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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

              

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

 

On the Same Page: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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ON THE SAME PAGE: BURIAL RITES by HANNAH KENT
  A new kind of historical fiction for me

I’m not usually a big historical fiction reader, but after hearing so many good things about BURIAL RITES and still having copies of the book from BEA last year, Alyssa, Amy, and I decided to make it one of our designated group reads for On the Same Page.

I think the thing that was the most different for me is that it was a totally different type of historical fiction than I usually read. Most of the historical fiction I’ve read and enjoyed has been a completely fictional story with completely fictional characters taking place during a real time and place. I think the deepest I’ve gotten into historical fiction with some accuracy has been the His Fair Assassin novels by Robin LaFevers with the set of three books taking place during a specific time period and even involving some actual historical figures. I’m not sure why but I just don’t always connect to historical fiction when true facts are involved — possibly because it feels too much like school? I really can’t pinpoint why — and I’ve found I’m fairly picky about what time periods I’ll connect to.

What fascinated me the most about BURIAL RITES was that I wasn’t 100% aware when I started exactly how historically accurate this book was. Hannah Kent details the story of Agnes Magnusdottir and the time right after she was found guilty of murder. I’m so used to reading fiction that I was assuming the book was more like the historical fiction I’ve read in the past — a historical time period and real place, but fictional characters and plot — but BURIAL RITES is a real story. All of the major plot points that occur in this book really did happen and Agnes Magnusdottir — along with most of the characters in the book — were actual people. Hannah Kent did a lot of research to put this book together and of course the fictional part involves the dialogue and minor plot points of the book, sort of filling in the gaps where no information was available (and a bit of embellishment as well). I don’t think I really realized all of this until the very end of the book when things were finally wrapping up and the impending finality of the book was near. All of the emotions just hit me knowing that this all really happened and Agnes was real and the ending was just a very emotional part of the book for me.

I also loved that with all of this being entirely based off of true events, I was able to go see everything after I finished. There’s a fantastic post on Picador that’s a photo essay from Hannah Kent herself, sharing various spots where the book takes place (of course as well as where the events in the book actually happened) and I almost wish I had seen this before I started because they’re such great visuals, and not even just inspiration. These are the actual places and you can picture the entire book taking place here (although I have to say, Hannah Kent does a great job with the setting so my own visuals weren’t too far off).

This is a book I feel like I need to go back and flip through again or re-read in the future. I had a bit of trouble connecting with it in the beginning because it took me a while to connect to the characters and really ground myself in the setting since I’m not used to historical fiction as much, but having the knowledge that I do now, I really want to revisit this book at some point in time. I suppose there IS an adaptation in the works with Jennifer Lawrence already locked in to play Agnes and I’m sure the movie will solidify this story for me even more. (She’s actually a little YOUNG for the part — isn’t it usually the other way around?? — but I think she’ll do a fantastic job.)

Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Burial Rites today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) //  Amy (Tripping Over Books)

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life – Leila SalesTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 2, 2014
Related Posts: Past Perfect

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
    Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, Leila Sales' THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

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I feel like I’ve been finally catching up with a lot of books that have received a lot of hype lately and THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE was definitely one of them. I picked up the ARC at BEA, having Leila Sales sign my copy, confident that I would fall in love with the book and this would be one I wanted to keep. Then with all of the hype about the book, praising how honest and amazing it was, my confidence didn’t wane, but the hype did start to allow doubt to set in just a tiiiiiny bit considering my recent track record.

Well, the good news is that I definitely still enjoyed it! Right from the beginning, I connected with Elsie, who has always felt like an outsider in her own life. She’s never been good at making friends, has never been the popular one, and somehow even after trying, she still doesn’t manage to fit in with really anyone at all. I felt so bad for her and just couldn’t grasp what exactly was wrong with every single kid at her school and why Elise couldn’t manage to get in good with anyone. In a way, I totally related to her. I wasn’t ever one of the popular girls in middle school (or high school, but I had stopped caring by then) and in a class of only twenty-four kids for pre-school through eighth grade, it was glaringly obvious when you weren’t a part of the “in” crowd and that was something I struggled with for a long time. That fact alone allowed me to connect with Elsie on many levels so I really appreciated that character connection and directly tapping in to my personal experiences.

I finished THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE in two days. I almost finished it in one afternoon but you know… Life got in the way. Anyway, I was utterly captivated and reading about Elsie’s story was both incredibly interesting and heartbreaking… But unfortunately for me, this just wasn’t a book that really stuck with me. I was totally sucked in as I was reading but only those pivotal moments in the beginning of the book really stuck with me after I finished and sitting here writing my review weeks later, I don’t feel the magic with me still that many other fans of the book did.

I think my lack of feelings towards the book may be because I didn’t connect with the rest of it as much. You see, Elise falls in love with a DJ but more so, she falls in love with DJing. It’s something she never even considered doing but she does love music and once she starts this new craft, she completely throws herself into it, determined to be the best she can be. I certainly know a thing or two about that having spent much of my time in high school perfecting the crafts that I could. I absolutely loved how much Elise loved music and I also loved the music featured and the bands that were named dropped (I even begged Twitter to let me know if there was a playlist. There is!!), but I just didn’t connect with the whole underground club scene and I wasn’t a huge fan of Elise’s new friends that she met there. I didn’t dislike them, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Pippa and the whole quasi-triangle thing between Elise, Char, and Pippa. I didn’t have major issues while I was reading, but it seems like the more things I think about as I review, the more things I notice that I just didn’t quite connect with.

I loved the message that this book sends and I absolutely could have used a book like this when I was in junior high or high school. I went through so many of the same things that Elise did — maybe not as extreme, but I had plenty of friend issues and especially in junior high, the constant wonder of the arbitrary system of who’s popular and who isn’t — and I think it’s definitely an important read if you’ve gone through anything like this (chances are, you have). I really loved how the book wrapped up and seeing Elise go through so many personal changes and revelations. For me, I think the hype monster did get me just a little bit. It’s hard to go into a book when everyone else raves about it and while I did enjoy it a lot, I’m not sure it’s sky-rocketed to a favorite for me.

I love how this book made me think back on my own history and it sort of brought a personal peace. I’ve already made peace with these things a while ago, but it’s always nice to have that reassurance that being popular or having a ton of friends doesn’t necessarily equal personal success. It’s about the quality of friends. The importance of family. The level of enjoyment you allow yourself to have in life. Most of all, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE tells us all that be whoever you are, no matter who that person is. Your dreams are so much easier to follow when you’re true to yourself and life is just so much more fulfilling that way.

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

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Ew, typo in the first status update. Guess I was just too excited! Also, where was this supposed to take place? There was a mention of the Illinois fair but no such town exists in IL. HMMM.

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Elise // Character Obsessions: Music, researching popularity, DJing.
I felt so bad for Elise, mostly because I had been in her shoes. I feel like so many people, especially girls, can relate to Elise’s experiences. Sometimes it’s hard not to be popular or to have a lot of friends and for Elise, it wasn’t almost more scientific at times than actually a strong desire to be popular. Elise just didn’t want to be alone anymore. Didn’t want to be made fun of. Her story was heartbreaking and yet uplifting and I really loved seeing her go through the various changes and the road of self-discovery throughout the book.
Char // Character Obsessions: Music, DJing, girls.
Char was… confusing. It was hard for me to really understand him and I think that was the point. I was always worried for Elise and what her relationship with him might become and I was afraid of his potential to hurt her. I actually ended up disliking him a lot, if we’re just being honest here, and I was very protective of Elise whenever he was in the picture! I am happy for his willingness to teach her how to DJ though.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The unexpected. Who would expect a book about a teenage DJ to be such a success? I love how the readers were introduced to something so extraordinary and uncommon and making it something amazing. I loved that the book wasn’t entirely smashed in the city too. Elise lives a suburban life… And yet somehow ends up in this hidden underground world of music, dancing, and nightlife.
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. Oh, there were plenty of things to be emotional about in this book, but I felt like Elise herself was more calculating and scientific about things at times than emotional. I think I always connect with a more emotional side because I’m really able to just lose myself.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This is definitely a book that even though it didn’t end up as a total favorite, I’d still recommend to everyone to read. It’s an important journey regarding self-worth, family, friendships, and following your dreams. I think most of us have gone through was Elise did in one degree or another and it’s definitely something that helped me reflect on my own past and come to a certain peace about how things went down in junior high and high school, even more so than I thought I already had.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Confessions of an Angry Girl       Wild Awake

Independent Study (The Testing #2) – Joelle Charbonneau

Independent Study (The Testing #2) – Joelle CharbonneauTitle: Independent Study (The Testing #2) by Joelle Charbonneau
Publishing Info: January 7, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 25, 2013
Related Posts: The Testing (The Testing #1), NEED

    In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.  

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I guess I shouldn’t start off a review by saying that I almost didn’t read this book but… I feel like I must disclose that! After reading THE TESTING last year and feeling like it too-closely resembled THE HUNGER GAMES (not just because it’s a dystopian but really in so many ways), I almost didn’t pick up INDEPENDENT STUDY. I was just so torn on whether I would really enjoy it or if I would still see those parallels and feel unable to separate myself from that idea. What I can say is that I decided to read it thanks to encouragement from Nicole at The Quiet Concert (thanks for the encouragement!!!!)  and although I wasn’t stuck on THE HUNGER GAMES parallels, it still didn’t quite knock me off my feet.

I liked INDEPENDENT STUDY… But I almost didn’t. The beginning was very slow to me. It wasn’t that nothing was happening but I just was still very unsure in what direction the book — and the series, actually — was taking me. THE TESTING ended with quite the epic finale, including a shocking cliffhanger and INDEPENDENT STUDY kind of did where we left off… So maybe that’s actually the reason it was slow for me. I almost feel like it would have benefitted from some time in between the two books and backtracking through the story to fill in what we’ve missed. It sounds crazy, right? Isn’t that the kind of stuff that normally confuses me and I get frustrated with? Yes. It is. But for this book, I feel like that would have worked because I wanted both me as the reader and Cia as the main POV to be more… in the dark. I can’t really say any more because of book one spoilers and honestly going in, I had no expectations or an idea that that’s what I wanted so it wasn’t even a let down of expectations. I was just… restless.

I actually appreciated the content of this book more than the first, I think. While THE TESTING set up necessary elements, characters, and world building, INDEPENDENT STUDY really started to explore those elements and how Cia would ultimately fit in and how she could change things. I know, I know, you’re saying, “Well duh, that’s what a book two should do!” But trust me — it doesn’t always. That being said, INDEPENDENT STUDY also felt like a totally different book in many ways. I think it matured a lot from its predecessor and the content went much deeper than Cia’s experience in the Testing. Things got much more political and the stakes were higher when it came time for Cia to decide who to trust and who to fear.

There were a few twists involved in the second half of the book but I was torn whether I liked them or not. The one big twist I’m thinking of I’m still very hesitant about because it hasn’t been developed yet but I guess that’s something for me to find out in book three! In all honesty, I was almost surely not picking up book three — which is called GRADUATION DAY, coming in June — and I almost didn’t even pick up book two! I’m actually glad that I did because I enjoyed it and it was a quick, fun read once the ball got rolling. I’ll be looking forward to book three to finish off the series but admittedly, I won’t be running to the shelves to get it.

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Cia // Character Obsessions: Surviving in the real world, spending time with Tomas when she can, fulfilling her role as a good student, subterfuge.
Subterfuge. How much did I just want to use that word? (It’s true, either way.) Cia doesn’t have it easy. She’s torn between what she knew and what she knows now and all of the things she used to know and doesn’t anymore. She doesn’t know who to trust and I really appreciated seeing things from her POV because I was pretty wary of MOST people myself. She gets betrayed a few times and finds unlikely allies in other places and I think she does a pretty dang good job of holding it together! Are we BFFs? Not quite, but I admire her courage and determination! Oh, and her keen intellect because she’s a lot smarter than I am!
Michal // Character Obsessions: Hidden agendas, helping Cia, more subterfuge.
More subterfuge. Yes. Hmm, Michal. I was always wary of him, never quite sure if he was on the side of good or corrupt. I had a hard time trusting him and wasn’t sure if Cia should too which made his role in this book all the more interesting! I was actually really happy to see more involvement from him!
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Kept Me Hooked On: The Testing Series. I almost didn’t even pick this book up because I didn’t have a driving force to push me to continue with the series, but I’m glad I did. (And thanks to Nicole for the push!) I’ll be finishing the series now because I’m curious to see how it all wraps up!
Left Me Wanting More: Mind games. Dare I say I wanted more politics in this book? Okay. I wanted more politics. The university students in this book go through more training and challenges that were similar to the Testing so while that added another aspect of how they worked together and figuring out who was smart and who was not to be trusted, I wanted even MORE of a political aspect and MORE of the rebellion. INDEPENDENT STUDY really started to explore that aspect but I wish it had been more of a primary focus instead of more game-type deals.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re already invested in The Testing trilogy and you’re thinking about picking this one up, it’s still a good read! I had a few reservations while reading but the ending really picked up and I ended up enjoying it over all.

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BOOKS LIKE INDEPENDENT STUDY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Catching Fire            Insurgent

Hereafter (Shadowlands #2) – Kate Brian

Hereafter (Shadowlands #2) – Kate BrianTitle: Hereafter (Shadowlands #2) by Kate Brian
Publishing Info: October 1, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 6, 2013
Related Posts: Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1)

    Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She's also made friends with a local clique--including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan.
But Rory's world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn't what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory's every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again. From the best-selling author of the Private and Privilege series comes the second novel in a heart-stopping trilogy about a girl who must pick up the pieces after the only life she's ever known ends.
  

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**  If you have not read the first book in this series, SHADOWLANDS, please be aware that there will be mild spoilers for book one ONLY! Otherwise, enjoy a spoiler-free review of HEREAFTER!  **

Ever since SHADOWLANDS ended, I have been dying to find out what happens to Rory and the other kids of Juniper Landing. That ending was QUITE the surprise so I was so anxious to get my hands on HEREAFTER!

HEREAFTER was somehow a super quick read for me. I read it cover to cover on one Saturday morning with my coffee in hand. This is definitely a fast-paced book, full of action, suspense, and a whole lot of mystery! SHADOWLANDS ended with quite the paranormal twist so I was really glad that HEREAFTER spent the entire book exploring that reveal and what exactly Juniper Landing is. The more we get into the history and backstory of Juniper Landing and its residents, the more interesting and twisted the story became.

I was really glad that HEREAFTER spent a lot of time focused on Rory interacting with the residents of Juniper Landing. One of the things I was frustrated with that was left open ended at the end of SHADOWLANDS was the significance of the leather bracelets and we DO get an answer for that — which was also interesting! I actually felt like there should have been a little bit more to it than that, but I was happy with the explanation!

The paranormal elements of this book were cool. I loved the idea of what it meant to be a “Juniper Landing native/local” and what that really meant for Rory once they realized how special she was. I’m actually not sure why most of them were teens — I think we were just focused more on the teens than the adults? — so that’s something I was hoping would be a bit more explained, but that’s okay! I can roll with it. Even more so than the paranormal plot, I loved the elements of mystery and suspense. Kate Brian knows how to pack it in there and I definitely felt a certain level of paranoia towards characters — past and present — whether they were there or not, and whether they were good or evil. Even once the book ended, I still wasn’t quite sure where these characters’ loyalties lie. I just love when an author is able to create suspense and just by a few quick words here and there, the seed out doubt is planted into my mind and from then on, I don’t know who to trust. I was constantly changing my mind about who was on the right side and who was working against the group and it made for such a fantastically suspenseful story!

There is a romance that blossoms in this book and I’m not sure how I feel about it… But at times, I think that was also the point! Once again, the doubt was placed in my head and then I wasn’t sure who to trust anymore. I also liked how there was a sort of role reversal for select characters — an untrustworthy character becoming someone Rory relies on and a confident betraying her trust. It was so interesting to see those characters sort of switch places because she had pretty strong feelings about both!

The ending, once again, leaves me begging for the next book in the series because I have GOT to know what’s going on! Everything gets upended and just when you think things are normal and can’t be changed, they do. I love the suspense and drama that Kate Brian brings to these books as well as an interesting twist on the Juniper Landing crew. I’m definitely anxious for book three!

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Rory // Character Obsessions: Protecting her family, training for her new responsibilities, Tristan, solving the mysteries of Juniper Landing.
I feel like Rory grew up between SHADOWLANDS and HEREAFTER. She was still a bit naïve towards romantic relationships but she is fiercely loyal to her family and would do anything to protect them. I also felt like she was a bit more of a go-getter in this book so I was really happy to see that!
Tristan // Character Obsessions: Show-running, Rory, flirting.
I always felt like Tristan was a little too… slimy. He was too good to be true! Naturally when Rory started this Tristan obsession a while back, I wasn’t too thrilled. Maybe it’s just because I don’t like that “golden boy/jock/Mr. Perfect” appeal, but hey. To each his own, right?
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Kept Me Hooked On: Thrillers. This is a paranormal story but I love the suspense and how much it feels like a thriller. I just love being kept on my toes and not know what will happen next or who to trust!
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. I was left wanting JUUUST a touch more. I think it was Rory’s naïve attitude toward Tristan and the boys of Juniper Landing and Darcy’s touches of jealousy BUT both of those things do help push the plot along and allow it to develop like it should. That’s just a personal thing and it just left me with the slightest disconnect with the characters.

Addiction Rating
READ IT!

HEREAFTER was a much-anticipated sequel for me and I was so happy with the answers I got and the new mysteries that were brought up! I loved the action and how quickly I was absorbed into the book. I finished it in one sitting because it was such a quick read for me and I didn’t want to put it down!

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BOOKS LIKE HEREAFTER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          The Body Finder    Sweet Evil

The Beginning of Everything – Robyn Schneider

The Beginning of Everything – Robyn SchneiderTitle: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Publishing Info: August 27, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 1, 2013

    Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.
No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.
    But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?


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I loved THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. I’m just gonna put that out there right off the bat. This was such the book for me. It was witty, smart, lyrical, and heartbreaking. On top of it all, you know I’ve been loving books with a male POV lately, and that actually caught me by surprise, but in a good way!

THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING was originally titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. Confused? Allow me to explain. The story starts off with our main character Ezra. He’s still recovering from a major knee-injury that he received in a car crash and his life truly changes from that point on. No longer able to be the golden boy tennis star that he once was, Ezra finds that the loss of his golden boy status immediately affects his friendships as well — an unexpected change in his life — and he ends up reconnecting with his once close, now ostracized friend Toby. So why Severed Heads, Broken Hearts? (Which is still the UK title, by the way.) Toby became ostracized only after he coincidentally caught the severed head of a Japanese tourist after he stood up on Thunder Mountain in Disneyland. Ew, yes. But there you have it. Already a slightly dark side to the book!

Okay, now on with the review…

I really loved everything about this book. THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING is to YA novels as Garden State is to movies. It was emotional, sometimes darker on the humor side, witty, sarcastic, had an unfortunate guy and a quirky girl with some secrets in her past. (Hopefully you liked Garden State because I LOVED TBOE). Sure, at times it may have been a bit over the top with some of the witticisms or perfectly interwoven situations but hey. It’s a book. You get to do that kind of stuff and make your story fit perfectly and I was so happy it did because that made all the difference in the ending. That really came together, we find out those skeletons from Cassidy’s closet, and I’m basically falling out of my chair in amazement.

Robyn Schneider created some truly remarkable characters for the reader to fall in love with. Right away, I was drawn to Ezra. Not in a swoony way, actually, but in a sense that his story was complicated and the right choices weren’t always obvious and I was really interested to see what paths he was going to choose to take.
loved Toby. Too often the best friend character exists for there to be a best friend character, but Toby was special. He stole the show a little bit — yes, he was a bit more open and eccentric about being geektastic than Ezra was — but I think it was the history between Toby and Ezra that really added another layer to the story. I really appreciated how they had once been really close, drifted apart, and came back together again. I think it showed a lot about Toby’s character from his immediate willingness to befriend Ezra again, especially when he needed someone solid in his life.
Cassidy was quite a puzzling character and she fascinated me. I wasn’t sure if half of what she was saying was fallacy or true or some gray area in between and like Ezra, I spent the entire book trying to figure her out. Obviously there’s something she’s not sharing with us and Robyn Schneider did a great job of keeping my curiosity going. Her unpredictability was intriguing to me as well and I loved that the randomness of her character allowed the story to take curious and unexpected turns.

Then there’s this whole other aspect of the book that I fell in love with… THE MUSIC. ALL OF THE MUSIC. I died over and over again because I was like, “This book just GETS ME!!!” Vampire Weekend. Arcade Fire. THE KOOKS. Robyn Schneider, you put the freaking Kooks in this book and referenced “Seaside”!!!!! I was IN that moment with Ezra listening to “Seaside”, volume turned down low, waiting for his world to change. I am absolutely making a playlist for this book so yeah. Keep your eyes peeled for that!

I finished THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING in one sitting. I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop because I enjoyed this book thoroughly from cover to cover. I honestly loved everything about it: the humor, the music, the characters, the plot, the twists, the romance, and even the male POV. There was so much that I wasn’t expecting from THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING but they were definitely all pleasant surprises! It’s absolutely one of my favorite contemporaries of this year and Robyn, I apologize for live Instagram and tweeting you while I was reading… but thank you for this wonderful read!

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Ezra Faulkner // Character Obsessions: Tennis, friendships, restarting his life after the accident.
I really liked Ezra. For a female author (or even just in general), his voice was so authentic and I really enjoyed his personality. Even if he was written by a male author, that’s still one of the most enjoyable YA male POVs I’ve read (sorry, but nothing beats Adam Wilde). I was really interested in his story, his friendships, and his budding relationship with Cassidy. His humor and intelligence really added so much to his personality as well!
Cassidy Thorpe // Character Obsessions: Debate, staying unique, keeping her secrets, friends. 
Cassidy was such an interesting character. Throughout the whole book, I knew there was something she wasn’t revealing, something that was hidden just beneath the surface for the reader to uncover, and I was trying to figure it out the whole time. She was zany but not in a silly way. I loved how she didn’t care what anyone thought of her and she genuinely did what she wanted… with maybe the exception of her interactions with Ezra. I loved her history (once we find out what it is) because though I tried to guess, I was still surprised. And oh my gosh, THE HARRY POTTER REFERENCES. I about died. That was hilarious and made me love her even more.
Toby // Character Obsessions: Debate, staying true to himself, honesty, friendship.
Toby was hands down my favorite character. He wasn’t just a friend character for the sake of a friend. He had SO much depth to his character from his connection to Ezra, his personal history, his current struggles in friendships/relationships, and his sense of humor. He brought the whole book together and also sort of made the perfect bridge for the gap between Ezra and Cassidy. He was such a fantastic character in this book and I absolutely loved all of his involvement in the plot.

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Kept Me Hooked On: More and more and more male POVs! Okay, so I’m a little obsessed lately, but I am loving the male POVs in YA lately. Is it bad to say that I’m doubly impressed with male POVs from female authors that feel so authentic? I think it really takes something special to find that male voice and keep it believable and make me forget that it’s even coming from the mind of a female author. To get that deep to get into the mind of a male character — Okay, anyway. I absolutely loved it!
Left Me Wanting More: Robyn Schneider. I really loved her writing, the plot, the characters — the characters!!! I can’t wait to read more books from Robyn. She totally wowed me with THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I really loved so, so, so many things about THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING. I really connected with on so many levels and it was such a wonderful book for me to read to pull me out of my mini-reading slump. I will definitely suggest this book to many, many people.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING

        Where She Went         Eleanor & Park

The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren MyracleTitle: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
Publishing Info: August 27, 2013 by Abrams
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 31, 2013

    For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?
    Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.
    And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

bookreview1When I first read the summary for THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US, I thought this would totally be a “me” book. It sounded like I shared a lot of things with Wren — not only in high school, but in present day as well. (Hell, I’m still trying to please my parents. I don’t think that will ever go away.) Add a love story with a “meant to be” aspect and I was totally jumping up and down for this one! Once I started reading, however, I wasn’t quite sure that this was what I expected it to be.

I could identify with Wren in regards to her parents — She wants to live up to their expectations and she’s always been a “good” kid. That totally was and always has been me… But Wren’s parents felt a little too harsh for me, to the point that Wren’s mom is telling Wren that she likes a certain kind of juice, Wren tells herself in her head that she never liked that kind of juice, and drinks it anyway. That just kind of threw up a red flag for me because not only are Wren’s parents forceful and overbearing, but clearly Wren doesn’t ever take the time or the courage to stand up for herself with even the smallest things and that really bothered me. Wren and I weren’t off to a great start.
Gosh, I can’t remember who it was (and please remind me if you see this, you lovely blogger, you) but I wholeheartedly agreed with her that I don’t like reading about a goody-goody and that’s kind of what I felt Wren to be. She was a good kid because she wanted to be, yes, but it was just a little too far for my tastes because I feel like she was doing things JUST to please her parents and never doing a single thing for herself. That’s just no way to live and it actually made me mad that she was doing that.

I tried to let it go and just let myself fall into the story but the dialogue and Lauren Myracle’s unique and creative writing style just weren’t sitting with me well either. On one hand, Wren and Charlie (and their friends) are very much teenagers — They joke around, try to impress one another, go to parties, and talk about their ‘first times’. But on the other hand, Wren and Charlie have incredibly deep, philosophical, and existential conversations. I understand that teens can easily be immature and mature at the same time, but the book seemed to jump from one end to the other and I didn’t feel a gentle or natural flow between these two polar opposites. The vernacular felt like that too, not just the topics of conversation. Maybe it’s just me being an old curmudgeon but I know that teenagers may use harsh words or language, but things like that don’t always read well in books. Tangent: I saw Lauren Oliver a few months ago and she made a great point that in books/TV/movies/media, the way people speak in real life is often edited out and made smoother because it’s just harsh to listen to unless you’re actually in that conversation — taking out the “ums” and the “uhs”, the cutting off sentences and backtracking and replacing harsher words with nicer ones, etc. Whenever I come across “realistic speak”, I feel like that point just gets driver further and further home because I find the “realistic speak” really hard to read.

I did like how Wren and Charlie ended up “meeting” and dating. They were two kids who went to the same high school, knew each other (in fact, Wren had a big crush on Charlie), but never really hung out before, so how special is that to see a crush blossom info a full-on relationship? I feel like too often I’ve read stories about a long-time crush seemingly turning into something and then the MC gets her heart broken or she gets humiliated. Unfortunately, I just never really fell into sync with Charlie & Wren’s relationship. I was rooting for them at first but I just never picked up on the chemistry between the two of them and with their two individual back stories, I just couldn’t help but compare it to PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry (give or take a few plot points).

Now let’s talk about two hot-button issues: the shooting range scene and the sexual content. Firstly, I actually appreciated seeing the characters handling firearms safely and that it was a big concern of P.G.’s that everyone do things appropriately and safely. I was happy to see guns NOT involved in a book as part of gun violence, but on the other side, I also agree with Christina that I’m not sure why that scene was relevant in the book at all except to make a statement… Maybe that was a way for Wren to try something for the first time that her parents wouldn’t approve of in a different and safe space? She had already made her decision to go to Guatemala though, so that just didn’t seem necessary to the book, in my opinion.
Now the sex part… Lauren Myracle does have a whole foreword as a kind of forewarning and explanation — She wanted the book to be realistic and she didn’t want to shy away from the details just because it’s a young adult novel, and I can totally support her on that. I’m just not sure I liked the details that were included in the book. I feel like a very inexperience teenager like Wren would probably have overlooked some of the specifics included and instead described… different things (hey, I’m not going to go into the details myself haha). I can only speak from the things my friends and I have talked about throughout the years (which hey, we’re girls… We talk about a LOT of things) and it just didn’t feel true to who Wren was — in spirit or in experience level. We had a whole discussion with this through email with all the Selective Collective ladies since we featured THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US this month, and that seemed to be a general consensus from a range of 20s – 40s in age (although I guess we’re missing the actual teen opinion haha).

I guess THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US just turned out not to be a “me” book. I didn’t quite pick up on the relationship like I’d hoped and there were quite a few points that turned me off. I did like some small things here and there but it just wasn’t enough for me to come out with a really good opinion of the book overall and unfortunately this is one of those books that the more I sit on it and think about it, the more I find that I was upset with. I actually found myself rushing through the end of the book because my connection with these characters had just waned and with the abrupt ending of the book, I felt jolted and unsatisfied.

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Wren // Character Obsessions: Walking on eggshells with her parents, Guatemala, Charlie, finding her true path.
I really wanted to relate to Wren and to feel like we had travelled down similar paths, but the more I read, the less I found in common with her. I was frustrated that she wouldn’t stand up for herself and then the first time she does, it’s a HUGE life decision and an immense change. I felt like her relationship with Charlie was clingy, which true, I’m sure I had quite a few clingy relationships in my teen years, but sometimes that’s just really hard to read. Again, not necessarily a character issue, but more like I was seeing things I didn’t like seeing in “past-me” so it just makes it hard to read sometimes.
Charlie // Character Obsessions: His family, his brother, Wren.
Charlie wasn’t really swoony for me. He actually reminded me too much of Noah from PUSHING THE LIMITS which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but he also didn’t feel like his own character within my own thought process. Again, a me issue, but what can you do.
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Kept Me Hooked On: The strength of love. I love a good “we’re-in-love-and-nothing-can-change-that” story. When either Wren or Charlie screwed up, it absolutely killed them inside and I think that’s a true tell not of guilt, but of missing someone that much or hurting so badly because you know you’ve wronged them.
Left Me Wanting More: Connectivity. I just didn’t quite connect with Wren or Charlie individually and I think that prevented me from connecting with their relationship. I’m not sure what it was, but I just never quite made it there.

Addiction Rating
THINK ON IT.

I know there are some good, solid positive opinions on this one, a lot of middle of the road, and some negative. This is one that I’d suggest reading reviews for, trust your go-to reviewers, and think if it would be the kind of book you’d jive with or if you’d find the same issues as others.

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BOOKS LIKE THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US     

Pushing the Limits       The Sea of Tranquility

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) – Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 10, 2013
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

    Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.
Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.
Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

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This was the first BEA book I dipped into and yes, I finished it back in June. It was SO HARD to hold my review until now which is at least closer to the pub date than June… I’m so glad I picked this one up immediately after BEA because THE DREAM THIEVES did not disappoint. It was exciting, horrifying, mysterious, curious, and terribly interesting. I was totally hooked from start to finish.

THE DREAM THIEVES picks up where THE RAVEN BOYS left off…. So if you have read THE RAVEN BOYS (which I suggest you do), there WILL be spoilers for book one in this review… Just watch out! So Ronan. He left us with quite a little shocker at the end of book one and that is what book two is allllll about — dreams. Um. YES PLEASE. You know (actually you probably don’t know) that I usually get annoyed when characters have these weird symbolic dreams that represent what’s going on in their life or are predicting the future. I just think it’s overdone and I tend to roll my eyes at those silly dreams. This book? Nothing like that! The whole dream aspect is freaking amazing. I absolutely love the idea that Maggie Steifvater came up with for the concept of this second book.

Now… For those who have read THE RAVEN BOYS (which I’m you’re still reading by this point, I’m assuming it’s all of you), THE DREAM THIEVES is actually quite different plot-wise. Yes, we still have all the same major characters and the same basic plot points (ley lines, Cabeswater, Glendower, and Blue’s forbidden kiss) but TDT delves so much more into Ronan’s side of the story and we get more answers about Chainsaw, his dreams, and even his father’s mysterious death (which I was dying to know about in TRB). I actually hooked on to this book more than I did book one because it was that much more mystical/paranormal/AWESOME versus all the business with Gansey & Glendower because let’s face it… It was hard (for me) to get into the mythology/history of Glendower in book one. In TDT, Glendower is much more an underlying factor to several events that keep the plot moving versus and actual main plot point. I was incredibly invested in Ronan’s story line! ALSO. There’s this guy called The Grey Man………. You’ll find out more about him in the book but Heidi (Bunbury in the Stacks) and I had a nice conversation about him. Kind of love him as a character (not in a swoony way — Just the way his character was planned out… So perfect.)

Honestly the only reason I didn’t give this book a full five star knock out review was for two reasons: One being that Maggie Steifvater’s writing in The Raven Cycle series is beautiful and twisted, but sometimes I feel like the style is a bit over my head, if that makes sense. I get the feeling that if I was an English major or something that this would have totally made sense… Like there was something I was missing as far as class or knowledge of writing styles. I don’t know how else to say that, but I just felt like the writing was a little over my head at times and it got complicated for me to follow. I’m not saying I wanted Maggie to write everything so boring and straightforward, but me personally — I just got lost in the writing style just a bit. The second thing preventing me from giving it a flat out five star review was that I just had expectations for a little bit more from the ending. It was certainly good and very exciting, but I guess I just expected it to end similar to book one (though I don’t know why since this was so different) but it was just a little different than what I expected so I was slightly thrown. I actually thought part of it was a bit fantastical for the way the whole book went (which is a silly thing to say considering the whole book was awesomely fantastical), but I just felt like this one scene didn’t fit the mood of the rest of the book. And this didn’t affect my overall opinion too much, but I would have loved to see that magic of Cabeswater in detail again! I just loved that in TRB.

That aside, I think fans of THE RAVEN BOYS will absolutely be wowed by THE DREAM THIEVES! There were so many amazing elements to this story, new and exciting characters, answers from previous mysteries and new ones to look forward to. I absolutely loved reading it and I can’t wait for the next book in the series… Although I will have to!

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Ronan Lynch // Character Obsessions: Chainsaw, dreams, the mystery of his parents.
RONAN. Loved him in this book. Broody. Mysterious. And has a freaking awesome ability. I’m so glad we got to really see so much of his personal story since he was just building up to be a main character in book one. I’m so glad we got to see so many layers of Ronan as well as his family (totally forgot about his other brother Matthew…?) and so, so many interesting mysteries about his past.
(Richard) Gansey // Character Obsessions: Glendower, ley lines.
I still kind of love Gansey. He doesn’t play AS big of a role in this book as the first, but of course he’s still majorly connected to the central plot and we get to see a couple different sides of him here. His role kind of changes, I think, and I actually really like the direction his story line took.
Adam Parrish // Character Obsessions: Blue Sargent, ley lines.
For being such a big part of THE RAVEN BOYS, I feel like we were missing so much Adam in THE DREAM THIEVES. Considering how book one ended, I was hoping to get sooooo many more details in book two, but it seems that Adam is a bit of mystery. I’m really hoping for things to get explained in book three! Adam’s role has also majorly shifted in this book and he’s actually becoming quite a different Adam. It’s incredibly interesting to see these changes but I just wish we had gotten to see a little bit more of his story in detail here.
The Grey Man // Character Obsessions: The Greywaren, Maura Sargent, hit-manning, The Kinks, brothers.
I really hope you guys love The Grey Man like Heidi and I do. He’s an awesome villain-type character and even after the book is over, I really, really, really want to know more about him and his past!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Whatever supernatural phenomena are going on in this series. Look, I don’t know how all these kids have supernatural talents but I am digging it! Between Ronan, Noah, Blue, Adam… Gansey’s obsession with making this Glendower thing real. I am all in, here.
Left Me Wanting More: Adam!! He was SUCH a big part of book one and TRB ended in such an EPIC way that I felt like his details never really got wrapped up like I hoped in TDT.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

This is one you do not want to miss! I think if you loved THE RAVEN BOYS, this book will blow your mind just a bit. Definitely one I want to keep on my shelves!!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE DREAM THIEVES

     Paper Valentine      Pivot POint

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl – Rainbow RowellTitle: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: September 10, 2013 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 21, 2013
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Landline, Attachments, Kindred Spirits

  Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
    Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...
    But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
    Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
    Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
    Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
    For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
    Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
    And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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FANGIRL was probably THE most anticipated read of 2013. I basically started it, got 25 pages in, and then went to Twitter about how scared I was to read it because I had such HIGH HOPES and EXPECTATIONS for it. It’s so hard when ELEANOR & PARK instantly became a favorite and then the fabulous Rainbow Rowell comes out with another book that sounds like I will simply adore it. I always felt like I loved E&P so much because I really didn’t know what to expect of it so I kind of went it to it with little to no expectations. Twitter reassured me that I had nothing to worry about, so back in I dove!

FANGIRL starts with Cath and her twin sister Wren starting college and moving into the dorms. It’s hard for shy, introverted Cath because Wren has decided that she doesn’t want to room with Cath and instead get the “college experience” that everyone else has and not just hang out with her sister 24/7 anymore. Cath’s struggles not only include that painful distance from her sister for the first time, but she’s also worrying about her dad who is home alone without his girls for the first time, her roommate is extremely blunt and kind of rude, and there’s this BOY who keeps hanging out in their room that she doesn’t know what to do with. Lucky for Cath, she still has her Simon Snow (like Harry Potter) fanfic to keep her mind grounded & occupied. Her fanfic is the one thing she feels truly confident in, having tons of fans and all, so Cath sticks to that as her one true comfort when every other one has been taken away at college.

Okay. So. My thoughts on FANGIRL. This is actually really, really hard for me to review because I think of how many months I obsessed over reading this and I NEED to review this with exactly how I felt about it and not just how I wanted to feel about it. FANGIRL was not a five-star read for me like I hoped. Don’t get me wrong — I still LOVED so many things about it and it’s still somewhere in the higher four-star range, but I had some trouble at times, specifically connecting with Cath.
Oh, Cath, I totally feel your pain starting college, not knowing anyone, and feeling totally vulnerable, but please please at least leave the room? Cath was so sweet and I felt for her in so many ways, but because she was so closed off to the world, I felt like she was closed off to me as the reader. I wanted to just revel in her sadness, her fears, her adorable awkwardness and I never really felt like I got to feel her FEELINGS. Rainbow has this great way of explaining feelings to the reader without having to say them outright and you just pick them up, but because Cath was so hard to read in the first place, I feel like that wonderful way of writing sort of made Cath more closed off to me instead of helping me get in her head more.
I was super unsure in college. I actually went to a community college for two years, then went to Illinois State University and straight to living in a four-person apartment with my friend from high school, her roommate from the previous two years (who I had only met once or twice) and another girl we had NEVER met before, so I get how Cath was nervous about new people, new places… But with Reagan being so bold and Cath thinking that she didn’t even like her, why didn’t she go hole up in the library or a coffeeshop or a bookstore? If I was uncomfortable with my roommate (which believe me — it happened), I would go out into the world and find a place where I could be alone (among strangers). It just bothered me that she felt so uncomfortable in her room at times and she just stayed there. I would have bolted! But I guess that’s the difference between me and Cath.
I guess it comes down to the fact that I know Cath had reasons why she was so nervous and protective of her feelings and herself and I can totally understand that, but it still didn’t help me connect to Cath like I wanted to!

I don’t know much about fanfic so that wasn’t really a big thing for me, but I really liked the whole concept of writing and how it tied into the book. Cath ends up taking an advanced writing class and really having a hard time coming up with her own stories because all she’s ever written is fanfic. I loved the dialogue back and forth between her and her teacher and how her professor tries to guide her in the right direction. It’s great writing advice (thanks, Rainbow!) and there’s some great guidance that was not only good for Cath, but can be helpful to tons of beginning writers anywhere.

The family issues went a lot deeper than I had originally expected, and not just between Cath and her separation from Wren, but also how Cath worries about leaving her dad alone and if he’s taking care of himself without the two of them there to sort of check up on him. I won’t go into detail, but there was a lot more there that first meets the eye so it really added a great layer to the story and made Cath’s story a bit more personal to read. It was also incredibly interesting to see how Cath’s relationship with Wren completely changes from what they once had at home and how the two of them handle each situation so differently.

Okay, NOW we get to Levi. *sigh* Oh, Levi. I loved him so much. He was sooo so adorable and I loved all of the detail that Rainbow Rowell put into his character — from the physical descriptions to the way he moved to the personality quirks and even down to his studying habits. She made him so unique and so loveable. I totally swooned for him oh so much. He actually reminded me of Shane a little bit here and there so of course that added to my level of swoon, but I just loved his character. He, of course, has his flaws — and when it comes to their relationship, Cath does too —  and that’s something that he and Cath really had to work on and figure out. It kind of bothered me exactly how timid Cath was with their relationship… I mean, I get it, but I don’t. She was just SUPER timid about everything and I understand that to an extent but it actually became frustrating as a reader that it took her so long to break out of her shell for even the smallest things.

FANGIRL was a great read for me and I really, really enjoyed it, but just the timidity from Cath really prevented it from shooting to a straight five-star read for me. I really wanted to connect with her so much more. It wasn’t perfect, but of course I’ll still recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Rainbow’s books and just contemporary fans in general. I LOVED that it took place in college instead of high school. I’m always looking for more books that take place during the college years so I really, truly loved the atmosphere!

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Cather Avery // Character Obsessions: Simon Snow, writing, fan-fiction.
I really wanted to like Cath juuuust a bit more, but she was a fun character to follow throughout the story of FANGIRL. I honestly felt for her a lot with her struggles through freshman year — I’m sure anyone who’s gone away to college can relate in one way or another — but I felt like her growth was actually kind of minimal from beginning to end. I guess a character doesn’t have to grow leaps and bounds in one book, but I really felt like it took her a WHILE to make any small changes, really. I truly felt for her character but I wanted to really FEEL all of those emotions that I think she even closed herself off from. She was afraid of so many things, including her own feelings, I think. It just made it hard for me to be like, “Yeah! Go, Cath!” when I felt like she didn’t even want to change or succeed or try to do anything at all out of her small comfort zone without someone essentially forcing her to.
Levi // Character Obsessions: Agriculture, smiling, making people happy, Cath.
Levi is adorable. I loved everything about his character (well… minus his obvious flaws that you’ll figure out). I loved his little imperfections. I love the way he made people feel about themselves. I loved his zest for life and the fact that he appreciated Cath for who she was. I really swooned over him and I think lots of other people will to! Bravo, Rainbow.
Reagan // Character Obsessions: Telling it like it is, going out, working, Levi.
Reagan was one of my favorite characters. She was pretty much the total and complete opposite of Cath — Said whatever she was thinking, wasn’t afraid of telling it like it is, liked going out, worked all the time, was confident in who she was… She was the person who actually ended up helping Cath by forcing her out of the room and sort of guiding her through her freshman year of college. I loved her humor and that we got to see the opposite of Cath in the same room with her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Rainbow Rowell. I love her. Writing about the freshman year of college was perfection for me and I loved going through those experiences again (as awkward as some of them were). Rainbow has a unique way of writing certain things and bringing in such touching experiences to make a story so much more personal. FANGIRL kept me a Rainbow fan (of that I had no doubt) and I know I’ll be reading her books for years to come!
Left Me Wanting More: Boldness. Okay, so Cath didn’t have to go over the top in anyway, but I wanted a bit more initiative from her to.. ya know… leave the dorm room. Do anything! Go explore by herself. That’s what I did on my first day. I was afraid of not knowing where things were so I spent the day just walking around campus, finding my classrooms and making sure I knew where things were so I didn’t look like a goon aimlessly walking around. I get Cath being uncomfortable, but for Pete’s sake… Just go find the dining hall and make it look like you’re just casually walking around the dorm!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

Yes, I did have a lot to say and a LOT of different feelings about this book, but ultimately, I still really enjoyed it and I’m glad I have two signed copies to keep on my shelf AND I’m buying the hardcover when it comes out (because that’s what I do). I’d still recommend to buy it but just know that Cath may be a tough one to crack!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE FANGIRL

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