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Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

Broken Things – Lauren OliverTitle: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: October 2, 2018 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: October 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Requiem (Delirium #3), Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Panic

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

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BROKEN THINGS was a very interesting read! I always appreciate Lauren Oliver’s storytelling style and this book certainly followed suit. There were a number of pieces that fit into Summer’s murder and as the book unfolded, things fell out of suspicion and others fell into place. I actually had no idea who Summer’s actual murder was until it was revealed but looking back, there were still small clues that I could have picked up on but didn’t. It was woven in well throughout the book and I was surprised, even though it didn’t quite feel right somehow.

One thing I really loved what the depth of each character. The main characters and narrators, Mia and Brynn (the girls who were blamed for Summer’s death), have both had life-changing experiences from their best friend’s murder, of course, and not just because they were blamed for it. They had other things going on with their families and friends and I really liked how Lauren Oliver really included all of those burdens & secrets that a person carries with them on a daily basis, not just the events after this tragedy and subsequent shunning. There was so much more that each character, including the supporting characters, was going through. They were mentioned as broken people and misfits, but really, I think everyone has a little bit of something that they’re carrying with them and I didn’t really love that label. I think a lot of people may feel like they’re “broken” but what I did love was that all of these characters found solace in each other, which is really what friendship is all about. When you’re a kid, everything feels so personal and I think as these characters grew up, much like I’ve experienced growing up, you find out that everyone has something they’ve gone through and you start listening to other people’s experiences. Each person got to understand things outside of their own world in different ways and that was a neat thing to witness in this book.

The other really interesting concept here was the addition of Lovelorn, a fantastical place in the girls’ favorite book that they used to imagine was real. There was a blurry line whether the place was real or not due to the experiences that they had, and even though the world is fictional, in a way it became real with the girls’ fan-fiction novel and how they tried to bring it to life through their actions. I liked how the line was constantly blurred throughout the book to get readers to feel like it could be real but there are still facts and truth that show what the real story is.

BROKEN THINGS definitely held my attention and I read over 200 pages in just a few hours. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down and the characters were well-rounded, and I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Muddy boundaries. I did enjoy how there was a blurred line between real and imaginary/fantasy! I liked how this was still a mystery but there were moments when you weren’t quite sure what was real.
Left Me Wanting More: Clues. I think I wanted just a few more clues to point to the killer. I liked that I had no idea who it was but it also made it less believable once it was revealed.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This is very typical of Lauren Oliver’s writing style and it was really enjoyable! I think if you like her books, this one will be a hit.

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BOOKS LIKE BROKEN THINGS

              

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 18, 2017 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

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I’ve enjoyed all of the Stalking Jack the Ripper novels and ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was no exception! It didn’t quite bowl me over the way the previous novels have but I always love a good murder mystery and the chemistry between Audrey Rose and Thomas is stellar, as always!

Let’s start with the awesome things. Audrey Rose always feels like such a real character. She’s strong, quick-witted, and she’s still human and makes typical mistakes that we’ve all mad. Sometimes it’s frustrating (and some things in the book did frustrate me more than I would have liked), but that’s all very true character-building. Thomas really comes more and more alive in each novel and I really felt like this was his best book yet. Where I’m normally drawn to Audrey Rose, Thomas really stole the show here and I was itching for more scenes with him front and center while Audrey Rose was off having carnival adventures! There was something that caused their chemistry to be shaken up here, which honestly, I didn’t love, but I did love how much more it connected me to Thomas and his emotions.

I noticed here were moments where I was having a hard time getting into the setting and putting myself in that place and I’m not sure why. It’s happened before (mostly in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA) and I’m wondering if it’s maybe the historical element throwing me off since I don’t read or enjoy a lot of historical fiction. Usually it’s not an issue when a mystery or some sort of supernatural element but for some reason I just haven’t been as attached to settings like Bran Castle and here, the cruise ship. I had moments where I’d be into it and then moments where I just didn’t feel like things were clicking but I still can’t quite pinpoint why, even looking back. I think the settings are just so different from book to book that maybe I’m just missing the London/Whitechapel/original setting.

I do basically live for Audrey Rose and Thomas though. I have so much love for the chemistry between those two and I was saddened to see how a few things were handled here because you know I hate shaking up couples, depending on how it’s handled. I don’t want to say a lot more so I don’t spoil anything but I just really wanted more time with them together and the murder investigation be the only thing that really shook things up. I’m so curious to see how the final copy differs from the ARC! The ending was changed and now I need to know so I’ll have to decide whether I want to go reread the whole thing or peek at the last section! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical murder mysteries. The historical aspect of a murder mystery really makes things interesting! I love the lack of technology and how much the characters have to rely on investigative skills. Left Me Wanting More: Couple time. I was really saddened to witness a few of Audrey Rose’s choices. I guess I can understand how a mysterious stranger is alluring but she also doesn’t seem like she should be manipulated so easily, especially at the expense of Thomas.

Addiction Rating Read it!

I do enjoy this series so much and I’m a big fan! This wasn’t my favorite book of the series but was still very enjoyable. I’m hoping with this obstacle out of the way, we get back to some major swoons again!

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Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) – Jennifer Rush

Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) – Jennifer RushTitle: Devils & Thieves (Devils & Thieves #1) by Jennifer Rush
Publishing Info: October 3, 2017 by Hachette, Little Brown
Source: ALAAC17
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 2, 2017

Power corrupts. Magic kills.

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael is surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn't help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe—the dangerous and enigmatic leader of Hawthorne’s kindled motorcycle gang, the Devils’ League.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor spreads that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

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I think DEVILS & THIEVES was my first Jennifer Rush book and I was excited to read about motorcycles and magic. First, let’s get this out of the way — it’s not about motorcycles. The different motorcycle clubs are various families and groups, usually specializing in certain powers (often because specific magics run in specific families too) but aside from riding in on a chopper, the mention of a garage, and general motorcycle attire, there were no motorcycles. It did capture the family, camaraderie, and tight-knit group of a club though.

I actually did enjoy the book and at the same time, it felt like it was missing some good gravy. DEVILS & THIEVES was enjoyable, mostly light with some serious danger (like a lot of paranormal/urban fantasy YA), and had some interesting magical concepts. I’m always a sucker for different categories of magic and add in colors and/or scents to go with them and you have my mind immediately picturing and smelling everything! I loved the sensory concept and it also helped me pick up on the different types and remember them more easily.
And yet… I felt like it just didn’t go as deep as I wanted it to. It wasn’t even that I was missing a history or backstory like I often do for a lot of books when that “thing” is missing, but I just wasn’t as engaged as I had hoped to be. I almost think there were TOO many different types of magic because even by the end of the book I didn’t have them all straight and I guess I would have just loved to see more time spent between a few characters and building their relationships rather than a love triangle, which I actually didn’t hate. Jemmie has a clear winner in her “triangle” but she also doesn’t want it to be him. (I did.)

I actually didn’t see the end coming, even though I really probably should have, but this was another fortunate case of reading the book and not reading too much into everything. I basically read it in 15-20 minute intervals on my lunch break at work so I didn’t have time to sit there and think about what I just read and what might happen next so I don’t pick up on clues and the like when that happens. The short reading time also probably hurts how much I enjoyed the book because it was so pieced up, although it was easy to hop right back in where I had left off.

I’m actually interested to see where the rest of the series goes because I thought it was interesting how it ended and I’m always up for a little twistiness! I would probably continue on audio because this book had a great light and easy feel to it with a delicious dash of darkness that would make for a great audio read (so long as the narrator is a good one).
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Kept Me Hooked On: Different magical structures. I really enjoyed the magic system in this book, as well as the structure of the families behind each ability and how they’re inherited!
Left Me Wanting More: Meat & potatoes. I just felt like there was a little meat left off the bones that could have really enhanced this book and gotten even further into this world!

Addiction Rating
Try it

It didn’t wow me but it was a fun read! I’m still interested in continuing the series because it was a fun and easy read but I’m not sure it’ll be a priority.

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Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) – Kerri Maniscalco

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: July 11, 2017 by Hachette, Jimmy Patterson
Source: ALAAC17, Author
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 8, 2017
Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again

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Kerri Maniscalso has done it again. HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA is just as fantastic as STALKING JACK THE RIPPER with a whole new exciting and yet horrific tale (and I mean that in the best possible way). I loved that HPD was a sequel to STALKING JACK THE RIPPER but it develops its own mystery and its own story line. The series continues with main characters Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell, so readers get to continue reading about their relationship, their work together, and their adventures along the way, but there’s no panic to think about the time that naturally occurs between each new book release because each case wraps up neatly! Although I will say that I’ll still panic a little bit since I read this book so long before its own release in the fall (I finished in May) and now I need to wait probably over a year for book three when I want to read it nowwwww. *ahem*

My only complaint about my experience with HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA is that life got in the way and I didn’t have enough time to just sit down and inhale it, as much as I wanted to. *grumbles things about responsibilities* Just like SJTR, I had so much fun reading this book from start to finish. I love the gothic horror elements, the pieces of true history combined with amazing adaptations and embellishments for the books, and most of all, the excellent banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas. Their relationship is fantastic in every possible way.

The suspense was constant and I loved the way that Kerri Maniscalco continuously shifted focus, as is natural in a mystery. When murders are occurring, it’s natural to be suspicious about everything and everyone and I always am as a reader so it was great to see how the focus tended to shift throughout the book as Audrey Rose and Thomas gathered up more clues. It kept me guessing as a reader and left some excellent surprises in the end! Looking back, I probably should have picked up on a few things but I’m actually glad that I wasn’t even thinking in that direction because the reveal was MOST EXCELLENT and the dark part of my heart totally flipped. out. a certain reveal point!

Kerri Maniscalco’s books are stunningly sensory with great visuals for the reader to picture, wonderful atmosphere, and delightful descriptions that really appeal to every sense. It was so easy to get lost in the castles and forests of Romania in a totally different time period despite knowing little to nothing about either the time or the place. The light tone from the banter amongst the characters really brings a great levity to a horror story that I always appreciate and it breaks some of the more serious moments to allow readers to enjoy some of that character development. The balance of dark and light is truly perfected within these pages and to quote the book, “I am wholly bewitched.”

I cannot wait for the third installment and I will be thinking about it until it’s finally revealed what the third book will be about!!

** I received a copy of HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA from the author, Kerri Maniscalco, for review purposes and to assist in the creation of new candles inspired by the book. The fact that I received this copy to read from the author in no way affected my review, feedback, or the fact that I have the mighty need to be endlessly book-pushing and recommending. **

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Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I’m loving the historical horror and the blend of myth and history. These books are SO much fun and really make you feel like you’re a part of the action!
Left Me Wanting More: Audrey Rose & Thomas. UGH these two. They’re just the best. I love the tension, the banter, the support, the back-and-forth. It’s all great.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

Kerri Maniscalco is wonderful and I simply adore her books. They’re fun, clever, thrilling, and romantic.

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BOOKS LIKE HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini TaylorTitle: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: March 28, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Audible, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 18, 2017
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5), Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

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When you write a series as epic as Daughter of Smoke and Bone and then your next release gets delayed even more (to make it that much more perfect, that is), it could be really, really hard to live up to the hype of the book… But Laini Taylor had no such problem with STRANGE THE DREAMER! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t know what to expect with Daughter and it constantly surprised me so I knew I was ready for some more magic of the same quality!

STRANGE THE DREAMER was actually quite similar to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE in some ways. There was a distinct separation from the humans and the magical beings, some bad blood to draw up that tension, and a star-crossed romance, so in that respect, I did wish that STRANGE THE DREAMER did venture out on its own plot-wise and away from the world of Eretz. The books aren’t of the same world but Laini Taylor did say that they’re of the same multi-verse and may cross paths one day, but for now, two totally different things so I was hoping for a bit of a difference in big picture.

That really is the only “disappointment” I have about this book, which isn’t really a disappointment so much as something else I was looking for. STRANGE THE DREAMER really swept me off my feet with Laini Taylor’s ever-gorgeous writing. She’s one of the authors whose writing style I just love to read and I just get lost within the pages (along with Maggie Stiefvater and Neil Gaiman who also hold that magical ability to suck you into their books). The world is amazing and gorgeous and I love that the humans are even still in a different fantasy world, not Earth as we know it, to add that extra sense of magic and wonder.

All of Laini Taylor’s characters are poetic and deep. From Lazlo Strange, the dreamer whose nose was broken by a volume of fairy tales, to Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares with a gentle softness. They compliment each other and bring a wonderful balance to the book, and each character serves a real purpose to the story. Every character is so unique and Laini Taylor does an amazing job at bringing each one to life. I always feel like I’ve really gotten to know each one of them!

I won’t really get into the story itself because like all of her books, it’s one to experience, but I just loved being wrapped up in her stories again. I’ve missed that feeling of being so involved in a story and being in kind of a reading slump, it was wonderful to enjoy something so much again!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pretty prose. Some authors just have a knack for story-telling and putting gorgeous words on the page and Laini Taylor is one of them. It doesn’t always work with such vivid descriptions but I could read Laini Taylor’s details forever.
Left Me Wanting More: Uniqueness. The only thing I would have asked for was to have more of a different big picture plot than DoSaB!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is such a beautiful book and a wonderfully heart-breaking start to a new series (only two books! We think). It’s a must-read!

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    shadow and bone

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Hachette
Source: BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 4, 2016
Related Posts: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

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STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was such a fun read for me! I was in the mood for something delightfully dark and yet not too scary (since I’m a total chicken) and this was the perfect blend of history, mystery, and gore. Kerri Maniscalco brings the story of Jack the Ripper to life in this book with some real-life facts (including photos of actual items/evidence from the original Ripper cases) and blends them with some historical fiction to create an overall wonderful read.

The characters in this book are just excellent. I love main character Audrey Rose for so many reasons. She’s intelligent, independent, and generally doesn’t care what society thinks. She tries to do right by her family, especially after the death of her mother several years ago, but her father highly disapproves of her favorite hobby — apprenticing with her uncle in his laboratory and studying forensics. I personally love it! I loved the darkness and gruesomeness of Audrey Rose’s passion but I also loved how well it ties into the Jack the Ripper case. Audrey Rose becomes so invested in the case that she ends up often taking things into her own hands which is where another favorite character of mine, Thomas Cresswell, comes in.

Ah, Thomas Cresswell. He’s also an intellectual type but where Audrey Rose follows up with passion, Cresswell comes in with reasoning and cold logic. He’s a tough shell to crack and I loved trying to figure him out throughout the book! There were times when I loved him, times when I feared him, times when I was suspicious of him, and times when I couldn’t get enough of him! I really enjoyed the partnership he had going on with Audrey Rose and I cannot wait to see more of them working together in the second book!

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I’ve had some really good luck with historical aspects and true facts being adapted to fiction novels lately, and this falls into that category! I really enjoyed reading the afterword from Kerri Maniscalco about the actual facts of Jack the Ripper and pieces of the case and how she adapted them to the book. It’s neat to see real pieces of a mystery incorporated into this exciting adaptation!

I also loved how the identity of Jack the Ripper really kept me guessing throughout the book! I had several suspicions which waxed and waned throughout my read and the ending was so exciting!!! I was so hooked waiting to see how this all wrapped up and it beautifully set up the next book (for which I cannot wait)! The reveals were just great and perfectly timed and there were some really exciting and stunning moments!! I just really enjoyed STALKING JACK THE RIPPER from start to finish and I can’t wait for the next book.

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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!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction – and reading extra notes! I don’t read a ton of historical fiction but when I do, I’ve been enjoying reading the extra notes from the authors — what was true, what was bent to fit the story, and what could have possibly happened. I’m really loving the true history belnded with fiction!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. Okay, I actually really appreciated that swoons that I had weren’t rushed and were delightfully gradual (which also killed me a little) because it has me even more excited for future books! I’m just being greedy!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I really, really enjoyed this book and Kerri Maniscalco is just a lovely person. I’ve had so much fun flailing and reading and speculating and I can’t wait to continue this series when the next book comes out!

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    this dark endeavor

The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) – Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) – Rachel AaronTitle: The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) by Rachel Aaron
Publishing Info: October 1, 2010 by Hachette
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 23, 2015

Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.
But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect.
The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while.
Like a king.

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I was really excited to start THE SPIRIT THIEF with my On the Same Page gals considering how much I’ve been getting into adult fantasy lately! It was an interesting read but not too far in, I started to question whether it really was adult fantasy and turns out more people have shelved it under young adult than adult. I guess it shouldn’t really matter one way or the other since I tend to read a lot of YA fiction that appeals to ages of all sorts but THE SPIRIT THIEF really was just a tad disappointing in the sense that it did feel significantly younger than what I had hoped.

I really did enjoy the book from start to finish and THE SPIRIT THIEF was a fun and fairly quick read but I did wish that it had a lot more depth. The book did feel a bit young and being a reader of young adult books, I actually think it felt more on the MG/YA border than it did sitting totally in YA. Needless to say, it didn’t even come close to the adult feel that I was hoping for and anticipating. The overall tone and lack of details in the magic system, world-building, and character depth really brought the reading level down for me. Again, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but it did change my outlook of the book. I was really hoping for a whole lot more to wow me and pull me in but it was more of just a face-value “good” read. I like my fantasy (both YA and adult) to really pull me in, keep me hooked, and have me theorizing long after I’m done reading. Although it did do a nice job of keeping the door open for future books and leaving some things to be explained later, I just can’t escape the desire to explore just a bit more in this book. When it comes down to it, I think disappointment wins out because this is published under a sci-fi and fantasy imprint which houses adult authors so I have to go with the fact that it just didn’t live up the content that I felt it should have.

The overall story was interesting.always enjoy stories about thieves, especially rascally ones and Eli Monpress didn’t disappoint there! I rather enjoyed Eli’s quest to add more money to his bounty (he claims that any thief would be proud of) and there seemed to be hints that there was more to this story but that wasn’t really explored in this book. I really enjoyed the concept of spirits and how the spirits and wizards (or “Spiritualists”) interacted! The idea felt really unique and it’s not something that I’ve really read before. The interactions did seem a bit juvenile, once again, and I think that gave the book a really middle grade feel for me. It could just be my interpretation of the book but spirits being stubborn, refusing to cooperate… Just something about it had a very young tone.

I really wished I had gotten to know each character more as well. I loved Eli and Josef (he reminded me a lot of Jean from Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series and Inigo from The Princess Bride) and I really wanted to learn so much more about Nico! I was glad that I got to find out some small pieces here and there as the action progressed but I did think there would be a bit more character development there. They were a crew and I really loved how they worked together but I also didn’t feel that pull to keep them together and I didn’t feel the tug on my emotions as much as I had hoped when things went wrong.

THE SPIRIT THIEF was a fun, easy read. I’m not sure if I want to continue with the series since I’m just left with the feeling that it has so much more potential and just didn’t quite live up to it. I’m definitely curious about what else goes on and I’d love to get to know the characters more so I may continue the series someday but as of right now, it’s not too high on my immediate list.
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!

lock & mori gr updated

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Eli // Character Obsessions: His bounty, stealing, spirits. 
Eli was a lot of fun and his attitude definitely lived up to my expectations. I had expected to fall in love with him (since that’s usually what I do with rascally thieves) but I didn’t quite make it there. He was a great main character, though, and always kept the book funny and light.
Miranda // Character Obsessions: Rules, quests, spirits, protection.
Miranda was a bit too much of a rule follower and that always bothers me a little bit. I think mostly because those characters aren’t flexible and it’s always a little more fun when you break the rules!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Light fantasy. I read a lot of “heavier” fantasy nowadays but that’s not a bad thing. I really enjoy losing myself in the worlds and really getting to know the characters. This was definitely a change of pace to the lighter side.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I really just wanted everything to be a bit more developed. World, characters, plot, background… I could have used a lot MORE.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s hard to say whether I’d recommend this one or not! I think it’s like the “fluff” of the fantasy realm like we so often find with contemporary. This was definitely a lighter feel so if that’s what you’re looking for, this could be a good read for you! I like my fantasy a lot more detailed though so I have a hard time saying “read this”!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE SPIRIT THIEF

(Click the cover to see my review!)

STARDUST    GOOSE GIRL

Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Burial Rites – Hannah KentTitle: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Publishing Info: September 10, 2013 by Little, Brown
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 11, 2014

    Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
    Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.
    Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

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Alyssa, Amy, and I chose BURIAL RITES as one of our selections for our group read with On the Same Page because of so many rave reviews and what an interesting story it appeared to be. Without a doubt, this was a powerful book but it was also a challenging book for me. BURIAL RITES is historical fiction, which is something I’m not well-versed in and am very picky about, but I trusted the reviews that I’d seen and all the high praise it’s received and really did want to read it in earnest.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, BURIAL RITES is the story of Agnes Magnusdottir and her time on a remote farm before she is to be executed for the murder of her former employer. I grabbed the ARC from BEA last year because it sounded incredibly interesting and my interest was piqued whether or not Agnes was really guilty of the murder and maybe that was what the story was about. What I didn’t realize until I was already reading it is that BURIAL RITES is historical fiction but it’s actually in large a true story. Agnes Magnusdottir was a real person and this is her real story. She was one of the last people to be sentenced to execution by beheading in Iceland and what Hannah Kent found out about her during her time in Iceland had her so interested that she ended up writing an entire book about Agnes and her last days before the date of her execution.

I think the book was very tricky for me because as much as I’m not a historical fiction person, I’m really not a non-fiction person. It’s not that I’m fundamentally against either one but that I haven’t found a book I’ve really connected to very much in either genre. Usually the historical fiction I read is a largely fictional story (fictional characters and fictional plot in a real, historical setting) and I’ve been very picky about exactly what time periods I’ve really connected with. It’s just such a delicate balance for me as a reader and my personal tastes that it’s rare for everything to really ALL click into place, and unfortunately I had a bit of a hard time with BURIAL RITES. It was a really interesting story, but things were just not clicking for me. I was interested in Agnes and her story, but hard a hard time feeling that emotional connection to her as well as the other characters. Hannah Kent does an amazing job of painting the scenery, but I was also so unfamiliar with it that it was hard to feel grounded in it.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a hard time with the pacing and overall feel as well. I knew going in that this would be a heavy book, but sometimes it’s hard to read such a weighty plot and I was never quite in the right mood to really absorb the book the way I wanted to. I had a bit of a hard time getting into it because I wasn’t in the right mindset and then when I was, I felt like I kept hitting lulls in the action. It took me a long time to really get to know these characters and I felt like I didn’t really get there until the VERY end of the book. Finally at the end, I felt the connection to Agnes and to Toti. I actually felt really emotional about the ending, I think in part because I know that this really was a true story and really did happen so I kept picturing it as something REAL and not just book characters. It really made me want to go back and re-read parts to feel that connection where I should have earlier in the book… But we all know that I won’t go back and re-read because everything happened just a bit too late.

The writing was just beautiful as far as descriptions and narration went but I think I just wasn’t meant to click with this book. I’m not sure if it was timing or content or subject, but BURIAL RITES wasn’t as good for me as I had hoped it would be. I did still enjoy quite a bit of it but my lack of connection and motivation really just brought down my reading experience when I had a higher anticipation and expectation of what I might find in this book.

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Agnes // Character Obsessions: Death, working, companionship, degrees of innocence.
I really wish I had been able to connect with Agnes earlier on in the book. I finally connected with her towards the end and at that point I really wanted to spend more time with her character but it was too late and the book was over. I think maybe it’s just the impossibility of imagining and awaiting your own death that sort of makes everything seem distant, and that may be what I was picking up from Agnes. There’s a sort of hopelessness there and she does what she can, but how are you supposed to spend the rest of your life when you know it’s only a few short weeks until it’s over?

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Kept Me Hooked On: Aspects of non-fiction. I haven’t read much non-fiction at all… so when it really hit me that this was the REAL story of Agnes Magnusdottir… I think it all became much more real and personal. I knew it was based on a real story but I didn’t realize exactly how much of it was true. Honestly, Hannah Kent mostly just created dialogue and came up with some original pot points but she really did her research to make this as historically accurate as possible and tell a true story but with dabs of fiction. It was really interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Personal connection. I just wasn’t able to get into it like I wanted to, both on the character side and the plot side. I think it was a lot heavier than I expected and was expecting a bit more of a fictional mystery story. It was really interesting but hard for me to get into at the same time.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This one didn’t ENTIRELY work for me but the story was really interesting and Hannah Kent is a wonderful writer. If you’re hesitant about nonfiction and enjoy historical fiction, this is probably a great place to start!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE BURIAL RITES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     man in the dark    code name verity

 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) – Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) – Laini TaylorTitle: Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: April 8, 2014 by Little, Brown
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 20, 2014
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5), Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)

    In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she's ever known.
When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat--and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love.
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

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** This is a SPOILER-FREE review of DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS but beware that if you haven’t read the first two books in this series yet, there may be some spoilers for those! **

This was by far the hardest book of this series for me to read — that’ snot necessarily a bad thing, although it may sound like one, but I really felt like I needed to give it my full attention and unfortunately as of lately, I just haven’t had the time or mental clarity. If you’re a fan of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, I’m sure you’re aware how deep, how detailed, and how complex this series is. It’s not one to be taken lightly and really does require the perfect mood and proper amount of time so when I tell you that it took me a month and a half to finish it, that’s a good and a bad thing all at the same time.

I read the first two books no problem. I actually streamed pretty quickly through DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE and tried to take my time and really let myself soak in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. But DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS was a different story. Yes, I decided to really slow myself down and make sure I was really taking it all in, but there were actual weeks where I completely ignored it because I just didn’t have the motivation to pick up such a daunting book. I was overwhelmed by the amount of pages and the time I knew I’d need to read it. Was that the book’s fault? Well, no, but the sheer size of it really did factor in to my reading plans and with time being a pressing issue lately, it was a bit frustrating to me when things felt a little too drawn out.

Laini Taylor’s writing has been beautiful from the start, but DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS was the first book where I felt like the gorgeous, lyric-type prose was getting a bit too drawn out. I usually enjoy the way a plot point is revealed and then we back-track to see how it all evolved, but in some places it felt unnecessary and I was frustrated that I felt like I was reading a whole chapter here or there that didn’t feel entirely necessary to the development of plot or characters. I could chalk that up to my personal impatience or just my experience with reading… I think it was actually a little bit of both.

The introduction of Eliza’s character was not entirely unwelcomed but I wasn’t a fan that she was thrown in as a new main character with POV chapters and everything. I really did like how she fit into the story and it was very exciting to see all of those pieces click together but… I didn’t really enjoy her chapters much at all. The book kicks off with one of Eliza’s chapters and that was actually a really exciting one. I was so excited to see the book start with a bang and I was anxious to get to know more about Eliza, but the more I got to know about her, the less I liked. I didn’t hate her, but I think I would have liked to see her as more of a secondary character because I felt like I lost so much of the focus of Karou and Akiva as well as secondary characters from the previous books (Ziri, Liraz, Mik, Zuze) who were starting to grow into more of a main focus. I think it was too much for me to meet a brand-new character who had such a strong presence in the book, taking over chapters, and also having a strong personality. I wanted to spend so much more time with characters I already knew instead of a brand-new one who wasn’t that important to me and who I wasn’t connecting with.

I really did enjoy the book — I always appreciate how beautiful the writing is and how the books really make me focus on what I’m reading. Everything is so wonderfully detailed, thoroughly thought out, and sort of paradoxically magically realistic. I’m so glad that things were pretty well wrapped up at the end of the book and it was sort of one big sigh of relief to see how everything ended. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and I felt like some things ended up being glossed over. For example, Eliza’s entire part in the book is explained and then seemingly dropped to make room for Karou & Akiva, which usually I don’t mind since I’m more excited for Karou/Akiva plot, but I felt like I was finally getting answers and then they happened but I didn’t get any detail.

All in all, I did enjoy DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS a lot, but it seemed like this was the book I had the most issues with out of the series. Some things had been weighing on me since the beginning but it was new love and not a big issue to me. Some things didn’t really seem to appear until the last book and I was at a point where I wasn’t in the mood for things to be drawn out. It was a stunning conclusion but I was left just a bit unsatisfied, to be perfectly frank. Maybe it’s just that it still feels unreal that the series is over! Maybe I’m just hoping that Laini Taylor writes more in this universe… (oh please, oh please!!) but I don’t think I was quite prepared for this series to end!

view_from_goodreads1

“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!

dogam

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Eliza // Character Obsessions: Dreams, monsters, apocalypse, hiding.
Eliza was one ball of mess for me. I sympathized with her and yet I really didn’t enjoy a lot of her story. I could appreciate where she was coming from and I actually really liked the grand concept and how it all tied in (I just loved the backstory once we got to it), but I didn’t care for the chapters from her POV and her personal conflicts. Looking back…? I feel like that entire plot of the book could have been adapted without her as a main character. I would have loved to see her flitting in and out of the background. That would have actually made me more curious and anxious — those small pieces here and there — than her constant presence in the book with a lot of guesses and no concrete answers.
Liraz // Character obsessions: Akiva, family, decisions, strength.
I love how much more prominent Liraz became in this story. From the moment we got to know more about Akiva’s siblings in previous books, I wanted so much more face time from them so I was really excited to see Liraz really shine (no pun intended) and to explore her personal conflict and feelings. Let’s not even talk about how much I was shipping here and Ziri. Because I need so much more of THAT.

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Kept Me Hooked On: “Creature” fantasy. Back when I first started dipping into fantasy, I started to realize that I did better with more high fantasy (Game of Thrones, Graceling) than what I called “creature” fantasy which is basically anything with non-humans that have human aspects. DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE was really the first book I fell in love with that had a big cast of non-human/animalistic creatures and I was hooked on the series from start to finish.
Left Me Wanting More: Conciseness. I don’t usually complain about the lengths of books, especially when it’s a series I love reading, but something about DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS just felt like things were a bit too drawn out. Was I anticipating too much? Was I letting hype get to me? Was I just intimidated by sheer size and daunted by impatience? Maybe. But that still didn’t change the way I felt, unfortunately.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Despite my airing of grievances in my review, I really did enjoy the book. It took me a lot longer to finish than I expected and I did have some issues, but it was an epic conclusion nonetheless and of course important for anyone who’s a fan of the series. The size is a bit intimidating but of course it’s worth the read!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Rift       Antigoddess

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly BlackTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Publishing Info: September 3, 2013 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 22, 2013
Related Posts: White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

    Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

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I felt like I had heard quite a few good things about THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN before I started so I had high hopes going in but of course, I was still hesitant about “another vampire book”. I hadn’t read a vampire book since Vampire Academy and Bloodlines and those series were ones that I really enjoyed for its ability to sort of stray from the “vampire stereotypes”. I think after a supersaturation of the genre, it was only natural to be hesitant, but I still went into the book with high hopes.

I thought the book started out with a bang. Sort of “bad girl”, Tana wakes up at a party to find that everyone else who was there is dead. Mutilated, drained, and ravaged by a roving pack of vampires and somehow she’s the only one left alive. If I was unsure what was about to come, the very first chapter of the book surely set it up for me. Holly Black is not afraid to let the gore fly and honestly… It was kind of awesome. I still cringe at gory descriptions but I also liked that she didn’t shy away from keeping it real. I feel like that was a big purpose of the book — for Tana (and others) to know that being a vampire isn’t always glamorous like they portray it to be on the internet and TV — and so I really appreciated how it served a real purpose in the book as well.

I really enjoyed the relationships in this book. Tana has complicated relationships with quite a few people and it only gets worse after the night of the “incident”. Because of the events of that night, she ends up deciding to travel to the nearest Coldtown — a city or section of a city that has been zoned off for vampires or people who have been infected and not yet turned. She ends up reconnecting with an ex-boyfriend who is now infected, a mysterious vampire who seems oddly helpful, and a couple of kids who are heading to the Coldtown because they have been dreaming of being turned into a vampire. Then she still has her sister and her dad back home to think about and still try to protect, even if she’s not sure she’ll ever make it back to them. I loved how each relationship was just so unique and Tana really had a different connection with each person. Even the people she meets inside of the Coldtown were fascinating and I loved the connections she made with them as well.

While the characters were great and felt very vivid, I just couldn’t get into the plot as much as I had hoped. I liked the history of how the vampire sort of “outbreak” started and even how it had affected Tana and her family before the night of the “incident”, but the plot as the story progresses just didn’t reel me in. I was anxious to see what the Coldtown would be like, but it all felt very much like an amalgam of all of the vampire books I’ve read to date and for me, it just didn’t feel like it was anything new. I actually listened to the acknowledgements once the audiobook was over and I almost feel bad for saying that because it sounded like Holly Black had always wanted to write a vampire novel and it was something that shaped her as a reader and a writer so I’m sure producing this book was an amazing life-long goal of hers. I guess for me personally, I’m finding my way out of the vampire trend and was hoping this book would say, “Don’t worry about trends! If the book is good, it can still knock you off your feet regardless!” but unfortunately, I just didn’t find it here.

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN was still a good read and I did enjoy it, but it didn’t hold the “amazing” factor that I was hoping for. There was a bit of a lull in the middle for me after the fast and exciting beginning and the ending was good and action-packed, but still felt like the other vampire books I’ve read before. If that’s what you’re looking for, I definitely think you’ll find it here, but if you’re feeling tired of the vampire trend, you may notice that a lot as well.

view_from_goodreads1

“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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AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

The audiobook was really enjoyable! Christine Lakin narrated it and I just really liked her tone of voice and her delivery. I thought she was perfect to voice Tana and she had kind of… almost a husky quality to her voice which was great for a darker book. I get easily annoyed with female narrators who sound all breathy and delicate so I really enjoyed her voice for this book! The entire production was pretty great too. I’ve only listened to a couple audiobooks that have actual music interspersed into the narration for a sort of movie feel and THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN had some suspenseful and creepy music to play out some of the more scary moments! I actually didn’t feel like it was always perfectly placed, but I appreciated it when it popped up!

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Tana // Character Obsessions: Coldtown, infection, Pearl.
Tana was a great character for me. She was that kind of mix between bad girl, badass, and big sister. I really liked her personality and she just felt really realistic to me. It made me wonder what I would do in her shoes (I think she handled it better).
Gavriel // Character Obsessions: Secret plans, helping Tana.
I liked Gavriel’s mystery but I do wish we had gotten to learn more about him earlier on to make a better connection. I think he’s the one character I have reservations about because I just wanted to know more about him and why he was so important earlier in the book. Not to give away any secrets but just to establish that deeper relationship with Tana.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Vampires? I’m not sure if I’m over the vampire trend but I did still enjoy it in this book. I did admit that it felt a bit tired and yet, it reminded me of all of the vampire books I had read previously and gave me that hint of nostalgia. Kind of a mix of negative and positive points there.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I really wanted a bit more romance in this book. That’s not to say I wanted it to take over and be a melodramatic Edward/Bella romance, but I didn’t quite feel like Tana and Gavriel had a strong connection until all of a sudden it was THERE towards the end. I just really wanted to see it developed and established a little bit more gradually.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Several of my Goodreads friends LOVED it. If you’re in the mood for vampires, it’s definitely worth the read! I enjoyed it but my hesitance was just that — vampires and a trend that may be on the way out. Up to you to try it and satisfy that craving if that’s what you’re looking for!!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

      Frostbite      City of Bones