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Mini-Review: Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 22, 2011 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 23, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)


Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.

 
Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead—and a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph he was supposed to be carrying. Only one person has seen the missing photo: Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target. An FBI sketch artist helps Stephanie re-create the person in the photo, but Stephanie’s descriptive skills are lacking. Until she can improve them, she’ll need to watch her back. Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. Vinnie’s temporary HQ has gone up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls for their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?
 
Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

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I was fairly impressed with EXPLOSIVE EIGHTEEN! Well, in comparison to previous books. This book really had a lot going on for it as far as Stephanie Plum’s story goes and I was so excited to really add more mystery and plot to the series again! I’ve said it in previous reviews but the lack of real plot and high level of goofiness was really starting to wear on me so I’m so glad to see that things are really picking up in Stephanie’s personal life and in the development of each case.

The book started off with a twist and I was dying to see what it meant and what the details were!! That was so much fun and a great way to hook me from the start which the books don’t usually do. I wished that the mystery had lasted just a bit longer but still, I was very appreciative of it kicking off the beginning of the novel!

Somehow the Ranger-Stephanie-Morelli love triangle is one that I’m okay with. I think because I’ve really grown to appreciate and like each character. I still don’t think that Stephanie should end up with Ranger in the end but sometimes it’s hard not to root for those two to get together… But then I think of Morelli and how much I do  want Stephanie to really start and cement a relationship with him and I think that maybe it’s finally time for the book to seal that deal. As much as I enjoy the sexual tension between Stephanie and Ranger, I think that relationship can be official and still have hijinks and relationship complications enough to keep the readers laughing and interested. Hell, there can even still be sexual tension with Ranger still attracted to Steph even though she’s in a relationship. Lord knows that’s been half the series anyway!

I’m so glad to see the series improving once again! It feels like it’s really getting back on track to be a more solid series and not just a bunch of throw-away stories to keep books pumping out. They’re still on the lighter side and I always appreciate that  but I’m glad there’s a bit more substance.

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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!

explosive eighteen gr updates

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cozy mysteries. I love that this book had a BIT more of a mystery! The plot really got a bit better too. These books will always bring me back.
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. I do enjoy some good sexual tension but I’m ready for Steph and Morelli to commit to each other already! The series can still be good, ya know?

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan, keep on going! I do like that things are picking up once again and I still have hope for things to get even better along the way!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE EXPLOSIVE EIGHTEEN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED

Panic – Lauren Oliver

Panic – Lauren OliverTitle: Panic by Lauren Oliver
Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 18, 2015
Related Posts: Annabel (Delirium #0.5), Requiem (Delirium #3), Before I Fall, Vanishing Girls, Broken Things

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

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It took me a while to finally pick up PANIC and when I did, I actually opted for the audio instead of the physical book that I’d had sitting on my shelves since March. Of last year. It wasn’t even the book so much as that feeling where you find a favorite author and then things start to be… less magical. I absolutely loved DELIRIUM, didn’t feel as strongly about PANDEMONIUM, and felt a little disappointed by REQUIEM. I recently read VANISHING GIRLS and was hoping to find that magic of DELIRIUM again but it still fell a little short for me, (I’m not a middle grade reader so I haven’t read any of her MG works either) so naturally I was a bit on the fence about my enthusiasm for PANIC… and sadly I was right to hesitate.

PANIC wasn’t a bad read for me but it didn’t quite go the way that I had hoped. From the book’s synopsis, I was under the impression that PANIC was mostly a thriller and yes, there were definitely some thrilling and action-packed events throughout the book, but I actually found myself bothered by how much the book delved into the personal lives of each character. I know, I know, that sounds absolutely ridiculous. Who doesn’t want character development? Well, it’s not that I didn’t want it but the issues that each characters had and some of their current life situations ended up shifting the focus to really dig into personal backgrounds and the drama surrounding their current situations felt like it took away from the thrill of the game of Panic. I went into the book expecting so much thriller and less contemporary BUT I should have known that wouldn’t be the case since every other Lauren Oliver book I’ve read digs very deeply into each character and presents the reader with some very serious issues. This was definitely a personal preference/expectation for me.

I did enjoy the concept of Panic. I loved the adventure and suspense that it added to the book overall and how each character really was pushed to their limits (and beyond)  because of it. I was, however, a bit skeptical about the whole concept. The town is fairly small and although 12,000 people is still a lot, I feel like the cops should have been able to catch someone in the act of participating in Panic, especially when most of the entire senior class congregated to watch/join in and they visited the same spots from year to year. Some of the challenges also felt extremely intense. I guess that is the whole point of Panic but since I was already questioning things, I began to question those as well.

I was really all over the place character-wise. I didn’t really feel strongly about anyone and was actively turned off by others. I wasn’t a huge fan of Heather and I really didn’t care for Natalie. I just didn’t find myself connecting with them much at all. I started feeling like I was okay with things and then something popped up that really bothered me so I really ended up a bit disappointed overall.

I think I’m just really disappointed that this book still wasn’t the Lauren Oliver magic that I was hoping it would be. I did finish and felt… all right with it but it felt like more of a disappointment than a book I enjoyed. It seems more like one of those cases where several personal preferences come into play because I have seen a lot of excellent reviews for PANIC but this one just didn’t do it for me and I’m starting to feel less of a pull to read Lauren Oliver’s books.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I borrowed the audiobook of PANIC from my local library (I love their audiobook selection) and overall, it was a good performance. Sarah Drew (who also plays April on Grey’s Anatomy, for those who don’t know) is the narrator for all of Lauren Oliver’s YA books so far, PANIC included, and she does a really great job of narrating. I don’t always like her voices for the characters and I don’t always think the timbre of her voice fits the main character so that was a little hard for me at times. I think she was a great selection for BEFORE I FALL but I didn’t think she was a great Heather for PANIC and I don’t think I’d want to listen to her narrate the Delirium trilogy. I think she does do a good job with narration though and I always enjoy the way she narrates, even if I don’t always love her voice for that specific character.

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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Heather // Character Obsessions: Her sister, thriving, Panic.
I didn’t really enjoy Heather’s character… She was okay but at times she was a bit too much for me and I got easily irritated. I think part of it was that everything felt so forced with her. Her character didn’t seem natural and really the things that she experienced felt over the top (for what I was expecting when I started reading the book). Maybe if I didn’t have expectations, it would have been totally different.

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Kept Me Hooked On: YA thrillers. This definitely DID have some thrilling moments and I really appreciated the various things that the characters had to go through.
Left Me Wanting More: Suspense. I was really missing the suspense in this book. I think the reason that I really didn’t enjoy the more personal and realistic fiction developments were because they totally STOPPED the suspense that I was feeling. I would have loved to be on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

PANIC didn’t do it for me. I really wished for so much more and I feel like that magic is gone. The plot was okay, characters were okay, action was okay, but nothing ever felt GREAT.

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BOOKS LIKE PANIC

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME     THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING

Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) – Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) – Victoria AveyardTitle: Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Publishing Info: February 10, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: ALAMW15, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 14, 2015
Related Posts: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 - #0.2

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the center of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

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RED QUEEN was a hard book for me to start. At first I was wary of the dystopian feel, then I was afraid of the hype, and then I was afraid of all of the comparisons that popped up as people were reading. The reviews were mixed and my expectations were sort of all over the place… But when I saw that my library had a copy of the audiobook, I thought it would be a great time to start the book and find out for myself!

I can’t sugar coat it… the comparison thing was sort of an issue for me too. RED QUEEN sort of felt like a cookie-cutter dystopian with some fantasy elements and I could not stop the comparisons from popping into my head as I was reading. The Hunger Games feel was very prevalent along with Throne of Glass with a little Divergent and Shadow and Bone. I do read so much and have read so many dystopians that it’s not uncommon to be reminded of another book but RED QUEEN felt too similar at times to the point where I could pick out specific settings, scenes, and characters from other books. Now I am not at ALL saying that Victoria Aveyard is ripping any other series off. I think RED QUEEN really fit into that dystopian mold and sometimes that mold is hard to break. For me, RED QUEEN just didn’t quite break out of that formula.

I wonder if the fact that is was so similar to these other popular series may have boosted its success with the general population. It’s easily pitchable as that true comparison to The Hunger Games and Divergent and Throne of Glass and readers who are looking for books just like their favorite series will find that comfort within the pages of RED QUEEN.  I know when I first finished The Hunger Games, I really was looking for a book very similar to it and I enjoyed so many other dystopians that I picked up afterwards. I appreciated the differences but I kept on hunting for that one book or series just like it so seeing a similarity in RED QUEEN, I think, makes it easy for fans of big blockbuster series really able to identify with this new series while still enjoying a new world and concept and then they’re also able to pass it along to their friends with the same idea in mind.

That being said, I actually really did enjoy RED QUEEN from start to finish. I was always engaged, the action and plot were always moving, and I really got to know the characters. Granted, I saw other characters in them and maybe that’s why I felt like I could know them more intimately — I had met someone just like them before — but really, the novel was entertaining from start to finish and I always felt curious, involved, and excited. I think Victoria Aveyard’s writing was really accessible for readers of many audiences and I can see why it’s gotten so much buzz. She really did put together an interesting and action-filled novel.

I didn’t have issues with the romance but it was kind of all over the place for me. Not always in a bad way… but it’s sort of triangle-y… but not really, but it is, but it’s not? (HA have fun with that description if you haven’t read the book yet. If you have, you may understand.) I was never quite sure which side I was “supposed” to be on and actually now that I’m finished, I really still not sure. The only issue that I really had was that towards the end, it seemed like Mare had an extreme reaction to one guy and then totally kind of forgot about it once things started changing. I understand that the situation changed and she was seeing someone in a different light but her feelings were strong and I think it’s hard to switch to the opposite spectrum after that. Even if it is a realistic reaction, it was hard for me as a reader to forget.

Because of the constant reminders of other series, I was ready for a vanilla ending or something that I saw coming but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how the book wrapped up! The ending actually really did take me by surprise and I was kind of hooked for the last 20% or so. I honestly wasn’t sure how it was going to end and what that ending would mean for these characters. Some things that happened I really did see coming but there’s a sort of major conclusion that happens that I was like, “HUH. Okay then! This is what I needed out of this book.” Of course by that time I was ready to for a different ending so it did boost my feelings towards the book but it was almost too little too late to really hook me or wow me.

Long story ermmm, even longer, I did enjoy RED QUEEN from start to finish. I had issues with how cookie-cutter it seemed but the writing really was engaging and the story kept me interested the whole time. The elements I had issues with weren’t anything more specific than the ghosts of YA books past (no issues with world-building or characters which THOSE are the things that really tend to leave me with a sour taste in my mouth) so I guess I leave this book with more of a positive feeling! I was honestly iffy if I was going to read the rest of the series when I was halfway through but knowing the ending, I do want to see where it goes. I’m also interested to see if this starts to break the mold a bit more in book two. Clearly Victoria Aveyard has plans and I found myself curious to see where those plans lead! I’m definitely interested in more of this story but I’m not sure it’ll be an urgent read for me.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I actually really enjoyed this audiobook! The book was narrated by Amanda Dolan and this is the first book I’ve listened to of hers but I hope it’s not the last! I really enjoyed her narration and thought she did a great job of portraying each character not only in different voices but also different personalities. I had no issues with the phrasing of things as I sometimes do and I really enjoyed her overall performance. I think she was an excellent choice for this book with Mare as the main character! She really did a great job with her especially.

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!

red queen gr updates

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Mare // Character Obsessions: Family, stealing, self-preservation.
I really liked Mare! She reminded me of some of my favorite strong heroines (Katniss, Celaena, Alina) and she had that same sort of attitude that all of those girls did too. Sometimes it’s too much for me to watch a scared or weak heroine so I’m always drawn to the strong, sassy ones!
Cal // Character Obsessions: Duty, strength, family.
I was really all over the place about Cal… but I guess so was Mare! It was so hard to pin him down and figure out what he was really all about… But I ended up liking him a lot throughout the book! There were some pieces of him that ended up being a little rougher and Mare was very turned off by some things but I kind of liked that the book didn’t shy away from the fact that not everyone is all good.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian. I started my YA reading habits with almost all dystopian and I sort of burned myself out on the genre so I’m really glad that RED QUEEN made it exciting again!
Left Me Wanting More: Originality. I just can’t get over how much of other books I saw in RED QUEEN. That did instantly give it a defined feel and I felt like I knew the characters well already but I couldn’t shake it and sometimes it got on my nerves. I don’t think it was intentional on Aveyard’s part but I think it just fit really well with what I expect from a dystopian novel. I am excited to see where the second book goes though.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I actually really enjoyed RED QUEEN. I didn’t fall in love with it like some did but I was wholly entertained from start to finish.

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BOOKS LIKE RED QUEEN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

CATCHING FIRE     THRONE OF GLASS

Mini-Review: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) – Holly Black

Mini-Review: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) – Holly BlackTitle: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: April 3, 2012 by Source: Audible
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 6, 2015
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)

Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object - including a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?
For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.
The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?
Time is running out, and all Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

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Just a mini-review today for BLACK HEART! I finished Holly Black’s Curse Worker series and really enjoyed it all throughout, but I sat down to write my review for BLACK HEART and found myself at a loss for words! Really, it’s just a bit of a recap of the whole series, a lot of which I said in my RED GLOVE review:

  • I really love the overall tone of these books! I don’t know if I’d call Cassel and anti-hero but I DO love how he’s not all “good guy”. There are definitely many shades of gray when it comes to doing the morally right thing and what exactly it means to be “right” (Legal? Illegal? Right for his family? Right for his friends? Right for himself?) and I loved that the answer wasn’t always clear!
  • Magic + mobsters = so much fun. I’m don’t think I’ve read many books with a mobster story line (most crime-family themes have been in passing in the books I’ve read) but this one was fun! I really liked how that played into the entire plot and involved Cassel’s family and therefore ended up pulling him into it.
  • I really enjoyed the magical elements of this book too! It was interesting that the Curse Workers really got pushed into crime families and it was more organized crime than vigilante justice or individual villains. And that it was hard to identify someone as a Curse Worker unless you witnessed them using their powers or that you were wearing an amulet that broke after they tried to curse you! It was a great take on the concept that really made it more urban fantasy rather than paranormal.

Overall, the series had some really interesting twists that I enjoyed BUT I also thought there was room for a few more twists. I really enjoyed everything from start to finish, though! I constantly loved the feel of the books and couldn’t praise that enough throughout my reads and reviews. The audio was a ton of fun with Jesse Eisenberg narrating and it’s one I’d recommend for a fun, snarky, and a little bit of a dark read!

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!

black heart gr updates

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BOOKS LIKE BLACK HEART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN     POSSESS

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 18, 2012 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Magical Realism, Mythology, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 25, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints, Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1)

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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I really fell in love with The Raven Cycle over the past few years and with the pending release of the LAST BOOK in 2016, I knew I just had to start re-reading them. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did! (And something I highly recommend for any fan of the series!)

Re-reading THE RAVEN BOYS was such a magical experience and the book was even better knowing all of the things that I do now. It was so much fun to have insight on some little things that I’m sure I didn’t even pick up on the first go around (mostly likely because there wasn’t any significance yet). It was so amazing to relive this story from the beginning, especially having the knowledge of what happens in THE DREAM THIEVES and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE.

The feelings once again were fantastic. I had a sort of notion in my head how things had happened in this book (after reading the other two, things sort of get muddied since obviously plots start changing and relationships evolve) and it was so great to see exactly how Blue met her Raven Boys and how these relationships started versus how they’ve developed and where these characters have ended up. The friendships and subtle romanticisms in this book are just delightful and it was so great to see the beginnings of these characters knowing exactly how much they grow throughout the series.

Maggie Stiefvater is absolutely brilliant with words. The prose is lyrical and really just flows so wonderfully, carrying the reader through book. I remember when I first read THE RAVEN BOYS, I had no idea what I was getting myself into (in a good way, of course). The only Maggie Stiefvater book I was familiar with was SHIVER at the time and the writing was much different, in my opinion, so I was a bit surprised to see how much more complex THE RAVEN BOYS was. My first read through took me just a bit to get used to the writing style but knowing the exact feel of the books now made it that much more magical for me as a re-read.

I won’t get super detailed since this was a re-read for me but I WILL urge you re-read this series as well if you’re a fan. It’s just such a wonderful experience to go through this story again from the beginning and I immediately wanted to jump into THE DREAM THIEVES! It was so hard to pace myself and not just binge the rest of the books but hey, THE RAVEN KING is still quite a few months away!

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!

raven boys gr updates

character_breakdown1

Noah // Character Obsessions: Friendship, camaraderie, subtlety.
I think the most interesting character for me to revisit was Noah (for obvious reasons for those who have read the series… no spoilers for those who haven’t). It was really fun to revisit his story again for the first time and to see how he interacted with everyone throughout THE RAVEN BOYS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lack of genre? I really love the blend of genres… or really lack of ability to put this series into a category. It’s not strictly paranormal or strictly mythology or contemporary or magical realism or urban fantasy. It’s sort of all of them or sort of none of them.
Left Me Wanting More: JUST MORE. I just need more, more, more of this series. I almost started the second book immediately after because I jUST COULDN’T WAIT. But ultimately I managed to pace myself.

Addiction Rating
RE-READ IT!

You HAVE to re-read these books if you’re a fan of the series! It’s so incredible to see this story start over from the beginning and relive this magic!

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BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN BOYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT     GRAVE MERCY

Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) – Holly Black

Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) – Holly BlackTitle: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: April 5, 2011 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 21, 2015
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov’s retribution, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life. That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family that’s tied to one of the big crime families—and whose mother’s cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is coming to terms with what it means to be a worker, and he’s figuring out how to have friends.
Except normal doesn’t last very long. Soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past—a past he remembers only in scattered fragments, and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on, because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive….

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I’ve always been fairly picky about my urban fantasy but I picked up WHITE CAT last year when I was looking for an audiobook to borrow from my library and it sealed the deal when I found out that Jesse Eisenberg narrates! I loved the book but definitely wanted to continue on audio so it took me a while to finally read RED GLOVE because my library never got it in! I gave in and used an Audible credit because I was in the perfect mood to fall back into this world and I’m so glad I picked it back up!

The thing I love the most about these books is really just the feel. Like I said, I’m not a huge urban fantasy fan but I really love how the magic system and curse working just fits so perfectly into the normal world, like that’s the way life really is. (Also loved the line in this book about alternate universes and how somewhere there’s a universe where this magic doesn’t exist. Hee! Ours!!!) The tone of the book is just excellent. I love Cassel’s sarcasm, the sneakiness of his family, and the sliminess of the crime families. Mob + magic is a great combination and I love the way they blend here!

I really enjoy the sort of gray area that is pervasive throughout the book. There is obvious bad but Cassel is always somewhere sort of in the middle. His family isn’t full of bad people but they don’t always do good things and when you’re a worker, it’s hard not to get mixed up in the underbelly of society with crimelords bidding on your talents. I really liked witnessing Cassel’s actions and decisions as he keeps all of this in mind. He errs on the side of good but I just love that little gray area that makes it okay to root for a con artist, bookie, and liar.

Like the first book, I was never totally blown away but my interest was always held! There’s just something about this series that has me hooked. It doesn’t hold the most twists out there but there are definitely some good surprises and it was great to be kept guessing! 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!

red glove gr updates

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Cassel Sharpe // Character Obsessions: Bets, magic, family, Lila.
I really like Cassel a lot! That male POV… I just love sarcastic and witty male leads and that is Cassel in a nutshell! As I said before, I also really love how he falls in this gray area. He’s been growing up with crime all around him and despite it all, he really is leaning towards the good… but not TOO good because we still get to see him participate in a lot of hijinks!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Urban Fantasy. I don’t really read a lot of urban fantasy. I’m not sure why but it just doesn’t always appeal to me so I usually pick those reads very carefully! (Maybe all the vampire books wore me out? I’m not sure.) I’m so glad I picked up this series because I just LOVE the feel of the books and the characters are so fantastic.
Left Me Wanting More: OMG moments. The plot is great BUT if there was anything I would wish for, it would be a couple more twists or surprises. I don’t think it really needed it but that definitely would have hooked me that much more!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

These books are just so much fun. If you haven’t read them yet, definitely get them on your TBR!

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BOOKS LIKE RED GLOVE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN     POSSESS

Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 29, 2010 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 17, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck….
BAD LUCKVinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced.
GOOD LUCKBeing in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula have an advantage in finding Vinnie.
BAD LUCKFinding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Not even local stoner Walter “Moon Man” Dunphy is up to the task.
GOOD LUCKBetween a bonds office yard sale, Mooner’s Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save the business, and Vinnie, from ruin.
BAD LUCKSaving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep her job as a bounty hunter—and keep hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.
GOOD LUCKBeing a bounty hunter comes with its perks, namely Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky—the only question is…with whom?
Sizzling Sixteen…so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust!

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Sixteen books into Stephanie Plum and you pretty much know how the story goes so I keep these going as mini-reviews! I guess I have some things to say more so on the series as it’s progressing so far than the actual book.

I love these books for what they are — just fun, easy, light reads… BUT I do think they can still have a bit of substance. The last few books have been increasingly silly and I don’t mind silly but sometimes it’s the way it’s handled. For example, Lula has always been one of the funnier characters and she adds a lot to the humor of the books with her crazy diets, fashion sense, and general no-care attitude when it comes to trouble, but lately I feel like her characters has been getting too — how do I say this without coming across poorly — dumb. The diets don’t even make sense, the reactions to being “wronged” are way over the top for what the situation is and I’m just very sad that Lula and other characters are being “dumbed down” (to be perfectly blunt) for the sake of comedy. The same goes for Stephanie sometimes but she’s more of a solid lead so I don’t see it as much and Grandma Mazur isn’t in the spotlight as much in these past few books so I didn’t notice it with her as much either, but it really holds true for a lot of characters. I don’t mind the silly things like Stephanie’s car getting blown up or destroyed every book but the characters don’t need to be stupider just so the book can be funny. I think Janet’s readers have been with her for sixteen books (more now — I’m only on book 16 so that’s as far as I can comment on right now) and we’re in it for the long haul! I’d love to see characters grown and develop instead of being stagnant or even go backwards.

I also really miss the romantic aspects of the book. Morelli and Ranger have really been on the back burner for the past couple of books to make way for some minor characters who seem to be gaining prominence, but I really miss the boys! The funny, romantic banter between Stephanie and Morelli and this crazy tension between Stephanie and Ranger were some of my favorite parts of this series so I’ve really been feeling that absence. I also think they grounded the book a bit since they both provide Stephanie with a bit of stability each in their own way so I feel like the series has been flying off the handles with all of the goofier things.

I’m still a fan and I will say that SIZZLING SIXTEEN started to get a bit better for me towards the end of the book. It wasn’t bad by any means and I’ll keep reading the series but I’m hoping for a bit more development! I like the series for what it is so I’m not asking for a lot but just the teensiest bit of characters and/or plot growth would really help push the series along instead of me having to pick up a book every few months because I just can’t read them back-to-back!

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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!

sizzling sixteen gr updates

Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 21, 2011 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 29, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list. Short on time to find the murderer, Stephanie is also under pressure from family and friends to choose between her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom wants her to dump them both for a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, suggests a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Joe’s old-world grandmother gives Stephanie “the eye,” which may mean that it’s time to get out of town.
With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.

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Okay, yes! SMOKIN’ SEVENTEEN feels like we’re back on track (or at least on track for what I’m looking for in this series). Stephanie is always in bounty hunter mode but I love it when there’s a bit more mystery in the plot and this one had it! Not just finding a bad guy and where he went, figuring out how to catch someone — true mystery that had me guessing! (Okay, I guessed. But I’m okay with being right on a mystery for once!)

The boys also came back in full swing (the “vordo” sure kept things interesting haha) and it was great to see their interactions with Stephanie more and not just popping in and popping right back out. Yes, I’ll still admit that I don’t LOVE that there’s no commitment (I love Ranger, but I’m a Morelli girl) but hey, I have trouble picking too.

The characters and situations felt a lot more realistic in this book too. Sure, they’re still a bit silly but I can handle it when I have things like relationships and mysteries and the like grounding the book. I’m really happy with the way this book turnd out and I actually like that I guessed the mystery! It made the rest of the book seem more obvious and it was kind of fun to watch it turn out like that!

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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!

smokin seventeen gr updates


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Kept Me Hooked On: Stephanie. I’m really glad that things started to turn a bit towards the end. I always enjoy the books but I need more of the boys and I need a BIT more stability to keep reading the series! I’m really glad SEVENTEEN started to lean back to more cozy mystery instead of just humor.
Left Me Wanting More: Logic. I don’t mind silly but lack of logic really starts to bother me after a while! I can’t stand nonsense so the really silly decisions irked me a lot.

Addiction Rating
Read them!

If you’re a Plum fan, you’re in it this far! They’re fun for quick, easy reads and they always cheer me up a bit. I’m glad SIXTEEN ended up getting a bit more grounded towards the end and SEVENTEEN really started coming back to everything I used to love!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SIZZLING SIXTEEN & SMOKIN’ SEVENTEEN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED

Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether

The time has come to put together a few mini reviews of some books I’ve read recently! Today I’ve got a novella, a Stephanie Plum novel, and a DNF “report” (since I don’t feel I read enough to merit an actual review). As usual, I just wanted to share some quick thoughts since these aren’t quite long enough for full reviews!


Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: TetherTitle: The Audition (Seraphina #0.5) by Rachel Hartman
Publishing Info: June 19, 2012 by Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 25, 2015
Related Posts: Seraphina (Seraphina #1)

The Audition is a free prequel to Seraphina available online. It takes place a few weeks prior to Seraphina, covering Seraphina Dombegh's audition to become Viridius's assistant and thus Glisselda's music tutor.

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I really just adored SERAPHINA so I was delighted to see THE AUDITION in the end of my book when I finished! I really appreciated this story because it was an extra glimpse at the friendship that I grew to love between Seraphina and Glisselda. I always love little snippets that allow me to get to know the characters more that I’ve already come to know and love.

The story wasn’t really much but I loved every little bit of it. Glisselda is the same opinionated and strong-willed girl she always is and it’s really fun to see how her little pranks in THE AUDITION sort of shape her and prepare her to become the political schemer that I see her becoming in SERAPHINA and hopefully in future books.


Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: TetherTitle: Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: January 6, 2009 by Macmillan
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 28, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

Evanovich fans rejoice! Stephanie Plum is back in town, along with her sidekick Lula, her Grandma Mazur, and an ever-widening cast of freaks, criminals, deranged felons, and lunatics looking for love. And just when Stephanie thinks her life can't get any more complicated, in walks the mysterious Diesel. A man who seems to show up at the most inconvenient moments. This time, he's the instigator for Stephanie's new adventure, which involves camping in the Pine Barrens with Lula, and perhaps even a sighting of the Jersey Devil...so hang on for a Stephanie Plum novel that is sure to send chills up your spine--it gives new meaning to the words hilarious, and "spooky."

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I’ve read every Stephanie Plum book there is so far but I have to admit that they ARE getting a bit silly. This “Between the Novels” book was supposed to come before 15 but because the audio wasn’t available, I read FINGER LICKIN’ FIFTEEN first and then came back to this one (since I know the in-betweens really don’t follow the main plot much anyway).

I’m actually glad I read FIFTEEN first. PLUM SPOOKY was… a bit too much. Monkeys, magic, vampires, head cases… Oy vey. (Honestly it was the monkeys that did me in. Monkeys that act like humans? Nah. No thanks.) I always love stories with these characters and Stephanie still cracks me up but sometimes the ploys for laughs are just too silly and this book actually turned me off a bit. Will I keep reading them? Yes. I still own the rest of the novels in paperback (they were one of my first book collections aside from Harry Potter that I actually kept and owned and took the time to keep purchasing) and Stephanie Plum will always be a friend of mine! I just hope they don’t get TOO much sillier. I can handle wacky and fun but let’s keep it a tad realistic, huh?


Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: TetherTitle: Tether (Many-Worlds Trilogy #2) by Anna Jarzab
Publishing Info: March 10, 2015 by Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 10, 2015 | DNF at approx. 33%
Related Posts: Tandem (Many-Worlds Trilogy #1)

Tether, the sequel to Tandem, continues the captivating tale of rebellion and romance that spans parallel worlds.
Everything repeats.
Sasha expected things to go back to normal once she got back on Earth. But now that she knows parallel worlds are real, and that an alternate version of herself exists in a world called Aurora, her old life no longer seems to make sense . . . and her heart breaks daily for Thomas, the boy she left behind. Troubled by mysterious, often terrifying visions and the echoes of a self she was just beginning to discover, Sasha makes the difficult decision to journey once more through the tandem.
Thomas is waiting for her on the other side, and so is strange, otherworldly Selene, Sasha’s analog from a third universe. Sasha, Selene, and their other analog, Juliana, have a joint destiny, and a new remarkable power, one that could mean salvation for Selene’s dying planet. With Thomas’s help, Sasha and Selene search for the missing Juliana. But even if they can locate her, is Sasha willing to turn her back on love to pursue a fate she’s not sure she believes in?

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“Everything repeats.” Oh boy, did it feel like book one repeating in so many ways… Firstly, I had some issues when I started TANDEM last year. I had a really hard time getting into it, keeping the worlds straight, and getting a grip on the characters. I finally got into the book maybe halfway through so I was hoping to pick up with TETHER where I left off in TANDEM but it sort of felt like starting all over again. I was once again lost and the worlds felt foggy. Sasha felt flat. I felt very bored, spending over 100 pages of set-up trying to get into the book and it just wasn’t happening.

A third analog is introduced in this book and I was just ugh, not a fan. She really felt like Juliana Part II and didn’t feel unique at all. I was still trying to spend time getting to know Sasha and Juliana because it was a struggle in TANDEM and here comes another character who is… just like them. Things didn’t really pick up within 100 pages and I put the book down about a month before I DNFed to see if the desire came back to read it and I found I just didn’t care how it ended. It was time to call it a day and quit this series which was sad because I LOVE parallel universe books. This one just really didn’t feel quite developed.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

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