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Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia Grey

I had been eyeing The Firebird Trilogy ever since I saw the cover for A THOUSAND PIECES ABOVE YOU and fell instantly in love! NO WAIT. I’ve actually been eyeing the trilogy ever since Claudia Grey gave a sneak peek of it at a signing for SPELLCASTER. (Seriously. I made a note of it.) Anyway, I finally got around to reading the books and decided to binge all three for a cohesive series read!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Thousand Pieces of You (The Firebird Trilogy #1) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2017

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father's killer through multiple dimensions.

Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores an amazingly intricate multi-universe where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

This book had been on my TBR and on my shelves for a very long time (I mean, hello, one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen) and the concept was something that instantly drew me in. I finally grabbed the audio for this, wanting to read something more sci-fi and what better to pick up than an multi-dimension story?

The book started off abruptly for me. It kind of starts right in the action and things immediately start happening. I really wished Claudia Gray had taken the time to set up a little backstory before throwing readers into things because it permanently messed up my feelings towards some of the characters, without giving away any spoilers, and once that happens, it’s really hard for me to go back and “correct” that. The first impressions stuck with me and I didn’t even have time to learn a little backstory, but more importantly, see some character history and personality, before the action took off.

The concept was exactly what I was looking for! Hopping from dimension to dimension and travelling between worlds. I have to say, I was super impressed with the different universes that Claudia Gray created for these characters! Most books, when dealing with alternate universes, focus a lot on things that are very close to the life that we’re living now but a few major or minor things have been changed to have a significant impact on a character. Here, Gray set up worlds where the main characters have a whole lot more to figure out. From a world where technology has progressed much faster to a world where technology has progressed MUCH slower so that the world is essentially still in the dark ages. A world where Marguerite ends up in a place almost exactly like her home to a world where she lives in a different country and has an entirely different upbringing. It’s easy to create a setting for a book a tamper with it slightly to come up with an alternate universe. Claudia Gray really gets into the different possibilities and how anything minor can create a huge major difference!

I also really love the family aspect and how tightly knit this family is. There’s a great dynamic, the parents are loving and supportive (although I guess it depends in what universe, right?), and the graduate students that work with Marguerite’s parents have become a part of the family too.

What I didn’t love was the romance. It was set up a little awkwardly and there were some… things that happened that really turned me around right from the start. I won’t get into details because that heads into spoiler-ville but the set-up and execution of the romance felt really clunky to me and even heading straight on to the second book (which I’m reading now), I still can’t shake that feel because of how it was set up in book one. Again, with no backstory for these characters when the book started, I had no sense of who was supposed to be what to Marguerite, the history she had with them, her feelings for them, and why she should trust anyone. I just really needed that chapter or so in the beginning to introduce all of the characters. The book felt like it was the second book in the series, not the first, with the way that it started and threw the story and characters at me right away and that made things a little difficult. The book does offer flashbacks so readers are still able to see things from “before” but that didn’t really make up for what I was wanting in the very beginning.

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU didn’t exactly go how I had hoped but it was still an enjoyable read and I’m so impressed with the different worlds that Claudia Gray has built! I’m already in the second book because I’m interested in bingeing the whole series and I’m loving her creativity so far.

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: Ten Thousand Skies Above You (The Firebird Trilogy #2) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

I think I enjoyed this book better than the first! I liked having everything established and it was neat to see these concepts expanded even more. One thing I love about good fantasy/sci-fi writers is when they make the readers think they’ve gotten all of the reveals and then something totally new is revealed and it’s like a whole new world opening up!

I’m still not the biggest fan of the romance, but I don’t think I will be at this point. It’s kind of just there for me and I don’t love that it’s the main reason why Marguerite is doing what she’s doing, but I guess I also like that her guy isn’t someone she just met and that it’s someone who’s been in her life for a long time. There’s just something about it that still feels like instalove for some reason, and I think it’s the way it was all set up in the first book. I don’t have a problem with instalove when it’s executed well but I’ve just never been a fan of this relationship.

The further development of the multiverse is fascinating! We get to know the same characters but in different dimensions and how their lives are different, as well as how one dimension may be affecting another. Things dig way deeper in this book and the plot was even more fascinating!

I’m still not tooootally in love like I had hoped to be but these books are proving to be very enjoyable and I’m glad I’m reading them back-to-back-to-back so I’m able to soak everything in and not have a year in between each book!

Series Review: The Firebird Trilogy by Claudia GreyTitle: A Million Worlds With You (The Firebird Trilogy #3) by Claudia Grey
Publishing Info: November 1, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2017

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

I think this may have been the best book of the series for me! I really liked how everything came together and it was nice to follow the story having gotten to know these characters and really get into their histories. I really enjoyed the conclusion and that it included even deeper layers of these worlds and how they entwined with each other.

One thing I always have a hard time with in sci-fi books is how much science the reader should really be exposed to. We knew the Firebirds worked and that there was a lot of physics and science behind them, but I always found myself wanting to know just a bit more about the science behind it. I understand we don’t want to bog readers down with complicated explanations but I always feel that it adds to the world-building (at least personally, for me) and adds that sense of reality instead of just saying “we created these with science and the science works”. Obviously there’s no real technology like that (at least not that the public knows *cue conspiracy theory music*) but I was left wanting just a biiiiit more of an explanation of why the science made it work the way it did. There were descriptions of how the Firebirds worked but I wanted to know how the science made those functions possible. Maybe I’m going one step too far, haha.

Anyway, I found this book really enjoyable! The whole series was a very solid four-star read for me but I never quite fell head over heels for it, and I think that was because of the characters. They were all very good characters with depth (as noted in their different personalities in different dimensions), but I just never LOVED them. I did love all of the different universes and I’m still impressed with how much time and thought went into each one of them.

Listening via audio, I did find one discontinuity which wasn’t a big deal but it really bothered me for the brief moment that it existed and I needed to get it off my chest! If you want to check it out, head over to my Goodreads review and peek between the spoiler tags!

So TL;DR, this series was very fun in terms of concept and set-up! I didn’t totally love the characters — mostly the romance. I don’t know why but I never fully got on board! I think I liked Theo better, to be honest… I love the rakish rogues, what can I say? — but it was a super solid series and I loved the creativity and detail!

SERIES THOUGHTS

The Firebird Trilogy was really enjoyable! I thought it was a very solid series, all quite good with some great characters, excellent settings, and creative plotting. I really loved that the different universes Marguerite travels to aren’t just slight changes but large changes. It was different from the other alt-reality books I’ve read and it was quite fun to experience such alternate realities!

I was on the wrong side of the love triangle the whole time, so that was hard for me, but I did enjoy the characters to a certain extent. When you’re on the wrong side of a love triangle, it’s REALLY hard to fall into the “do anything for love” concept so that became slightly unrealistic for me but I tried to go with it.

I did want a little more detail with the science to better explain some things but I really enjoyed all of the dynamics between all of the characters and how the different worlds shaped them. I never quite fell in love with these books but they were all very, very good reads and I like the way everything wrapped up! It’s always nice to be able to recommend a series from start to finish.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

These books were so interesting and Claudia Grey did a wonderful job with the different worlds. I’m really glad I finally read this series!!

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BOOKS LIKE THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) – Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) – Melissa GreyTitle: The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) by Melissa Grey
Publishing Info: April 28, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 29, 2017

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

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I’ve heard so many good things about THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT and with having the second and third books on audio from the publisher, I figured it was finally time to buy the first from Audible to get the series binge going!

This book really reminded me a lot of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and The Conspiracy of Us with a little urban fantasy feel. The tone of the book was fun, with Echo’s sass and sarcasm (always something I enjoy as long as it’s done well) and some nice friendships…

… But the ragtag group of misfits don’t really jive. They all have different personalities and they sort of seem to be fighting each other, not outwardly as character arguments but the personalities just aren’t meshing for me. It really does feel garbled together and not like the misfit group of characters like The Dregs, who are all misfits but all have the same goal and same attitude towards life.

THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT was a fun story but it felt sort of… average in a lot of ways. I’ll admit, the hype really got to me after seeing a lot of fan-girling reviews so I had some very high expectations. The story was enjoyable BUT I’m not sure it was really worth the hype. One thing I was really missing was the world-building throughout the entire book. I was all for the worlds of the Avicen and the Drakharin but… why do they exist? What are they all about? Were they always in the shadows of the human world, in hidden places or did they have to move there? How did this whole war get started? Who pissed off who? Tell me more about the magic, the history, the reasoning… We got a little of Echo’s backstory and how she ended up being taken in by the Avicen but, did she never question who they were and why they existed and why people don’t know about t them?

I have some more spoilery thoughts about the romance and the actual hunt of the Firebird, but I do try to keep my blog reviews spoiler-free so if you want to peek at spoilery thoughts, you can go check out my Goodreads review where you can peek behind the spoiler tags!

The more I talk about the book, the more unhappy I am with it. It just didn’t seem to really do much. It wasn’t intolerable and I had planned on continuing the series binge but I picked up the second book and my heart just wasn’t into it. I stopped my journey with this series after book one and I don’t find myself missing anything.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique fantasy concepts. The Avicen were an interesting creation and I always like reading about new concepts where I can!
Left Me Wanting More: Base. This book just needed more world-building, a bit more character base, and needed to feel a bit more grounded. It just felt very… new.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I have some friends who loved this one but this was a very middle-of-the-road read for me that ended up teetering towards the side of indifference. I just didn’t really care to keep going.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Mini-Review: Kindred Spirits – Rainbow Rowell

Mini-Review: Kindred Spirits – Rainbow RowellTitle: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: February 25, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 20, 2017
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline, Attachments

'Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.'
'Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?'
'Maybe.'

If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels. Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On, and is part of a handful of selected short reads specially produced for World Book Day.

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I don’t know why this was marked as “for older readers” when it’s about an 18-year-old girl and doesn’t contain any so called “adult content” but okay! KINDRED SPIRITS is an easy, fun novella for teens or adults alike and it really can fit with anyone who has a love of Star Wars!

KINDRED SPIRITS is a quick short about Elena who camps out in line to see the next Star Wars movie and her interactions with the people in line (all two of them). I thought the book was fun, realistic, and had a decent amount of substance considering its length! It was enjoyable to read, easy to zip through, and you’ll have more fun if you’re a Star Wars fan but you also won’t really miss TOO much if you’re not. I thoroughly enjoy Star Wars but I’m not as big of a fan so some name drops went over my head but I mostly picked up on everything else. It’s made to be an enjoyable read no matter what!

As usual, I loved the feel of a Rainbow Rowell book. It had the same vibe and writing style as her other books do and I just love falling back into another one of her books. This was perfect for a quick read and I’m glad I finally got to it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Nerdy fun. I love cute, nerdy books and it was so fun to read this novella from Rainbow Rowell about Star Wars and its fans. It just shows how “geek culture” is so accessible to anyone and you don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy it!
Left Me Wanting More: Length! I really enjoyed this story and I could have read a whole novel of it! I am glad it was a novella though because it was the perfect quick and cute read.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a Rainbow Rowell fan, it’s a great addition to your collection and just a fun story to read. She always has quality content and lovely writing, even in a quick snippet.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE KINDRED SPIRITS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere – Neil GaimanTitle: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: September 2, 2003 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 21, 2016
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, InterWorld (InterWorld #1)

Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

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NEVERWHERE was such a magical experience! I have Alyssa to thank for introducing me to Neil Gaiman and telling me to listen to the audio of this book and actually buying the audiobook for me! Neil Gaiman is an amazing narrator and I always love listening to authors narrate their own story because nothing is left to interpretation. You know they’re reading it exactly the way they want it told.

As much as the whole experience was magical, the characters really made the book. I absolutely loved Richard who is a sweet little cinnamon roll and just so much fun to follow on this journey. He’s so pure of heart and gets into this whole mess because he stops to help a stranger in need. I loved his sweet disposition throughout the book and he was just so utterly charming. I really connected with his characters so much. I also loved strong yet sweet Door and the quest that she’s on throughout this book. She’s a wonderful mix of confident, independent, caring, and thoughtful. And of course I loved the Marquis de Carabas who is part slick, part mentor, part questionable, and part father-figure. He was that character that I love who seems a little bit questionable and has a lot of gray areas when it comes to morals or doing the right thing but when it comes down to it, he really ends up protecting the other characters and has a soft spot deep down.

I will admit that the journey got a bit fantastical for me (which Alyssa warned me might happen because she knows my tastes so well). It wasn’t a bad thing at all, but I’m very much a rule person when it comes to fantasy worlds (which is why I get along with high fantasy so well!) so in spots where the reader is constantly learning about new places or meeting new people with no added history of what/who they are or why they’re a part of the story, my mind just begins to wander and tries to logic them into place, which isn’t the intent of the book. Again, not a bad thing and not something I mean to critique — just a point of why it wasn’t total 100% five stars for me! But when reading stories like these, I try my best just to go with the story and allow myself to get lost in it. I tried to take on Richard’s mentality of suspending the disbelief, which was fun too because it was a struggle for him!

I absolutely LOVED the ending of NEVERWHERE. I won’t spoil anything of course but it was such a wonderful way to wrap everything up. I loved being able to see Richard really figure out what he wants in the end and the final appearance of everyone just warmed my heart! I’m never disappointed in the endings of Neil Gaiman books and really, that’s such a crucial part for me as a reader. A bad ending could ruin a whole book and Neil Gaiman always wraps things up so wonderfully.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

NEVERWHERE was an amazing audiobook for many reasons. Firstly, because Neil Gaiman himself narrates it. He has such an amazing narration voice and I just love when authors narrate their own books because you know that everything is pronounced right, the inflections are all correct, and nothing is missed. It was also SO COOL because there were some neat sound effects (echoes when in a tunnel, muffled voices and static on the phone, etc) and I was just so giddy to hear them! They really made the experience so special. And if you read this, be sure to get HOW THE MARQUIS GOT HIS COAT BACK on audio too! I paid a few bucks for it but it was the full BBC production with a full cast, lots of sound effects, music — it was SO entertaining and so worth the cost of a cup of coffee for that.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantastical worlds. I do love fantasy but I’ll admit that I’m more of a high fantasy person than books that involve creatures and things like that. I did enjoy this zany other side of London and it was so much fun to experience in this sort of setting!
Left Me Wanting More: Rules. I always love world-building that has a lot of rules. It sets up a great structure for me and I adapt better to rules than to whimsy!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of any type of fantasy, NEVERWHERE is a great read. It’s fun and light and still maintains a world of depth and danger.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWHERE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE MAGICIANS

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary ElwesTitle: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden
Publishing Info: October 14, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!
With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

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Gosh, this was just so wonderful. The Princess Bride has always meant a lot to me, growing up with the movie, then later reading the book as an adult, and eventually sharing it with my husband who had never seen the movie and much like the grandson, ended up really enjoying it despite his initial hesitance.

It was just magical to hear all of these behind-the-scenes moments while the movie was being filmed, all of the delightful anecdotes, more movie trivia, and it was so overwhelming special to hear how treasured this movie and movie-making experience really was to all of the actors. It’s something that has become near and dear to so many fans and it’s so wonderful to hear how much fun they had making the movie and how they really became a movie family.

This book was wonderfully put together, consisting of a start-to-finish tale of how the movie was made, how all of the actors were brought in, and even how it was received. I loved the overall story and all of the anecdotes the book included. I haven’t read many non-fiction books or memoirs or really anything like this so I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to follow and listen to! (Although I suppose I watch plenty of non-fictional TV shows so it’s not that big of a leap.) Cary Elwes also does a wonderful job of really making this flow as a story to carry readers along with the production experience.

Despite having a print copy (which I would want to own regardless), I listened to the audiobook of AS YOU WISH and it was an amazing listen. Cary Elwes narrated and all of the actors (who are still living) as well as the directors and author William Goldman popped in to narrated their additions to this book as well. (Although a narrator stepped in for a few actors and William Goldman for this audiobook production.) Cary Elwes is an amazing narrator. Obviously he’s a great actor so he has a natural story-telling ability and the wonderful knack for bringing a story to life. He’s also amazing at impressions and was so great doing all of the actors voices and accents when telling his side of their conversations! If he isn’t a narrator for any other audiobooks, he really should be. It was such a delight listening to his narration!

I actually teared up at the end of the audiobook, I must admit. I could just feel the emotion that was such a big part of these actors’ experience with the filming of The Princess Bride and this movie is one of my all-time favorites. I just feel such a connection to it and I got quite emotional as well! AS YOU WISH was just wonderful and I think an important read for any Princess Bride fan! If you’re a huge fan of the movie, you won’t be disappointed with this book.view_from_goodreads1

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

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-fiction. I really read next to zero non-fiction. I’m just such a fan of losing myself in fictional worlds that non-fiction doesn’t really catch my eye. AS YOU WISH may have me rethinking this for certain topics that mean a lot to me because this experience was just so enjoyable and  I learned things!
Left Me Wanting More: Time with this story! Everything I ever wanted was in this book. The only thing I wanted was for it not to end!

Addiction Rating
Read it/listen to it ASAP!

I SO recommend the audiobook for this one! Listening to Cary Elwes is just magical.

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BOOKS LIKE AS YOU WISH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

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

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods – Neil GaimanTitle: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: June 19, 2001 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Mythology
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 23, 2015
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere, InterWorld (InterWorld #1)

    Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there...

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For February, I read AMERICAN GODS with my lovelies from On the Same Page! Alyssa is a huuuge Neil Gaiman fan and thanks to her suggestions I’ve read a couple of his books and really enjoyed them all so far so I was really anxious to pick up AMERICAN GODS which also incorporated something that I’m extremely interested in — mythology.

The book follows Shadow, a now ex-con with nothing left to lose so he joins the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on a quest to gather up some other, er… mysterious persons (*whispers* gods) for an epic and un-elaborated upon showdown. Right away, the book grabbed me and felt a little dark — a good kind of dark (wait, is there a bad kind?) — and I was sooo interested in what was about to go down! The only problem was… I quickly hit a lull in the action. I knew right away that this was going to be a book I would really have to pay attention to and that’s not a bad thing. It was more that I knew Neil Gaiman’s story telling would be very intricate, along with several subtle clues to pick up along the way (I missed a lot but Alyssa is a mythology pro and she clued me in) so it wasn’t something I could rush through. I tried to take my time but there was a section in the beginning that I was really struggling to get through. Thankfully it passed and I was once again totally hooked!

Mythology is actually kind of hit-or-miss for me as far as adaptations and retellings. I always have high hopes and I guess I never really know what to expect. Usually the more I know about the myths and the gods, the better the adaptation goes for me but I think the great part about AMERICAN GODS was that it wasn’t just a retelling of the story of X god in a modern world. These were the real and true gods, brought over to America by their believers and then abandoned, not sure what to do in this new world with no followers anymore. It felt like a totally original idea and an original story, not just adapting one that has already been told many times before. Instead of knowing what happens and seeing how the tale was interwoven into the plot, I was following a completely new plot and had no idea what would happen next! I was always excited to see what new god or character would pop, how they fit into the plot, and what could possibly happen as a result of their presence there. Not to mention how Shadow might fit into everything and why he was chosen for this mission in the first place (literally one of my first thoughts when I started reading).

Naturally, Neil Gaiman let everything unfold at the perfect time. Everyone slipped perfectly into place, their roles and motives carefully revealed when the time was right. The magic never felt unnatural or hokey and he had me believing that these gods could really be walking among us, the mortals and non-believers of this world none the wiser.

It’s hard to say too much about the book because as I said before, it’s one best explored as you read it, allowing the story to present itself naturally. If you feel a bit of struggle, push past it because this book was definitely worth it! I’m really glad I read with Alyssa and Amy because I might not have read it on my own (one of the things I always enjoy about the books we read for On the Same Page)!

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!

American Gods GR updates

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Shadow // Character Obsessions: Laura, assisting Wednesday, going with the flow.
Shadow was a really interesting character. I really liked his laid-back demeanor despite his ex-con status. He was really fun to follow around in this book and I love what we get to know of him!

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Kept Me Hooked On: A modern take on mythology. I really loved this modern take on mythology without the book being a retelling. I really got to see the stories and histories in a different way and it also made the gods feel much more real.
Left Me Wanting More: Smoothness. Really, the book was smooth. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing — BUT there was that one lull that really took a big hunk of enjoyable time away from the book for me. I still loved the rest but I wish I hadn’t fallen into the doldrums there!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was SUCH an interesting story! I really enjoyed how creative this book was on so many levels and I just really am finding Neil Gaiman’s writing wholly captivating.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE AMERICAN GODS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE RAVEN BOYS     THE NIGHT CIRCUS

Steelheart (The Reckoners #1) – Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

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

view_from_goodreads1

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE STEELHEART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

VICIOUS               READY PLAYER ONE

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) – Kasie West

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) – Kasie WestTitle: Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 11, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Paranormal, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 8, 2014
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Addie has always been able to see the future when faced with a choice, but that doesn't make her present any easier. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. So when Addie's dad invites her to spend her winter break with him in the Norm world, she jumps at the chance. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He's a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. She wants to change that.Laila, her best friend, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie's memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don't want this to happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.
In the suspenseful sequel to Pivot Point, Addie tries desperately to retrieve her lost memories and piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot.

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** This is a spoiler-free review for SPLIT SECOND but may contain spoilers for book one — PIVOT POINT — if you haven’t already read it! **

I had been meaning to read SPLIT SECOND for a looooong time but never picked up a copy for myself so when I received it from Brianna (Paperback Princess) via Andi’s Spring Exchange, I was so excited to finally finish off this duology and figure out where the story went after the exciting ending to PIVOT POINT!

SPLIT SECOND pretty much picked up where PIVOT POINT left off — Addie has made her decision on which parent to live with after seeing the two possible futures with each one — but SPLIT SECOND also has something that PIVOT POINT did not: a split POV. The book starts with Addie’s point of view, but we also get to hear a different part of the story from her best friend Laila, who I loved! Addie is always the more serious one and the planner whereas Laila is more laid-back, spontaneous, and extroverted so it was great to see the book from two very different mindsets. Another thing that I loved about the dual-POVs is that Laila actually played a really big part in PIVOT POINT — she actually changed Addie’s entire life in a BIG way, as we find out at the end of the book — so I really enjoyed that Kasie West chose to highlight her importance in these books by giving her an even stronger voice.

A very complicated part of the book (and not bad way — in a very interesting way) is the romance that was established between Addie and Trevor in book one and clearly all the readers are rooting for in book two. I want to say SO MUCH about it, but if I say everything, that will lead to very big spoilers so… sigh. I will refrain from spoilers! What I will say is that I love how Kasie West chose to handle this situation. As we find out from the end of PIVOT POINT, Addie is forced to choose the path in which she doesn’t meet and end up falling for Trevor in order to save her best friend, leaving readers sad and on edge in anticipation of SPLIT SECOND… So really that was my main question when I started the book: HOW DO THESE TWO END UP TOGETHER? (Because be honest. You know they have to.) Every step of the way felt bittersweet and tense and exciting all at once and I just really loved how Kasie West ending up weaving this story line. I thought it was simply perfect and couldn’t have asked for a better solution to the problem at hand.

I really enjoyed where SPLIT SECOND took the readers and there’s just something so refreshing about reading a duology! I love being able to get invested in the characters but not feel that long gap between several books or wonder if I’ll still be invested in the series years later. I always connect with Kasie West’s characters and even with a paranormal twist in this series, I still feel like each one was incredibly real. I had a great time reading these two books and I’m even more of a fan of Kasie West than when I first read PIVOT POINT!

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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Addie // Character Obsessions: Divergence, family history, friendship, para-mysteries.
I really connected with Addie in these two books… She has a level head on her shoulders but she also makes some poor decisions at times. She felt like a very mature soul and I just really enjoyed getting to know her! SPLIT SECOND was no exception and I really loved seeing her mature even more in this book.
Laila // Character Obsessions: Fun, helping her friends, honing her skills.
I loved how much bigger of a role Laila played in this book! So much about her — from her friendship with Addie to her own para-skills — really shaped the entire course of this book so I was really glad she had her own POV. Her voice was also so much fun and I loooooved her romantic interest too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal abilities. I’ve been switching up paranormal for fantasy reads way more often nowadays and for some reason, paranormal in general seems to be more “on the way out”. (Maybe just me?) I’m glad I enjoyed this one so much — concept and all!
Left Me Wanting More: Addie & Trevor time. Don’t get me wrong — they still had a lot of face time in this book… But given where PIVOT POINT left off, you can guess how much time was spent re-building that relationship. I still really enjoyed it all but I just wanted them to get together quickly!

Addiction Rating
READ IT!

I love that this is a duology and both books are really great, solid reads. Definitely books I’d recommend to others and what set me on the course of being a huge Kasie West fan!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SPLIT SECOND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     the body finder    white cat

The Rules for Breaking (The Rules For Disappearing #2) – Ashley Elston

The Rules for Breaking (The Rules For Disappearing #2) – Ashley ElstonTitle: The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2) by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: May 20, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Gift
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 8, 2014
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), This is Our Story

    Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom. But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down. The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he's using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it's time to break all the rules—even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils. Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

bookreview1

It’s no secret that I’ve been dying for more YA mystery/thrillers so I was really excited to pick up THE RULES FOR BREAKING and continue on with this exciting series from Ashley Elston! The details were a tiny bit foggy from when I had read the first book, in part because I wasn’t expecting there to be a second book as I was reading, but I was glad there were little bits of recaps sewn into the story to help refresh my memory!

This book was really exciting. I felt like the action was pretty well spaced throughout the book which was great! I feel like it’s hard to spread out a story and keep the pacing steady in mysteries or thrillers without going overboard on what exactly is happening but I felt like this book really just kept on going, and the surprises kept on coming! I felt like there were more twists and surprises in than in the first book (or maybe I just didn’t remember the details from book one) so that was really fun too! There were a few things I didn’t see coming and I really liked how they tied into events and characters from previous books as well.

I’m so glad that Ashley Elston kept Anna and Ethan together. I go through “second in a series syndrome” where I get irritated when characters who united in book one are split apart in book two or all of a sudden a new love interest is introduced so it’s so refreshing and really adds to my overall enjoyment of a series as a whole when an author can really expound on what’s already been established in the first book and just really make that story line grow. My only “complaint” is that I didn’t swoon for Ethan as much in this book because of all of the crazy events that were going on, but I felt a bit like Anna did — how you have all the little butterflies as you’re falling for someone and then the butterflies are maybe not as constant but deeper feelings grow. That’s really how I felt about the characters. My feelings for them grew and I was really happy to see more of them and to see them grow as well.

I really enjoyed the story and a lot of it felt like it really could happen, which is pretty scary to think about! I had a great time reading it and it was a really enjoyable read for me all around. It always had me guessing, never sure what to expect and that layer of mistrust is still there — I was still never sure who to trust!

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!

Untitled

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Anna // Character Obsessions: Protecting Teeny, avoiding Thomas, staying alive.
I felt like I really got to know Anna better in this book! It was interesting to be able to get more of her past because as much as we got to know her current situation in the first book, I really got to know her personality and who she was before the program and her insane situation. I really admired her determination in this book as well.
Ethan // Character Obsessions: Protecting Anna, family.
I wished I had seen more of the romantic side of Ethan like I had in the first book, but it was much harder with everything these two kids had going on. I didn’t get to see as much of his personality in this book, but I did see a different side of him. He was much more protective and I really liked how fiercely protective he was of Anna and his family.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA thrillers. HOORAY for YA thrillers! AND duologies. I loved the action and all of the suspense from this book. I was definitely on the edge of my seat and I felt like the pacing was really great!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. Usually I’m always good with the romance or there’s too much, but I’m not usually asking for more. I think because there were so many high pressure situations and we were already past the “meeting & falling for each other” stage, so even though Anna and Ethan still had great chemistry and they had bigger things to focus on then romantic butterflies!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed both of these books and I’m a big fan of YA mysteries and thrillers. A great couple of books from Ashley Elston!

book_recommendations1

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Shadowlands     Paper Valentine