART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

VICIOUS               READY PLAYER ONE

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles # 3.5) – Marissa Meyer

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles # 3.5) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: January 27, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Retelling, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 29, 2015
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

    In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series
.

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Ahhh, FAIREST. Just what I needed tie me over until WINTER hits the shelves in November this year! I don’t always read ALL of the novellas that are published, but of course I was going to read a Lunar Chronicles novella and was especially excited to find out more about Queen Levana! She’s pretty terrifying in the books so I was especially anxious to see her history and how she ended up the way she is now.

The first thing I can say about FAIREST? Yeah. Levana is certainly crazy… BUT she didn’t have it easy either. I’m not saying that excuses the way she acts, but she’s had some majorly catastrophic and scarring events (oops, no pun intended but there you have it) happen to her and it seriously messed her up. Things also went down at a young age too so these traumatic events really affected Levana long before she was even close to being in a position of power, or even wanting that position. I definitely still fear her but it also made me pity her. Sometimes these kind of novellas sort of justify who someone is in the present story line and while I don’t think Levana is justified in her actions, I do think I understand her a lot more!

Another thing I really loved was seeing all of the other characters in Levana’s story and exactly how she’s tied to them all. It was really interested to see some of the title characters pop up, along with their friends and family and I got little chills and thrills seeing their names there! I think the most interesting for me was actually Channary. I may need to re-read everything again ASAP (kidding, that’s already in the works so I KNOW I will) but for some reason I don’t remember mention of how horrible she was! She was a terrible older sister to Levana and I really wonder how Levana would have ended up if it weren’t for Channary. I’m going to have to hunt down mentions of her in my re-reads!

FAIREST is very much Levana’s story so it’s not a major point in the series as far as plot goes, but I do still think it’s an important story for fans of the series to read. We learn a lot about the Lunar Queen and there’s also a LOT of Winter’s history in here which I was very excited to see since I don’t really know that much about her yet. There were still a few surprises though and it just goes to show you that there’s always more to learn about everyone!

I had such a blast reading FAIREST and that both filled the void and made me even more hungry for more of this series! I loved falling back into this world for a short time to keep my heart whole before WINTER probably chews it up and spits it out in November. In a good way! I CAN’T WAIT!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Levana // Character Obsessions: Appearances, acceptance, love, glamor.
I just loved learning more about Levana. It’s very, very interesting to see where she came from. I love that you can see the very — well, maybe not VALID but certainly obvious — reasons why she is the way she is in the current timeline of this series. Her life has truly been nothing but a constant series of ups and downs and she’s always had to prove herself, even to her family. The whole romance was really interesting and I was actually kind of surprised at how much love meant to her. I guess it makes sense!
Channary // Character Obsessions: Fame, fortune, frivolity, fun.
Did I TOTALLY not remember what Channary was like or was that not explained as much throughout the course of the series? We all think Levana is terrible but Channary surely didn’t make things easy for her. I can’t believe everything that went down between these two sisters! She was no peach herself. (And clearly I needed to re-read everything ASAP.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Backstories. YAYYYY a full-length novella giving us backstory! GAH. I love it. Hmmm I guess for those who don’t read novellas, I don’t know if it’s “necessary” for the series but it has a lot of really, really handy information and background for Levana, Winter, and even Cinder.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot development. Okay, I know that wasn’t the point of FAIREST, but can you blame me? AMAZING things happen in Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress so I am just spoiled! But I guess you can’t push a plot forward when the book doesn’t even take place in the same time, huh? ;D

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of the series, it’s a must, in my opinion! I think the knowledge we gain is fantastic and I just loved slipping back into this world before re-reading all the books (before Winter)!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE FAIREST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SHADOW AND BONE               THRONE OF GLASS

If You Liked… Divergent

8 BOOKS TO READ IF YOU LIKED DIVERGENT

One of my favorite parts about being a book blogger is sharing the books that I love with others. I absolutely love sharing my favorite reads and recommending them to others who are looking to fall in love with a new book! With all of these amazing YA adaptations coming out recently, I know a lot of people are looking for more books similar to the movies that have hit the silver screen, so for all those looking for books similar to your blockbuster favorites, I’ve got some recommendations lined up for you!

It’s no doubt that Veronica Roth’s debut novel (and series) DIVERGENT has exploded over the last few years. I absolutely LOVE seeing not only YA novels but any books gain extreme popularity because they start to grab the attention of occasional or non-readers and for some, that starts a craving for more and more books like the one they just read. For me, it was The Hunger Games and that really set off my craving for dystopians which led me to just more books in general.

So in this post, I wanted to share my personal picks for books like DIVERGENT. I feel like I see some recommendations that are just thrown together because of genre, and yes — there are plenty of dystopian recommendations here — but I also picked the books I thought had similar themes as well as similar feels. Without further ado, here are my picks for eight books to read after DIVERGENT!


books like divergent


IF YOU LIKED DIVERGENT…

Try… THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Like DIVERGENT, The 5th Wave is already on its way to becoming a major motion picture. When the book first came out, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of an alien invasion. I’m not usually one for alien themes but with so many great reviews, I picked up and inhaled it in one day. The action is fantastic, characters are great, and I think fans of Tris will really love Cassie! There’s action, romance, and a plot to save the world.

Try… THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Things explode in THE DARKEST MINDS when children at 10 years old either develop special abilities… or die. A strange disease sweeps the nation leaving kids dead or left with incredible powers that they can’t control. THE DARKEST MINDS has a bit more of a paranormal aspect with the special abilities thing, but it’s set in a sort of post-apocalyptic world and Ruby and her new group of friends have to try to figure out not only how to survive but also thwart the authorities. All three books in this trilogy are now out and this is one I want to finish this year too!

Try… REBOOT by Amy Tintera.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I really loved REBOOT when I read it. It’s a sort of zombie story without it really being about zombies. Wren is a “reboot” — After 178 minutes of being dead, she came back to life. She’s not as emotional and seems less human than the reboots who have been dead for longer and come back but emotion isn’t very necessary when your job is to train other reboots… until she starts to fall in love. REBOOT has romance, action, and is set in a dystopian Texas. I thought it was a great balance of everything! It’s a two book series too so it’s one you can finish quickly!

Try… INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

INSIGNIA is also a trilogy but it’s a bit different than the ones I’ve listed so far — the main character is male and also a bit younger at fourteen, but the book doesn’t feel juvenile. The earth is in the middle of WWIII when Tom Raines, a fourteen-year-old with incredible video gaming skills, is recruited by the army to control drones. It’s definitely not the same exact concept as DIVERGENT but I think fans will enjoy it! It has a similar feel to me and it’s something that will be easy to sort of compare but won’t feel exactly the same. I had so much fun reading the first book! Another series I want to finish soon.

Try… SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

SHADOW AND BONE is actually fantasy, not dystopian, but I also think it’s great for DIVERGENT fans! The lead female Alina feels she’s completely ordinary and then it turns out that she’s actually incredibly important with incredible abilities. If you’re not a fantasy fan (yet), I strongly recommend starting with SHADOW AND BONE! It was one of my first fantasy series and I ended up really loving it to the point where this trilogy has become one of my all-time favorites. There’s plenty of action, adventure, romance, villains, and magical powers to go around!

Try… PAWN by Aimee Carter.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Another dystopian novel is PAWN by Aimee Carter. This one has a similar feel to DIVERGENT’s factions with its sort caste system determined with a number ranking. Usually people test into their rankings and don’t get to change at all but Kitty is offered an unusual opportunity to live a glamorous life, but she has to give up everything of her own life.  It’s a very interesting situation and I really enjoyed PAWN a lot! It was definitely twisty and kept me hooked.

Try… LEGEND by Marie Lu.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
I’ll admit it… I actually liked LEGEND more than DIVERGENT! I was totally wowed by this new dystopian series (well, it’s not new anymore. All three books are out now!) with alternating point of views between the two main characters, Day and June. They’re pretty much polar opposites with June scoring the highest ever on a series of tests called The Trial and Day has the lowest score ever. Worlds collide when Day and June have their first encounter under terrible circumstances and the book escalates from there. I just absolutely loved it!

Try… THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by THE PROGRAM! This dystopian world is much different than DIVERGENT but I think the general concept will really resonate with DIVERGENT fans! Sloane lives in a world where suicide is an epidemic so Sloane makes the decision to hide the fact that her feelings are there. She doesn’t want to through “the program” and come back emotionless and wiped of all intense memories. It was such an interesting concept and I really connected a lot with this book and its characters!


I hope this list helped you pick out a few new reads! I don’t take my recommendations lightly so I really hope these recommendations strike a chord with DIVERGENT fans! If you’ve read any of these already, what do you think? What other books would you recommend?

Looking for more recommendations? Check out my previous list of recs below!

 

Fierce Reads Tour Fall 2014 (Chicago): Recap, Author Interview, and Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Marissa Meyer, Gennifer Albin, Jessica Brody, and Nikki Kelly
Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Arlington Heights, IL
October 10, 2014

Macmillan is amazing. The Fierce Reads tour is really always one of my favorite tours and I was SO happy to accept the offer from Macmillan to not only be the official blogger on this stop of the tour, but also to moderate the event! I was so excited but admittedly terribly nervous too! (Not to mention how nervous I was meeting Marissa Meyer for the first time!!!) But I buckled down, put my questions together, and I was so ready to get my interview on with the Fierce Reads ladies!

I had a blast interviewing the Fierce Reads ladies! Let’s see what they had to say on books, writing, and more!

(Portions edited for time and reading purposes and will not affect the overall outcome of the show interview.)

Brittany: If you had to describe your book as THIS meets THAT — like Dracula meets Mean Girls — what would yours be?
Jessica Brody: Mine I’ve always said is Bourne Identity with an Inception-like twist.
Marissa Meyer: I would say that mine is Star Wars meets The Brothers Grimm.
Gennifer Albin: The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Matrix.
Jessica: I like Madmen meets The Matrix.
Gennifer:do like Madmen meets The Matrix…
Nikki Kelly: I’m gonna look to Jessica to answer this one for me!
Jessica: Well, Supernatural meets… City of Bones?
Nikki: Everyone wants to say Twilight —
Jessica: It’s not Twilight, though. It’s very different.
Nikki: It’s not — it’s very different. Maybe True Blood. Supernatural meets True Blood? Although that’s quite risqué.
Marissa: Is string theory the theory that’s all about different dimensions?
Gennifer: No, it’s universes are on strings, basically. Time is a string.
Nikki: What was that movie where [whoops, that’s a spoiler! Taken out so we don’t spoil LAILAH for you!] Maybe Supernatural meets City of Bones, then.
Jessica: The Mortal Instruments meets Supernatural.
Nikki: Yeah, we’ll go with that!

Brittany: Were there any major influences from other authors or books that really inspired your writing?
Marissa: Authors or books specifically?
Brittany: Either one. Or movies… TV…
Marissa: Well my biggest influences are Firefly, which is the most awesome sci-fi TV show ever because in Firefly is has this crew of totally random people that have completely different personalities and it’s like, “Let’s stick them on a spaceship and see what happens!” So going into The Lunar Chronicles, it was like “I just really want a whole bunch of people on spaceship to see what happens!” And then my other big one is Sailor Moon which is really what gave me the idea for the Lunars and a lost princess.
Gennifer: I’m now imagining The Lunar Chronicles like it’s a reality show. [announcer voice] Four princess, contained on a spaceship! What happens when people stop getting along?
Jessica: Who will be voted off next? I’d watch that show!
[laughter]
Jessica: One has been locked in a satellite for years and the other is just crazy!
Marissa: We need to make this a thing!
[we all bring it back around to the question]
Jessica: I think I was really influenced by the TV show Lost in just kind of the mystery and… hopefully my ending is better than theirs, but just the way they pieced these little pieces together and I love the mystery of that show. And I’ve always loved movies like The Matrix and Inception, obviously, and The Bourne Identity because the memory loss thing. I just love the idea of someone waking up with no memories finding out they’re a superhero. That’s just… the dream, right?
Nikki: Better than waking up post-apocalyptic!
Jessica: Waking up and the world’s been taken over by zombies! Not the dream.
Gennifer: For some people it is…
[Zombie tangent!]
Gennifer: Umm, influences… well, I think ever book you ever read influences you in some way. I hate pointing to a specific book because then people like to be like, “OH, now I see how you ripped that off.” [laughter] So I’m gonna go with movies and TV! And I would say that the kind of back and forth banter came from my love of screwball comedies of the ’40s. So like Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant… that whole crew, how they were constantly going back and forth. Actually, I think Cary Grant would make a great Cormac… which is impossible but he would be very handsome and suave and do a good job with the one-liners. And I always used to joke that I went to the J.J. Abrams school of writing because I like to leave a chapter on a… BOOM! A major revelation to the person! Or they finally kissed! Everyone’s like, “God, now I have to read the next chapter!” And I’m like, “That’s the idea!” [everyone agrees] I had another writer say to me one time, “Well I like to end it so people can shut the book and go to bed” and I was like, “You’re doin’ it wrong!” Sometimes when people shut the book and go to bed, they forget to ever open it again. That happens to me!
Marissa: That’s so crazy that a writer would say that.
Jessica: Let’s hope we don’t know this person!
Gennifer: So the Alias school of writing because I didn’t watch lost… I stopped watching Fringe after the first season because I already the second book written but I was like, “I’m going to be influenced by this” so I stopped watching it and I just finally watched all of Fringe and I was like, “WOW!!! We were REALLY on the same page on lots of things! I’m really glad I didn’t watch you. Also, why don’t I write for your show?” So yeah, J.J. Abrams and screwball comedies from the 1940s. Obviously these two things go together.
Jessica: So another answer to the first question is, it’s screwball comedies meets J.J. Abrams.
Nikki: And I’d probably say, do you remember Sliders from the 90s?
Gennifer: YES, I own the box set!
Nikki: That’s when I first discovered Jerry O’Connell… and then he popped up in Scream! But I loved that show and all different dimensions, different to what’s going on in Lailah with three set dimensions but they would use their little um… doobie-doo device. [Talking about Sliders for a while and possible spoilers for the show! Which convinced me that I really do need to watch more of this show…] And the thing would probably be Tales of the Unexpected which was an 80s and 90s show as well which was 15 minutes shorts where at the end it was a “tale of the unexpected” so there was a twist at the end of each episode and I think that’s why I write with twists now.

Brittany: If you had one subplot or minor character that could go off on its own tangent, who or what would it be?
Marissa: I don’t know if I can answer that because it’s kind of something I’m not supposed to talk about! I’ll say that there IS a minor character that I’d like to do a tangent of, therefore I’m probably I’m going to do a tangent of and that’s all I’m going to say.
Nikki: Oooh, that’s really leaving them hanging! That’s how we do it.
Gennifer: Approved!
Jessica: I would love to do a story from Cody’s point of view — my little foster brother — but before he grows up and gets all old. Maybe like a middle grade! Him at thirteen. I did write a short story from Cody’s point of view from the first time he met Seraphina and I had a lot of fun with that because writing him from Serafina’s point of view is a whole different experience than writing from his head so. That’d be fun!
Gennifer: I feel like… We do these things for tour where we write short stories and a lot of times they’re other people so… I have one to do for Loricel so I have that one coming up for me, but I guess I’d probably go back and maybe do some prequel bits, actually, where you saw various characters before you met them. I think it’d be interesting to see Adelice’s parents [book two spoilers redacted!] So maybe them and I’ve had some people ask me to write Valerie and Enora’s love story but I’ve never had the time.
Nikki: I have written two short stories — one Jonah and one Gabriel which are online right now — and they’re set from Jonah and Gabriel’s point of views and they’re both prequels because Gabriel’s is set 100 years ago and Jonah’s is set before we meet him in the first book so probably 10 years, 11 years prior to chapter one of book one so I already got play with that and that was fun. But maybe Hanora if I was doing another one just because she’s an interesting character. Nobody likes her so I’d like to maybe just see how she sees things and her perspective of what’s going on when it all happens.
Jessica: I did write from Zen and Kalen’s point of view — two novellas! One is out now called Undiscovered and one is coming out in January called Unleashed.
Marissa: And I got to write a prequel about the evil queen that’s coming out in January called Fairest.
Gennifer: It was supposed to be a novella… like the rest of us… and then she went way above and beyond.
Marissa: Things just always get longer than they’re supposed to.
Brittany: No complaints here!

Brittany: What’s one gadget or invention in your books that you’re particularly proud of or fond of creating?
Jessica: I love that question! …. But I have to think about it.
Gennifer: I’d say mine are actually the panels that the sunrunners use in the second book because I spent a lot of time reading about solar energy so that I could use terminology that sounded like I had some idea what I was talking about and I actually DID at that point and so those could actually exist. I invented them. Kind of.
Nikki and Gennifer: Copywright Gennifer Albin.
Jessica: I have two. One I actually didn’t invent I just kind of… stole and then expanded but recently the creator of Tesla announced that he wants to create something called a hyperloop which is a little capsule that goes like, a zillion miles an hour using vacuum? Magnets? I can’t remember which one but you can basically get from LA to San Francisco in thirty minutes and he has a plan to implement this in California in the next 20 or 50 years, so I just made the assumption that in the future they will be using these to transport themselves around so I put that in book three which was super fun to establish a world like that. I feel like all future books they travel by train and I was like, “I don’t want to do a train. I want to do something else.” So I put the hyperloop in. One thing I created that actually got taken out — this is going to be a deleted scene — Diotech creates this genetic alteration that’s called the “eternal puppy” and it’s basically where you can make a puppy stay a puppy for its entire life.
Gennifer: That’s like, the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.
Jessica: But they would mature as a dog but they would always stay cute and little for their whole lives! But I had to cut that scene because it just really didn’t do anything for the plot.
Marissa: After hearing that I’m like “Why did Scarlet and Wolf waste all their time on that train…?” Why didn’t they take the hyperloop!?
Jessica: But then they wouldn’t have had the scene.
Marissa: For me again not really my invention but all of the characters in my future world have ID chips implanted in their wrists and this acts as their identification and their money and you can scan anybody’s thing and see their Facebook profile — except it’s not really Facebook but you know — and I think that would be just so convenient. Never have to carry your purse or your phone. And every time I have my Starbucks app and I go to pay with my phone I’m like “We’re almost there.”
Nikki: Probably in Lailah, the crystal in Styclar which gives life to their world. I don’t know if that’s an inventions so much as an energy source but it creates light and life. It was from my head and therefore… I don’t think there’s a crystal somewhere in another world is there that beams out lights at a certain frequency that creates life of beings and all sorts of fun things. And for things that are not my invention, you’ll probably notice there are lots of iPhones and Range Rovers in my book and that’s because I’m hoping for a sponsorship deal! [laughter]

Brittany: What types of scenes are your favorite to write?
[kissing noise and general agreement]
All except Jessica: Kissing scenes!
Jessica: I don’t like writing kissing scenes. I like writing fight scenes! Not like physical fight “take ’em down” scenes but arguments between characters. I feel like that’s when their true personalities come out.
Marissa: Like sparring, verbal repartee, that is fun.
Jessica: Yes! And I love when my characters get in fights when I don’t plan them to. I just had a scene where I was like this is just going to be a normal scene where they walk to the locker (I’m working on a contemporary book) and suddenly they started fighting and I was like, “YES! Let’s do it!” And then once I was done I was like, “Of course they have to fight here. There hasn’t been any tension for the past three chapters. There has to be a fight! Thank you characters for reminding me about that!”
Nikki: And then us three all like the kissing scenes. Kissing and swooning! [Gennifer and Marissa agree]
Marissa: Big, epic gestures of romance.

Brittany: Your books make up some of our biggest fandoms. What are some of yours?
Gennifer: Doctor Who!
Marissa: Firefly! Sailor Moon.
Nikki: Doctor Who.
Jessica: Frozen! Is that a fandom?
Gennifer: It’s like the biggest fandom out there right now!
Jessica: There’s a lot of four-year-olds in that fandom.
Gennifer: But that’s okay!
Jessica: What are they called? Froze-hards? Oh, that doesn’t sound right! [lots of laughter]
Gennifer: The Gilmore Girls fandom is coming back HARD core now that’s it on Netflix and I’m like, “LET’S GO! Let’s do this! Let’s get our movie.” And Veronica Mars. That’s big one for me. Oh my god, I’m a marshmallow!

Brittany: Have you ever received amazing fan art for your books or received and awesome gift from a fan?
Gennifer: Marissa’s actually wearing one.
Marissa: Yes, a fan actually made me this awesome Lunar Chronicles necklace with all the charms that represent the different fairy tales. I get a lot of awesome stuff from fans!
Nikki: Some of us don’t.
Gennifer: Who got all the gifts yesterday! Lailah cookies!
Nikki: I do get a lot of cookies! And Lucky Charms cereal. Just the marshmallows! It wasn’t even the crappy fiber stuff!

Brittany: Wine and cheese style question: what food or beverage item would be a good pairing for your book or series?
Jessica: Well mine’s kind of obvious because in Unremembered she eats a grilled cheese sandwich and it’s a very influential scene…
Marissa: A euphoric moment.
Jessica: It is because it’s the first thing she remembers eating and she kind of falls in love with it so it’s kind of a pivotal scene for her getting reintroduced to the world so I would go with the grilled cheese sandwich and for the blog tour of Unremembered I actually did a video on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich so you can find that on my YouTube channel. It’s very difficult!
Marissa: For the Cinder blog tour I did a “cooking with Marissa” show and made shrimp dumplings because they eat it in one of the chapters and it was so much fun but nobody ever watched it and I was like, “I really wanted to keep making these but I guess I won’t” because it took like, all day long!
Gennifer: There’s so much food in Crewel! I would have a hard time choosing. I like to put curry in all of my books. Even in my contemporary books, people are always eating curry.
Marissa: There was a lot of curry in Cress too!
Gennifer: Yeah, I liked that about your book! And she also has a chocolate torte.
Nikki: Tea in Lailah because she makes a lot of tea, and chocolate digestives. Not cookies as the book says because they American-ized it but chocolate digestives.
[tangent about the word “digestive” which ultimates boils down to the fact that it’s a specific type of cookie although the American gals agree that “digestive” is a terribly unappealing word in America! And how a “cookie” in England is any cookie that has chocolate chips and a “biscuit” is every other cookie]
Marissa: So for mine in book three, there’s this big royal wedding being planned and there’s this one scene where Prince Kai is meeting with the wedding coordinator and she starts going over the wedding menu and it’s like a traditional nine course menu. I planned out the whole thing and it took me like three pages to describe it in the first draft and I had every course from a different so there was a Korean course and a Philippines course and my Indian course and I had so much fun designing this menu and then one of my beta readers was like, “You realize you just took three pages to design and describe a feast. So I ended up cutting it all and only a few of them got mentioned in the book but then I ended up writing a blog post about it but I really, really want to have this feast some day. I really want to have this really fancy dinner party and nine-course meal.

Brittany: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
Nikki: Oh, yeah, I do. Obligatory cup of tea and twerk in the kitchen before writing. And then I write in my pants (which is knickers). [And yes. She does mean twerking as in twerking.]
Gennifer: I don’t really have… I need something to write ON and I prefer to have paper and pencil nearby because I like to scribble notes to myself and do some diagramming.
Marissa: Yeah, I like to have paper, and something to drink. Usually water but sometimes coffee or wine or something. Depending on whether it’s before or after noon!
Nikki: I like how you went from water to coffee to wine! Brandy… vodka…
Jessica: For me, I only drink coffee when I write so coffee has an extra, special effect — it’s like magic juice — so I have my coffee and I have my giant, noise-cancelling headphones where I blast this white noise with a special technology called brain entrainment so there’s actually a frequency that gets played under the white noise that brings your brain into focus mode.

Brittany: Are there any questions you always dread being asked?
Marissa: “Where do you get your ideas?” I don’t really dread that because the answer is so easy because you get asked it all the time.
Jessica: I’m always curious too but you just get tired of it. I don’t like getting asked my favorite book and I know it get asked all the time because I just can’t choose. It’s just so hard! I feel like if I don’t give “the right answer” someone’s going to come smite me. It’s a lot of pressure!
Marissa: Every once in a blue moon, you’ll get someone who’s like… trying to stump you. They’ll ask you a question about the world building or the technology like, “In chapter 40, you said THIS but did you know that actually scientists have said –” you know, that sort of question. And a lot of times it’s stuff I actually have considered and usually have a thought out response but every once in a while it’s like, “I don’t know. How was I supposed to know that?”
Nikki: That’s when you just say, “It’s fiction.”
Marissa: Creative license!
Nikki: If you feel like something’s missing, it was intention. You’ll find out in the next book!
Gennifer: You always get lots of writing questions on these panels. And there’s sometimes that mix when you go into an event and … I tend to just want to talk about books and fun stuff and there’s a couple of people who show up and they actually want you to figure out how they’re going to be come writers so the questions aren’t even broad-based questions but like, “How many queries did you send and what was your rejection rate and did you send them at a specific time of day?”
Marissa: I think I was on the Cress tour and it was in a really small town and so the bookstore that was hosting it was worried that they wouldn’t be able to get anybody to come and so they marketed it as writing workshop and I showed up and I was like, “I have no intention of giving a writing workshop! I’m just gonna talk about my books.” And there was only maybe like twelve people in the audience and one of them bought a book. They were just writers and they wanted the secrets of getting published.
Nikki: You should have said, “Buy five books and I’ll talk.” [laughter]

Brittany: The last question is actually “What’s one of the books that your recommend this most?” — Not favorite!
Jessica: That’s different! I recommend Eleanor & Park [by Rainbow Rowell] to anyone who lives and breathes and reads. And even if you don’t read, I’ll still recommend Eleanor & Park to you.
Brittany: Audiobooks!
Gennifer: I have been known to recently push The Discover of Witches series [by Deborah Harkness] on basically anyone who will listen to me so I would have to go with that one!
Marissa: Right now my two big series are The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo which all three books are out so you can sit and read them and marathon them so you don’t have the pain of waiting for the next book like I did!
Nikki: And the Darkling prequel is in the Barnes and Noble edition of Ruin and Rising so you can have that too!
Marissa: And then I am also super obsessed with The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski and there’s only one out — The Winner’s Curse just came out this year and I just finished and early copy of The Winner’s Crime and it was AMAZING.
Nikki: I would just echo Marissa and say I was on The Grisha Trilogy for about six months. I came into it when the third one was just coming out so I came into it at the right time.
Jessica: Oh wait, can I add one more? I also pitch The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

I had SUCH a great time interviewing these wonderful ladies and what a fantastic night it was! Another huge thank you to them for some really great answers and such a fun interview!

After the interview, we headed downstairs for the live event! I was so excited to moderate and I cannot express enough how excellent these ladies are! They really had such great answers to everything, they’re so much fun, and had great interactions with the crowd. Since the first interview is SO detailed, I’ll just give you a brief rundown of how the event went + some important things from the Q&A!

FierceReads2014

 (I stole this picture from Katie/Polished Page Turners! I didn’t have a picture of me moderating since, well… I was moderating!) 

  • After the authors introduced their books, I asked them which of their characters is their favorite to write. Jessica Brody said that she loves to write Cody. Her editor actually wanted to cut that character but Jessica fought for him to be kept in the books! (She sends her editor all the fan letters for people who have told her that they love Cody!) Gennifer’s was (of course) her villain and Marissa’s favorite is Iko.
  • I asked the authors which power or ability from another panelist’s book they’d like to have and most agreed they’d want Seraphina’s super genius skills! Jesssica then said she’d want Adelice’s powers so she could rip people from universes if she didn’t like them.
  • The authors talked about the challenges they face in building worlds in their books and one of the hardest things was making sure everything worked in future books so the advice was to make sure you have those plans first! Marissa also created a very diverse and vast world incorporating many cultures so she had to make sure she did each of them justice.
  • I asked them about how their writing has changed from the beginning of the series (or book) to the end and many noticed their writing matured. Others ended up spelling things different (Nikki spelling “cruel” like “Crewel” and Gen finally fixing a typo!)
  • I asked which Hogwarts house their main characters would be in (the audience LOVED this) and they said:
    • Jessica: Seraphina –> Ravenclaw
    • Nikki: Hasn’t read or seen Harry Potter! (The only British person on the panel hasn’t read it, she said haha) She said “the best house” and knew that Slytherin was bad so NOT that one. The other ladies decided Lailah would Gryffindor
    • Gennifer: Adelice –> Gryffindor (and she has red hair! Maybe she could be a Weasley!)
    • Marissa: Agreed about Gryffindor and red with Gennifer for Scarlet. Cinder would also be Gryffindor and Cress would be Hufflepuff. Later a fan asked about all the boys and she said Kai would be Hufflepuff. We pressed “What about Thorne?” and she couldn’t decide. I said, “He probably dropped out!” and the authors laughed and agreed!
  • We wrapped up with panel with some audience Q&A!

Another HUGE thanks to these four wonderful authors! They were so fantastic and gracious for letting me grill them about their books all night and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the experience. A HUGE thank you to Macmillan to for providing me with this opportunity to interview the authors, moderate a book event, and make some of my dreams come true! It’s such an honor to be working with all of them.

Then after the panel, I stayed and chatted with some fellow bloggers and other event attendees before getting my books signed by all of the authors! (Poor Marissa. I made her sign my whole stack but she was really kind about it and happily personalized all ELEVEN. What a lady.)

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GIVEAWAY

The giveaway is thanks to the wonderful folks at Macmillan!! One lucky winner will receive ALL FOUR featured Fierce Reads books: UNFORGOTTEN by Jessica Brody, UNRAVELED by Gennifer Albin, CRESS by Marissa Meyer, and LAILAH by Nikki Kelly! (This giveaway is US only.)

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Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3) – Emmy Laybourne

Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3) – Emmy LaybourneTitle: Savage Drift (Monument 14 #3) by Emmy Laybourne
Publishing Info: May 6, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 12, 2014
Related Posts: Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1), Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2), Dress Your Marines in White (Monument 14 #0.5), Sweet

    It's over. Dean, Alex, and the other survivors of the Monument 14 have escaped the disaster zone and made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Some of the kids have been reunited with their families, and everyone is making tentative plans for the future. And then, Niko learns that his lost love, Josie, has survived!Or is it? For Josie, separated from the group and presumed dead, life has gone from bad to worse. Trapped in a terrible prison camp with other exposed O’s and traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue. Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid—along with her two protectors, Dean and Jake—joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with Josie. In Monument 14: Savage Drift, the stunningly fierce conclusion to the Monument 14 trilogy, author Emmy Laybourne ups the stakes even higher for a group of kids who have continually survived the unthinkable. Can they do so one last time?

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I’m so excited to finish the MONUMENT 14 trilogy! The Fierce Reads event where Emmy Laybourne was promoting the very first book was my first book event/author appearance ever and MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE was my book of choice on my way back from BEA last year, so the trilogy holds a bit of a special place in my heart!

One thing I’ve always loved in the series was how Emmy doesn’t shy away from writing the really action-packed, in-your-face scenes. She does tone down on the swearing (hey, we have to keep it PG-13 somehow, right?) but the action, the gore, the reality of what is happening in the book is never really glossed over. Things don’t get TOO violent, but the reader really gets to experiences things as the characters are – right there in the thick of it.

I really appreciated the dual POVs! We saw dual POVs between Dean and Alex in SKY ON FIRE but MONUMENT 14: SAVAGE DRIFT features Dean as the male lead still and Josie as the other view point. The last we knew of her, she had sacrificed herself to protect the lives of the other kids and presumed dead so it was really interesting to not only get a female POV but also one that’s taking place on the complete opposite side of the country and so distant from the main group of kids.

The one thing I think I was missing throughout the trilogy was maybe a bit more character development and relationship development. I really enjoyed reading about each of the characters but there were so many and there was so much going on that I really would have liked to see them interact a bit more so I could get to know a bit more about them. I was just lacking a little bit of connection to each one and I actually ended up connecting to Josie the most in this book, I think because her character was so far removed from everyone else that we knew that I really got to see how she handled herself on her own.

The ending was just what I always wanted it to be. Everything wrapped up so nicely and there were even little bonuses I didn’t see coming. It was a great apocalyptic and action-packed trilogy that I think many different ages could enjoy, male or female. I’m so glad I invested my time in this series and I feel a little twinge of satisfaction having finished it! I really enjoyed Emmy’s books and plan on picking up more of her works in the future!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Monument 14: Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne

HOW INTERESTING. Haha, sorry guys! Read it pretty much from cover to cover on a plane so I didn’t get to update this one!

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Dean // Character Obsessions: Survival, Astrid, reuniting the group, the farm. 
I liked Dean but I still don’t feel like I KNOW him. He was still fairly quiet in the final book although he really starts coming into his own and making his voice heard. I think he was just kind of a middle person for me… Not really a leader but not really a follower. He sort of blended in. By the end of the trilogy, I just really wanted him to stand out more to me.
Josie // Character Obsessions: Control, survival, Niko, trust.
I loved her POV in this book! She actually did stand out to me which was great. She is one tough cookie! I can’t imagine ever being in that situation and she really held her own, even fighting many times for what she wanted and what she needed. I also loved that she had a great mix of strong and then more tender moments. Definitely a nice, well-rounded character in this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Disaster scenarios. I’m not always into the disaster situation scene but I really loved how this one wasn’t a natural disaster! I caused some, sure, but this was something that went way deeper than that. The greed of man.
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. They were some really great characters but I was juuust missing that personal connection to them and really getting to know their histories.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I think this trilogy is a bit underrated. Although I wish I had gotten to know the characters a bit more, I really enjoyed it overall and I think it was solid as far as momentum, plot, and action go!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SAVAGE DRIFT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       The Rule of Three   Unremembered

Fierce Reads Tour Summer 2014 (Chicago): Recap & Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Leigh Bardugo, Ava Dellaira, Jennifer Mathieu, Emmy Laybourne
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
June 20, 2014

I always love the Fierce Reads tour. It’s no exaggeration when I say that it’s one of my most favorite book events that comes to town! The authors are always amazing, the books are fantastic, I always love Macmillan, and the tours are just plain fun. They also draw a really amazing crowd and I got to see so many friends that I haven’t even seen in a while!

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The event started just a bit late on account of the authors being interviewed by the book store owner for the Naperville cable access show (and somehow that made me think of The Princess Diaries and Lily’s cable show… But moving on…) so we finally gathered and started the event around 7:15! We were all just excited and buzzing with anticipating! Rachel from Anderson’s Bookshop was moderating the event and had some really fun questions for the authors! (Questions and answers will be paraphrased.)

QUESTION: Did you start out with the title of your book before you began writing or did you go through a few titles before one stuck?
// Emmy Laybourne‘s first title was “We Are ValueMart” which she ended up changing because it sounded too happy… and it would have been confusing if she kept it because the store’s name changed from ValueMart too!
// Leigh Bardugo said the working title for Shadow and Bone was just “The Grisha” but she was told it needed to “be more Googleable”. When she would tell people what the title was, they heard “the Grecians” and it didn’t seem like a book title but more like a series. She came up with Shadow and Bone and then found out about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and tried to change it, but it was too late and Shadow and Bone was the winner! As for Siege and Storm/Ruin and Rising, those actually came pretty easily!
// Ava Dellaira thought of the title first as she was driving. Love Letters to the Dead inspired her story.
// Jennifer Mathieu‘s working title was “Alice Franklin is a Slut” and then it got sort of… “toned down” to “The Truth About Alice Franklin” which they just ended up shortening to The Truth About Alice.

QUESTION: If you could hang out with one character from your books for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
// Emmy Laybourne said Max and she would parent the hell out of him! His uncle is the bouncer at a strip club in the books and poor little Max is always around all kinds of crazy happenings so Emmy would make him grilled cheese sandwiches and take him to the playground and really just be a good parent to him!
// Leigh Bardugo said Strumhond (AND WE ALL AGREED). They would go marauding, have all kinds of adventures… you know, general activities with Sturmhond. She said with his attitude and being so cavalier, she could probably only hang out with him for a day or two though and then she would be exhausted of him!
// Jennifer Mathieu said Kurt. She said they were fairly similar in ways and he’s actually a lot like her husband is. She loved how he was a friend to Alice and he’s just one of her favorite characters.
// Ava Dellaira said she’s cheating a little bit and go with Amelia Earhart. She would love to spend time with her and maybe fly around in a plane. (Then jokes were made about how maybe that wouldn’t end well!!)

QUESTION: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?
// Emmy Laybourne said she outlines! With fourteen characters, she really has to in order to know what’s going on and where everyone is!
// Leigh Bardugo plots as well. She uses the three act structure and basically comes up with an outline of her whole book using this method and then fills in the gaps. She never ends up writing and then hitting a wall because she already knows the beginning, middle, and end.
// Ava Dellaira spent a long time listening to her characters and really letting them shape the book. She spent about a year getting to know her characters and then another year touching up the details and the rest of the book so everything fit well together! She took a screenplay approach and made sure all of the scenes really flowed nicely.
// Jennifer Mathieu is very organized with many things, but she sort of lets the characters guide her too. She likes to think she would be more of an outliner but sometimes her characters just take her where they want to.

QUESTION: What’s one thing from your books that got cut that you wish hadn’t?
// Emmy Laybourne didn’t really have to cut anything because she has an outline of her book that she works on with her editors and then once they’re all on the same page, she goes from there. But she’s working on the screenplay for the Monument 14 movie and she got to add something she did want, which was a funny scene between Astrid and Sahalia.
// Leigh Bardugo didn’t really have much she had to cut either, but some of her “gallows humor”, not matter how much she tried sneaking it back in there, didn’t make the final cut.
// Ava Dellaira ended up cutting a lot of details about one of Laurel’s old friends who was one of her favorite characters. The character was still in the book but a lot of her story got taken out.
// Jennifer Mathieu ended up cutting a whole character named Carmen who was one of her favorites! She really loved her but it was just too many voices. She’s hoping Carmen will be able to make an appearance in a future book instead.

QUESTION: What are you working on right now?
// Emmy is working on a new series that’s a horror/comedy! It’s about a cruise involving a whole bunch of (fake) B/C/D list celebrities that are all there advertising this new beverage but… the beverage becomes strangely addicting! Everyone drinks EVERY possible drop they can — even finding it in the materials that it’s clinging to on the cruise ship — until it’s all gone and the only place left they can smell it is… In each other’s blood! She’s also working on the screen play for the Monument 14 movie.
// Leigh is working on her new series, The Dregs! It’s been marketed as Ocean’s 11 in the Grishaverse and guys — this sounds so much like The Lies of Locke Lamora that I am DYING. It sounds amaaaaazing. Humor, heists, grishaverse. I cannot wait.
// Ava‘s book got optioned for a movie by the same people who did The Fault in Our Stars so she’s very excitedly working on the screen play!
// Jennifer‘s working on her next book which is sort of a cult-tale, but so much more than that. It’s about a girl from a very religious family and she sort of gets the chance to step outside of that and see the real world, see what it’s like, and then decide if she wants to go back or not.

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There were more questions from the Q&A but I don’t remember all of them! As always, the Fierce Reads ladies were FANTASTIC and I had such a good time! I got to tell Emmy Laybourne that it was so good seeing her again because the Fierce Reads tour from two years ago in 2012 was my first book event EVER and she and Leigh were at that event so it’s always very special to me to see them again as well as read their books. I was also excited to see Leigh again! I’ve met her a few times now and have almost all of my books from her personalized (except for my dang B&N special edition of Ruin and Rising which didn’t arrive in time, but got my pre-ordered copy from Amazon signed)!

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GIVEAWAY!

I put together a fun little prize pack for a giveaway that I’m calling The Fierce Reads starter kit! I love these ladies and these books so much that I want to get one lucky winner on their way to falling in love with these books/series! The starter kit includes:

  • Signed paperback of SHADOW AND BONE
  • Signed paperback of MONUMENT 14
  • ARC of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE
  • Fierce Reads tote
  • Fierce Reads poster
  • Some signed bookmarks
  • RUIN AND RISING and MONUMENT 14 buttons
  • SHADOW AND BONE and RUIN AND RISING nail polish
  • Other swag

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UPDATE: One more book added to the giveaway! I also have an ARC of Broken Fences, Hearts, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn! 

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One winner will be chosen at the end of the giveaway to receive everything in the picture you see here! Winner must be 13 years of age or older and have a US mailing address. Sorry, no international entires, please! Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notifying email before the prize is forfeited to the next person. 

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The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2) – Richelle Mead

The Kiss of DeceptionCompleted: May 24, 2014
Publishing Info: May 29th 2014 by Dutton Adult
Source: egalley approved via publisher via Edelweiss // Thank you!!
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Speculative (Adult)
POV: Alternating Third Person (Justin/Mae/Tessa)
Find It Online:  Goodreads // Amazon // B&N
Related Reviews: Gameboard of the Gods (AoX1) // Vampire Academy Series

   “Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.
    Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.
    Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.” — From Goodreads

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I really enjoyed THE IMMORTAL CROWN! I’ll admit that I had a bit of a hard time during parts of the first book, GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t always sure exactly what the overall feel was supposed to be since the only experience with Richelle Mead’s books that I had was all vampire-based. It took me a while to fall into the feel of this new series, but that was a definite advantage heading into THE IMMORTAL CROWN — I already felt connected to both the setting and the characters.

I haven’t been into mythology-based books lately because many of the retellings I’ve been picking up just haven’t been fitting my personal tastes or I didn’t feel they were adapted well. I had a very brief moment in the beginning of THE IMMORTAL CROWN where I was really unsure about where the gods would take this book and series, but as soon as that doubt creeped in, an instance popped up — a supernatural instance at that — and totally grabbed my attention, throwing my doubts right out the window.

I feel like everything in this book really stepped it up a notch — the plot thickened, the characters grew on me even more, and many more surprising moments caught me off-guard, a few really flooring me (like the ENDING whaaaat!!!), really heightening my enjoyment of the book and the series overall that much more. I was enjoying The Age of X just fine, but the ending of this book especially really reeled me into the series and not just the book, making sure I would come back for more (and oh, did it ever).

The relationships in this book really made it for me, and not just romantic relationships. Justin and Mae have a great partnership, both feeding off of romantic/affectionate feelings, but also just working together really well as a professional team. I just adore Justin’s relationship with Tessa as a sort of mentor and guardian and even though he isn’t always the most responsible person, he always makes sure she’s safe and he really cares for her a lot. I also love how the relationships with the gods are really amped up in this book and start to come into play a lot more. It definitely piqued my interest and I cannot wait to see where this goes in the next book.

I think this series is growing the further I get into it and I’m anticipating a really great third book in this series! The more I get to know about the characters, the plot, the mythology, and the relationships, the more I just want of them all! I already can’t wait to continue on in the series, ESPECIALLY with where it left off!

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Justin March // Character Obsessions: Religions, Arcadian agenda, Mae.
Justin cracks me up and fascinates me all at the same time. I love his charm and how he uses it — not even for women, but to really assess his “marks” and use what he knows about them to steer them towards his agenda. His thought process is fascinating and it was especially interesting to see how once his personal feelings for Mae (and his family) start to become more thickly involved, how that really affects Justin’s personal game, both mentally and emotionally.
Mae Koskinen // Character Obsessions: Rescue missions, exploring gods, Justin.
I love how Justin really started to break down Mae’s walls and how the reader was able to really pick up on more of her personal life even more in this book. Mae is fascinating to me — the praetorian aspect of it almost reminds me of Reboot by Amy Tintera… She has an almost cold and calculating air about her but she really starts to tap into her emotional side once she finds someone to help bring that out in her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology. I haven’t been loving a lot of mythology lately. Heck, I wasn’t even convinced in the first 5% of this book… But I really like the way it’s been integrated in this series and I’m totally hooked now. I think I appreciate mythology much more when it meshes well with a more realistic aspect so it doesn’t seem to “out there” for me and I’m really enjoying where Richelle Mead is taking this series!
Left Me Wanting More: Banter. In a way, I liked that the romance was starting to become more emotional than physical, but I also liked the more volatile relationship that Mae and Justin had. I love banter and I missed that a little bit in this book!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this book and really started to get into the series! I’m definitely looking forward to future books in The Age of X and I’m really starting to get into this the more I read.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Reboot       Antigoddess