Series Send Off: Something Strange & Deadly series by Susan Dennard

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

I do this weird thing where sometimes I hold off reading the last book of series I love — especially if I’ve waited the time in between rather than binge reading. It’s a weird thing. I KNOW. It’s a combo of 1) I just don’t want things to end and 2) also I get afraid because I’ve been let down in series before.   I had read the first two books a while ago and finally had the guts to finish it!

 

 Goodreads // Amazon

 

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

 

This would make such a good series to binge read because it’s ridiculously action-packed and you’ll want to compulsively read it. And it honestly truly feels different than a lot of series out there! It’s this great mix of magic and adventures (holy great settings to have these adventures in) and steampunk goodness. So action packed, too! The stakes get higher and higher in each book and things get even more real! Necromancers! Armies of the dead! Really intense baddies! Magic! Demons! What is going on in Book 1 is just a smaller sliver of the bigger picture of what is at work!

 

 

What The Series Is About:

It’s 1876 and the Dead are rising in Eleanor’s city of Philadelphia because of a necromancer who is hellbent on raising them. She finds out her brother’s disappearance could possibly be related to what is going on and, in her search for answers, finds herself spending time with a rag tag group called The Spirit Hunters who are also trying to track down this necromancer and stop all the madness! Together with the Spirit Hunters, Eleanor sets out to find her brother and stop the necromancer which proves to be a tough feat that sends them all over the world for answers and the chance to stop even worse things from happening.

 

 

Recommended For People Who Love:

steampunk, adventure novels, magic, zombie-lite type of books (if you are looking for like a really heavy classic zombie book this isn’t it…like the dead have risen but THEY aren’t the main focus), readers looking for action

 

 

Thoughts On Each Book

(Skip below to the next section or read my review for book 1 if you haven’t read the series yet!)

 

Something Strange & Deadly — You can read my full review of Something Strange and Deadly here but I just have to say, especially after finishing the series, this book is definitely the lighter of the 3 in terms of what is going on. Seriously the magic and things going on gets so much darker. And after thinking about this book I’m just like WOW WOW WOW look at the adventure they went on after the things they realize in book 1 and how those things were small in comparison to the scope of the rest of the series. LOVED this book…hold your butts for the adventure that goes on in the next 2. That’s all I’m saying. Also, LOVED that the setting was my stomping grounds of Philadelphia in the late 1800’s.

 

A Darkness Strange and Lovely: I personally didn’t think this book suffered from second book syndrome in the way that some other books do. It definitely did a lot of setting up for the epic and explosive book 3 but in a way that I felt natural because at the end of book 1 they are figuring out just what kind of shit Eleanor’s brother was really in and how much bigger it is. They are looking for answers and figuring things out in this book and trying to put an end to it all — without realizing just how dark it all is. Plus, we meet Ollie — a demon that changes things for Eleanor when he offers her magic and who is one of the greatest characters in this series. It creates a lot of interesting things between her and the Spirit Hunters but also I think Eleanor has a lot to grapple with as she uses it. You see her really change and test the limits of her own morals as she discovers what she can do and how she can use it. She wants to help and save her friends and put an end to the stuff going on. She has good intention but that kind of power doesn’t come with consequences. I loved the Paris setting and the action and the development of the story.

Strange and Ever After: WOW what an emotional, explosive and truly action-packed series conclusion! I loved that the stakes really and truly felt higher and more dangerous. Sometimes I feel like battles aren’t as tough in some series as I’d like them to be but this one truly made me feel how hard these characters fought. I truly felt like they were in danger as soon as they really figured out what they needed to do. That this battle they would inevitable have would cost them in ways. And I wasn’t wrong in that feeling as the gang faces Marcus in this book. Eleanor grows a lot — she isn’t always easy to like or get along with and she constantly pushes people away but she’s starting to realize her tendencies. Plus I think a lot of how she changes and grows is related to the power she possesses. It changes her and she has to figure that out — same with her friends — they don’t approve of it but also they recognize how it helps them. All these moral grounds they all have to work through.  I really loved how much we got to understand Ollie in this book. I love him so damn much. I will say the only thing that tripped me up during this book is that I felt like confused with some of the magic. Even more elements are added and even some Egyptian gods and stuff but I got so confused with some of the layers of it all.

I think the ending to the series is definitely polarizing but I found that I REALLY loved it.

View Spoiler »

 

 

 

Rating Broken Down By Books

Something Strange and Deadly

RATING-loved-it

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

RATING-reallyliked
Strange & Ever After

RATING-loved-it

 

And so I’m saying farewell to this series:

Farewell my spirit hunting, friends! Thank you for taking me on wild adventures and reminding me that, despite what you’ve gone through in life and how easy it is to push people away because of it, it’s better to embrace the people who genuinely want to love you. Thanks for allowing me to become part of your rag-tag, misfit unit of a family.

 

What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

Series Send Off: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

OH MY GOD. I’m bursting with my love for this series and these characters. I honestly did a lot of joyful crying towards the end.

 

lumatere-chronicles Goodreads // Amazon

 

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

 

I HAVE NEVER LOVED FICTIONAL CHARACTERS MORE THAN I HAVE LOVED THESE ONES. TRULY.  The main ones. The secondary ones. Even a whole lot of minor characters who sometimes only get a couple pages in the whole series. I AM BURSTING WITH LOVE. WITH JOY. WITH SORROW. WITH PRIDE. I’m also a a bit sad because I can’t fathom not knowing all the details of their lives through alllll the years to come. I just don’t want to let them go. It feels a bit like mourning right now. It’s a bit of a slower fantasy series in some ways when compared to other fantasy I’ve read (it totally is action-packed at times) but the character development and the EMOTIONS and the ferocity in which you will care for these characters and their kingdom is unparalleled. I loved all Melina Marchetta’s contemporaries and I’m happy to say these, like those ones, are 5 star reads for me.

 

 

What The Series Is About:

Oh man, how can I even describe this series as a whole?? A kingdom. A horrific attack. A curse. A people group in exile. A people group finding their way home. AND THEN SO MUCH MORE. I don’t even want to spoil a MOMENT of it.

 

 

Recommended For People Who Love:

epic high fantasy series, Melina Marchetta’s other books and are open to fantasy, character driven stories, badass females and all so differently badass, amazing world-building, amazing and complicated relationships, unparalleled character development

 

 

Thoughts On Book 2 & Book 3
(Skip below to the next section or read my review for book 1 if you haven’t read the series yet!)

 

Finnikin of the Rock — I already shared my thoughts on this book so I’m not going to but it’s crazy how I thought this was so amazing and then Froi and Quintana blew it out of the water (even though it’s still very awesome).

 

Froi of the Exiles: OH MAN. Froi. FROI. This book was so freaking awesome. I love that we still are with the characters we love from Lumatere but OH MAN the characters we meet in Froi of the Exiles just captured my heart (even the more prickly ones) and are all just so intriguing and their stories are fascinating. I loved learning more about Charyn and what was going on there and a lot of their history that intersects with the characters from book 1. I felt like that book kept shocking me and revealing things and I couldn’t keep a handle on my emotions. But let’s just talk about Froi himself. I did NOT like Froi in Finnikin of the Rock but oh the character growth that happens…MARCHETTA MAGIC.  Learning his background and having answers to the questions he’s been wondering about his life was just this constant rush of emotions to read. I finished Froi so mad at myself for not having Quintana of Charyn on hand, despite being warned, because holy CRAP the ending of this book is too much too handle. Random aside: maybe it was because I was doing an Orphan Black binge but I kept picturing Quintana as Helena from Orphan Black.

Quintana of Charyn: HOLY ROLLERCOASTER OF EMOTIONS. I thought the first two books were a rollercoaster of a ride but this book felt like a rollercoaster on steroids — one that had my insides all out of place and kept me in free fall through a good part of it. I am serious…I cried for at least half of this book at different points — sad and just bursting with happiness kind of crying. My heart was swelling so much I thought it might just take off out of my chest. All the things that come full circle and Froi’s two worlds colliding and all the things we find out and OMG I AM CRYING RIGHT NOW. I’m serious. I care too much. As I was finishing this book I was just weeping and Will was like, “wow this book must be sad” and I’m like “but I’m not even cry because I’m sad or devastated…I just have so many emotions and pride and love and my body doesn’t know what to do with it so I’m just crying.”  This book broke my heart and restored it. I mean, I’m telling you Marchetta outdoes herself because there are single sentences or words spoken that could just bring me to my knees. “It’s not our time.” “Do you honestly think I’d stay there knowing they were using you as bait” THOSE ARE ONLY A FEW THAT GUTTED ME. Everything did really. It was the book that kept on hitting me hard.  ONE OF THE BEST ENDS TO A TRILOGY/SERIES EVER.

 

 

 

Rating Broken Down By Books

I don’t really need to break it down for each book because honestly each book gets the same rating for different reasons!!

RATING-beyondloved

 Rereadability: OH YES.
Will I buy it for my collection?: UM YES. I library-ed all 3 of them and I fully intend on purchasing them.

 

I normally write my little farewell to the series and right now I’m just crying whilst trying to write it because I just want to go on and on with them. It seems so final to say goodbye. I just want to reread already because….it can’t be over. DEAR CHARACTERS OF THIS SERIES I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. MORE THAN PROBABLY IS HEALTHY. From the main characters to the minor characters who were so integral to this story, you are all SO IMPORTANT AND I FEEL A SURGE OF PRIDE WHEN I THINK OF YOU. This series is one of the best I’ve ever read. Melina Marchetta remains my queen and in my top 5 favorite authors of all time.

 

What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

The Start Of A New Favorite Series. I CAN FEEL IT.

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYYSSSS. As you may in fact know, Melina Marchetta is one of my all time favorite authors EVER. EVERRRRR. I’ve read and loved her contemporaries and I had just been putting off her fantasy books because, at the time, I wasn’t super into fantasy and I was a bit intimidated. I finally decided to read Finnikin of the Rock a couple weeks ago and OH MY GOD. I am a woman obsessed. I cannot stop thinking about the characters. The world. EVERYTHING. It’s every bit of magic that her contemporary books had for me — especially her signature character development. A few people assured me of this and they were so right. SO RIGHT.

Finnikin of the RockGoodreads // Amazon

THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING. (and I’m told it only gets better…and more brutal).

Before I discuss my feels, let me give you the down low on what it’s about if you aren’t familiar: Finnikin of the Rock is from the Lumatere Kingdom. Ten years ago the royal family was MURDERED (he was VERY close with them) and then this awful curse was put on his kingdom that doesn’t let anybody in or out of the kingdom. Some people had already fled but then the other half of the kingdom is still trapped in there and being ruled by an AWFUL new ruler. So, for the past ten years, all the people who had fled the Lumatere Kingdom have been scattered about various kingdoms living in mostly awful conditions. Finnikin and Sir Topher, his guardian, have been wandering around and taking a census of the Lumatere people. Finnikin is called to meet with a young girl who makes a big claim — that the heir to the throne is actually alive. She claims that they need to gather their people and return home with the heir to undo the curse.

WOAH WOAH WOAH. Just thinking about their journey gives me chills. And how complex those characters were.

Here’s just a glimpse of what I loved about it:

The world & history: I was a little nervous that this might be a little slow in the beginning as it set up the history and the world but I was just pretty absorbed from the beginning. I will say I looked at the map so many times, to get my shit straight, that I finally just had to take a picture of it so I didn’t have to keep flipping back. It helped to be able to picture their journey as they went from kingdom to kingdom and truth be told I got so into it that I almost wanted a paper print-out of the map so I could record notes about where things went down. I loved learning about the history of Lumatere and what went down and also their kingdom in relation to the other kingdoms in the land. On the same note, I LOVED finding out about all the kingdoms because they were all kind of known for different things. MAN, some of those kingdoms were brutal though especially to the people in exile. It was a heartbreaking ordeal how some of these exiles were living and being treated.

The “taking back the kingdom” plot and how it played out: I read two books in a row where taking back the kingdom was a thing (the other one is The Orphan Queen) and I love it! I loved as they traveled to the different kingdoms gathering the necessary people and telling the exiles (who have been living 10 years in limbo and crap conditions basically). The excitement just kept building as we got closer and then THE BIG REVEAL as they got closer (did not see that coming truthfully). There was this moment where they are standing outside of the kingdom and I just felt this surge of pride for what they were doing. How it was all orchestrated to get the people back there and all the sacrifice it took to get there. My heart was swelling with joy/sadness/pride/excitement/fear as they approached Lumatere. VERY EMOTIONAL.  I was seriously just doing a whole lot of this by the end.

9XL0vUY

The characters: It’s one of those situations where my love for them just grew to obscene amounts but I didn’t even realize it until we were closer to the end and things were going down. The reunions that were had amongst the exiled and how they worked so hard to get to where they were…MY HEART WAS BURSTING WITH LOVE AND PRIDE FOR THEM ALL. I LOVED Finnikin and Sir Topher and Evanjalin obviously but there were characters who came into the picture in smaller roles that I just loved so much and they made an impact on the story (and on me). I grew to love Froi (who the next book seems to be about?) even if there are still things about him that I can’t reconcile just right now. It’s classic Melina characters who just come alive and impact you in ways you didn’t see coming. I cannot wait to continue on with these characters.

SPOILERY TALK!!!!

* Do not read this paragraph if you want to read this book*

Some rambly thoughts and feels.

I sort of did not understand how the whole blood thing works. Like I *think* I got it but I also was confused?? Like the connection with the dead baby and how Isoboe walked the dreams? I had to reread those parts explaining it. I THINK I got it though. And ISOBOE. WHAT A BADASS. THAT REVEAL. How she brought her kingdom back?!??! GAHHH. Her reunion with Yata. OMG. And then when Finnikin’s dad reunites with his dudes. TEARS TEARS. And then the battle when Lucien carries Saro home. WAHHH. And the exchange between Lady Beatriss and Trevanion. MY HEART. Guys. I hear the next two books are even more feelsy and IDK IF I CAN HANDLE IT. ALSO, that ending was perfect and swoony and AHHH.

BUT BASICALLY…

If you aren’t reading this series. YOU MUST. If you consider yourself a fantasy fan. If you love Melina Marchetta’s books (and aren’t a fantasy reader) you should STILL give them a chance. There’s magic kind of stuff but a lot more of this is political, people in exile and about bringing a kingdom back….AND ALL ABOUT THESE CHARACTERS.

NOW I NEED TO PROCURE FROI & QUINTANA.

Series Send Off: The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

I just finished the 4th & 5th books of the Jessica Darling series FINALLY…seriously I read the first 3 forever ago. I just didn’t want to let go (plus I get distracted by ALL THE BOOKS). So, as per the usual format, I’ll talk about the series as a whole for those who aren’t familiar and then give my thoughts on books 4 &5 as I say goodbye to this series.

jessica-darling-seriesmm

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

READ IT. It’s one of my ALL TIME FAVES. There is just nothing like it out there. THEY WERE JUST PERFECT FOR ME. There’s just something about following Jessica from high school through adulthood — she voices the struggles, triumphs and confusion of adolescence and that transition into adulthood SO WELL. Everything is so raw and real and the characters feel like real human beings that make mistakes and have flaws. REAL. That’s the only way I can think to describe this series. Also, HELLA funny. Jessica’s inner monologue slays me every time. Her voice is UNPARALLELED.

 

 

What The Series Is About:

The Jessica Darling series follows the charming (and sometimes not so charming) Jessica from high school through adulthood as she chronicles all those life-changing moments with SERIOUSLY razor sharp wit. From falling in love (and out of it), to going to college, to trying to pay your rent as a broke twenty-something, Jessica’s voice just captures perfectly the highs and lows in the journey to and through adulthood in a way that is just so realistic and in a way that is easy to relate to. She puts the difficulties of growing up into words that will make you laugh, reflect and nod along with her. Seriously, she goes through it all!!

 

 

Recommended For People Who Love:

Series that span YEARS (ie from high school into adulthood), contemporary YA (this is a classic!!), hilarious and brutally honest MCs, epic romances

 

 

Thoughts On Fourth Comings & Perfect Fifths
(Skip below to the next section if you haven’t read the series yet!)

 

jessica-darling-series

MAN, Megan McCafferty just captures that awkward “I’m an adult but I don’t feel like an adult” feeling SO WELL in Fourth Comings. I felt like I kept nodding my head like YES IT IS SO HARD TO BE A TWENTYSOMETHING OUT OF COLLEGE. Why do I feel like I’m a fake adult?? Why is it so hard to get all the things you thought you’d have by this point??  The job, the glamorous life, the feeling that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, a romantic relationship that just feels right, etc.

Fourth Comings, man. I thought my heart was going to break with Jessica and Marcus. I mean, there love story has been up and down and I was so happy they were finally back together….and now Jessica is questioning it?? And then he asks her to marry him??? MY HEART WAS NOT OKAY. But I got it? I did. They were in different places in life. How she talks about that made so much sense to me even though I was like NO NO NO. Basically when it came to their romance, this book DESTROYED MY HEART. Like tore into two. But as I watched her try to figure out her answer to him…I realized I admired how honest she was about the whole thing. She loved him BUT. Love is so tricky and I just think sometimes we want something to work out so much because you love someone but it’s not REALLY working yet it hurts so much to let it go. So, even though I was like NO NO NO NO you need to be together..I really understood. She had to be honest about what she wanted for her life. Where she saw it going. Was her love strong enough for him to give up what she wanted? We see a wiser and more honest (in a more self-aware way) Jessica in this one. And it hurt, but it was TRUE. She really saw the whole picture.  GOD I COULD JUST CRY THINKING ABOUT THIS BOOK!

Perfect Fifths — I was not ready for this one. As I started I was immediately like WAIT WHAT IS THIS THIRD PERSON NARRATION??? I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but it was perfect as I read on. I loved getting this complete story with her AND Marcus’s thoughts. Jessica and Marcus and their chance meeting after years of not speaking?? That nostalgic, awkward FEELING it is to be in the presence of the one you loved once? MY HEART. BE STILL. It was definitely a slower conclusion that revolves around their conversation as they meet and a lot of jumping back in time but I enjoyed every minute of it. Every minute of kind of re-living their epic love story that spans all these years (god, I’m reminded of Veronica and Logan here from VMars). There were points where I wanted MORE from this book in terms of fleshing out the adult Jessica and Marcus since they last time we saw them. I felt kind of distanced from their lives. But ultimately, I really loved this conclusion as a fan of this series. It wasn’t necessarily AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER which I kiiiind of wanted for the sake of all that they have put my heart through but I just felt like it was SO fitting for their love story. My love for Jessica and especially Marcus grew even stronger in this book. I just cried as I read the last words because this series was EPIC. I wasn’t okay with it being over because I felt just so attached to them.

 

 

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

Sloppy Firsts: 5 STARS!!
Second
Helpings: 5 STARS!!
Charmed Thirds: 4.5 stars
Fourth Comings: 5 STARS!!
Perfect Fifths: A solid 4 stars!

 

 

Farewell Jessica Darling! Growing up with you was a pleasure. I feel like YOU GOT ME and I can’t tell you how many times I nodded like YES YES YES  or THAT’S SO ME or YOU ARE PUTTING WORDS TO SOMETHING I CANNOT DESCRIBE. We would have been bffs if you were a real person. Your honesty and reflection was refreshing and I know I will never meet anyone like you again. Thanks for the major LOLS, the tears and for being you. YOU. YES. YOU. (forever).  (Seriously, I’m really emotional right now because this series is EVERYTHING).  WHY WHY WHY is it over????

 

What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

6 Reasons Why I Freaking Loved The Young Elites by Marie Lu

6 Reasons Why I Freaking Loved The Young Elites by Marie LuThe Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #2
Published by Putnam Juvenile on October 7, 2014
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

1.  Adelina. THAT GIRL: Adelina is one of the most compelling characters I’ve come across in a long time. If you read the interview with Marie Lu you’ll know that Adelina was originally a side character and was a villain of sorts. When Marie switched her focus to Adelina, The Young Elites really became the origin story of a villain. She’s so intriguing because she does things that you are like WHAT WHAT WHAT NO but also there is whole level of sympathy you have for her. She’s had a rough past where people have been so cruel to her and you GET where that hardness is from. But then you see these moments of greatness and a softer side to her. She’s so compelling and my heart ached for her in all her brokenness but her strength was just so heartstoppingly so — scary almost!

2. The setting is to die for: I LOVED THE SETTING. It’s a fantasy world but you can tell that Marie’s inspirations were Renaissance Venice/Italy. It feels historic but it so wholly a fantasy world. I just couldn’t get enough of it because I could see it so beautifully.

3. The magic: So after this illness ravaged the land, some children had strange markings and such happening and they were labelled as malfettos and were looked at as an abomination. The other thing that some of these children had? These new found, strange powers. They are seen as dangerous and there is a group of them called The Young Elites that everyone is SO afraid of and blame for all these bad things happening which is why queen and king are trying to murder them all. As Adelina comes in contact with The Young Elites I LOVED learning what all their powers were and I loved seeing Adelina develop hers as she is a bit of a loose cannon because she has no idea how to control it and work it.

4. How dark this novel was: In Legend, even though the world was dark in ways, it just doesn’t even come close to the sort of darkness that this story touches. Part of it is, as I said before, Adelina is more of a villain and not as easy to root for as June and Day but there’s just underlying darkness in this world. Sinister characters. The things that these characters have to do to live. The things that they are happening in the leadership. How layered and not black and white the issues of morality are. It was just PERFECT.

5. How Marie was constantly able to surprise me: It takes a lot to surprise me. I’ll be honest. But Marie WENT THERE. Things happened that I never thought in a million years would and certain revelations had me frantically turning the pages. It never once went down the path of predictability for me and THAT my friends is a damn good reading experience that leaves you on the edge of your seat.

6. The exciting possibilities for book 2: HOLY CRAP. It was one of those experiences where I was just bouncing up and down with excitement for how everything is setting up for book 2….and then I realize I HAVE NO BOOK 2. I think book 2 is going to be so exciting with how everything ended and there’s promise of new characters to be excited about from lands we haven’t seen yet. This is going to be a damn good series! I can feel it in my bones.

a6
RATING-beyondloved
factors+ plot, characters, surprises, set up for book 2, writing
NADA

Re-readability: I would probably actually reread this one before book 2.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I’ll probably wait until book 2 to see if this is a series to invest in but I have good feels about that.

a5fantasy lovers, people who love complex characters who aren’t morally easy to pin down, people who love strong female main characters, people looking for a new series to be addicted to, fans of Marie Lu, people who find villain-y type characters very compelling

a8The Young Elites was everything and MORE than I was hoping for this novel. It was a lightning quick, intense read for me because everyone was so compelling and complex, the plot lingered and surged forward at all the right moments and it absolutely surprised me. It’s dark, unpredictable  and I have a good feeling about where this series is going.

review-on-post-it

The Young Elites Marie Lu review

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this series feel like something you’d be into?
* Did you sympathize with Adelina?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Carla’s Corner: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (NO SPOILERS)

So so back when I was a wee newbie blogger in 2010 there was this blog I fell in love with immediately. It was called The Crooked Shelf and it was run by a sassy Brit who had fantastic taste in books and wrote some of the best reviews ever. We became friends and even got to hang out at BEA 2011…and had the best time ever. Seriously.

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And then she stopped blogging…which was the saddest thing ever for so many of us because her voice was one of the best and early on I aspired to BE like Carla in the way that I just wanted to have my own distinct voice — whatever that was. It was definitely a hit to the blogosphere for many of us oldies when she left.

And now, through a Twitter conversation about missing her as a blogger, I introduce you to Carla’s Corner where Carla will take over my blog sporadically whenever she feels like it and talk about what’s she’s reading and HAS to talk about! I’m excited to have her voice back in the blogosphere and for people who didn’t get to know her back in the day to get the chance to!!

So first up?? It is only fitting that Carla reviews a Maggie Stiefvater book. Fun story: The one and only time I saw Carla lose her shit and become a 12 year old little girl was when she met Maggie Stiefvater at BEA. It was the cutest moment EVER and her and Maggie hugging and talking made me all teary because it was one of Carla’s all time FAVORITE authors!!

So take it away Carla…

 Blue Lily, Blue Lily review no spoilersBlue Lily, Blue Lily by Maggie Stiefvater
Book #3 of The Raven Cycle series (I’ve read, loved and reviewed book 1)
Release Date: October 21st – Scholastic Press
* This book was downloaded from Netgalley for review consideration.

 Carla’s Thoughts:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is simultaneously the best book I have ever read and also the worst.

Let’s start with the best.

Trying to explain or describe how much I love Stiefvater’s writing is like trying to count all of the stars in the sky; impossible, incredibly brain aching and needing calculations and equations that my mind just isn’t capable of fathoming. I’ve never really been that good at math.

Her words are a dream come to life, like Ronan himself has plucked them out of his dreams and handed them over. The characters, they come to life, never once drifting off into slumber like those cows in the barns.  The words don’t sleep like dream things do when they’re not dream things anymore, they roar like the pigs engine. They pull handbrakes turns and skid right into your heart, then come to a juddering stop and stay there.

The character development is soft and sure and strong.  Ronan is still as sharp, shiny and cutting as the edge of a knife but everyone knows that sharp things don’t always stay so sharp. Gansy is still full of wonder and hope and light but everyone knows lights eventually dim until they sputter out completely. Blue is still small and full of yoghurt and truth. Adam is still rustling leaves and springy moss. And Noah is as still as grey and smudgy as a charcoal drawing dropped into a puddle. And yet they are so completely different, as wondrous as the legend of Glendower himself. We’ll never really know them, this little quartet of strange teenagers and I’m glad of it because things that hold that much magic should never really be knowable.

I won’t say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil but know this; you can dream of welsh kings and girls with spiky hair and boys with peppermint leaves in their mouths but you can’t ever dream a story so full of magic and suspense and heart guttering mind numbing terror.  It’s a dream that only Stiefvater can create for us and I can’t wait stop slip into what’s bound to be a momentous conclusion to the story of blue and her boys and their sleeping welsh king.

You will be so full of dreadful glee that you’ll laugh as manically as Ronan. You’ll worry and fret just like Adam and you will stride forward towards the end just like Gansey (walking ~is~ only for normal people after all). But most of all you hope beyond hope that their story doesn’t end how it started; with a young boy in his Aglionby uniform, his shoulders soaked with rain and the words “that’s all there is” just like Blue.

And the reason why it was the worst? Because it ended and I wasn’t quite ready to let go.
Have you guys read this one? Started this series?? Let us know what you think! Also, say hi to Carla!! :)

Operation Make Myself Suck Less At Series

I’ve talked a lot about how I suck at series and how I really feel like I have all these loose ends hanging about because of all the series I’ve never finished. At the time I wrote my Loose Ends post I had 49 series that I started and that number has ONLY grown and my ratio of FINISHED books is abysmal still. There’s a lot of reasons WHY I suck at series/am in the middle of so many but we aren’t going to talk about that today.

No, today what I want to do is get my crap together and list out ALL the series that I’m currently in the middle of and prioritize and make it a point to finish them. I’d also like to drop at least 5 series. I’d love to do this with YOUR help. I’m hoping this will help motivate me having them all listed out here and I can start tackling them in a methodical way!

 

All The Books Are Out & I Still Haven’t Finished But PLAN TO

 

Divergent series by Veronica Roth (read Divergent, own the other two)
Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard (read & LOVED Something Strange & Deadly, own the other two)
Legend series by Marie Lu (read & loved Legend and Prodigy)
Harry Potter by JK Rowling (read book 1…shhhh I know)
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (read book 1)
The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (read Shadow & Bone)
Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty (Read the first 3 books, own the last two)
The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han (Read The Summer I Turned Pretty, just got book #2 from library)
The Girl Of Fire & Thorn series by Rae Carson (Read Girl of Fire Of Thorn, own the last 2)
The Fury trilogy by Elizabeth Miles (Read Fury and Envy, need to read last)
The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting (Read all but the last book)
Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready (read Shade, own Shift)
The Chemical Garden series by Lauren DeStefano (read Wither and Fever, need to read Sever)
Flappers series by Jillian Larkin (read Vixen and Ingenue, need to read last one)
The Millenium series by Stieg Larsson (read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Crank trilogy by Ellen Hopkins (read Crank, own Glass)
The Night Trilogy by Ellie Wiesel (read Night, didn’t know it was a trilogy so must read next two)

Not All Books Are Out Yet But I Plan To Finish

 

 

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (all caught up)
The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski (read The Winner’s Curse which is all that is out right now)
The Blackcoat Rebellion series by Aimee Carter (read Pawn which is all that is out right now)
Starbound series by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner (read These Broken Stars, coveting book 2)
The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey (read The 5th Wave, drooled over book 2 ARCs on Rick’s Twitter)
The Colors of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty (Read A Corner of White, own second book)
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (only read Cinder, need to catch up on Scarlet and Cress)
Also Known As by Robin Benway (read Also Known As, have second)
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shephard (read The Madman’s Daughter, have second)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (read The Raven Boys, have second)
The Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin (read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, need to pick up second)
Seeds of America series by Laure Halse Anderson (read Chains, own second)

 

Series I Don’t Know If I Want To Finish Or Not

 

Gone series by Michael Grant
(if you read my review I explain my indecision after reading book 1)

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassie Clare
(I didn’t love the first book but I didn’t hate it…I kind of WANT to know but that’s a big investment into a long series that seems to never end)

So Close To You series by Rachel Carter
(I enjoyed book 1..and then I found out it was part of James Frey’s packaging company and I feel so conflicted now because I liked it and the author is lovely)

Eve trilogy by Anna Carey
(this was a page-turner of a first book but I didn’t LOVE it)

Darkness Rising series by Kelley Armstrong
( I liked the first book but just never got around to book 2..don’t remember what happened really)

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
(I read book 1 so long ago..well before I read YA..and I don’t know if it was my attitude toward YA or what. It was an interesting world!)

Find Me series by Romily Bernard
( I liked book 1 enough but I’m not like OH YEAH OMG NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS)

Series I’m Pretty Sure I Don’t Want To Finish…Seriously I Think We Are Done

 

 

Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer
(read it so long ago honestly…wasn’t ever compelled to move forward)

The Ward series by Jordanna Frankel
(So much potential but DID NOT LIKE)

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
( I don’t even know if there is more books but Goodreads makes it look like yes. Regardless I will NOT be reading them because I did not like this book at all).

The Innocents series by Lili Peloquin
(didn’t love book 1)

Starcrossed series by Josephine Angelini
( I read it so long ago and wasn’t IN LOVE.)

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
(I KNOW YOU GUYS WILL HATE ME but I just didn’t care after two books?)

Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
( I read the first two books and they were fun but it’s been SO LONG)

Angel Star series by Jennifer Murgia
(Enjoyed book one but SO LONG AGO I have no idea and I don’t feel compelled to reread)

A Need So Beautiful series by Suzanne Young
(Super enjoyed book 1 but I heard the rest of series wasn’t worth it from a superfan friend and also it’s been YEARS since I read it.)

Duologies I Want To Finish

 

The Program by Suzanne Young
The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor
The Memory Chronicles by Lenore Applehans (sad this isn’t going to be a trilogy anymore!)
Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon (I totally don’t remember what happened though)
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (I never knew it was a duology until I started blogging!)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison (can’t wait for The Rosie Effect)
To All The Boys by Jenny Han (DYING FOR THE COMPANION)
Pivot Point by Kasie West (obsessed with this book, can’t wait to read Split Second)
Ashes by Melissa Walker
In The After by Demetria Lunetta (dying to know what happens!!)
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis
(this book was a GREAT standalone but I won’t deny myself more time with this world!)
The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Duologies I’m Not Sure I Want To Finish

Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (I just didn’t love it at all.)

Romance series

 

I put them in their own category since most of them don’t need to be read in order.

Bridgerton’s series by Julia Quinn (read The Duke and I)
Serendipity series by Carly Phillips (I didn’t LOVE Serendipity but I might try out another one)
Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis (Really enjoyed Simply Irresistible and I plan to move forward!)
Rusk University series by Cora Carmack (All Lined Up was really enjoyable, can’t wait for more!)
Pushing The Limits series  by Katie McGarry (I LIKED Pushing The Limits but didn’t LOVE it the way others did..but I think I’d like to read on!)

<< Okay so what I need from YOU>>

*Out of the series I plan to finish, let me know which one you think I need to prioritize FIRST — whether it’s a series that’s complete now or one that I need to catch up even if they aren’t all out.
*Help me decide which ones I should drop out of my “not sure” and “pretty sure I can part with” list!

Also, let’s talk: do you struggle with keeping up with series? How many are you in the middle of?

Book Talk: Gone by Michael Grant

Book Talk: Gone by Michael GrantGone by Michael Grant
Series: Gone #1
Published by Katherine Tegan on June 2008
Genres: YA Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
 Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

So one day everything is normal and the next….poof. Everyone over the age of 14 is gone without an explanation. Chaos ensues because no adults + no power or internet or anything like that. The teens try to make some sort of order and help the little kids and form a society of sorts in the meantime. They are dealing with rationing food, lawlessness and bullies. Not to mention strange things are happening — mutating animals, some of the kids have some sort of superpowers — and things begin to get a bit sinister. The kids try to stay alive and fight off the rich, dangerous kids who have tried to take control all while they try to figure out what happened to the adults before THEY turn 14 and POOF.

a2I just want to know THE THINGS.

a4This was our book club pick and as a group it was a very mixed bag about this one! It isn’t at all my typical read but I was highly entertained throughout most of it. Definitely reads a bit younger than I typically read though.

1. Gone by Michael Grant was SUPER fast-paced: As I was reading I found myself kind of amazed with how quickly the pages were turning. I was like staring at my hands like WHAT IS THIS? HOW AM I READING THIS FAST? It was easy to jump right into the breakneck speed that this chunkster of a book as events unfold upon the disappearance of everyone over like 14. If you like your books with ACTION ACTION ACTION you might want to cozy up with this one! It’s a book I plan to give my 12 & 14 year old nephews who need to be immediately hooked and wanting fight and chase scenes and CRAZY action! Twist and turns and secrets and surprises are in store if you read this one.

2. I was LOVING it…until about halfway through: Gone was kind of like what happens to me when I run. I start out running like a crazy person all fast and barely breaking a sweat feeling good…and then I hit a wall. A wall that makes me just want to fall down and sleep right where I am. I was so into this book and then halfway through THINGS happened and I was just like UMM WHAT (talking werewolves kind of stuff) and it kind of diminished some of my enjoyment. It also started to get a little muddled and confusing and some action scenes were just jumbly. I would have to reread parts over for clarification…and this is not a difficult book.

3. There is SO much going on in this book: I don’t think I realized what this book would entail. The premise was fantastic right away — WHERE DID ALL THE ADULTS GO? Where did these powers come from? How do we form a society/some sort of order without adults? WHAT HAPPENED. Oh and then there is this thing and that thing that I can’t tell you because spoilers. I felt very intrigued but all at the same time very overwhelmed. Lots of different side stories and people and little details that I’m sure will come together but WOWSA…overload at points. But overall I was just getting more and more sucked into this carefully crafted story that I know is going to be some crazy complex web going forward! So many questions, tidbit of answers.

4. I’m really undecided if I want to continue on even though I did enjoy it enough: Here’s the thing. I was REALLY enjoying it because it was different for me — fast paced, action-y and had all sorts of fun elements to make it addictive. But then, like I said, halfway through it was just MEH. I want to KNOW THE THINGS because there are SO many answers I need + I want to see how this society of no adults continues on but I’m struggling with if all the books in the series are worth the investment. It’s a commitment. They are a big and it’s a long series and I didn’t care about the characters. But I want answers.

 

a6RATING-OKAY

factors+ non-stop action, high enjoyment, cool premise, surprising elements, world-building overall
hitting a wall halfway through, lots of little annoying things, weird elements that made me go EH?, writing just okay, flat characters

Re-readability: No.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No. I plan to library these if I continue on.

a5readers who like fast paced/action-y novels, people who like a mismash genre-wise, might give it to reluctant readers because it’s easy to get sucked into

a8My enjoyment level was pretty high for this book — minus some annoyances and the second half not capturing my attention the way the first half did. There was a lot of interesting things going on here — people over 14 disappearing, a dome that formed around the town, superpowers, strange things occurring and more PLUS survival, how to create order in chaos and good vs. bad. It’s an entertaining, fast paced and suspenseful and my curiosity wants me to continue on but I’m not sure yet.

review-on-post-itGone by Michael Grant

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* Should I continue on with this series??
*Anyone else get super irritated with the “brah” talk. Too old for that. haha


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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??

Book Talk: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Book Talk: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Published by Farrer Straus and Giroux on March 4, 2014
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

book synopsis

The Winner’s Curse is set in completely fictional world where a people called the Valorians conquered the Herrani people who lived there before. They took over their land and turned them into slaves. Kestral, the daughter of a military general, lives a life of great wealth but her only two options as she becomes of age are to be married or enter the military — two things that aren’t exactly what she wants. As she and her friend Jess are out in the market one day she sees an auction taking place for a Herrani boy about her age who seems pretty defiant but Kestral impulsively decides to buy him as soon as the auctioneer says he can sing. As they begin to get to know each other more, Kestral begins to know her feelings for him aren’t something that society will be okay with. In those moments they share, she feels something that ignites her but she has no idea the secrets that lies behind Arin’s  eyes.

good books to read

I finally read The Winner’s Curse — perhaps one of the most talked about books of the season and I have to say, as soon as I closed this book, I had this insatiable need for the next installment. If you like stories where you get lost in the world, The Winner’s Curse will take you far, far away. It took me a little bit to get into, it’s a pretty slow build of the world and characters to start, but the storytelling will just dazzle you when you get into it.

1. OH MY HEART. This romance. The romantical element in Winner’s Curse was brilliant and refreshing. I have always loved forbidden romance type stories but they really need to have some real depth in them and consequences I can feel. This isn’t some predictable kind of love story but this forbidden slow dance that just leaves you breathless and your heart pounding especially at the end. It’s not simple or easy or even really a “romance” but more of these forbidden feelings that are just starting to really be explored before the SHIT HITS THE FAN. Arin is her slave, she bought him herself, but she feels something for him and she experiences these consequences on a small scale as rumors fly about them. I could feel this tension and I loved the slow burn feel to their story. It wasn’t an immediate sort of thing but these great small, scattered moments that were carefully weighed between the two of them. It become even more tense as the reader learns about Arin’s secrets & feelings.  Aching, aching, aching <—— my heart.

2. The writing & storytelling was PERFECTION. I don’t have much to say about it but that. It’s just perfection. Everything is written so brilliantly. And while, initially it took me about 50 pages to really get into it, the way the story is told it’s just so hard not to be absorbed into this new world and its political structure, the character and the romance. And the plot just moved along at a great pace that kept me engaged and at times on the edge of my seat. Marie Rutkoski knows how to tell a good story!

3. Kestral is a fantastic heroine that really stood out to me: So many heroines I read these days are always so much of the ass-kicking variety (which I LOVE) but Kestral was admittedly an awful fighter. But Kestral is SMART. Very strategic and cunning and curious. I also love that she wasn’t really focused on romance but her curiosity is more what initiated her attraction to Arin. There was something in him that she sensed and she wanted to know. I think it’s because they both had this rebellious sort of kindred spirit thing going on but I equally loved Kestral and Arin and who they were and what they fought for.

4. HOLD ON TO YOUR PANTS! This action got quite intense: The story starts a bit slow but like a good chess game the pieces are being moved in a subtle manner until SHIT HAPPENS and oh does it happen. I was gasping for breath when I realized what was going on and what it meant for our heroine and the story and then the action just kept coming at me and was relentless until the very emotional ending. I felt like an emotional piñata — the story just kept beating the hell out of me as all my emotions and FEELS (anger, sadness, shock, betrayal, triumph) exploded out. I was left empty and broken by the end and DYING for book 2 which I think is going to be even thrilling and exciting and political and things between Arin and Kestral will be even more tense.

5. It made me think differently of fantasy as a fantasy newb: As someone who is new to the fantasy genre I was pretty limited in my knowledge to what fantasy was. I was wondering WHERE ARE IS ALL THE MAGIC AND DRAGONS AND THINGS. I saw the completely made up world but I thought fantasy = fantastical elements always but alas after some googling, because I was curious why this had the label of fantasy,  I was schooled on what fantasy is.

 

book reviewsThe Winner’s Curse is a book that really just has it all — great storytelling, absorbing writing, compelling characters, action, a political structure with much depth and a romance that isn’t predictable or flimsy. It’s a book that has this fantasy newb head over heels and anxious for the next installment because my EMOTIONS are a hot mess over that ending and I’m frazzled all my the various tensions (political, romance, etc). Somebody get me a margarita, stat!

 

 

short book reviewThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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