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Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3), Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

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 There was so much hype for AURORA RISING, from the reading community and I admit, my own hype since there’s so much love for Amie & Jay! I think this was a really fun first book and an intro to the main characters, setting up for the rest of a great series.

I’m not sure if I was just unfocused or if it was something other readers experienced/will experience, but I found the beginning to not flow well in some spots. I did listen to the audiobook while I was working, but since I do that all the time, even with complicated fantasy, I found it a bit jarring in some spots where I actually had to go back and re-listen to a couple things to make sure I didn’t have a track out of place or anything. It wasn’t bad but it was just something that didn’t really seem to fit in sequence so I had to adjust to some transitions or lack thereof.

I also just found the beginning to be a little lacking. Going into AURORA RISING after reading NEVERNIGHT and reflecting on The Illuminae Files, I kind of feel like some of the YA plot lines are held back to not overwhelm readers with detail, but I personally love how detailed worlds and characters can get, especially when designing worlds to include alien races, new planets, and even more space! Obviously adult novels and YA novels will differ and this is a project with Amie and not just Jay alone, but after reading NEVERNIGHT, the book just felt like it was being held back and cut down where I would have loved so much more world-building and expansion.

The book was very enjoyable and a lot of fun to read! I always love the misfit crews and classic sass and sarcasm! It just makes everything so much fun and creates a great character and crew dynamic. The story was interesting and I didn’t guess where it was going and how everything was connected! I didn’t totally love it but it was unique and I’m curious to see how everything fits in later on in the series!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Science Fiction. I’ve been wanting to read more sci-fi and I felt like I was… but looking back on my reads I need to read so much more! Books in space are always so much fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. I just didn’t feel like things flowed as well as they could have. I was hoping for a little more development in the beginning as well.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is still a really fun read even though it’s hard to live up to the hype and creativity of Illuminae! It was a lot of fun though.

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BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne Young

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: March 19, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1), Just Like Fate

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

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** This review WILL contain spoilers for the book. The paragraph with major spoilers is clearly marked. ** 

I was SUPER excited to pick up GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS expecting some crazy stuff because more than a few of my most trusted reviewers (and good friends) rated this book five stars so I was expecting to finally be in for a treat and not be the black sheep on a hyped book (again). Aaaand then came the awkward moment where I realized I’m yet again just not getting on the hype train.

There’s not really a good way to talk about this book without spoilers because yes, there is a Big Thing at the end of the book and sharing anything about it or noting any comparisons really gives the big reveal away so I’ll put that all in a spoiler tag later. The one comparison I can make that’s not a spoiler is that it reminded mea little bit of the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS had a dystopian feel to it like The Chemical Garden books with that same concept of young girls being raised/made to be wives and sold off (or kidnapped) so it had me reeling all the way back to 2012 when I read the first book so hey, 7-year flashback going on and keeping that dystopian hype alive! I was expecting the book to be a little more thriller with some sci-fi aspects and it is creepy and mysterious but I think it feels much more dystopian/dark sci-fi than that thriller aspect, which is really what I was hoping for.

Once you understand the ending, it’s easier to look back at the whole book and see things in a different light, but I was so uncomfortable reading this book until we got to that point. There were some hints dropped but the book was really hard to read with how poorly these girls were treated. A lot of the hype and excitement of the book comes from the girls rising up and smashing the patriarchy but it was just so painful to witness them being treated like property (literally), sexually abused, and trained to be brainless and obedient. This went on for SO LONG throughout the book (okay, really literally through the end) so it was just so hard to read and I was so uncomfortable. There were little rebellions throughout but it was just a constant onslaught of abuse that I found it really difficult to enjoy.

THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. SKIP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. Sooo the twist is that this book is basically kind of Westworld but without the western aspect. The girls have all been “born” in a lab with organs and skin that have been grown there but are full of wires that connect to a metal brain and it’s all artificial intelligence. It presents the same kind of question that Westworld did (or does… I stopped watching it because I also found that plot to be slow-moving to get on with the big picture) — when AI starts to adapt, think, learn, and love, it is human and does it have human rights, or is it essentially still just a machine? Is it both? There’s no doubt that these characters are humanized (clearly, since we’re not told that they’re AI until the end of the book) and there are a lot of complicated feelings involved! Did I love the twist? Ehhh. Does it lessen how poorly they were treated? I still felt greatly uncomfortable and didn’t feel any better about reading what I did just because they were AI. It does make more sense to go back and see the “logic” about why they were treated like property but all that really did for me was open up a whole other can of worms. I also kind of felt like it took too long to get there because I would have liked to explore that more in the book.

I don’t know where the series is going but I would have liked to get to the ending a little quicker so we could spend more time soaking it in and exploring those ideas. I suppose it is a series (which I didn’t realize when I first got the book but did know before I started it) so there’s still time for that. I feel like it COULD have been a stand alone. I don’t know where the rest of the series is going but I don’t have any desire to continue on with it, which is also why I rated it down to two stars instead of three. If I had more of a curiosity to continue, I probably would have felt like I was leaving it on a higher note but I just am not interested in more of this story.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian reads! This was a little bit between dystopian and sci-fi and I had some major early 2000s – 2010s dystopian flashbacks!
Left Me Wanting More: Time away from abuse. Gosh, this book was hard to read with the main characters constantly being abused and controlled. I was uncomfortable for most of the book and it just made it so difficult. I get that that’s also the point but I was just constantly on edge in the way that it was presented for some reason.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Some of my close reader friends really, really loved this one. I just had a hard time reading it. I say check things out and see what you think!

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BOOKS LIKE GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS

             

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra Bracken

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 23, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

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Mehhhhh. I just did not enjoy the conclusion to this series at all. I’m so far past my dystopian fascination that I just wasn’t really interested after so much time went by but. I really did want to finish the series but I was worried about all of that going in.

Aside from the genre qualms, I really did feel like this series didn’t really need to be a trilogy. I think it could have done fine at two books, maybe even one depending on editing. Things felt incredibly dragged out in IN THE AFTERLIGHT and there were a lot of things that I thought could have been addressed in NEVER FADE, and things that I really wanted to be addressed the previous book, like more about the cause of the abilities. As far as action and content, I think a lot could have been cut to be a two book series but I guess trilogies were really hot at this point in time.

The thing I feel with a lot of dystopians nowadays is that that everyone feels whiny and everyone feels SO dramatic. I get it — it’s the literal end of the world, but things like that tend to need a bit more comic relief or a little less “dude that I love is my life and soul.” Teenagers are dramatic as well bu sometimes it’s just too much for me.  Ruby took on a lot of this for me and characters like Chubs and Vida were more fabulous and provided some of that relief, but the drama still took the spotlight. Liam was maybe TOO good for my tastes. It felt a little too polarizing for Liam to be GOOD and Cole to be the BAD boy. At least Cole had more going on. The villain became a bit too villainous and everyone was just so black and white when I would have loved more human grey areas, as is natural. I found myself just wanting to be done so I could finally be done and move on. If I hadn’t listened to these as audiobooks, it would have taken me forever or I may have not even finished.

But at last, it’s done and I am happy that I did finish the series. Dystopians have just lost their sparkle and appeal to me. I’ve read so many books since I fell in love and out of love with dystopian that it’s just all so tropey to me. Plus, this was Alexandra Bracken’s debut series and I think her writing was still growing. (Although I didn’t love Passenger either…)

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Kept Me Hooked On: The last of my dystopian loves. I really did LOVE dystopians — hardcore — back in 2011 and 2012. I wanted to inhale them. I liked heading back to THE DARKEST MINDS after all these years.
Left Me Wanting More: Developed characters. I just didn’t feel like anyone had depth! I actually feel like Chubs was the more relatable character. I didn’t connect with Ruby, Liam was too good, and everyone was so black and white.

Addiction Rating
Finish it

I think it’s worth finishing the series to find out why everything happened but I just had a really hard time with it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE IN THE AFTERLIGHT

              

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne YoungTitle: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Macmillan, Wednesday Books
Source: Borrowed, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: April 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

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There’s no question that SKY IN THE DEEP is one of the most buzzed about books of 2018 in the book community, especially on Instagram! I had so many friends who loved the book before it even released so I borrowed an ARC from my friend Kori so I could read it (and make a candle for it haha!) and see what the buzz was about!

With any popular release, the hype scared me, and I think it got me a little bit. I really did enjoy it but when there’s a lot of hype, I tend to expect a lot of big twists or surprising elements and SKY IN THE DEEP was a little more quiet, despite its ferocity. The book doesn’t really shy away from the more gory and brutal elements of the Viking traditions and battles but there’s also quieter aspect that allows relationships of all sorts to unfold and doesn’t have the book showing all-out action all the time. It wasn’t something I expected but the more I reflect on the book, the more I appreciate it.

I really enjoyed the different feel that SKY IN THE DEEP provided. It has that blend of fantasy and historical fiction that I enjoyed so much in books like THE WINNER’S CURSE. It’s a fantasy world but it doesn’t necessarily focus so much on a magic system. The author gets to create her own clans, traditions, and setting without being stuck in an actual place, historically or geographically. I’m really starting to appreciate settings like these and it was a great thing to read in SKY IN THE DEEP!

I wanted a little bit more from the ending in a couple of different ways but I also wasn’t dissatisfied. I felt like the book ended but still left room for more to come and I’d definitely pick up more! I can totally see why so many people loved it.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Low-magic fantasy. There’s a word for this. Low fantasy? I never know the actual terms aside from high fantasy haha. But I enjoy reading fantasy that isn’t totally dependent on a magical system as a part of the plot!
Left Me Wanting More: Action? There was something about the pacing that I wasn’t expecting. I think I was just looking for a little more of something in the beginning of the book and a lot more developed in the second half, so I didn’t start connecting as much until then.

Addiction Rating
Read it

There’s definitely a reason why SKY IN THE DEEP was so popular this year! It was very well-written and I had a couple of pacing issues but it really was enjoyable and well worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE SKY IN THE DEEP

              

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: October 15, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible, BEA 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 18, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

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After many, many years, I finally re-read THE DARKEST MINDS and then continued on with the rest of the series. I hadn’t loved THE DARKEST MINDS on my re-read as much as I did the first time around and it’s been a long time since I’ve really been interested in dystopian so I had no idea how the rest of the series was going to go for me.

A FIVE QUESTIONS REVIEW

In an attempt to do a quick review style, and not get hung up on a traditional sense, here’s a review in five questions!

WHO? NEVER FADE separated our crew for a bit and you know how much I struggle with that. I enjoyed getting to know more about Ruby and following her story more in this book. We also learn a whole lot more about the Children’s League and their loyalties as well as meeting new characters who play an important part like badass Vida and sweet Jude. And then, of course, there’s Cole who teaches us a whole lot about… well, I guess I won’t get into all of that because of spoilers!

WHAT? The actual concept of the disease played a lot bigger part in this book and I liked how that added to the overall series development. I was glad we got to know more about why the kids started developing abilities but I also wish that we had gotten a bit more in this book as well. We also get to know more about Reds and what happened to them, and if any of them really still exist.

WHERE? A lot of this book takes place with the Children’s League and their territory. There are a lot of mixed feelings about them and their cause and I felt myself going back and forth trying to pick apart the true intentions.

WHEN? There’s a little time after the end of THE DARKEST MINDS and we pick up with Ruby after she’s been working with them for a while.

WHY? This book is clearly a bridge to the finale and it did feel like a middle book. I don’t really like when series separate main characters like this one did so it kind of really stuck that middle-book feel.

This story was okay but I did notice myself tiring of the dystopian factor already, even before book three. I had a hard time wanting to finish the series but it was so close anyway. NEVER FADE wasn’t as appealing as THE DARKEST MINDS and it kind of didn’t go in the direction that I was expecting, but I also should have expected it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Liam. Liam really is one of the best parts of this series. He’s so good and he truly has a good heart which is so refreshing compared to the nice guy who picks fights or turns bad.
Left Me Wanting More: Book One Feel. I missed the chemistry between Ruby and Liam from the first book, which I loved so much!

Addiction Rating
Continue on

The series is worth continuing but this really wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVER FADE

              

Mini-Review: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 – #0.2)

Mini-Review: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 – #0.2)Title: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 - #0.2 by Victoria Aveyard
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 7, 2016
Related Posts: Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1)

Two women on either side of the Silver and Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.
Discover the truth of Norta’s bloody past in these two revealing prequels to #1 New York Times bestseller Red Queen.
Queen Song
Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.
Steel Scars
Diana Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.
Plus a Glass Sword sneak peek!
An exclusive excerpt of the hotly anticipated second book in the Red Queen series, Glass Sword, transports readers to the world of Silver tyranny, a Red dawn rising, and one girl’s resolve to break down the system that will hold her back no longer.

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I wanted to check out CRUEL CROWN before I started GLASS SWORD as a sort of memory refreshed and to throw me back in that world. Even though I had only liked RED QUEEN and not loved, I still found myself sucked in that world so I figured it was a great opportunity to read the novellas! The two novellas in this bind-up (in my case, audio bind-up — thanks, HarperTeen, for the review copy!) were QUEEN’S SONG about Coriane, the first wife of King Tiberias and STEEL SCARS which was about Farley.

QUEEN’S SONG ended up being incredibly interesting but it did have quite the slow start for me. I felt like it took a little bit to really establish what the overall plot of the novella was and me and my bad memory didn’t quite remember what had happened to Coriane as we had learned it in RED QUEEN. I remembered the gist but I had a hard time remembering details so this was actually a great chance to see things from Cori’s POV. I really liked her a lot and although I didn’t connect with her personality as much as I had hoped, her story did keep me hooked the whole time. The ending was really interesting and I loved how there was a little twist there.

STEEL SCARS did not go as well. I had an incredibly hard time getting into this story at all. I wasn’t sure where it was going and I just really didn’t care about Farley’s story at all. I felt like not a whole lot was happening and to be totally honest… I didn’t even bother to finish it. I didn’t feel like it was important to the overall plot of the RED QUEEN series and I was just so bored.

I’m glad I ventured into the novellas but I also don’t feel drawn to pick up more should more come out. I guess that could change if I end up loving GLASS SWORD but now I’m sort of meh about starting GLASS SWORD too. Kind of a bummer that the novellas ended up having the opposite effect on me than I had hoped.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian. Technically this series is more fantasy than dystopian but it always has that dystopian feel for me. I’ve really fallen out of love with dystopia lately but the RED QUEEN books have had me hanging on.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt like QUEEN’S SONG took a while to go anywhere and STEEL SCARS didn’t have much going on at all.

Addiction Rating
Skip them

Unless you’re a BIG fan of the series, I wouldn’t really recommend these two novellas. They didn’t really go well for me and I just wasn’t as hooked as I had hoped.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CRUEL CROWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 CATCHING FIRE    THRONE OF GLASS

Unraveled (Crewel World #3) – Gennifer Albin

Unraveled (Crewel World #3) – Gennifer AlbinTitle: Unraveled (Crewel World #3) by Gennifer Albin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 24, 2015
Related Posts: Crewel (Crewel World #1)

Autonomous. Independent. Dangerous. They tried to control her. Now she’ll destroy them.
Things have changed behind the walls of the Coventry and new threats lurk in its twisted corridors. When Adelice returns to Arras, she quickly learns that something rotten has taken hold of the world and Cormac Patton needs her to help him reestablish order. However, peace comes at a terrible price. As the Guild manipulates the citizens of Arras, Adelice discovers that she’s not alone, and she must let go of her past to fight for mankind’s future. She will have to choose between an unimaginable alliance and a deadly war that could destroy everyone she loves.

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Poor UNRAVELED. This was another series I just waited too long to finish and I totally lost steam with it. I ended up actually grabbing the audiobook for this to make some progress and finally finish out this series but I just couldn’t quite get into it. I also do feel like a good book is still a good book and even though I took a long time to read UNRAVELED, that wasn’t the only issue. I really wasn’t able to fall back into it and this book really lost the familiarity for me. I felt like the characters had changed — which isn’t a bad thing at all — but I did miss the banter and sarcasm that I felt was much more prevalent in the first two books.

I also had a bit of trouble with the fact that there were some things that popped up in this book that I don’t remember at all from CREWEL or UNALTERED. Yes, they were things that would have popped up later in the series and especially in a conclusion but I love when authors are able to layer their books/series so things so huge and series-changing at least have a small mention before they alter the entire course of a book. I did struggle with a few things like that with UNRAVELED and I just wish there was at least some mention of some of these really large concepts before they came into play. 

I was actually fairly disappointed with the ending. I suppose it’s more of a personal preference but the way that everything played out seemed abrupt and unsatisfying. I was working on catching up to all of these major ideas and concepts and then once it was all over, it took a bit too long to wrap up. Without spoiling anything, it really there was one final question to answer and I just wasn’t happy with how it was answered and how long it took for the one final reveal.

There were things that I enjoyed about the book while reading/listening but looking back on it now, I feel like I barely remember what happened and everything else was more of a memory of what I had read in CREWEL and ALTERED. Again, I think it was mostly the fact that I just took so long to finish this series. I think I could have been in a higher rating-range had I read it sooner but I also think it still wouldn’t have been a stellar finish for me no matter what. 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!

Untitled

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Adelice // Character Obsessions: Saving the world, love, family. 
I felt so disconnected from Adelice in this book. I just really felt like she lost all of her personality and although she still had that drive to save the world, I just couldn’t click with her at all here. I just really struggled.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Finishing series. I really am trying to catch up on some of the series that Just need to finish and soon!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. It just wasn’t there for me. Between waiting to finish, the characters, new concepts, slow pacing… This one just didn’t do it for me.

Addiction Rating
Read it?

I suppose if you’re read books one and two and enjoyed them, then it’s worth reading to finish up the trilogy. If you weren’t a fan of the first two, I don’t know if this one will convince you.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE UNRAVELED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DIVERGENT    THE VAULT OF DREAMERS

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) – Marissa Meyer | Review + Giveaway!

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) – Marissa Meyer | Review + Giveaway!Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 10, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Purchased
Genres: Young Adult, Retelling, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 28, 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), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? (less)

bookreview1How does one read the last book in one of their favorite series much less REVIEW it? Actually, as highly anticipated as WINTER was, I really do have some coherent thoughts. (They’re much more coherent than I was with CRESS, I think, because I’ve been preparing for this!)

Let’s start off with the amazing, shall we? I absolutely love that this series adds layer upon layer with the story and the characters. We finally get to meet and spend time with Winter in this book and it was so awesome to have that final piece of the puzzle fall into place. This book had some serious #squadgoals when this team comes together and I adore how they just fit together as a crew so well. Their personalities just mesh, their stories collide, and it’s absolute perfection.
I also love how much these characters evolve over the course of the series. It’s really about getting to know each one of them as they’re simultaneously going through the most complicated things of their lives. I really got to see their true character and how much each one of them grew throughout these experiences.

ALL THE SHIPSSSS. Cress and Thorne are my absolute favorites and they have some really, really great moments in this book. I’ve been rooting for them since CRESS and their relationship is just too adorable. Things really start to amp up with another one of my new favorites ships — Cinder and Kai. Yes, yes, I know. You guys have been on board since CINDER but I didn’t quite get into their relationship as much until CRESS and then I fell in love all over again with my re-reads. I just love their banter and how much strength each of them has not only individually but together. They had some super sweet moments and some really serious ones as well that really pushed my love for them over the edge! I actually do wish there had been a few more swoony moments? Oh boy were there some big ones… But I’m such a sucker for these relationships that I just want more!

The second half of the book really started to bring everything together and this is where the action was at! I actually wished a few more “holy cow” moments had happened in the beginning/middle because as exciting as all that action was, I didn’t quite feel stunned until later on in the book. Naturally, though, the halfway-point is where it’s at! The pacing really picked up and the book took off running and I was so excited and scared and happy all at the same time! I rather enjoyed the take on Snow White and it was really fun to see some very obvious comparisons (especially after hearing Marissa tell us the tale at her WINTER signing!) and then realize much later on that something was totally fairy-tale related and I hadn’t even realized it the whole time (the mining sector, right)! I just loved the ending and how much non-stop action there was. These characters came into their own and really proved how brave they were to stop crazy old Levana from tearing the world apart.

So as we know, I’m a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles. To start reading the final book was a mix of emotions with excitement and sadness dominating them all. I think because I was really not ready to say goodbye, I MAYBE ended up distancing myself from the book so I wouldn’t be too heartbroken when it ended and that could be the reason why I didn’t feel AS connected as I had with the other books. There’s also the fact that there’s just so much going on throughout this finale (it IS over 800 pages, after all) that it is a lot to take in. That’s not a bad thing but there is a whole lot of action, many characters, high stakes, and final countdowns so it really is putting that final sense of urgency on everything. I also have to say that Winter was my least favorite leading lady. It was just really hard to connect with her because of her visions and illness. It’s just a thing for me where I have a hard time connecting to characters who are more childlike or fanciful. Cress was definitely on the naive side but she wasn’t childish, and I felt like it was hard for me to connect with her the way I had with the other girls. Obviously she’s incredibly strong for being able to keep from using her Lunar gift all these years and that’s the reason why she’s been going mad but that aspect still was a bit hindering for me to really love her as much as the other girls.

WINTER was absolutely wonderful and while I don’t think it was my favorite of the series (honestly, I don’t think series-enders are EVER my favorites of the series — too much pressure!), I still absolutely loved it. I will forever be in love with the world that Marissa Meyer created and I can’t thank her enough for this beautiful series. It’s brought me so much happiness, allowed me to work with so many awesome people, and has even presented me with amazing opportunities to become more involved in the book community. I’m so joyful that I read it (thanks, Alyssa!) and I’m sure I’ll keep re-reading it for many years to come!

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“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!

winter gr updates

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Winter // Character Obsessions: Loyalty, delusions, strength, honor. 
Winter is actually a total badass. She may not seem like it but she’s incredibly strong to resist her Lunar gift for so many years and allow her delusions to take over. She’s always stood her ground against Levana (to the best of her ability) and she’s always been determined to see the right thing through to the end. I didn’t connect with her as much because it was a bit hard, I’ll admit, but I really did love her.
Jacin // Character Obsessions: Brooding, Winter, duty. 
Jacin, oh broody Jacin. He really only has one true interest in mind and that’s Winter. It definitely felt different than Scarlet’s one track mind to find her grandma and I’m not sure if it was because it was romantic? Because it was approached differently? But I loved his dedication to Winter and how their romance was portrayed throughout the book!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Space. I wouldn’t think I would really enjoy books set in space. I enjoy sci-fi but usually it’s more “light sci-fi”. I really enjoyed the colonization of the moon and the Lunar-Earthen conflicts/unions throughout this series!
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. I just LOVE these characters and their romances. I felt like I could have totally used more swoons. I don’t know if I’m just being greedy there though!!

Addiction Rating
Buy it! Love it!

You know I’m such a huge advocate of this series. I’ve just loved it from start to finish and WINTER was such a fun ending. Thank goodness we still have STARS ABOVE though, am I right?

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BOOKS LIKE WINTER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THRONE OF GLASS    UNDER THE NEVER SKY

GIVEAWAY!

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Long story short, I ended up with an extra copy of WINTER… that I was also able to get signed when I went to meet Marissa back in November! Since everyone is so excited about the series, all of my friends had already purchased a copy and this poor, lonely book didn’t have a home. Since I know you book lovers take GREAT care of your books and would love to own a signed copy, I thought I’d do a giveaway for this copy of WINTER!
As a bonus, the lucky winner will also receive a Winter-inspired candle! It’s one of the Lunar Chronicles-themed candles that I came up with for my new Etsy shop called Novelly Yours! I thought it would be a fun thing to add in there for the winner.
US entries only, please! (Sorry int’l! I just can’t afford the shipping.) Must be thirteen years of age or older to win. Please only fill out proper entries as I will be checking the winner! Cheaters never prosper. Xo! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#WickedReads | Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

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I recently read NIGHTFALL (and hosted a Twitter chat with one of the authors, Peter Kujawinski) as a part of Penguin Teen’s WICKED READS campaign! I’m a huge fan of Halloween (as you’ve seen from the past two weeks of A Fortnight of Fright posts) so I was especially excited to join in on the Wicked Reads fun! A really big thanks to Penguin Teen for having me be a part of the Wicked Reads feature and hosting the Twitter chat!! It’s be a total blast so far and there’s still a lot more fun to come!

Today I’m sharing my review for NIGHTFALL along with some other “Wicked Reads” that I enjoyed this Halloween season. Whether you’re reading to get in the Halloween spirit or just because you enjoy some scary books, these were all some really fun books that will put you in a horror or spooky mood so make a note if you’re looking for a few good recs!

First things first, let’s get into the review of NIGHTFALL!

#WickedReads | Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter KujawinskiTitle: Nightfall by Jake Halpern, Peter Kujawinski
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by Penguin
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 9, 2015

The dark will bring your worst nightmares to light, in this gripping and eerie survival story, perfect for fans of James Dashner and Neil Gaiman.
On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and  Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.

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I read NIGHTFALL for Penguin Teen’s Wicked Reads campaign and I’m really glad the timing for this worked out so well! I always enjoy a good, creepy read around Halloween (which I pretty much start reading for in September!) and NIGHTFALL was such a good creepy read for me because I’m a total chicken when it comes to horror. It was much more suspenseful with a little bit of horror and a whole lot of mystery so it made for an excellent selection for a scaredy cat like me!

Right away, I was intrigued by the plot of the book. The concept of years of day and years of night is really neat and I was hooked from start to finish in anticipation of what really happens on this island at night. I thought the authors did a great job of keeping the readers interested by giving out enough clues but still keeping the questions open. I sped through the pages to try to get all of the answers because I just had to know what was going on!

NIGHTFALL really reminded me of a mix of M. Night Shayamalan and The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry. It had all of that great suspense that you find in Shayamalan movies and the setting and characters really reminded me of The Giver Quartet, specifically GATHERING BLUE and MESSENGER. The feel of The Giver Quartet did make the book feel a bit younger than the YA range I typically read (usually on the higher end of YA and I tend to read more adult than middle grade) so I did find myself a bit less connected to the characters than I had hoped because they felt a bit young. That really wasn’t a bad thing but more of a personal preference. I really did enjoy the character dynamics but they didn’t feel quite as developed or dynamic as I had hoped.  The book was a really fun mix and I loved that it was one of those books that was so easy to explain in terms of feel. If you’re craving either one of those, NIGHTFALL is probably an excellent book to pick up next!

I will say, I wasn’t AS into the big picture answer as I had hoped. I really enjoyed that the reveal of what happened to this island at Night and who comes there was slowly revealed but I wasn’t super crazy about the answer. Again, this was more of a personal preference since it’s just not something I usually personally connect to but it was an exciting and interesting conclusion! (Sorry that’s a bit vague… I don’t want to spoil anything!)

NIGHTFALL was a quick and gripping read and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! The suspense was really great it was a fun read, especially for Halloween! It wasn’t totally the book for me but I thought it was well done and with just a bit more world-building and explanation, I think I could have really loved it!

MORE WICKED READS

I love mood/seasonal reading for Halloween and it’s the one season I really read for every year! Here are some more of my favorite books that put me in a Halloween mood and some excellent “Wicked Reads”! 

THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moira Fowley-Doyle

The Accident Season

THE ACCIDENT SEASON is another one of Penguin’s selected Wicked Reads (see the full list on their Tumblr!) and it was one I really enjoyed! It had such an amazing atmosphere, a great mystery, and some lovely character development. I was so hooked from start to finish and it really put me in a fall mood even though I read it in the summer! | REVIEW


PAPER VALENTINE by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

I haven’t read the other two Brenna Yovanoff books on the Wicked Reads list yet but I have read PAPER VALENTINE and I thought it was so great! This is another book with a fantastic atmosphere and a little bit of a murder mystery. The book is quirky, interesting, and unique and it really made me anxious to read more of Brenna Yovanoff’s books! | REVIEW


THE FALL by Bethany Griffin

The Fall – Bethany Griffin

I read THE FALL last year for Halloween and it was so delightfully creepy. It was just the perfect amount of horror for me to be excellently creeped out but not too scared! THE FALL is an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and I thought it was so  well done! | REVIEW


THIS DARK ENDEAVOR by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) – Kenneth Oppel

THIS DARK ENDEAVOR is an adaptation of Frankenstein but not all of it takes place in book one! I’ve only read the first book so far but I really want to continue with this series because I was definitely intrigued by the happenings in book one and like THE FALL, I loved the gothic horror feel! This was such a fun adaptation and I really want to get even more into the Frankenstein’s monster portion! | REVIEW


Don’t miss Penguin Teen’s #TwitterGhostStory feature on Twitter! It’s a week-long event from Monday, October 26th to Saturday October 31st in which you can write a spooky story in 140 characters or less using #TwitterGhostStory! Participants using the hashtag will be entered for the chance to win a prize pack of the featured Wicked Reads titles.

There is also still one more #WickedReads Twitter chat left! It’ll be this Friday the 30th at 4pm Eastern with some awesome Wicked Reads authors! Hope to see you there!!

That’ll do it for my Wicked Reads recommendations! Have you read any of these? Which books would you recommend for some great Halloween or fall reads? I always love to hear of some more books that are perfect for horror-chickens like me!!

A Non-Review: Rebel (Reboot #2) – Amy Tintera

A Non-Review: Rebel (Reboot #2) – Amy TinteraTitle: Rebel (Reboot #2) by Amy Tintera
Publishing Info: May 13, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss, Purchased
Genres: Young Adult, Zombies, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 3, 2015
Related Posts: Reboot (Reboot #1)

Wren Connolly thought she'd left her human side behind when she dies five years ago and came back 178 minutes later as a Reboot. With her new abilities of strength, speed, and healing—along with a lack of emotions—Wren 178 became the perfect soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Then Callum 22 came along and changed everything.
Now that they've both escaped, they're ready to start a new life in peace on the Reboot reservation. But Micah 163, the Reboot running the reservation, has darker plans in mind: to wipe out the humans. All of them. Micah has been building a Reboot army for years and is now ready to launch his attack on the cities. Callum wants to stick around and protect the humans. Wren wants nothing more than to leave all the fighting behind them.
With Micah on one side, HARC on the other, and Wren and Callum at odds in the middle, there's only one option left...
It's time for Reboots to become rebels.

One of my blog policies is that I will write a review for every single book I finish, no matter what my final opinion was. I’ve been growing a bit more lax with holding myself to reviewing but I still feel the draw to review almost every book, simply because I enjoy sharing my feelings about what I read and how I felt when I read it… but when it came time to review REBEL by Amy Tintera, I was at a total loss for words.

REBEL became victim of several unfortunate reading decisions that ended up with a sadly unfortunate overall impression of the book. I read REBOOT back when it first came out — no, before it first came out because I read it as an eARC — back in the spring of 2013. And yes, if you do that math, you’ll see that means that I didn’t get to REBEL until two and a half years later. Sometimes that gap is okay if I’m reading a big, epic fantasy series that I’m already invested in and may not even have the book available to read until a few years later (*cough*A Song of Ice and Fire*cough*) but I really screwed myself and any hopes I may have had of enjoying REBEL as much as I did REBOOT by waiting so long to read it. That’s just too many years to put in between the first and last books of a duology and by the time I read REBEL, not only had I forgotten a ton but my reading tastes had even changed a bit. I knew that I enjoyed REBOOT so I didn’t want to kick REBEL to the curb but I think I lost that prime reading opportunity about a year and a half ago.

This is one of the many hardships of being an avid reader and/or book blogger. (First world problems, I know.) There are just so many good books and series out there that it’s just so hard to pick what book I want to read next and perfectly good books/series tend to sit on my shelves while I start new ones. Then I put it off because I’m not in the mood for that genre or I have a book I need to read for a deadline or I need to catch up on ARCs and shove my backlist books to the side. This isn’t the first time this has happened to a series and I’m sure that sadly, it won’t be the last.

I tried to get back into REBEL by reading the Recaptains recap of REBOOT and everything sounded familiar all right but that feeling and connection to the characters was close to gone by the time I got to book two. I wanted to enjoy the book as much as I had enjoyed the first and it was really easy to read but that connection just wasn’t there. It could be that I just wasn’t into the book but I think most of it was that I waited too long.

This poor, poor book also didn’t stand a chance because it was the last book I read before I picked up QUEEN OF SHADOWS. I had the choice to read one more book before starting the latest in this epic fantasy series from Sarah J. Maas or I could just wait patiently and you know, wait. But any time that I could be reading and am NOT feels wasted so I grabbed REBEL off the shelf to try and finally finish this series and put another check mark on the never-ending list of series that I need to complete. Bad, bad move. I started REBEL and then didn’t have enough time to read before QUEEN OF SHADOWS arrived and before you knew it, the precious was in my hands and I was still reading a book all the while staring at this new pretty. So, shame on me, I ended up rushing through REBEL to finish so I could start a different book and continue on in one of my favorite series. That made me feel even more detached and I felt the pressure and was anxiously trying to finish so I could start reading QUEEN OF SHADOWS before the spoilers started hitting Goodreads. Poor, poor REBEL.

I tried to come up with some thoughts once I finished and I felt… Ambivalent. The book was okay. The writing was okay. The plot, romance, action, and characters were all okay. And “okay” doesn’t really make for a great review. When it comes down to it, it could have just been a middle-of-the-road book but I also think I did it an injustice by waiting too long to read it and then on the flip side, rushing through it. I know there are cases where a book can be better or worse depending on your mood (*raises hand as a mood reader*) and that a book may be better for you at one time in your life versus another but this is something that I’ll never know! I may have rated it higher had circumstances been different but the fact is that this is how my read went and all I can do is reflect on what I did read and how it made me feel at the time. And there you have the non-review.