Series Send Off: Under The Never Sky series by Veronica Rossi

So I typically just review the individual books in a series and then I’m done but I had a reader email in my inbox this year asking if I did overviews of the series after I finished them. I hadn’t before but I was thinking about how maybe a little “overall thoughts on the series” when it came to the last book in a series might help some people decide to start the series if they had never heard of it before and are just catching my review of the last book. Also, my feelings on an overall series could grow or break down so maybe it’s important to see the whole picture. So let’s see how this goes? Let me know if you find it helpful. PLUS this helps me close the page on a series (which is exciting because I SUCK at finishing series). And thank you to my awesome reader Angie for sparking this!

 

Into The Still BlueInto The Still Blue
(I received this for review but this ABSOLUTELY did not sway my thoughts or feelings. Pinky promise!)

Upon finishing the series I say to all of you who haven’t started the series:

READ IT. It’s definitely one of my favorite series. It’s just all around great — the world, the characters, the relationships (friendships AND romance), action and more! Also, very satisfying ending!

 

Thoughts On Into The Still Blue (Skip below if you haven’t read the series yet!)

I was so devastated to say goodbye to this world and these characters. Through The Ever Night was so badass and ended in a way where I was sighing a sigh of relief while chewing my fingernails down to nothing KNOWING that things were going to get CAHRAZY in Into The Still Blue. And they did.

I’ve had some disappointing series finale books recently and I was just crossing my fingers and toes that I would not be disappointed. I’m happy to report it was a satisfying conclusion — it felt true to the story, there were some happily ever afters, some sad things, some crazy action and somehow even more dimensions to my favorite characters to make me love them even more. I felt fine with where it ended and I could picture life for them after — lots left to the imagination but ultimately very wrapped up!

I really, really loved watching some of these relationships and how they strengthened. Obvious Perry and Aria and it’s great because they actually get to spend more time together this time around and it’s so sweet. I LOVED Perry and Roar throughout the series (best bromance ever) and it was so hard to watch them have some tension but I felt like it just made that friendship have even more depth. And Aria and Roar. Yay platonic friendships! I love those two. There were so many swoonworthy moments. Some very tender and vulnerable moments in some combination between Aria/Perry/Roar and others. It was just really nice that these beloved characters were given even more life and didn’t fall flat in favor of action and twisty things…which there was plenty of THAT to keep your fingers in shape.

I also really loved watching the Dwellers and the Outsiders have to work together and get to know each other as they were now officially all roomies in the cave. The tension between the two sides was well written and I could feel their distrust for one another and their adversity to change but I so badly wanted them to just STOP BICKERING AND GET TO SOME SERIOUS ASS WHIPPING OF SOME MAJOR BAD GUYS. It was just really nice to see how realistically they worked together and got along.

I’m really sad it’s over but I’m so happy Veronica Rossi delivered — it wasn’t all sunshine and fa la la everyone lives happily ever after but every action and decision made sense for the story while also giving the characters what they deserve in the end. I never knew what was going to happen or what to expect and I was constantly on the edge of my seat for many reasons. I cried when I finished because I was just so damn happy and sad and feeling too many emotions.

What The Series Is About:

Okay so basically in this futuristic world things happened in the past that caused some craziness with the climate and such and these things called aether storms were becoming more and more frequent. They were obvious threats to the Outsiders but not so known to the average Dweller. The Dwellers lived in an enclosed city and they have some pretty awesome technologies and they are able to go to different realms (virtual reality). The Outsiders, well they live outside of this compound in the air that the Dwellers don’t breathe, and they rely on survival and don’t have all the luxuries that the Dwellers do in Reverie. Aria (Dweller) and Perry (Outsider) meet when they are both looking for something important to them and they begin to realize that they mutually need each other to survive/get what they want. And then there’s a whole lot of crazy and twisty stuff….but you should just read.

 

Rating Broken Down By Books (Links to individual reviews):

Under The Never Sky: LIKED IT. (3.5 stars)
Through The Ever Night: FREAKING AMAZING. I LOVED. (5 stars)
Into The Still Blue: LOVED! Such a good ending! (4.5 stars)

Recommended For People Who Love:

fantasy, dystopian/futuristic stories, awesome romance that doesn’t detract from plot, books with great friendships, survival-y stories, fantastic world building world building (I mean, she creates TWO kinds of worlds really that both were so vivid), just a damn well rounded story honestly…it’s got it all.

 

Farewell Under The Never Sky! I loved you so much and Aria/Perry/Roar will remain in the ranks of favorite characters for a long time (dare I say forever) and I can honestly declare you as one of my all time favorite series!

 

What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it??

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review (NO SPOILERS!!!)

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Book Review  (NO SPOILERS!!!)Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #3
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- February 4, 2014
Genres: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Shatter Me (Book 1) & Unravel Me (Book 2)

I received this book for review, as part of the Dark Days blog tour,  in exchange for an honest review -- my feelings were not swayed in any way. Pinky swear! Also check out the blog on Thursday for an interview with Tahereh Mafi!
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book synopsis Ignite Me is the conclusion to the Shatter Me trilogy. I don’t want to give any more info really then what the official synopsis said on Amazon, ” With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.”

good books to readHere’s what I’m not going to tell you in this review:

1. Who she ends up with
2. How it ends.
3. Specific spoilery things

To be clear. I will however have a video with me FEELINGS at the end.

Oh, Tahereh Mafi. You made me cry. You made me laugh. You made me blush severely. You made me nervous. You also did not do what I thought you were going to do. Nope. I definitely went into Ignite Me with some pretty strong predictions for what was going to happen but neither of them happened.

So basically Ignite Me pretty much starts off where Unravel Me leaves off with Juliette getting shot and Omega Point being destroyed. She’s clued in to what has happened and now Juliette becomes even more determined to take down the Reestablishment — at whatever cost — and she needs Warner to do it. In Unravel Me, she largely is learning about her powers and trying to OWN them and is also trying to heal mentally and overcome everything that happened in Shatter Me. In Ignite Me, Juliette stops feeling sorry for herself and goes balls to the walls with wanting to really 100% understand and control her powers for the good of the people.

I loved watching Juliette start to feel this confidence and finally become her own person. I felt the fire lit under her and I was ready for her to start making things happen and stop being so passive about everything. I loved watching her become more badass by the turn of each page and mentally stronger too. Learning the extent and the ins and the outs of her powers was interesting to me. I also loved watching her really decide what SHE wanted — for so long everything had been decided for her and she pretty much was resigned to it — so it was nice to watch her continue to grow.

Obviously the other huge thing in all this is Juliette’s struggle to figure out things with Adam and confront the feeeeelings from Unravel Me’s chapter 62 with Warner. I am not going to spoil you here but I felt this struggle HARD. I was team nobody coming out of Unravel Me as a reference. And I’m just going to tell you that, this shocked the hell out of me, but early on in Ignite Me I KNEW what I wanted and I didn’t waver. I’m not going to tell you if it was the right move or not in relation to what happens in the book but my heart wanted what my heart wanted but I felt the conflict within Juliette SO INTENSELY. The more information I gathered of both Adam and Warner, as well as some important interactions with both of them mixed with past interactions, and I just knew my feelings on who Juliette should end up would never change no matter what. I’d go down with that ship if that’s what it took. I was committed!

Let’s also talk about how Tahereh Mafi made me blush harder than I ever have reading a book –especially YA. STEAMY MCSTEAMY. Holy crap. If Tahereh Mafi wrote an adult romance novel, YEP I’d be reading it.

OH ALSO. Kenji continues to be my favorite EVER.

Now, if I’m being honest, there were a few things (mostly small-ish things besides the one I’m going to talk about) that weren’t perfect for me but it was one of those reading situations where it didn’t really matter for me. The heart of the story, my feelings, and just my love for the series/characters made my brain gloss over them. I have no regrets.

But I will just tell you the one thing I feel I have to note:

I felt like the ending was pretty rushed. I never felt like Shatter Me/Unravel Me were action type novels. They had their bits of WHOA ACTION moments but a lot of what was happening was Juliette really becoming a PERSON again and finding her strength after being in her situation and then learning about her superpower and seeing it in a different way than she had. Lots of pages were in Juliette’s head. The Reestablishment and all the crazy stuff happened in Unravel Me was pretty action-y but I was waiting for the ultimate OH SHIT, explosive type action in Ignite Me since it’s the end. Much of the book was the characters putting their plan into action and also Juliette working things out with herself and with the guys but then I could feel the pages REALLY thinning and I’m like WAIT the plan still needs to happen! So I felt like the ending and a BIG scene were rather rushed for my liking. This is PURELY PURELY speculation (or just me never wanting this series to end) but the ending left me feeling like there could be another book maybe some day in the future? I know that’s probably an irrational and stupid thought but I just…I don’t know. Most things felt resolved and I was satisfied in most ways but there were ways there could be MORE.

Spoilery video: Not FULL spoilers bc it’s the end of a series and it JUST came out so I don’t want anything leaked while people are just getting their books! From my phone before bed because I AM LAAAZY so sorry for the bad quality.

 

book reviewsI’m so, so sad to let this series go. I’m in denial. I loved Juliette’s story throughout and I was pleased with Ignite Me overall. I was happy with the resolution to some of the bigger plot lines (namely the romance because I just FELT it in my hearts of hearts and made the most sense to me despite me being Team NOBODY coming out of Unravel Me). There were a few things I didn’t find to be “perfect” but I was so immersed in the story/the writing that I didn’t care. The only exception to that is my feelings on the ending being pretty rushed. It was resolved but rushed and I can’t explain it without spoilers so I’m going to just stop now.

short book review

Ignite Me Tahereh Mafi

 

Let’s Talk: PLEASE warn readers of spoilers in the comments should you talk about any! (THANKS!). What did you think of this one?? Were you pleased with the outcome? With the resolution to the love triangle? Are you sad for the series to come to an end??

 

DD_BloggerGraphic_IgniteMe_02[1] 

Come back on Thursday when Tahereh Mafi invades this blog!! I may have even asked her what the most annoying thing about Ransom is :P

The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

In the After by Demitria Lunetta | Book Review

In the After by Demitria LunettaBook Title/Author: In The After by Demitria Lunetta
Publisher/Year
: HarperTeen June 25th 2013
Genre: Science  Fiction – YA Post Apocalyptic
Series: Yes
Other Books From Author: None — debut.

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

In one day, everything and everyone was gone as creatures descend on mankind and quickly devour anyone in their path. Our main character, Amy, and the toddler she found that she calls “Baby” seem to be one of the only survivors around. They have to sneak around quietly to not draw the attention of Them to find food and survive — all in silence which is the only way to be safe. Amy lives in her house from before and only survived because her parents were crazy about solar power and had a top notch security system with an invisible fence that the They can’t breach. Years have gone by with Amy and Baby surviving just like that and they rarely have come across other survivors until one night when they are rescued and taken to a colony of other survivors. Life  in New Hope, headquartered out of a government research facility, seems perfect and almost like life in the Before until Amy realizes that not everything is as it seems in this safe haven.

In the After by Demitria Lunetta was one of those thrilling books that had me wishing I had superhuman abilities to zip through the pages and still be able to process what I’m reading. I LOVE a good survivalist story especially one set in a post-apocalyptic world. While In the After wasn’t perfect, it definitely entertained me and kept me guessing what lurked around the corner. There’s no denying that.

If the second half of the book would have held up to the first half I think I’d be prancing around this here blog with maybe a bit higher praises but still it was certainly a really great book. This book was a page-turner and was quite good but it got off kilter for me in some ways in the second half.  The first half was definitely the more bare bones survival story set in a world ravaged by these creatures called Them. I loved learning about how they survived and adapted and also how Before was woven in there as well as everything that happened between the day these creatures invaded and the present day.

Demitria Lunetta created this horrifyingly bleak world and made me see it just as clearly as if I was watching something like The Walking Dead which I love and stirs up so many emotions in me always. I felt the despair and the helplessness and the questions of “how long can this go on for?” I also really loved learning how Amy found Baby and seeing the intricacies of their relationship — one founded on absolute silence which has been important in their survival. It was such a beautiful relationship and I could see how Baby is what really kept Amy going when it probably would have been easy to give up. It definitely was a nice contrast to the other encounters with humans that Amy had in a world that was all about “survival of the fittest” and helping only yourself at all costs.

The second half wasn’t BAD by any means — it was just different and definitely swung the story in another direction making it feel a bit more of a dystopian sort of story than the post apocalyptic, bare bones survival-type story. The second half of the book was thrillingly twisty and honestly had a couple shocking moments that left me gasping. You crafty woman, Demitria. I think your enjoyment of the second half will depend on what you were hoping this story would be like. After the first half I was hoping for something kind of like The Walking Dead where there might be some other survivors and they band together but still remain a survival story at heart as they learned more about these creatures and adapted to this scary world. I’m not saying I didn’t LIKE where the story went but I had to adjust my expectations and deal with the somewhat dragging introduction to the New Hope community and the new characters that were introduced. There was a lot going on honestly but I felt myself skimming a little bit to get to the good parts. Luckily, the shocking twists, revelations and conspiracy kind of feel kept this book appealing to me and worth it in the end.

I hate comparing books but two post-apocalyptic books about alien type creatures (this and The  5th Wave) have come out this summer and people have already asked me. I’d say that this one was a quite a bit quicker paced & action packed than The 5th Wave but, for me, The 5th Wave, had a bit more depth with a lot of exploration of humanity and morals when every day is a fight with survival — all things I mentioned in my review of The 5th Wave. I felt as though, with In the After, that I came out realizing there was a lot more to this story than I originally thought. Gah I don’t want to give spoilers so I’ll shush now.

In the After by Demitria Lunetta was an exciting post apocalyptic story filled to the brim with action and the kind of twists and turns that truly keep you hooked set. It wasn’t perfect for me and the first half was significantly more engaging to me but the plot definitely become a lot more layered in the second half with revelations that make this scenario quite more complicated. Demitria Lunetta was able to convince me of this terrifying world and pull me in until I came tumbling out on the final page — breathless and so happy I was safe and sound in my lounge chair at the pool. The final page will leave you clamoring for the next book with all the twists, turns and trouble that our heroine faces. This book would make a crazy good movie!

 

 

In the After by Demitria Lunetta review

You May Also Like: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you see some of these big twists coming because I sure didn’t. Finding out the one thing kiiiind of made me think of a certain fave show of mine so I’m excited to see how that plays out.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

Cinder by Marissa MeyerBook Title/Author: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Publisher/Year
: Feiwel & Friends 2012
Genre: YA Science Fiction – Futuristic Fairytale Retelling
Series: Yes!
Other Books From Author: Scarlet (Book #2 Lunar Chronicles series)

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I borrowed this from my library!

 

Set in a futuristic China where a deadly plague is devastating the population and both humans and androids co-exist, Cinder is a talented mechanic and also a cyborg pretty much indentured to her wicked stepmother and two stepsisters after her father, who saved her though she has no recollection of it, passed away from the plague.  She finds herself face to face with Prince Kai, who has just taken on a lot of responsibility and is trying to stave off a war with the Lunar People, when he requests her services to fix his android and finds herself seeing more of him and feeling some sort of spark but she can’t let him know what she is even though it seems their futures are tied together as Cinder learns more about her past.

I’m probably the last person in the world to read Marissa Meyer’s Cinder — a futuristic retelling of Cinderella complete with cyborgs, evil stepmothers and a dreamy Prince — so I don’t know that this review is going to persuade anyone to read it because y’all already have! So how about you all just rejoice with me that  I loved this book?

I love when I put off a book and ignore it because I think it’s not my thing and then I absolutely am proved wrong and quite enjoy it. That was the case here, my friends. I mean, I enjoy some science fiction and retellings and fantasy but cyborgs? Really? So not a me thing. But Marissa  Meyer makes my preconceived notions go right back out the door where they came from.  All “SEE YA..don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, you beastly preconceived notions.” Her re-imagined story of Cinderella breathed new  and exciting life to a very beloved fairytale from my childhood but still had the bare bones Cinderella storyline that made me fall in love with the story in the first place. It was like visiting that best friend from elementary school when you are all grown up — gone is the toothy grin and the pink jellies and overalls but somewhere in that grown up exterior you can still make out that same playground playmate you spent many great years romping around with and throwing rocks at boys with. Familiar yet wholly new.

While Cinder started out a little slow for me because of my side-eying of the whole cyborg thing, I quickly grew enraptured by the world full of robots and cyborgs that living amongst humans but as second class citizens. The plague with the  unknown origins and the Lunar people from the moon were equally fascinating and kept me riveted. There was so much about the story that I just couldn’t wait to be revealed. I got a really great sense of the world though, being set in “New Bejiing” in China, I would have wished I felt that part of the setting more. The futuristic sense I got but I would have loved a little more of a sense of the Chinese culture. Beyond my love for the world, I really fell hard for Cinder’s story. It wasn’t hard to feel for her. She was a cyborg — half human and half robot — treated like crap and living with a stepmother who resented and hated her every day. You could feel her struggles to retain her humanity but that overwhelming reminder that she’s just NOT fully a human by the world’s standards was palpable. As the story progresses, her story weighs even heavier and heavier on my heart as blows are dealt and shocking revelations – -for Cinder & not so much for me — are made known and add so much more dimension to the story.

As I alluded to in the last sentence, I’ll say that I totally called almost every big revelation and twist and thought they were obvious but I didn’t find that it detracted from my overall enjoyment in this case because I don’t know that it relied on that element of shock. I kept reading with a sense of urgency to see if I was right and then, when I was, to see what the implications of that revelation would mean for Cinder.  I think these revelations, while not surprising for me, set up a lot for book 2 and I cannot wait! I also hope maybe we will learn more of the background of the Lunar people and maybe some more explanation about the cyborgs and how they became because there seemed  to be little detail in  that  and only the groundwork seemed to be laid. Despite the fact these twists and revelations weren’t a shock to me, I thought Meyer wrote it in a way where you could FEEL it so intensely along with Cinder despite any inklings you had.

And to end this ramblefest…can we talk about the characters?? What phenomenal characters! I loved Cinder obviously but Prince Kai was to die for. He was strong but still had uncertainties as he has to make big decisions that affect his people immensely. I could feel his struggle. And he was sweet. So very sweet. I loved Iko — Cinder’s robot sidekick. I smiled every time Iko was on the page. The familiar wicked stepmother and stepsisters could have been lackluster because we know those characters from the fairytale but rather I actually thought they were brought to life and felt very real to me. And OH PEONY. That is all.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer’s made me a believer in a futuristic, science fiction fairytale retelling and I can’t wait to get Scarlet from the library to continue on with this fantastical adventure and continue Cinder’s story which goes so far beyond that of the Cinderella tale. Meyer’s takes the bare bones of Cinderella and, while familiar, adds depth and dimension to it and it feels like a new story with a futuristic world where there are robots and cyborgs, evil queens from the Moon, a deadly plague with unknown origins and a heroine whose story doesn’t just end with that typical fairytale happy ending. I can’t wait for what lies ahead in Cinder’s story. While the revelations seemed pretty obvious to me, I could FEEL those bombs drop for Cinder and think the things she learns take this story into some interesting directions.


Recommends For: People who like fairytale retellings that are truly unique but pay homage to the original, futuristic stories with cyborgs and robots, a pretty fast paced read (minus the start for me)

 

Cindery Marissa Meyer review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  How did you feel about it? Did you enjoy it or not so much? Was anyone else going into this one thinking it wouldn’t be for them but were pleasantly surprised? Did the revelations surprise you or did you figure them out? Does anybody else wish we really got to feel the Chinese culture a little more? I was so excited about that because it’s not a setting I encounter a lot.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Madmans jkt Des1.inddBook Title/Author: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Publisher/Year
: Balzer + Bray January 29, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction — with some science fiction-y kind of things (think science experiments)
Series: Yes (totally did know that when I started reading it!)
Other Books From Author: None — her debut!

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

At 16 Juliet is an orphan — she works as a maid and every day tries to move past the horrific scandal that drove her father away and left she and her mother penniless and outcasts. She’d heard rumors about her father’s experiments but she wanted to believe her father wasn’t capable of such evil. She has an encounter with a childhood friend who she finds out knows her father’s whereabouts and she begs him to take her to the island where he is apparently working and living so she can get the answers to her questions and learn for herself what he really did that made him flee. When she reaches the remote island, with her childhood friend Montgomery and Edward,a man she found almost drowning to death in the ocean, she is reunited with her father and learns what he’s been doing all this time on a very secluded island. She encounters the work her father has done on this dangerous island in creepy and chilling ways  and learns that  maybe her past is more connected to these secrets than she even knows.

 

 

Do you enjoy creepy, Gothic stories that are completely atmospheric? Do you like some mystery mixed with an intriguing dash of science fiction? Looking for something DIFFERENT? These were all the things that I found myself raving about when it came to this book!

I am a sucker for Gothic novels and historical fiction that just get the setting right and that feel of place and time pervaded the novel whether we were in London or on the island. I could feel the chill as Juliet walked through the streets of London and I could feel the muggy, wild air of the tropical island so full of danger.  As Juliet travels from London to be reunited with her father, there was just this continually heightened sense of mystery — why did her father have to run from? What had he been doing? What was UP with some of the things on the island? I felt such danger and KNEW that something was off and that the experiments he was doing on the island were definitely creepy and messed up and then bodies started piling up. I had this smothering feeling and just wanted Juliet to GET OFF THE ISLAND with Montgomery and Edward. It was beyond creepy and Megan Shepherd did an amazing job bringing this island and its mysteries to life. I shudder picturing the island and what her monster of a father has been doing there — the creepy experiment-made people, the shocking secrets he’s kept and brought with him to the island. I’m telling you, this story has things that will give you the creepy crawlies under your skin. For the most part, I flew through it, though there were some slower parts!

I’ll be honest though, despite how GREAT I thought this book was, there is one thing of note that I wished had been different to make this a PERFECT novel for me.  It’s probably just a personal preference but there was some romance going on, and that’s fine, but I was MUCH more interested in the creepy things that were happening and the mysteries of the island. Sure, I found myself fawning over Montgomery and quite intrigued by Edward but I kept thinking MORE CREEP, LESS LOVE! And this has nothing to do with Megan  Shepherd’s ability to create compelling love interests or weave it intricately into the story.  I mean you KNOW I love my kissing and romance but I just wanted more of the creepy things because Megan Shepherd was spinning this compelling mystery with the island and her father and I just couldn’t get enough! And at some times it seemed Juliet was more concerned with the boys rather than THE CRAZY EFFING THINGS HAPPENING AROUND HERE.

There were some remarkable twists and I just never knew quite what to expect in this breathtaking story. I felt like I had a hunch about things but I never was quite sure. AND THE ENDING. The sort of mouth-gaping-open-OMG-Ican’t-believe-that-just-happened sort of ending. OH MAN. I am desperate for book 2!

The Madman’s Daughter was perfectly dark and creepy — the sort of Gothic, atmospheric story I love. From the very beginning, I was drawn into Juliet’s story of being abandoned by her scientist father who had disappeared after being accused of doing horrible experiments. As the story progressed I was fascinated with Juliet’s time on the island and sufficiently creeped out by what was going on there with her crazy father and sweaty-palmed thanks to all the twists and turns and shocking revelations. What a compelling story! My only minor hangup was that the romance was such a big part of the story but I just wanted more of the other elements that made this story so good despite the ease there was to fall in love with both Montgomery and Edward.

A bit of a warning though: I know some people are sensitive about any sort of animal cruelty and experimentation so you should know that there is some of that in here considering the father is a mad scientist basically.

For Fans  Of: dark and creepy stories, historical fiction with a little science fiction elements (think: science experiements), Gothic novels, a good mystery

Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you’ve read it, what were some of your thoughts? Like/Dislike? Was Juliet’s dad not the creepiest person you’ve read about in a while?? Which boy did you love more — Montgomery or Edward?

Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

10861195Book Title/Author: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Publisher/Release Date
: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – January 15, 2013
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Paranormal (hard to say because I thought it would be way more science fiction-y than it was but there are paranormal elements)
Series: Yes. It’s book 1 of The Memory Chronicles
Other Books From Author: None — it’s her debut!

Amazon| Goodreads | @lenoreva |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear! And full disclosure: Lenore is a fellow blogger and friend but I have written my full and honest opinion of the book that has not been swayed by my relationship with author.

When Felicia dies, she finds herself in Level 2 — an afterlife that isn’t quite disconnected from the living but isn’t quite the “next life.”  She and the others in her chamber spend their day plugged into computers where they have access to view all their old memories or the memories of others by way of a very elaborate system of credits. When a girl in Felicia’s chamber suddenly vanishes and a very dark piece of her past enters the chamber, a chamber that nobody on the outside had ever come in, and tells her there is an uprising and rebellion happening against those running the show in Level 2. Felicia isn’t sure whether or not she can trust this mysterious guy, Julian, from her past but her curiosity about what lies outside her chamber, and Julian’s promise to reunite her with somebody important, just might be the push she needs to follow him and align with the rebellion that is taking place.

Truly, Level 2 was one of the most unique and refreshing books I’ve read in a while!  I loved the concept from the start — dying and then your sort of afterlife consists of this “in-between” place where you have access to all your old memories to revisit and there is a credit system wherein your memories can be loaned out and you can borrow other peoples memories. It was interesting to think about which memories I would never want to relive and which ones I’d find myself watching over and over again. I kept thinking about which sorts of memories I’d want to borrow from other people — probably some good travel memories, memories of reading books so I could experience those and probably all sorts of lovely dovey memories because in the afterlife I’m sure I’d still be a sap like that.  So, obviously, I was instantly intrigued from page one as to what Level 2 was and why Felicia was there.

It was just unlike anything I’ve ever read before! The world-building was fantastic! I loved learning how things worked and could picture the pods and the rooms so easily– although I will be honest that at first it was A LOT of information to absorb. But the world is intricate and well built and I loved the pace at which we learned more about what Level 2 is right alongside Felicia as she learns from Julian that there is way more to Level 2 than she knows. I know I couldn’t stop turning the pages just anticipating what the deal with Level 2 was and why there was a rebellion and WHO controlled it. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I loved, loved loved how the story builds through Felicia’s access to her memories and we get to learn more about her through these memories of her life that she chooses to access and through her response to them. More of the pieces start to come together through these memories  and I loved trying to figure out what the deal was with Julian and why he got her in trouble in the past. Lenore moves you seamlessly through the past and the present and I loved that because sometimes flashbacks can be troublesome.  I’d say that the first part of the novel really is less ACTION and more memories and introducing you to the world and then from there there is more movement outside of the chambers and plot twists to boot!

I found myself really attune to  the emotions of this novel.  I felt such a deep sense of sadness at points, I felt anger, the pain of betrayal, longing for what was  lost, the tension, etc. Through the memories we are able to experience the sweetness of how Felicia and Neil fell in love, the shame  and guilt Felicia had for the mistakes she made that hurt her best friend when Julian was in the picture, the intensity Felicia felt when reliving her death, etc. Felicia isn’t perfect and she isn’t always likeable but she felt SO real and well fleshed out and I really enjoyed her perspective.

Up until the end, Level 2 and I were were moving in the right direction and I was thoroughly enjoying it. And then the big climax came and I found myself thoroughly confused. Like I honestly re-read it and still couldn’t really figure out what happened. I don’t know if it changed in the final copy, which I plan to buy so I can re-read, but I felt like we are moving along at a certain pace and then the ending came and there was this flurry of THINGS happening really fast and I just couldn’t keep up or picture what was going on. Remember in cartoons when a scuffle or something would happen and all you would see is a whirlwind of dust and occasionally a splintered chair would fly out or we’d see a pot or pan come outside the dust and then after the dust settles we see a disheveled character with bumps and bruises or something wearing a dress or something. I don’t know if I explained that well but THAT’S how I felt. I have NO idea what was going on there behind the “dust” when the action was happening, but would  catch one or two things, but then when it ended I guess I knew technically WHAT happened but everything was very hazy leading up to it. I really don’t get what happened.

EDIT: I meant to add this in my review but forgot initially. I will let you know that there ARE a lot of religious aspects to this novel. I didn’t personally find this got in the way but others I spoke to did. Just a warning!

Level 2 was a really strong debut — refreshing and unique with great characterization and an intricately built, imaginative world. The presentation of information through the past memories and the present was evenly handled and made for a great page-turner that was a blend of a contemporary novel, science fiction and a paranormal-y sort of afterlife. There were perfectly placed plot twists and revelations and I can honestly say I never knew what to expect from the time I cracked open the book until the very climatic end. I will say that towards the end things sped up and the final scene is a complete blur to me because I have no idea what happened as it happened at break-neck speed for me but that wouldn’t deter me from recommending this! Can’t wait for Level 3 because there is still SO much more to learn and I need to  know what happens to Felicia!

For Fans  Of: unique afterlife stories, YA science fiction/paranormal with a contemporary balance via flashbacks, great worldbuilding

Level-2-Lenore-Appelhans

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Were your thoughts similar to mine or different? Did anyone else have a hard time knowing what was going on in that least scene?  And did anyone else have some serious thinking about which memories you’d never ever want to relive again? And which ones you’d keep replaying over and over again? I pretty much would never want to experience my mother’s death or funeral ever again. On the less serious side, I would not want to relive a breakup or the time I had toilet paper stuck in my pants and flapping behind me as a tween. I’d love to relive some great dates, first kisses, my travels to Europe, sweet moments with my niece, my wedding day and some really fun moments with friends. I have a feeling I’d probably analyze some “what went wrong moments’ in my life. lol

Review: Eve & Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Book Title/Author: Eve & Adam by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate
Publisher/Year: Feiwel & Friends – October 2nd 2012
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Series: Not sure! I’ve heard yes and no!
Other Books From Author: The Gone series, The Magnificent 12 series, The Animorphs series

Amazon| Goodreads |
I received this on NetGalley from the publisher. Though kind and much appreciated, this did not sway my opinions in any way.

After getting hit by a car and sustaining life threatening injuries, Eve thinks she is going to die and by all means she should have died based on her injuries. Before she even has been at the hospital for a full day, her mother — the powerful figure behind a bio/pharmaceutical/research corporation  — has already demanded that she be released and transferred to her own facility to be taken care of. Eve thinks this is strange but even stranger is this boy Solo and the way she feels after the accident. While Eve is healing, her mother lets her play a simulation in which she is able to create a perfect person so naturally, like any girl would, she starts to build her dream guy from head to toe. As Eve works on her mom’s project, she starts to realize she has NO idea what idea secrets abound at her mom’s super secretive corporation….thanks to someone else who KNOWS the secrets and wants revenge.


Man, you guys. I was really excited about this one and was expecting this really fascinating science fiction book where morality and the “Frankenstein/Creator” notion would be really interestingly woven into this story. But, while entertaining and a fast paced read, I felt more frustrated by this one honestly. I really kept waiting to like it more than I did and it just never happened. I know it was supposed to be more lighthearted and not super serious (I read somewhere the authors said that) but I just thought I was getting something else from the summary. The premise failed to deliver, for me, what I thought was just going to be a really riveting science fiction novel.

I read this in pretty much a day so obviously there were some really great things about it that kept me reading! It was VERY fast paced which was a perk but, as I’ll mention below, also a drawback. There were some incredibly interesting aspects and I just couldn’t wait for Eve to finish creating Adam so I could see what would happen and I was just reading with bated breath until the moment when THINGS would be revealed to Eve or when Solo was in a sticky situation. Also, it was very unique and there was a lot of pretty funny parts in this…which I was not expecting in the least. I can’t say I’ve read anything like it really! I also really enjoyed some of the characters — Eve, Solo and surprisingly Eve’s mom even though she was pretty much the worst mom ever. She kind of reminded me of Mrs. Grayson from Revenge but more humorous.

While there were some really great characters, there were also some really flat characters and characters I felt were so overly cliched (Aislin). I mean, I was expecting Adam to play such a big part in this novel but he was so boring and all I gathered was that he was so super hot and people stared. I mean, I know he’s a “creation” but he just seemed flat to me. Maybe that was the point? I don’t know. My biggest thing, aside from my expectations of what I thought this book would be, was that there was just TOO MUCH GOING ON. I love a fast paced, page turning book but there was just too much. It was kind of like when you see somebody on What Not To Wear and they have an outfit with just TOO MUCH GOING ON especially too many accessories. And your eyes and your brain cannot process or take it all in. And if they just stripped a few of the gaudy necklaces, the arm’s length of bracelets and the crazy patterned separates and just stuck with one or two focal pieces it’d be a really cute outfit. That’s really how I felt. There was just so much going on that it distracted me and some things I felt were out of place and didn’t mean much to me (the whole thing with Eve’s bff’s dead beat boyfriend) and sometimes things were weirdly wrapped up or not wrapped up. I don’t know. There was just too much in a short space and it didn’t jive well with me.

 

Eve and Adam just wasn’t for me apparently. It might have been a case of my expectations of the book versus what I got. I was expecting some really crazy science fiction story with deep meaning and exploration of mortality and playing God and I just didn’t really get that at all. It was less serious and more funny — which is fine but just not at all what I was hoping for with an AMAZING premise like that. I don’t know..by the time I got to the end I just felt very unsatisfied. Like eating a salad when you really just want steak and potatoes.

While it wasn’t necessarily a win for me, others really loved it. Check out other reviews of Eve and Adam from Kindle Book Love Blog or Live To Read.

 

You May Also Like: Beta by Rachel Cohn, The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna, Origin by Jessica Khoury, Bumped by Megan McCafferty (like Eve & Adam, Bumped takes a lighter, more humorous approach to a subject that could be heavier — Bumped was very much satire).

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Did you like it better than me? Did anyone else think it was going to be a lot more science fiction-y and maybe more ‘serious’? I was really surprised/taken aback by how light and funny  it was.

Review: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Book Title/Author: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Publisher/Year: : Balzar + Bray – June 2012
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Science Fiction
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From Author: Rampant & Ascendant (killer unicorns!) & Secret Society Girl

Amazon| Goodreads | Diana Peterfreund’s Website

The Story: For Darkness Shows The Stars is set in a world that is living in the aftermath of botched genetic experiments on humankind which resulted in the Reduction — a phenomena that caused people to be “Reduced” and caused the Luddite nobility to reject all technology and want things to go back to the way they believed God intended it to be. They believed that the Reduced people were God’s way of punishing mankind for trying to mess around with science and play God. As time moved on, children were being born that were not “Reduced” and they began to reject their position as Reduced people and seek progress. Eliot North is a Luddite in charge of her Father’s estate. As a child she fell in love with Kai, a Post-Reduced that worked on her estate, but refused to run away with him when he wanted to forge a better life. Years later, as her Estate is crumbling & out of a desperate need for money, she rents out her grandfather’s home to a famous Captain and his shipbuilders who are known to be a bit more progressive than the Luddites.

The Review: GOOD LAWD. This is one of those books I went into reading knowing very little (at the insistence of Anna) and came out feeling like I found a gem amidst a very crowded market of paranormal creatures, love triangles & dystopians who promise a unique world.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all of those things. I do. But every once in a while I find something that feels wholly unique and stands out among the crowd and I want to hold it high above the rest. It was this freaking epic mix of romantical, science fictiony/post apocalytpic GOODNESS. I had no idea.

I was a little nervous to read this as it is a inspired by/kind of a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I have not yet read, so I was afraid I’d be confused. Fortunately you do NOT need to read it to understand and appreciate the story but I DO feel, as I’ve talked to people who have read both, feel it would greatly enhance your reading experience.

I’ll admit in the beginning it was SO HARD TO FOLLOW. I kept getting stuck on who the Luddites, Reduced & Posts were and why they were that way. But after I kept going (which I urge you to do!) I found myself wholly immersed in the story of Eliot & Kai and desperately hungry to learn more about this world.

Eliot & Kai’s relationship was so tragic and just one of those crazy tensioned filled ones that had me just firmly gripping the book and hoping I could will them together with some crazy book lover voodoo or something. Their love was so beautiful and innocent as children but Eliot’s fear of the unknown and what would happen if she didn’t adhere to the Luddite ways held her back and it was so, so sad. I understood that, since she grew up only knowing the Luddite ways, and understood her sense of duty to her estate and all the people who worked there knowing how they would be treated if left to her sister and father. This made me love her, because she was so noble, but I hurt for her so bad. And then when Kai comes back into her life, my heart just BROKE for her and his coldness collided into my own heart. I COULD NOT TAKE IT! All that tension. All  that pent up anger. AH. But then there would be a glimmer of that love that could just make my little heart swoon. And THOSE LETTERS. They reduced me to my high school self melting into a pile of ooey gooey romantical feelings on my bed and sobbing to ALL OF THE LOVE SONGS because I want a boy who writes me letters and makes me FEEL ALL OF THE FEELINGS. I just cared so much for both of them.

The world was just so unlike anything. There’s this mix of science fiction but yet most of the world feelings like you are feeling like it’s something straight out of Amish country. The hierarchy of the Luddites and the Reduced/Posts was so fascinating. The descriptions. ALL OF IT.  I could picture the estate and the surrounding scenes of nature. It was written so phenomenally — one of those books where the world starts swirling off the pages and begins to be a motion picture in my mind. There were some things  I wished were explained a little better about the world and I thought at the end I wasn’t so sure how Eliot completely reconciled what she learned about Kai so quickly but I got over that just fine.

 

While I haven’t read Persuasion, I do feel, having read other Austen novels, that Diana Peterfruend captured all of the swoon-inducing romance and extremely layered characterization (and holla for an awesome female heroine!) that a Jane Austen novel delivers. The writing is just gorgeous and flawless and the characters are those that find their way off the pages and into your heart. So very unique! So very heartbreaking and beautiful. So utterly mesmerizing. One of my favorites of the year! Rushing to read Persuasion because I need to meet the man, the myth and the legend that is Captain Wentworth.

Recommends For Lovers Of: Austen retellings, unique & slow building stories with gut-wrenching romantic tension, beautiful writing, a mix of science fiction/post-apocalyptic/dystopian goodness

 

Let’s talky talk: Have you read this book? Is it on your radar? If you read it and also have read Persuasion, what do you think I missed from the experience having not read it? Any other Austen retellings I should know about?

Book Review: So Close To You by Rachel Carter

So Close To You by Rachel CarterBook Title/Author: So Close to You by Rachel Carter
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen – July 10, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Series: Yes, part of a series.
Other Books From Author: None as of now. It’s her debut novel!

Amazon| Goodreads | Rachel Carter’s website

 

Wow! I can honestly say this is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a while. I don’t read much science fiction but this one sounded SO intriguing that I had to give it a chance.  This book had it all — conspiracy theories, time travel, romance, history, great secondary characters! I wouldn’t say it was super fast paced at all but it kept me reading furiously. I read it in a day and just absolutely gasped at the ending because it satisfied me but also dropped me off a 10,000 foot cliff where I’ll be anxiously awaiting book 2. There was a lot of things that made it a page turner — the intrigue of the time travel, the mystery of what happened to Dean, the suspense of if/how/when she is going to get back t0 2012 — but there were things that made it slow down — exposition of some of the historical background of the Montauk Project, the time travel theories, setting up the time period of the 1944′s.  It personally didn’t bother me but for those looking for a high caliber, continuous fast paced read you might find those elements problematic.

I was so intrigued by the fact that this whole Montauk Project conspiracy actually exists. I started researching the crap out of it when I was reading this book to find out more about it. Rachel Carter sure did her research. It was interesting searching Camp Hero and seeing pictures of scenes I read about. I found it all just SO interesting and such a unique premise for a book! I enjoyed Lydia’s time in the 1944′s but that’s also probably because I love historical fiction!

As far as characters went — Lydia was just so-so to me.  I liked her I  guess but sometimes I just didn’t  understand how she  was so easily adaptable to the fact that she time traveled. If that were me, I’d have gone so nuts I would have probably been committed. She was all, “Oh hey. 1944? Ok,  I’ll roll  with this.” But I did enjoy that she was determined, albeit a little stubborn, to figure out this mystery for her grandfather. I LOVED Mary! Loved. She just was a great character and really came  alive!

In terms of romance-y things, because obviously I have to dish on those…Wes and Lydia, I did  NOT understand at all this instantaneous smitten-with-Wes thing she had going on…especially since, um, you just time traveled, you are trying to figure out a mystery and you aren’t planning on staying forever. The romance  was my least favorite  part at first but once I got about midway through and things started to be revealed..I sort of got it and decided I’d roll with it and see how it plays out later in book 2. I think that romantical storyline will be better in the second book for me personally.

  It was a perfect blend of suspense, time travel, romance and history for me! It wasn’t too science fiction-y which would be good for those who are unsure about the genre but readers of really heavy science fiction might find it to be lacking. I didn’t feel like I was getting too weighted down by scientific explanations but there was enough! The ending was satisfying enough to the storyline but leaves you DYING for the second book.  DYING. I cannot even tell you. While I thought the romance angle  left a bit to  be  desired, I found myself quite  enthralled with this book overall.

 

 

Hourglass by Myra McIntire, Tempest by Julie Cross

Check out my fun interview with Rachel Carter where she dishes about the coolest thing she learned about the Montauk Project, the theme song for So Close To You & more!

 

Save The Date For: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Pre-Order It | Add to Goodreads

What It’s About: When Felicia dies, she finds herself in Level 2 — an afterlife that isn’t quite disconnected from the living but isn’t quite the “next life.”  She and the others in her chamber spend their day plugged into computers where they have access to view all their old memories or the memories of others by way of a very elaborate system of credits. When a girl in Felicia’s chamber suddenly vanishes and a very dark piece of her past enters the chamber, a chamber that nobody on the outside had ever come in, and tells her there is an uprising and rebellion happening against those running the show in Level 2. Felicia isn’t sure whether or not she can trust this mysterious guy from her past but her curiosity about what lies outside her chamber, and Julian’s promise to reunite her with somebody important, just might be the push she needs to follow him and align with the rebellion that is taking place.

Why You Should Be Saving  The Date:

1. THE WORDBUILDING. Ok, so I’m going to be honest, at first it was a little slow for me because there  was a lot of info about Felicia’s life in  Level 2 and the way things work being thrown at you in the beginning but very quickly the world just started to come together and I just couldn’t put it down. I found myself so absorbed in this intricate world and SO fascinated by all its elements that kept being revealed.

2. It’s  SO unique in a way that just keeps you reading. I just found this story to be refreshing because it didn’t feel like anything I’ve ever read before. Throughout the story things kept being revealed that blew my mind storywise and the adrenaline started kicking in as pieces start coming together. I never knew what to expect to be honest.

3. Emotionally it’s a winner  — I found myself really attune to  the emotions of this novel.  I felt such a deep sense of sadness at points, I felt anger, the pain of betrayal, longing for what was  lost, the tension, etc. It’s  easy to make me cry but it’s hard to make me feel deeply, to my core, a  ton of different emotions without feeling like I’m on a contrived, whiplashing-inducing rollercoaster.

Who Should Save The  Date: Fans of YA looking for something more science fiction  in nature, those  who like “afterlife”  sort of fiction dealing with heaven, hell, angels, etc,  those looking for phenomenal worldbuilding of a world that they’ve never ever seen, those just plain old wanting to see what this blogger-turned-author accomplished (I am  NOT disappointed in the least).

Have you read this one? Are you excited for it?? Be on the lookout for my FULL review coming closer to the release date.

To learn more about why I started doing this Save The Date feature and how it differs from my reviews — go here!

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