The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken 3.5
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black 3.5 While I overall enjoyed this book, I couldn't escape the gnawing feeling like there was just something missing here for me. Were my expectations perhaps too high? Maybe. Perhaps it was unfair to read this so soon after I finished the very excellent [b:The Eternity Cure|13581990|The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)|Julie Kagawa|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1362772965s/13581990.jpg|19167673]. The premise here is excellent and the first chapter had me shaking in terror. Unfortunately, that was the only real sense of danger I felt throughout the rest of the reading experience. There were some tense moments, sure, but I never felt as completely drawn into the world as I did in that first chapter. I overall really enjoyed the characters even though I didn't have as much of a connection with Tana as I would've prefered. That's most likely one of the things I think is "missing" for me. I'm not sure if it was the third person limited narrative or not (I've been on a long streak of first person lately), but the strong emotional connection just didn't forge. I did find her to be courageous and capable. There was just something...not there for me, though. I found Gavriel to be intriguing and appealing without being toobroody. He's also not the typical "I hate being a monster" nice guy vampire we often find in these sorts of stories. For me, he struck the right balance of being one of the "good guys" but very much still a cold, dead vampire. It was refreshing! The secondary characters were all delightful (except for the ones who clearly are not supposed to be). I did find the rogue-ish Aidan to be "exasperatingly endearing" just like the blurb promises. I was also easily fond of Tana's human friends in Coldtown, Jameson and Valentina. Can I tell you how much I love the fact that Valentina is a transwoman? Thank you for including trans* representation in your story, Ms. Black! It was really wonderful and refreshing to see and I commend you!There were also plenty of snarky moments like this:"Careful," Winter told his sister, nodding toward Aidan, who gave him a look of wide-eyed innocence in return, and then toward Gavriel, who was staring out into the darkness, thinking whatever thoughts blood-starved vampires who liked to quote Shakespeare had.Ha!The book alternates to other perspectives occasionally, some even in the past. While informative and important, some of these had me frustrated as I just wanted to get back to Tana's situation.The blurb might cause you to worry about a love triangle but rest assured that is not the case. There's actually hardly any romance at all. Much less than I prefer, honestly. But what we did get was hot. Moar please!! I was pretty satisfied with the ending as a standalone (the twist was great!!) but would definitely love to read more about Tana's adventures in Coldtown should there be a sequel.I guess my complaints come down to three things: at times I felt a little bored, I didn't connect as much as I wished with the MC, and I wished there was more romance. And those are all rather personal preferences. Overall, it was a rather enjoyable read that I'd recommend to any fans of vampires, urban fantasy and not a lotta romance.Final quote?She didn't want to explain the recklessness, the pleasure of making the bad choice, the glory of at least this once, picking her own path to damnation.Yesssssssss. Embrace the darkness, Tana!
The Eternity Cure - Julie Kagawa Well, that was devastating. Whyyyyyyyyy do I even read books?? Why?? You see what they do to me?!?I am, in fact, at Ten standing miserably in the rain levels.While The Immortal Rules was "only" a 3.5 for me, this was such a clear 5 from nearly the beginning. Everything about TEC was more. More action, more bad-assery from Allison, more world building, more villains, more Kanin (omg yay!!) and more romance. The romance in TEC is clearly in one of my top romantic pairings ever. Zeke and Allie?But more on that later.We get to see more of the devastated U.S as Allie travels the country following Kanin's "call". Exploring the general destruction of everything is one of my favorite aspects in any dystopia so I'm always pleased at getting more of it. I already loved Allison but I love her even more now. She is such a strong and real character to me. Tough and capable but with the right amount of vulnerability. You really feel her struggle to be the decent type of monster. I just want to hug her sometimes and tell her I'm sorry her life is so tough and her world so dark. I mean, this is girl who's been stabbed, staked and worse and then things go and happen like this:"This...is music?" Zeke turned to me, blinking. "You've never heard music before?" He sounded stunned. I shook my head, unable to tear my gaze from the strange instrument. The Fringe was full of ugly noises: screams, shouting, cries of terror and anger and pain. My mother used to hum to me when I was very little, and I used to think her voice was the most beautiful sound in the world. I had never heard anything...like this.Do you see what I mean? Character development is not limited to Allison as we see new sides of Zeke, Kanin and even Jackal. I really want to hate Jackal but he makes it hard sometimes. Now that's a well rounded villain!The action and the plot are tight and fast paced. The heightened stakes and threat of danger felt constant and real. I never felt like anyone was safe or wearing plot armor. There is loss, torture, betrayal, death and heartbreak. But my favorite part, easily, was the romance. I have every single romantic scene bookmarked and I think I had a huge goofy grin on for all of them. When paranormal romance is done right I am reminded why I love it more than any other romance genre. And boy is it done right here. The feelings and connection between Allie and Zeke are palpable and real. The struggle of two very different people with overwhelming odds stacked against them coming together and committing to defying the odds is always moving. Here we have some of the most touching scenes of acceptance and love that I've found in any YA literature. I was really struck by how moving Zeke's acceptance of Allie is. I had tears stinging my eyes--the scenes were really that beautiful. I just want more, more, more! Gimme!And that ending? Kill me now. Seriously. This was me at the very, very end:With a heavy heart, I take up my mantle of waiting until April for answers and a resolution. So is...Zeke turned or not? Personally, I see it going either way. The description for Book 3 on Amazon contains this: "And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie." Oh goddddd. I can very easily see that being Sarren having turned Zeke into a blood starved, raving, Lost One. Please, don't be so cruel, Ms. Kagawa. please. I need my babies to be okay. I need it.I'll just leave you with Kanin being Kanin. "There are no good choices, Allison," Kanin offered in a quiet voice. "There are only those you can live with, and those you can work to change."
The Forever Song - Julie Kagawa Approximate rendering of my emotional state until this book is released:
Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi My hopes were not very high for this one so, for a change, they were exceeded. It's possible that the entirety of the 2 stars are owed to how much I liked the main love interest. There were times when I almost liked the book as a whole. Almost.Based on the ratings from my GoodReads friends, there are really divided feelings on this book and I think it comes down to whether or not the writing style is going to annoy the hell out of you.Mafi, in trying to establish the fragility of the MC's sanity, employs a style like this:"Juliette?" He doesn't move an inch. His gaze is fixed on me: calm, unflappable; 2 buckets of river water at midnight. I'd like to cry into his eyes. Er, okay..."Juliette--" His body presses closer and I realized I'm paying attention to nothing but the dandelions blowing wishes in my lungs.Right...Her life is so incredibly unbearable so immensely multifaceted to glamorous for the leashed legacy of her loins to understand.The "leashed legacy of her loins"??? Seriously???Some people find this very beautiful and deep. I am not one of them. The romance was kind of insta-love. I understand that the characters have a history but they never even spoke to each other before the events of the book. Even so, the romance is probably the most enjoyable aspect of the story. Adam is really lovely and the make out scenes are steamy! I still don't understand, like Juliette, why he likes her so much. At least she wonders about it too. "Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior." What choice? This blurb makes it out to seem like this is the central conflict of the book. Yeah, no. It is basically how she is trying to escape the clutches of an obsessive, abusive, manipulator who wants her to work for him as his weapon. At no point (thankfully) does she ever think "Hmm...perhaps I will work for this abusive manipulator!" But she also doesn't have to. Pretty quickly after she's been put in this situation she's offered an escape route. There's very little story going on for how many words this book contains.Now, let's talk about the main villain, Warner. It's totally acceptable that Warner is the bad guy in this story and that Juliette is not attracted to him because he is 100% vile. Here are some samplings of his vileness:Content note: some of these quotes describe assault and manipulationWarner knows I don't have a choice. He wants to force me into another situation where he can see the impact of my abilities, and he has no problem torturing an innocent child to get it.Hey, the removal of women's agency involving the torture of a toddler? What a great guy!I only know I want to feel Warner's neck snap between my own two hands. I want him to experience the same terror he just inflicted upon a child. I want to watch him die. That is an appropriate response, Juliette. Good job."What are you doing here?" I need him to stop staring at me, I need him to stop drinking in the details of my existence.But he doesn't, of course.He hooks a finger in the rip close to the drop-waist of my dress and I bite back a scream. "This just won't do." "It's fine--" He tugs so hard on the rip that it splits open the fabric and creates a slit up the side of my leg. "That's a bit better." "What are you doing--" His hands snake up my waist and clamp my arms in place and I know I need to defend myself but I'm frozen and I want to scream but my voice is broken broken broken. I'm a ragged breath of desperation.Awesome. That's just awesome. He literally assaults her.He can never never never know that I can touch him. I can only imagine what he'd do if he had access to my body.That was all pretty bad, right? Yeah...I hate that the villain is sexually manipulative and abusive. I don't even like fictional women, especially a teen, being abused. Now, imagine how I felt when, upon investigating this book's follow up, Unravel Me, I discovered that Warner becomes a love interest. That's right, a love triangle between Juliette, Adam and Warner.Do you see up there all about how Warner makes Juliette feel? Here are some Adam samplings:He's kissing away the pain, the hurt, the years of self-loathing, the insecurities, the dashed hopes for the future I always pictured as obsolete. He's lighting me on fire, burning away the torture of Warner's games, the anguish that poisons me every single day. The intensity of our bodies could shatter these glass walls.Well, that is just wonderful."You should have a choice. You should always have a choice. And it's your choice if you want to be with me."That is him apologizing and referring to the fact that he referred to Juliette as his girlfriend before he asked her. Um, yes, Adam. You are a nice and good boy.Are you kidding me, Mafi? What the hell?!? For gods sake, be more responsible in the message you're sending in books that target young women. Seriously, look at the quotes re: Warner and the quotes re: Adam. It is absolutely disgusting that Warner could become a love interest. Younger readers, Warner is an abusive character. Even if in the second book he's somehow redeemed, or we learn to understand "why he is the way he is", it does not make up for his actions in Shatter Me. It is absolutely not okay if a boy does the things that Warner does to Juliette to you or makes you feel the same way. It is 100% plain and simple abuse and is not to be tolerated. It is a truly dangerous and irresponsible message the author has chosen to send to you.Thanks to the obviously disturbing and irresponsible messaging, the annoying writing style, the lack of character development in the MC, and the insta-ish romance, this could've been so much better and it just...wasn't. There are so many great books out there to read that, even though this isn't horrible, I wouldn't recommend it unless you feel very strongly that you'd enjoy it.
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) - Sarah J. Maas Help. I'm drowning in a river of feels.If you read, and loved, Throne of Glass, prepare to be completely bowled over by Crown of Midnight. Everything in CoM is a marked improvement over ToG which is really saying something considering how ToG was already so well done.The plot is amazing. I predicted the twists fairly easily but it did not lessen the enjoyment in any way for me. This is well written and excellently paced. We get to see Celaena being absolutely bad ass, vicious and lethal. It's awesome. There's plenty of twists, turns, magic, death, romance, betrayal, adventure, heartbreak...I can't believe one book contains so much awesome.I've even giving this my "feminist fiction" tag on GoodReads. There might not be anything explicitly obvious that jumps out but if this were a film, for instance, it would surpass the Bechdel test and beyond. The main character is a woman, her best friend is a POC (yay!), and I think they talk about men/relationships once. Celaena is fiercely independent and not afraid to defy gender norms to the point of throwing it in the faces of the men around her, some of whom are in positions of great power over her. I love her.The character development was really well done. I felt a marked improvement and understanding of Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian. Especially Dorian, who I didn't care for so much in ToG. He came off as way too arrogant and too much of a "ladies man" for my liking. In CoM, he's a markedly different character. I won't spoil why, you'll just have to read ;)The romance, oh my gods, the romance! Swoon. Chaolaena forever, okay? This was just perfectly done. The build up was incredible and the payoff was everything I wanted. I really, really loved it. I loved getting to know Chaol better. These two just made my heart melt.I don't normally gif it up in actual reviews but I can't help myself with this one. An approximate recreation of me during the first half of CoM:And this was me in the second half. Apparently, nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy.It pains me that this is going to be a 6 book series. I want it all. I want it right now! Congratulations, Maas. You ruined me. Maas wrote on her blog:I think it’s because I just poured EVERYTHING I had into that book—like, EVERY last drop of heart/soul/blood/tears went into writing CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. And you can tell. You can really tell. I felt every one of those drops as I was reading. I finished this book last night with a quiet sort of heartbreak. When I woke up this morning it was still there. That’s the kind of book this is.There are so many places this story can go. The ending is wide open and exciting. Maas has deftly moved many pieces into play around the board and it’s going to be very, very exciting to see what happens in the upcoming installments.Highly, strongly recommended. Just prepare yourself for the river of feels that shall be flowing forth from you once finished.
Untitled (Throne of Glass, #3) - Sarah J. Maas I need it. I need it right now.
Inhuman (Fetch, #1) - Kat Falls A very solid 3.5. This book turned out to be different than I expected in several ways. I don't know what I was expecting based on this excerpt from the description:America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. But for whatever reason it wasn't the Island of Dr. Moreau-esque "manimals" that are encountered throughout. I think, perhaps, I was expecting them to be more zombie-esque and less human, given this is the result of a viral attack. But, I digress.The characters were fully realized and I felt a good grasp on who they were within minutes of introduction. The main character is smart and compassionate, if a bit naive. But, that's just true to her character as a child of "the West" having grown up behind the protective wall. She's not a super ass-kicker as is often found in our leading YA dystopian ladies these days which I found kind of refreshing, actually. Perhaps it felt more realistic? She's certainly smart and capable of surviving. She's just not super human in her abilities, you know?The plot was fluid and, for the most part, exciting. At about 55% in this book became a page turner for me and I couldn't put it down.The love triangle. Ah, the love triangle. God, who doesn't hate love triangles at this point? This was probably dinged that half star solely for the inclusion of a love triangle. Thankfully, romance really isn't present in the book at all. There are little moments with each of the boys in the triangle but overall it takes the back burner to the much more important tasks at hand in the story. Much to my pleasure, when Lane catches herself crushing on one of them, she does think to herself "What is wrong with me crushing on a boy in the middle of a viral, feral manimal, infested wasteland?" and pushes her feelings aside. Yes, very good! Practical! I like it.As to the boys themselves...we have your typical misunderstood bad boy vs. the boy who is sweet and kind, but practical to a fault. So let's talk about that for a sec:We have Rafe, the impossibly handsome, charming, rogue, "wild boy" who's grown up on the wrong side of the Wall. In one of their first actual conversations we have this exchange:"Perfect. Share mine [sleeping bag] tonight and I'll take you to Moline in the morning. Deal?" My lips parted, but words failed me. He wasn't serious. He couldn't be. "You're a pig!"Yes, Lane. He is. Now, happily he goes through some excellent character development on the way but...for any younger readers, especially young women...just know that this behavior is not acceptable and you should never put up with it! Only an apology from Rafe is an acceptable way to end that conversation.Also, when boys do this:"He's [the sweet boy] a stiff, but he's the guy you can count on to do the right thing." I straightened up. "So are you." "No. I'm the guy that stays alive."They are doing you a favor by telling you who they truly are. Anything of that nature like "I'm not a good guy"...believe the boy who's saying this to you. I know in fiction there are a lot of alluring, charming, bad boys. And that's fine. Just know, the bad boys aren't so "good" in the real world. This all probably wouldn't bother me that much if I wasn't feeling as though the author is setting it up for Lane eventually picking the bad boy which makes me Also, there are some really heartbreaking moments in the climax of the book so just...prepare yourself. As sad as it was (and it's really, really sad) I'm glad the author did not shy away from tragedy. Another thing I liked, was the depiction of moral and ethical dilemmas. How do we draw the line between what is animal and what is human and who has the right to make such a distinction?And sometimes choices are made with a good heart and good intentions, but there are disastrous consequences beyond our control. Sometimes doing the right thing is wrong, and doing the wrong thing is right.Overall, a fast paced, enjoyable read especially recommended for younger teens who enjoy a good bit of the macabre in their dystopias. I look forward to the continuation of the journey in Book 2. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride!
Legend - Marie Lu 3.5 really. I wished the world building was stronger and I didn't really connect that much with June. I thought Day was awesome, though! Still a highly enjoyable read in a favorite genre. Looking forward to the 2nd in the series!
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) - Susan Ee I just finished this book and I want to turn around and read it all over again. I actually just might.Absolutely glowing review to come.Also thanking my lucky stars that I just read this now and not in 2011. I neeeeeeeed the 2nd book.
Untitled (Penryn & the End of Days, #2) - Susan Ee My face when I read that Book 2 has a Raffe POV:
Eve & Adam - Michael  Grant, Katherine Applegate 1.5 stars. I really thought I would like this a lot more.It might have been a 2 or even a 3 without all of the casual misogyny and slut shaming. But damn, did that ever ruin the book for me. Don't get me wrong. That it is not all, by far, what is wrong here, but it's a good portion.Some choice excerpts of said misogyny: "I need Aislin, I say to my mother". "Aislin is a drunken slut," she replies, without looking up from her laptopCute slut shaming! And it also serves to set up Eve's mother as the "villain" which, as it turns out, is not at all necessary. Even without the blatant misogyny and slut shaming I think I would still be unhappy with this professional businesswoman cast as a villain. I am/have been a professional businesswoman. I know all too well the dangers of life as a woman in the business world. When you're "too soft" you're regarded as "a woman" and something along the lines of "too soft to handle this business world." Then, when you catch on to this, and realize that you should start acting more "like a man", i.e. assertive, like a boss, etc...you're still punished! When you act like a man you are a "bitch", you're "cold" and "frigid". "Bossy". Words that are never ascribed to a man for having the same exact characteristics. And it is really infuriating and I have suffered for it already in my professional life. I don't need it in my fiction, you know?Let's move on: I also don't understand why I should let some guy fondle me when I know the relationship has no future. I don't need to be groped that badly.Yeah, so, you should *never* "let" a guy fondle you. It should be purely consensual. It really, really worries me when these sort of rape culture run rampant memes permeate in YA literature. We need to let younger readers know, unequivocally, that this behavior is unacceptable. Sexual activity should be exciting and consensual! Accept no substitutes!Other than the misogyny and slut shaming, this book still just wasn't that awesome. For someone who didn't enjoy it, the plus side is that it was a really quick read. The downside is that it was a quick read because it was *ridiculously* fast paced. Honestly, it felt like a whirlwind. Everything of the actual plot sequential happens because the story demands it.I feel like if the book were longer and the chance was there to develop the characters more and know them better it would have been a vastly different book. But, that's not the case.And alllll of that demonizing of Eve's mother just for her to not be the big bad we thought she was . Wow, the bad guys were actually Solo's parents. "What a shock", I say to myself, dryly.The only upside here for me is that I've heard such good things of Grant's Gone series. I really hope the casual misogyny problem is not there for those novels.
Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking: Book Three - Patrick Ness I don't even have the words for this one. Incredible.
Hopeless - Colleen Hoover Oh. My. God.Dean Holder. I'm dying.I don't normally read books like this but it was literally shoved into my hands by my cousin with a "Read this!" and don't you just love when a book is loved that much? Oh my word...I was not prepared for how steamy and absolutely sexy this book is. *quickly fans self* And my jaw was on the floor with the serious, serious turn the book takes from about 60% finished on. Feminist corner: There is some casual misogyny and slut shaming but not enough to turn me off the story which was really wonderful on the whole. Also, be warned, abuse, trauma, PTSD...all these things are featured in a big way (without giving too much away) so, yes. Fair warning if you can't handle.As a sexual trauma survivor myself, I actually found it really encouraging and refreshing to see these issues addressed in a contemporary/romance book like this. I felt "less alone", you know? To see a character I already identify with and feel connected to go through some of the exact same moments and emotions I've had. Many thanks to the author for helping me feel less alone and more "normal" Heartbreaking, moving, full of courage and perseverance, and utterly unputdown-able. This one gets a big thumbs up from me. I want more Sky and Holder! Seriously, just read it.
Battle Royale - Koushun Takami, Yuji Oniki I ended up liking this a lot more than I thought I would! It took me awhile to really get into it, though. I generally am not a fan of translations, there's always that something missing, you know? But I'm glad I read this. If you like thriller, adrenaline and graphic violence (and, trust me, it's graphic) I definitely recommend it.I also really enjoyed the multiple POVs. I love getting into many different characters heads (especially ones that we've seen as villains through the protags eyes. It's always real fun to get into the baddies mind). The book has a somewhat surprising humanistic touch, as well.The ending is perhaps not as bleak as you would fear. Thumbs up.
This Strange and Familiar Place - Rachel Carter Are you effing kidding me? I've just finished this book and, okay, Rachel Carter. I'm giving this a 4 star rating because, if nothing else, that twist actually hit me like a punch in the gut. I find myself heartbroken by twists fairly often. But it's rare when I feel sucker punched by one. So great job on that alone if nothing else.I'm fairly certain if you enjoyed the first book there's nothing here that would keep you from enjoying this one. I actually enjoyed Book 2 more. 1989 NYC is far more interesting to me than WWII Montauk and the secondary characters I found much more interesting. Getting to know and learn more about Wes and his past was great too. Lots of sweet little romantic moments and a gut punching, tear your heart out twist. Yup. Sounds like something I like.I'm looking forward to Book #3. I am very intrigued as to how Wes ever proves himself/makes up for his betrayal of Lydia.