Review: Breaking Point

Author: Kristen Simmons
Series: Article 5 #2 
Publication Date: February 2, 2013 
Publisher: Tor Teen 
Reading Level: Young Adult 
Pages: 398 (ARC) 
Source: Trade
The second installment in Kristen Simmons's fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Where to begin, where to begin. I seriously don't know. My heart is beating a mile a minute--the same reaction that book one left me with. Kristen Simmons knows how to make a girl anxious and want to read more.

I loved this book and the dark world that Simmons created. While I never want to be part of it myself, I love immersing myself in its depths and losing myself to Ember and Chase's story. I have to say that this book was sadder than book one. There's more death, more desperation, little light at the end of the tunnel in Ember and Chase's bleak, dark world, but they persevered and kept on moving--working towards their original goals. I can respect that.

However, I have to say that I had a problem with Ember's characterization again. In my review of book one, I made a point to explain that I didn't like how Ember would take her frustration, anger, and sadness out on Chase in random outbursts that were, at times, hard to see coming. He was always there for her and in this way, she took advantage of that fact. I have to say that this happened several more times in this story, more near the beginning and thankfully less near the end. Hopefully she'll break the habit in book three. But with that being said, their romance is still strong and sweet, slow at times because of the horrible reminders of the world that they live in. I loved the passion that Simmons made a reality between the two of them.

Many characters from the past also made surprise appearances. But most surprising is a certain soldier that hurt Ember and Chase in book one returns and becomes sort of an anti-hero. You hate him, but you respect what he's trying to do at times, though you still hate him despite the fact that you're beginning to love him. It's all confusing, but his growth is immense and his character's complexity is overridden with insane complication that can't help but pull you in.

The plot in this one was full of unlimited action. I didn't think it was possible to pack so much in to less than 400 pages. My heart was constantly beating fast and I, like the characters, never had time to just breathe. But the most interesting concept of this book was the introduction of the sniper. The sniper was slowly killing off FBR soldiers and causing riots. This high-profile killer was the most wanted criminal in this novel and Ember found herself somehow being mistaken for the sniper and becoming the face of a revolution. I was fascinated by the concept of this killer and couldn't wait to find out who it was, but I have to admit that I had a few guesses from the beginning of the book and it turned out I was right. The big reveal was almost a let down. It was one of those sudden epiphany's that was just thrown into a book to keep the plot moving because you had to cover a plot point. All that build-up for a moment that was so anti-climatic that you couldn't help but be disappointed even if you knew the sniper's identity. I just wish Simmons went about such a huge revelation differently.

All in all, this book has left me completely wowed. I enjoyed it more than book two and I'm anxiously awaiting the next book because of that ending! I don't know how to describe it. It's not necessarily a cliff-hanger and it certainly ties thing up somehow, but it seemed like it came too soon. Sure, it ends this chapter of Chase and Ember's story and makes you excited for their next chapter, but I wish it was done better. It just happened to be very sudden in my opinion. Otherwise, I really have nothing else to say about this one. It was everything I hoped it would be and more and I absolutely love Krista for sending this novel my way.


4 stars 

~*~Links~*~
  |Amazon|Goodreads|Book Depository|Barnes and Noble|Author's Website|

Waiting on Wednesday #31





Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson


The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.

I freaking love retellings. That is all.

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 432 (ARC)
Source: Goodreads First Reads
In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

When I was in middle school, I read a story called The Island of Dr. Moreau. As chilling as this story was, I greatly enjoyed it. It made me think, it made me not want to sleep, it was unique and I loved it despite the fear it inspired in myself and my classmates. When I found out that there would be a re-telling of one of the few dark tales that I have ever actually enjoyed, I knew I had to have it. And this gothic horror did not disappoint me at all. Shepherd's debut lived up to all of my expectations and has my eagerly anticipating book two.


I find Shepherd's writing style to be beautiful. She easily held me captive and I greatly enjoyed Juliet's voice. Her creativity was plentiful and her plot twists were imaginative and amazing. Literally, the amount of times that my mouth dropped open in shock due to this one is unexplainable. And the ending...way to rip my beating heart out, Megan Shepherd! I love you for this story and I slightly hate you for making me wait so long for book two. The emotions that you inspired within me for the characters are so overpowering that I can't bear to acknowledge the fact that I really did finish this story and I can't continue on with Juliet in the next leg of the journey. My heart is beating erratically in my chest as I try to make sense of the amazing surprises that could be awaiting me in book two.


Juliet was an easy main character to love. She was a strong-willed, intelligent woman--something very uncommon for her time period. She would go to great lengths to do anything that she thought was right and because of this, she quickly has become one of my favorite heroines. Her intelligence and characterization alone is one of the many reasons to read this book.

But then again...there's also the malformed islanders and the love triangle that actually benefited the plot. Juliet was caught between Montgomery James--her childhood best friend and ex-servant who secretly hid extreme levels of intelligence despite his poor upbringing and status in society. Then there's Edward Prince, the rich son of a general who ran away from home and was found in the ocean near-death in a dinghy. What I enjoyed about this love triangle was that it was not only steamy, but well drawn out and it furthered the plot. Both boys connected with Juliet differently. There were no ultimatums and childhood drama, it was her fussing and confusion and her eventual decision alone. But, I must say, that I am Team Montgomery with this one because you must always root for the childhood best friend with the purest of feelings. Who wouldn't want a romance like that?

And I have to give a shout-out to my favorite islander of all: Balthasar. He was a very endearing character despite his physical malformation. He cried when hearing the piano played properly, had a desire to learn how to read stemming from his curiosity with the Bible, and he never ceased to put a smile on your face the few times he spoke. He is among my favorite characters as well, and I hope to see him again in the future. One of the more intelligent and human-like island experimentations, his abilities will fascinate you endlessly as you begin to discover the animalistic tendencies and ruthlessness found in the greater majority of the island’s inhabitants.

So, clearly this book was a hit with me. I am not one for horrors, but this is one horror that made an amazing impression on me. The high I'm feeling after finishing this novel will take days to come down from and my anticipation for the now untitled book two will give me enough anxiety that I may actually die. Shepherd's debut is full of rich detail that bring the darkest thoughts from the recesses of our minds back to life. When you immerse yourself in this mad, mad world, you can't help but go slightly mad yourself.





4 stars


~*~Links~*~

Stacking The Shelves #19

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme that showcases what you added to your shelves this week hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

So, this week was simple for me, but it holds the promise of an amazing haul to come for my 18th birthday in three weeks!


For Review
 School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
Touching The Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Gifted
 The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stahl

Won
Fracture by Megan Miranda 

What did everyone else add to their shelves this week? 

Review: Dualed

Author: Elsie Chapman
Series: Dualed #1
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 291 (ARC)
Source: Won
You or your Alt? Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I have been looking forward to this book for a while. It was one of my first ever wishlist books and when I found out that I was getting sent an ARC, I jumped for joy. As I began reading, I was insanely excited simply because the first several chapters of this book left me breathless. There was so much intensity and emotion in them. I could feel the sadness, the loss, the heartbreak dripping off the page and I experienced the regret and turmoil alongside West. And then the book took on a whole new direction once she was given her assignment to hunt down her Alt and I had trouble reading. The feelings I were overcome with in the beginning disappeared and were instead replaced by confusion and, at times, a dislike for the main character.

I loved the plot of this book. It was so unique and is what originally caught my interest. The concept of alternate human beings, strikers, and a place like Kersh blew me away. The creativity and thought behind it is amazing, but it's disappointing that such an awesome idea didn't reach its full potential because of the main character. It almost seems as if West was the hindrance to this books greatness. If she was written differently, or acted differently, I feel like I would have enjoyed the book more because she was my biggest problem. She was hypocritical, illogical, truly weak and falsely strong, and her thought processes were hard to follow. For example, she spent so much time killing other people's Alts for pay, but when the time came to kill her own, she couldn't. She could kill other people without batting an eye, but when it came to her own survival and necessity to live she grew a conscience and showed the first signs of hesitation and would run away instead of facing everything head on. Most of the book was her running away and the oddness of it when comparing it to the West we met at the beginning was mind-boggling and frustrating. She was thoughtless and had a complete personality change in regards to herself, her life, her goals, and the way she treated the people around her. She even spent a lot of time punishing Chord because she insisted on going with him to hunt down his Alt and when he tried to do the same for her, she ran away from him. It's hypocritical. I like characters that are stubborn and can assert their opinions, but not ones who are hypocritical and act on childish impulses.

West began this book as a really positive character. She was strong emotionally and physical despite her heartbreak and as the book progressed, I feel as if I watched her shed all of her positive personality traits and become a weak-minded individual that lacks focus and strength. When things finally become important, she becomes unimpressive and this is the West that existed in a great majority of the book. At the end of the book, very small signs of the West from the beginning of the book leaked through, which is why I plan on giving the sequel a chance, but it breaks my heart to see such great potential improperly fleshed out. I was disconnected for most of what happened in the book.

The synopsis is slightly misleading, too. I was led to believe there is some type of romance because it says she's running away from love. Well, there is romance, but it exists in perhaps the last 5% of the book and wasn't very climactic at all. I could see what was happened as a reader, West was oblivious to it, and even when she got together with her love interest, I felt as if she didn't care for him as more than a friend. It seems as if the romance is there to set up something big for book two, so that's another reason why I may continue the series.

Overall, I was disappointed with this one. I was disconnected from the main character as a whole and disappointed with the emotional plot developments. The plot itself and the creativity behind it earned this review an extra half star and that alone is what holds my faith for the sequel. With all of the silly little emotional antics set aside, I'm hoping we can get the original West back in the sequel and continue with a kickass heroine in a really creative world. While I do recommend this book to anyone interested in unique dystopians, this is more or less the type of book that you should probably take out of the library.


2.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

Review: Legend

Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 305 (Hardcover)
Source: Trade
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Before I became a book blogger, LEGEND was the book that always eluded me in book stores. At first, I would always see it, but never bought it due to a lack of interest. Then, I would want it and the book stores would never have it. They'd be sold out because Lu's storytelling skills are that superb. Then, in all honesty, it's the book I began to forget about because there were newer books I wanted more. Once I became a book blogger, I began beating myself up for waiting to read this one for so long. So I set out to get myself a copy through trading and once I was successful, I started the book mere days later, though the review was scheduled quite a long time after that.

Either way, in my opinion, this book lives up to the intense hype surrounding it and stands out among the cliche dystopians that are all over the young adult literary scene these days. And, to be completely honest, I don't know how to formulate coherent thoughts when it comes to Day and June's story.

Day and June...gosh, do I love them. They're kickass in-your-face defy-all-the-rules-and-get-away-with it heroines that make the perfect "criminals." I felt for Day's cause and it was really easy to love him, to watch him fall for June and to see the intense brotherly emotions he felt towards Tess. And June, ah, June. I felt for her, too. Lu's writing is so vivid that I could practically feel all of her loss alongside her and I could feel her intense need for vengeance against the individual that she thought was responsible for such a huge tragedy in her life. Then I can further respect the fact that when she realized she made a mistake, she accepted that she was wrong, but she did something about it. She didn't let someone's innocence get ruined because of her misguided and emotional actions, and that is something I very much love. I also love the strong cast of supporting characters, specifically Day's older brother, John, and the love he feels for Day and what he does for the country.

The world-building was unique as well. The Colonies, oddly enough, are on the opposite side of the continent than the original colonies. As a history buff, I found this sort of ironic. They're fighting against The Republic to recreate the United States, but the Republic wants to stand alone and maintain their abusive political powers through the Elector and strong military that works to find Prodigy's like June--people that are insanely intelligent and athletic so they are nothing but essential to the country's survival.

I recommend this one to anyone. It's a quick, unique read that is easy to get through and I can't imagine many people having anything negative to say. It's an easy yet scary world to immerse yourself in, and it's one that is leaving me eagerly anticipating more.



5 stars

~*~Links~*~

Review: Deity

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #3
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 330 (ARC)
Source: ARCycling
"History is on repeat, and things didn't go so well the last time. "

Alexandria isn't sure she's going to make it to her eighteenth birthday--to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she's a goner... and so is Aiden.

If that's not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time "training"--which really is just Seth's code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time--she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she's caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed... and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate...
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Holy cow. I have no words! Jennifer L. Armentrout has done it again and by doing so made me scream so much that my Dad thought I was getting murdered. Yes, this book was just that intense and I will forever love Armentrout's ability to take me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions while shocking me to my very core.

This book jumped right into things and never took a break. The tension was thick, the love was intense, the drama was everywhere, and the plot twists were plentiful. I couldn't put this one down once I started it because so many aspects of it were so shocking. I never saw half of it coming! My mouth is still hanging open thinking about some of the plot twists.

One thing that really stood out for me in this one was Alex. She experienced a lot of self growth. She's still the stubborn, kickass heroine that we all know and love, but she's grown a lot in the sense that she can easily be admired because she spent the entire book trying to find the good in people and doing her best looking past the bad. Of course, this ended with some problems because that meant going against her gut and we all know that Alex's gut instincts are always right. But watching her grow was great. Her emotions were vivid and, at times, heart-breaking while you experienced intense happiness at other times. She was just great. And Aiden...he was pretty amazing, too. Beyond amazing, really. He was perfect. Marcus and Deacon were their usual selves with a few small revelations and the introduction of new characters was strong. But the three bombshells in this one evolved around betrayal and secrets from Leon, Linard, and Seth. The development of these three was shocking. Sure, Seth's was two books in the making, but Leon and Linard were... whoa! I also like how a certain now deceased best friend was able to make a small cameo. Well done, Ms. Armentrout, well done!

The romance in this one is more intense than any of her other books. Focusing on Aiden and Alex, Armentrout really blows your mind. She breaks your heart, patches it up, and then finds ways to make it explode with happiness. It's simply perfect and her writing reinforces my thoughts that Aiden and Alex were meant to be. Team Aiden forever!

All in all, I cannot stress how much JLA fans have to read this series. Obviously you have to read two books before you get to the amazingness that is DEITY, but DEITY is so worth it and more. Each book keeps getting better and better, and to think that DEITY is only book three out of five makes me so incredibly excited, but the ending practically has me pining for book four: APOLLYON! Insane in the good way, Armentrout takes us on a heart-stopping journey full of secret, lies, betrayal, and redemption while throwing in the humor that we all know and love from her.

Warning: this book has quite a lot of cussing in it and is not appropriate for young teens.


5 stars

~*~Links~*~

Stacking The Shelves #17


Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme that showcases what you added to your shelves this week hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

This week I got some awesome books, most of which are unexpected. I am no longer buying books unless it is the occasional one that I am absolutely dying for!


For Review
 The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett (eGalley)
Fraction of Stone by Kelly Lynn (eARC for Tynga's Reviews)
Splintered by A.G. Howard (Arc from ARCycling and Theresa! Thanks!)

Gifted
The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
Thank you to my aunt who had some room leftover on a gift card she got for her birthday! <3

Borrowed From Nicole
Asunder by Jodi Meadows (ARC)
Taken by Erin Bowman (ARC)
Mind Games by Kiersten White (ARC)

Trade
Everbound by Brodi Ashton (Thank you, Kelly!) 

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Review: Unravel Me

 Author: Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #2
Publication Date: HarperCollins
Publisher: February 5, 2013
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 465 (ARC)
Source: Borrowed from a Friend
tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I am at a loss for words with this one. It took all my hopes for a strong sequel and left me completely dumfounded because of the sheer creativity and unforeseeable surprises that were littered throughout the novel. It literally ripped out my heart, stitched it back up, and tugged on my heartstrings again and again. And I have no idea how to properly put my love of this novel into a coherent and intelligent review.

I'll be honest and say that as I first began this novel, I was incredibly disappointed. For the solid first hundred pages of the book Juliette reverted back to the scared, reclusive girl we met at the beginning of SHATTER ME. All of her growth, her new knowledge and self-esteem, was completely thrown out of the window and, I'll admit, it was slightly frustrating having to see her get built up a second time around. Her irrationality is always part of her as a character and it is one of the many things that makes her endearing to me, but my excitement for this novel began to waver as I had to watch these sequences unfold. But when it became increasingly apparent that despite Juliette's need to be built back up again, the plot of the trilogy was easily going to continue with new twists and ways to bring her out of her shell, I was easily relaxed. And let me tell you, the rest of the book more than makes up for the temporary set back that the beginning presented.

Watching Juliette's growth was amazing. Picking up a mere two weeks after SHATTER ME ended, our characters at the very beginning, aside from Juliette, do not change much. The immense growth among them all was fascinating to me as a reader and easily held my interesting. It truly made the novel for me. Kenji, as always, provided a large portion of comic relief.

But the biggest surprise, for me at least, was Warner. Warner does play such an important role in this novel, and man, do we learn a lot about him. Is he a psychopath? Without a doubt. But does Mafi somehow find a way to show his vulnerabilities and soft side, so much so that we actually learn to love such a twisted character and maybe even want to clone him for ourselves? HELL TO THE YES. His entrance into the whole of the novel set a new tone for the series and made this book not only stand out among the love triangles and dystopians, but set the bar even higher for a series that I never thought could get any better. I admit that I couldn't fathom why so many people were switching teams upon reading this novel, but Mafi is a literary genius that shows even those who are undoubtedly certifiably insane can experience a passion so intense that it is indescribable. With her unique writing style, Mafi is capable of amazing things, and she does not disappoint. I cannot even begin to describe how much I have missed her writing style before I was able to read this book. And the swoony moments that made my heart beat double-time because I simply could not fathom what I was reading is that amazing cheery on top of that already delicious hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream.

In conclusion, this is one novel that surpassed all expectations and completely blew my mind. The ending unfortunately is a cliffhanger, but it's the type of cliffhanger that makes you eager for the next book because it clearly hints at the large character development that Juliette will experience in book three. I am eagerly anticipating its release and highly recommend this series to anyone. And I also feel obligated to apologize for this review. This book blew my mind so much that my brains have turned to mush and I simply cannot comprehend and properly describe my extreme love of Tahereh Mafi's amazing mind.


5 stars

And now... to regale you with some of the quotes that I really enjoyed. They had me thanking the heavens to be immersed in Mafi's world. Though I have to say that my true favorite quotes are so amazing that you simply have to read them for yourself and maybe ten more times after that like I did.

"I am nothing more than the consequence of catastrophe."
"It's the kind of kiss that makes you realize oxygen is overrated."
"Hope. It's like a drop of honey, a field of tulips blooming in the springtime. It's fresh rain, a whispered promise, a cloudless sky, the perfect punctuation mark at the end of a sentence." 
"I want this up...and I want these down."
That last one...Oh. My. God. Use your imagination.

~*~Links~*~

Review: Touch of Death

 Author: Kelly Hashway
Series: Touch of Death #1
Publication Date: January 15, 2012
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 229 (ARC)
Source: Trade
 Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I couldn't tell you what happened with me and this book. I was eagerly anticipating it and was really excited to be able to trade for my own copy. After all, everyone I talked to has adored it. It has little to no negative ratings on goodreads. But I couldn't get into this book to save my life. I had a lot of problems with it. And, overall, what could have been a really promising concept fell flat for me. I'm honestly all over the place with this one, so I'm sorry if there are any spoilers to follow.

First of all, the characters. I didn't connect to any of them. Jodi was our main character and I never really connected to her. She was pushed around easily and did what others wanted her to do ninety percent of the time. I also felt like she was over-emotional and she had no common sense. She spent the first half of the book accepting that she had a stalker, called the cops once, and then pretty much welcomed him after that. I couldn't deal with it. If you have a stalker, you don't hide him in your closet and hear him out. You call the cops the second he puts a dead rat in your room and you lock his ass behind bars. I get it, doing any of that wouldn't contribute to the story and it would hinder it, but everything seemed so unrealistic to me. It was hard for me to process it all because her reactions were the complete opposite of what any sane person would do. If your boyfriend dies, you don't hit on the creepy stalker within hours by acknowledging how you really like it when your legs touch. Just, I don't understand your mind, Jodi! You're my age and I truly don't understand your mind. And if you bleed/cry/salivate or anything else of the sort the second you meet a person and they miraculously die and you don't put two and two together with this stupid coincidence, I think I may scream.

Alex was all over the place. Addicted to macaroni and cheese, hard to read, and weird. Sure he was heroic, but he was so strange that I just couldn't get over it. The romance was bland and all over the place in my eyes. For example, he kisses Jodi and then he ignores her minutes later to act all lovey-dovey with her mortal enemy within the house only to hunt her down later and explain that his parents said that he should cut emotional ties with her as to not endanger her. And, of course, any sane parents would recommend doing such a thing by cuddling up with the house psychopath. Again, I don't understand the logic. It's there, I can see that, but it's twisted. And don't even get me started on Abby or Victoria or Troy. They're all just...insane. Yes, they're characterized that way, but again, so unrealistic! I love villains when they're truly vile, but they were just twisted and odd with no motivation to be the way they are. They're not the least bit believable because they seemed more over-dramatic to me than anything else. And all the other characters were pretty much easily led around on leashes. Jodi's mother and best friend from before Alex took her were practically forgotten about half way through the story. I just felt like the loose ends could have been tied up better.

Next, the writing. I really enjoyed the overall tale, it had a lot of potential aside from the cliche of girl suddenly finds out she has magical powers she didn't know she had only to find out the fate of her new race depends on her. And Hashway's writing by no means is bad. But I wish there was more detail. I felt as if events were in too quick of a succession, not enough time to think. I also felt as if I would have enjoyed the book more if I could connect with Jodi better by having greater attention paid to the description of emotions. The writing was very simplistic and while I enjoy simplicity, I do enjoy detail above all else. With the amazing concept of this story, I can honestly say that I think it would have been a home run for me if there was more detail and realistic characterization. The mythology was easily incorporated and the idea of people being born under the thirteenth zodiac sign was both astounding and ingeniously creative because I have never seen such a concept in young adult literature before. I so desperately wish that this story played out differently because I really, truly wanted to love it. It didn't help that the dialogue seemed to be really forced and robotic too.

I seem to be the black sheep when it comes to opinions on this one, but I struggled with it in ways that I haven't really struggled with a book for a while. The concept and creativity were genius, but the writing and characterization were incredibly flawed. I don't know what else to say. If you're interested in this one, it's worth picking up from the library because it is a quick read, but overall, I don't think this story and I were meant to be.


1 star

~*~Links~*~

Waiting on Wednesday #30



The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen


A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!

Though my review is scheduled for later in the year, THE FALSE PRINCE is my favorite middle-grade ever. Thus, I can't wait for this one! Has anyone else read the first book in this trilogy? What did you think?


Top Ten 2013 Debuts That I'm Looking Forward To


I couldn't narrow it down to just 10, so I did 11. In no particular order...

1. Prophecy by Ellen Oh - read and enjoyed
2. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
3. Taken Erin Bowman
4. Altered by Jennifer Rush - read and loved
5. Splintered by A.G. Howard
6. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard
7. The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
8. Red by Alison Cherry
9. Pivot Point by Kasie West
10. Also Known As by Robin Brenway
11. Poison by Bridget Zinn- read and loved

I understand some of these are already released or I may have already reviewed them, but they were the 2013 debuts I was most looking forward to!

Normally I include covers, but I didn't have the time to for this one. Still, I'm curious to see what everyone elses preferred debuts are?!

Review: Uses for Boys

Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Reading Level: Extremely Mature YA
Pages: 236 (eARC)
Source: Netgalley via Publisher for Blog Tour
Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, USES FOR BOYS is a story of breaking down and growing up.
 
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

It's really hard for me to write a review for this book. I both liked it and didn't like it. I felt for the characters and felt detached from them all the same. I didn't want it to end, but I couldn't wait for the story to be finished. I was all over the place with this one.

To put it simply, this book was not what I expected. It was very dark, very gritty, and it had a lot of sex. I've seen people refer to this book as porn. It's not porn. It's graphic, but the sex has a purpose to it because Anna makes up for the lack of family in her life by using boys. But I have to be honest and say that the sex made me comfortable. I can deal with the fact that it's graphic, I can deal with the fact that there's sex in the book, but I can't deal with the fact that I pitied this girl so much and was slightly disgusted by some of her actions. It was just too much at times. And that is one of the reasons that makes it obvious that this book is not for everyone. It really is not for children and I only recommend it to those that are seventeen years or older.

One thing I did enjoy was the unique writing style. The story was quick and straight to the point due to its short chapters, repetitive but in an artistic way used to stress points instead of being annoying. The comparisons were unique and I did enjoy the writing style that Scheidt exhibited. However, the writing style was a lot to adjust to at first. Combine that with the fact that the beginning of the novel is way more graphic than you thought it would be and it shows why I initially had trouble getting into this one. I can't agree with Anna's choices at a young age and why she so easily allowed others to take advantage of her. And all of this combines to reveal to the reader that this story with the pretty cover that you think is going to be a light contemporary is dark, gritty, and some can consider it disturbing. It has so many underlying themes that are almost overwhelming. I can't begin to stress how this book isn't for everyone, but how important it is to get past the beginning because it does get better.

And when I say it gets better, I mean when she meets Sam. Anna almost becomes likable when she meets Sam. He's awkward and quirky and the same age as her. He brings out the good in her and then she goes and does something stupid like cheat on him and we begin to dislike her again even though they're still amazingly cute together. But the silly thing is just like we have no idea why Anna does what she does, Anna clearly doesn't either. She does things on impulses that make no sense whatsoever, simply because that's how she is. She is Anna and Anna has no firm plans in life. And with me saying all of this you get the vibe that I didn't like this book, but that's not true. I'm simply still running in circles because this book made me think. A lot.

So, as you can tell, this book had me all over the place. Thus, I can't decide on a rating. What do I think of the book? At the moment, I'm going to say I remain neutral. I did not love it, I did not hate it, I simply read it and didn't mind it. I need more time to sit and stew this one over, but I do recommend this book to those who are looking for a really dark tale that is incredibly though-provoking, as long as these individuals are members of the older audience. For the millionth time, this is not a book for young kids.

 ~*~Links~*~

 ~*~Giveaway~*~

Calling All Bloggers!

Entangled Publishing is creating a list of bloggers to connect with.

Requirements:
  • Be a reviewer!
  • Have a blog!
  • Love to read!
  • A desire to have access books before they release!
Simple, right?! Check out the lovely Kate and her call for bloggers HERE! Entangled is my favorite publishing house ever! I have NEVER disliked any of the books I've gotten from them, so I highly recommend doing this!

Stacking The Shelves #16


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews meant to allow you to showcase what you added to your shelves!

This week I got some awesome books. I'm on a quasi-book-buing-ban...meaning that I only buy books if I somehow obtain a giftcard of it it's heavily on sale on the Kindle. Otherwise, the books can wait. I really need to save up for college, you know? Trading's been kind to me so far, so I plan on keeping that up!

Bought
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (Gotta love gift cards!)
The Secret of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorenson (Gotta love Kindle sales, too!)

For Review
 The Essence by Kimberly Derting 
I was part of the blog tour, but never got my ARC. They sent me a finished copy to replace it!

The Demon's Daughter by Paula Altenburg
March 2013 title for Entangled for Tynga's Reviews, No cover yet

Trade 
Nameless by Lili St. Crow (Thank you, Nikki!)
Masque of Red Death by Bethany Griffin (Thank you, Nikki!)
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (Thank you, Amanda!)

Won
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
I have heard such great things I simply knew I had to have it!

Review: Scarlet

Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Publication Date: February 5, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 452 (ARC)
Source: Gifted from Bekka
Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

It's so hard for me to sit here and write a coherent review because I am just so...blown away! This series is becoming intoxicatingly intense and complicated and it was impossible for me to put this sequel down. While nothing can ever beat CINDER's pure perfection, this was an amazingly solid sequel that easily garners a five star rating and a special place among my all-time favorites.

Meyer's unique and captivating writing style allowed for us to simultaneously track Scarlet and Cinder's story and watch how their worlds slowly collide to bring two very different yet respectable and strong heroines together to create a kick-ass fairytale retelling. Who knew that Little Red Riding Hood could team up with Cinderella and completely blow our minds? Clearly, the plot in this one gripped me easily and I very much enjoyed the pacing, though the beginning of the story was slightly slow. This story picks up exactly where CINDER left off, so it is a welcome beginning, but a slow one that requires a lot of explanation since this story is primarily Scarlet's and we need to get to know her and her world.

The characterization in this one is what made the story. Scarlet's characterization was strong. She loved her grandmother more than life itself. She was driven, focused, and didn't really care what others thought about her. In all honesty, I think we need more heroines like her in young adult literature. Alongside Scarlet, we were introduced to Wolf. And, boy, what a big bad wolf he is. I loved him and feared him all at once. This handsome and intense stranger with feral instincts was so shy and child-like, easily bewildered by even the simplest things (like tomatoes! how cute even though I can't stand to eat tomatoes!). Wolf is a complicated character and I experienced tumultuous emotions while watching his story progress. Love, rage, disappointment, redemption, happiness. You name it, he made me experience it. He's an easy love interest to get attached to despite his flaws and he definitely made this story a little bit more delicious. Lastly, there is Captain Thorne. Our last new character, he provided a lot of comic relief. I found him to be incredibly enjoyable and he did have me giggling during intense battle scenes. Thorne is a convict because he stole an American spaceship. Handsome, sarcastic, and arrogant, he's truly entertaining. Sticking to the fairytale theme, I'd describe him as Prince Charming with a hefty dosing of arrogance and sarcasm mixed in with a dollop of genuine hilarity and a sprinkle of logical thinking when it is most desperately needed. Yeah, that's Thorne in a nutshell. And, of course, Cinder's character development rivals that of the best and will forever be perfection.

Meyer easily brings us back into a world on the brink of war with an exhilarating tale full of discovery, triumph, betrayal, and redemption. Among the best young adult series out there, this is a must read for anyone and everyone as Meyer exudes her literary genius once more and takes us on a heart-pounding journey that will leave you breathless even days after you turn the very last page. 

 
5 stars

~*~Links~*~