Book Review Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

 

Book Review Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTrial By Fire
by Josephine Angelini

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Published by: Macmillan on September 2, 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Parallel Universes, Young Adult
Pages: 528
Source: ARC from Publisher

 

 

t’s been a while since I’ve read a really good, exciting novel about witches and magical things. TRIAL BY FIRE by Josephine Angelini adequately filled my need for such things. Despite its few flaws, I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the world that this incredibly talented author has created. Even better, she successfully managed to combine magic with one of my most favorite things: logic.

In many ways, Josephine Angelini’s tale about a multi-universe traversing teenager plays out like your typical magical YA novel. A young teen is unhappy with her life, everything is going wrong, specifically when it comes to the opposite sex. A wish-fulfillment scenario plays out in which the girl is whisked away to another world and she becomes something more than what she was before. Female empowerment ensues, girl finds new love… badda-bing-badda-boom. Instant story gold, right?

…BUT (major but) TRIAL BY FIRE is in many ways nothing like your typical YA fare, as well. The main character, Lily, has problems unlike any you’ve read about before. She really is the “odd ball out” in our world. The reasons behind this are discovered only after she travels to the other world. Plus, there is terrible horror within these pages, taken to a gruesome level that few “typical” paranormal romance YA novels dare to go. Plus, there is SCIENCE. There are very thorough and logical explanations behind every spell that is cast. This story is about so much more than one young girl arriving to “save the day” and becoming better for her experiences, this is a story that spans our world, their world and many other worlds for that matter… It talks about personal choices and society roles as being crucial to the development and survival of the world (er, worlds). It’s a vast concept and a wide, wide multiverse that Josephine Angelini has tasked herself to explore… and in many ways she excels.

But then again, there are some ways in which she doesn’t quite pull it off…

Although I could visualize the world the author has created in her “new” Salem and I thoroughly enjoyed Lily’s adventures (camping out, battling monsters and epic road trips for the win!), what I didn’t comprehend was the supposed “antagonist’s” motives or their reasoning behind anything they did. The biggest, most glaring problem in TRIAL BY FIRE is that there’s a lot of talk about evil and impending doom and “oh no! save us all!“, but I never really understood why or how this would all occur.

Possible spoiler: The character Lillian supposedly saw things in Lily’s world and others that convinced her that all science was evil. She was also convinced that science would bring about the end of her world… As a result she commits some fairly evil acts in order to (supposedly) keep this all from occurring. What would have allowed this to come together (as well as make her position more clear – is she good or is she evil?) would have been allowing the reader to see what she saw during those trips to other worlds. Alas, this never happened… at least not that I can recall. It may have been there between all the scientific explanations for magic, but I don’t know.

The other problem I had with TRIAL BY FIRE was that I grew tired of the back and forward emotions between Lily and her “guide” Rowan. Especially Rowan. Although hunky and made of all the things that people usually love in the main male lead, I never quite knew where he stood when it came to Lily. His emotions were almost as out of control as my six year old on a really bad day. Every time he appeared or woke up, I wondered if he’d be wearing a smile or a scowl on his face that day. Lily, while she was pretty solid when it came to her romantic intentions, constantly felt the need to over-analyze the emotions of those around her… especially Rowan. The back and forward was dizzying at times. I just wanted everyone to take a chill pill.

Thankfully, although a lot of men are mentioned in the book – beginning with Lily’s romantic involvement with her best friend, Tristan (which was… bizarre… to say the least), the “other” Tristan, Rowan and even a “bad guy” who wanted to claim Lily for his own – no love triangle exists within these pages. I repeat: No love triangle exists within TRIAL BY FIRE. (Hooray!!)

Though it may seem that I am being overly critical of TRIAL BY FIRE, I enjoyed the book immensely. The story itself is critical many topics, so it’s kind of hard not to do the same in my review. Fans of Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed series will find her writing style has vastly improved with this first book in her newest series. With diverse characters and a world that is even more complex than her last, TRIAL BY FIRE is a promising start to an adventure like none that we have ever seen before.

Pros:

  • Witches! Science! Witches and science… Do you see the potential here, guys?!
  • The idea that there is an “other” you in an infinite number of worlds… Mind. Blown. (And now I’m having visions of an “other” mother and I’m totally freaked out.)*
  • The adventure is exciting. The world we see is both beautiful and frightening.
  • So much logic behind the magic itself. An info whore like me can have a field day within these pages.

Cons:

  • Maybe there’s a bit too much going on that a few explanations get lost in the process. Especially since we get very, very few answers about the supposed antagonist’s true motives.
  • The “current universe” events early in the book are a bit bizarre, especially those that involve Lily and her romantic relationship with her best friend, Tristan. I guess as a catalyst for her ending up in another world, it was appropriate. But still, that Tristan was one strange cookie.
  • The character’s emotions made this reader dizzy. Just make up your dang minds and STICK with it, guys! Okay? Okay.
  • MAJOR WARNING: The ending is an insane cliffhanger. As in, you’re in the middle of a major battle and BAM! it ends… (Book two is still soooo faaaar offfff!!!)

* If you get the reference you totally rock.

Plot: 8
Characters: 8
Setting: 9
Pacing:
 8
Style:
9

Grade: 92

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best buy coupons

 

Consider Your Hands At best buy coupon codes? Have A Look At These Helpful Tips!
best buy coupons
The economy is so that it is tough for people worried about their cash. Despite the fact that nobody is gonna fingers you anything, you can save dollars via little modifications. One method of the techniques is simply by finding and ultizing vouchers. The following article offers best buy coupon tips to help you make the most out of coupons and implies approaches to implement them skillfully.

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Retail outlet at local retailers that predominantly use coupon codes to assist maximize your cost savings. When you find a retail store that accepts opponent coupon codes and in addition doubles coupon codes, this really is really the best place to buy.

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Match your discount coupons together with the items which have sale inside your supermarket. This will allow you one of the most savings. Most discount coupons are good for no less than 3 months as a result, you can hold to your coupons for some time. Coupons that are along with revenue can help you save around 90Percent in your shopping bill.

If you’re needy to get vouchers, look in the neighbor’s rubbish. You would be surprised at how many coupon codes end up from the trash.

Look for the net for vouchers on on-line goods by way of coupon codes just before buying on-line. Use a search engine to find “best buy coupons promotion shop name”. Any promotions will likely be exhibited such as discount codes.

A wonderful way to save money is to use discount coupons. Through this post, it can be hoped you recognize them much better. Coupon codes are super easy to find, and they’re not complex to work with. By simply putting in a modest amount of energy, you’ll spend less on various things.

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Three Blog Tour: Review

 

Three Blog Tour: ReviewThree
by Kristen Simmons

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Published by: Tor Teen on Feb. 11, 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, General, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Source: ARC from Author

 

 

 

The Article 5 series by Kristen Simmons has been a diamond in the rough among countless dystopian series flooding the shelves in recent years. Dark, gritty and more real than the futures imagined by most other authors, THREE brings the trilogy to a satisfying close – in ways you might not expect.

Going into THREE, I could scarcely imagine how Kristen could possibly conclude her story about Ember, Chase and the corrupted world in which they lived. One could only imagine how difficult it would be to overthrow a government that has absolute control over its citizens and a military force that is essentially brainwashed to kill on-sight. That task is made even more difficult when you’re “just one girl” among a rag-tag group of misfits of which those in power would rather see dead. These thoughts are all front and center throughout the entire final installment. Ember traverses the lands, discovers new places where more people are suffering and living in exile and eventually unveils secrets from both friend and foe. It all leads her to a final showdown in which she will do all she can to save everyone she loves. But really, what can one girl really do to save her world?

I think what I like most of all about this series – and especially about the conclusion in THREE – is how “real” it all comes across to the reader. Unlike other, similar books in which one young person becomes the “savior” of their world, Chase is no “hero”. There is no sudden revelation, no discover of an inner-strength greater than that of the oppressors – she is just one girl. She is not a fighter. She never wanted to be. How Chase manages to change her world happens in a way that you will never see coming, a way that is nothing but the most fitting resolution for this series. I applaud Kristen for taking a risk, by not making her main character more than she actually is.

If you read these books for the action, you’ll be happy to hear that there is an abundance of heart-racing scenes in THREE. One specific scene, located early on in the book, which had me on edge was a situation involving Rebecca and Sean. Rebecca is still trying to deal with the horrific events we had learned about in Breaking Point. She is not doing very well, and even with the love of Sean and of her friends who support her, she is still suffering both mentally and physically. In this area, the author’s knowledge about mental issues is greatly apparent. I just about fell apart during this scene, and I have a feeling you will, too. It is a huge turning point for these two characters, as well.

Need I say anything about the romance? In book one, Chase and Ember had their obvious issues and reasons to distrust one another. In book two, they overcame these issues and grew closer together as friends and potential lovers. They drew strength from each other and became pillars of support for one another. In THREE, they take their relationship to the next level. As with all things in this series, their relationship feels “real” and isn’t dependent on good looks or matters of “destiny” or some senseless need to be together because they’re “nothing without each other”. They each have their individual problems, they need to deal with these problems before they would be any good for each other. This is life. This is real.

That isn’t to say that the book isn’t without it’s swoons or quotable “sweet nothings”. These characters do find time to be affectionate together in between the barrage of attacks and fights for survival. Can we just say “barn scene”? Yeah. That is all.

Pros:

  • More action than the previous entry. More revelations than the first two books combined.
  • Chase and Ember provide plenty of swoons that will tug at the heartstrings of many readers.
  • An unconventional conclusion involving the main character. In a good way – a very, very good way.

Cons:

  • As with all great series, there’s that sad feeling you have when it’s all said and done.
  • The ending may leave readers who are more familiar with amazing deeds being accomplished by the main character in defeating the bad guys wanting more. Not this reader, but I am sure there will be a few out there who will want more.

The conclusion of THREE is unconventional in the most satisfying way – because it is the most realistic dystopian ending you will ever have the honor to read. If you have yet to pick up book one in the series, Article 5, I recommend that you get on that today.

Plot: 10+
Characters: 10
Setting: 10
Pacing:
10
Style:
10

Grade: 100+

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Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

 

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner’s Curse
by Marie Rutkoski

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Published by: Macmillan on March 4, 2014
Genres: Family, Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fantasy, Love & Romance, Parents, Social Issues, Violence, War, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: ARC from Publisher

 

 

While gambling is not really my thing, I’m willing to bet that THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski will be one of the talked-about books of 2014.

This first entry in the series is engrossing, epic and will be word-candy for fans of the works of Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars, and perhaps the most similar to this title). The story, characters and writing style demand the attention and praise that made these three similar author’s books so popular.

Historical fantasy. Try to count on more than one hand the number of memorable historical fantasy series that have graced the teen shelves at your local bookstore in recent years. Having a hard time? I know I did when I tried to count. Well, now you can add one more series to that much-too-short list, because THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski is here at last and it will remain in your thoughts days/weeks/months after you turn the last page.

Brutal, often taking on the harshest sides of war, the characters in THE WINNER’S CURSE encounter obstacles worthy of only those “blessed” (or cursed) with power. It’s told in the third person (“he, she, they”) perspective following the separate lives of Kestrel and Arin, more information on this perspective is explained in detail by the author here, as part of the official blog tour.

Kestrel is the spoiled, albeit jaded, young daughter of a general in the Valorian army. She is in a position of high power, has never wanted for anything. And yet, she is incredibly like-able as a character, even at the beginning. The person we are left wondering about is the aloof and mysterious Arin, the Herrani slave that Kestrel “accidentally” purchases while being escorted through the city with her friend one day. Their relationship is non-existent at first, then it slowly leads to interactions that are weighed down with awkwardness and distrust. With every scene, the tension between them increases, both romantically and figuratively speaking, though some walls do come down. We never really know what one side or the other is actually thinking, though, which is an ingenious ploy on the part of the author’s chosen narrative. So much is being hidden, so many lies, such deceit. I loved it all…

The romance in THE WINNER’S CURSE is a slow simmer, building into something a little more steady over time. The romance creates a great deal of the tension, but what I loved was that it did not appear to be the central part of the story, but more like an implication in it instead. Rather, the topics of race, class and war played a more dominate tune in my ear as I read. As the characters became more involved, I thought more about their backgrounds and motives than whether or not they would kiss. Much can be learned about opposing forces in war – that the battle is not only black and white and there is so much grey area – just by reading this book.

There are multiple turns of events within THE WINNER’S CURSE, a novel that almost feels as though it is perfectly divided up into equal parts based on these events. I was genuinely surprised on more than one occasion, though I probably shouldn’t have been. There were deaths I didn’t see coming, though I probably should have. This is war, my friends, and the war in THE WINNER’S CURSE is not of the short – nor the sweet – variety. If you like the plotting and strategy involved in – or the mass destruction done to societies caused by – war, then this is the book for you.

Pros:

  • A thoroughly developed and sweeping world and people. The setting couldn’t be more perfectly described to readers.
  • Gambling, war, politics, lies, deceit, cunning… These things go hand and hand and are brilliantly women into the overall plot.
  • Kestrel and Arin are main characters on opposing sides of the war. Oddly enough I found myself wanting to back them both up.
  • The writing is superb. Smart. Gorgeous.

Cons:

  • When I come up with a major one aside from the fact of Kestrel’s superiority complex and Arin’s endless secrets, I’ll let you know!
  • …Ah! I thought of one! The ending felt a tad bit rushed compared to the slow burn of the rest of the novel. But it was an exciting ending that turned the story completely upside down, so I forgive it.

So even if historical fantasy isn’t typically your thing, THE WINNER’S CURSE has so much going for it – and themes that would resonate with every reader – that I can’t help but recommend it to all readers of YA. This aythor is one to watch for in the upcoming years.

Plot: 10
Characters:
9
Setting: 10
Pacing:
9
Style:
10

Grade: 98

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Book Review + Giveaway: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

 

Book Review + Giveaway: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer MathieuThe Truth About Alice
by Jennifer Mathieu

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Published by: Macmillan, Roaring Brook Press on June 3, 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Bullying, Dating & Sex, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Source: ARC from Publisher

 

 

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu is an honest, compelling, ingeniously written novel! It exemplifies everything that has ever been said about “slut shaming” and successfully speaks to every teenager within 200 short pages.

Slut shaming is such a “big deal” topic among readers of YA these days. THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE is timely and appears to be a direct response to this very important discussion. What is “slut shaming”? At it’s core, what is the cause and effect that such a thing can have on teens? Some answers, plus some highly valuable insight, is offered in this story about the singled out teen, Alice. Who hasn’t felt the fear of being singled out at one point or another in their youth? Who out there doesn’t have the same fears for their own children?

In my opinion, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE should be read by everyone entering high school. It is an important novel. Also, not to say anything about the intelligence or reading habits of young people, but the short length of the novel (at just over 200 pages) actually makes it even more accessible to reluctant readers. Or if the small size is a turn-off to you – please, don’t turn away! There is a lot of substance of great importance within these pages.

What I appreciated most about THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE is the way that it is told. We see every point of view in the novel except Alice’s. This manner of telling causes the reader to question: What really is the truth? As in life, is there is rarely any way of truly knowing. It’s all about “he said, she said”… A point is reached in which the truth becomes so distorted that sometimes the lie becomes the truth. Plus, people will believe what they want to believe anyway, right? I will not say what about Alice ends up being the truth, nor the excellent way in which this story ultimately comes to a head, but I will say that it is a wonder to watch unfold. Jennifer Mathieu is a master at unveiling her tale, pulling apart the personal and emotional layers of her characters bit by bit, slowly building the rumor mill (and essentially her plot) into a crescendo of lies and bits of truth.

Every character, every individual point-of-view we encounter within THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE is the perfect example of what is commonly known an “unreliable character”. We are confronted with multiple points of views, each representing a very real persona you can find in today’s society – and these separate realistic personas are hardly even exaggerated for the sake of drama or entertainment. They don’t have to be exaggerated. When it comes to teenage angst and the escalation of drama in high school, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE is about as real as it can get.

With that thought in mind, aren’t we all “unreliable characters” when it comes to our perception of others?

Pros:

  • Although the “slut” of the tale, and someone we hardly get to know aside from what others say about her, I found Alice to be a character with whom I could connect.
  • The truth in the novel is that it is an honest portrayal of social hierarchy in high school. It’s a hard truth, but it doesn’t get much clearer than this.
  • The narration is brilliant. The multiple points-of-view drive the story and act as individual studies on the personalities and emotions of teenagers today.
  • This is a novel that will “last”. I hope that people will talk about it for years to come.

Cons:

  • I’m having a hard time thinking of any cons with THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE. Unless the subject matter is difficult for you and you don’t like certain language, there really isn’t much that Jennifer Mathieu didn’t get perfectly right.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE is the answer to any “slut shaming” novel in existence and is a story I will not forget anytime soon. I’m glad I read it, and encourage anyone who is, or has ever been, a teen to do the same today.

Plot: 10
Characters:
10
Setting: 10
Pacing:
10
Style:
10

Grade: 100

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Book Review + Giveaway: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

 

Book Review + Giveaway: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters
by Laini Taylor

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Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 8, 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Europe, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Monsters, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 624
Source: eARC from Publisher

 

 

I never throw around this word, but I will use it with capital letters right now:

EPIC.

DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS by Laini Taylor, the conclusion to her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, is truly epic… Not to mention, it’s poetic, incredible, stunning and one heck of a (perfectly solid) finale.

Honestly, I will tell you right now: I am a hugely insane, forget everything you thought you knew about me because I am out of control, fan of Laini’s writing. There was very little chance that this book wasn’t going to “wow” me. I mean, yeah, there’s always a chance, but… no. Disappointment didn’t happen at all here. Not even one ioda of disappointment. I was in love with all 624 pages – and most likely 150k+ words – of this book. Will it be for everybody? I don’t know – and really, I don’t care. I loved this book… The series… Everything. As a (basically rabid and salivating at the mouth) fan of the series, I can tell you that the conclusion will not disappoint.

From chapter one, there were fireworks between me and DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS. Starting with the first chapter, I was reminded as to why I love Laini’s writing so much. Even the simplest of passages, such as…

“Revenant soldiers and Misbegotten, together. At best, it would be miserable. At worst, devastating. But in spite of his misgivings, it was as if there was a brightness beckoning to him – the future, rich with light, calling him to ward it…”

gif-fireworks-01

 

And…

“…For just a moment, in spite of the burden of the weapons bag, and the thuribles, and her pack – not to mention the anvil weight of her duty and the deception and the future of two worlds – Karou felt almost light. Hopeful.”

 

If you recall, Days of Blood and Starlight was rife with sorrow and death and deception and pain (literally, lots and lots of pain). DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS is still full of pain and deception and plenty of things bad, but where there is sadness here, there is also hope lining every page. The entire book contains a perfect see-saw of emotions that will keep readers turning the pages, forgetting just how many of them have been turned and how many have yet to be touched.

In the end you may not physically be in the happiest place on earth (or, who knows, maybe you will be), but you will certainly feel as though you’ve been there thanks to DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS.

 

 

 

 

 

gif-fireworks-03

DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS begins mere hours after the conclusion of Days of Blood and Starlight (3 hours, to be exact). We are introduced to a new character right off the bat – someone who will play a larger part than you can presently imagine. Some people may boo and hiss at this detail, but alas, the character is almost as likable as Zuzana and Mik or, at the very least, as much as Liraz. Eliza… What an intriguing character to follow. (And that is all I will say about that.)

Just as intriguing as the new character are the interactions between our two most familiar characters, Karou and Akiva. Their story begins at the kazbah in Morocco. Over and over again, their paths cross – with the shadow of previous deceptions still weighing on their shoulders. More than once I found myself yelling at the two of them:

 

…but that’s really only because I am such a mushy-gushy Madrigal/Karou-Akiva fangirl. Yes, I admit it. I am a shipper. I was devastated at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and seeing them as enemies in Days of Blood and Starlight was pure torture. Will they ever get together again? I will not say. Either way, their story is so, so very satisfying and ends in the most appropriate of ways, regardless of whether or not they get their “happily ever after”.

…But still, throughout the book I was repeatedly in the same position as carpet:

 

But back to the story: In DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS, the combined troupes of chimaera and Misbegotten must work together to save their world and ours… Honestly, I have often wondered how humanity would react if beings like “angels” or “demons” ever did descend to our level. Laini answers these questions in the most logical of ways, with people reacting to their presence in the name of both religion and science. She handles what could easily become a touchy subject both tastefully and with grace. No obvious opinion on the subject of religion can be seen within these pages. Although religious themes are present, the reader can still enjoy the story for what it is: pure fantasy, through and through.

In DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS, Zuzana and Mik are featured more prominently than ever before. Thanks to their novella, Night of Cake and Puppets, we know enough about their relationship to have strong feelings for both of them. Thanks to them we witness some very, very creative usage of wishes – one or two of which have a major impact on the overall story.

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Book Review: Fighting for Infinity by Karen Amanda Hooper

 

Book Review: Fighting for Infinity by Karen Amanda HooperFighting for Infinity
by Karen Amanda Hooper

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Published by: Starry Sky Publishing on April 28, 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Paranormal Romance, Reincarnation
Pages: 306
Source: eARC from Author

 

 

Honestly? I did not anticipate that the finale in Karen Amanda Hooper’s Kindrily series would be this good. I mean, I knew the book was going to be good, but FIGHTING FOR INFINITY provided  more intensity, more unpredictability and a greater onslaught of emotions than I could have ever predicted.

Few paranormal books deliver for me these days, and as a result I’ve been choosing more realistic stories over the more “magical”, other-wordly tomes that are on the shelves. Even still, I approached the release of FIGHTING FOR INFINITY with high, high hopes. Hopes that my favorite characters would come out on the other side in one piece, hopes that all my questions would be answered and hopes that everything I loved about the first two books would be found here for one final hurrah. Karen not only fulfills these hopes, she also goes above and beyond when it comes to pulling her world, her plot and her characters full circle. All my questions have been answered. Every last one.

Now for some disclosure: I’ll admit, I am honored to call Karen a personal friend of mine. While I value her friendship, I will be nothing but honest in my review.

…On this note, Karen is a wonderful author who is very interactive with her readers. At the end of the book preceding FIGHTING FOR INFINITY (titled Taking Back Forever) she allowed readers to choose where they stopped reading. The story basically ended on an unbearably dramatic cliffhanger, but if you preferred you could stop reading at an earlier, easier to swallow part of the novel. She repeats those extra final chapters (with a personal note to readers) at the beginning of FIGHTING FOR INFINITY. THAT’S how much she cares about her reader’s emotions… and their sanity.

After the first chapters, the story moves on to what happens immediately after the previously mentioned cliffhanger. So much logic is involved when it comes to what happened to Maryah. We’re also introduced to a new character (Rina, whom I guarantee you will love) and a few familiar faces. (Remember the despicable River, anyone?) Many of the characters –  both new and old – will surprise you.

I love how the matters of trust and redemption are handled within FIGHTING FOR INFINITY. Maryah, Nathan and the rest of the Kindrily need to face their own personal doubts, knowing that the right or wrong decision they make and the absence or presence of trust will directly impact whether they live or die. This may be a story about reincarnation, but life after death is not always guaranteed.

FIGHTING FOR INFINITY is a story that goes beyond that of just Maryah and Nathan. The fate of their kind is being threatened. The source of their troubles will shock you. I always wondered what it was that would make Maryah erase her memories and the answer was my least expected guess. Even mid-way through the novel, my mind was full of doubt. Their story circles as far back to the very first meeting between the two soul mates. Although new revelations and characters are presented, EVERYTHING is connected. Everything goes back to multiple of their previous lives. I just… Woah… Karen, how did you manage to keep it all straight?

As for the beyond epic finale itself. The word “fighting” in the title of FIGHTING FOR INFINITY is there for a reason. This is NO anti-climactic Breaking Dawn-esque non-battle. Maryah and co. will fight to keep their family together, they will fight to find out the truth, they will fight to the death, if need be – but obviously with the hope that death will not be final. Karen takes her battle from the sunlit cliffs of Arizona (only my favorite place on earth) to the sky-high peaks foreign lands. Not everyone will make it out alive – and reincarnation is not guaranteed. Or is it? You will have to find out the answer to that question yourself.

As always, Karen’s writing is impeccable. Her extensive research is apparent. Her story is solid and fully imagined. On par with (if not better than) most of the “big six” paranormal releases out there, I would place this highly romantic series among the best of the best, not to be missed.

Pros:

  • A wonderfully satisfying conclusion, FIGHTING FOR INFINITY is the polish that makes this stellar paranormal trilogy shine.
  • Maryah’s growth shows so much in this installment. The choices she makes are a far cry from the indecisive and ignorant girl in the first installment.
  • Readers who may have turned away due to the romantic elements in book two can return with the reassurance that FIGHTING FOR INFINITY turns down the heat considerably. It’s more on par with the YA tone of book one.

Cons:

  • SPOILER ALERT (highlight to view): I want more. Perhaps we can have another story about the, er, “future” generation of Kindrily?
  • POSSIBLE SPOILER (highlight to view): Some relationships may be disturbing. Questionable situations involving Maryah and Dedrick are implied, although the answers may alleviate these qualms. There is one scene when the later party appears to be violating Maryah’s body without her permission.

Go on, guys! Pick up this title today! (For only $3.99, how can you not?) Just be sure to start with book one, Grasping at Eternity, otherwise you will be completely lost.

Plot: 10
Characters:
 10
Setting: 10
Pacing:
 10
Style:
 10

Grade: 100

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Book Review The Bees by Laline Paull

 

Book Review + Giveaway: The Bees by Laline PaullThe Bees
by Laline Paull

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Published by: HarperCollins on May 6, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Literary, Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: ARC from Publisher

 

 

 

THE BEES by Laline Paull is undoubtedly the most unusual book I have read in at least a decade (or more). The story does for bees and religion, “group think” and society roles what Animal Farm did for barnyard animals and government.

THE BEES has transformed this reader. I have a deeper curiosity and respect for an animal that I once looked at with nothing more than revulsion and fear. I’m not saying I’ll be going out and making friends with my neighborhood bees anytime soon, but at least now I can understand their position. But I digress…

While I disagree with the comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games that THE BEES has been receiving, I can see the reasoning behind these comparisons. Fans of The Hunger Games will recognize the oppression of “the people” and admire Flora 717′s determination. The overall “feel” of the novel (of a young bee’s “coming-of-age” and questioning the structure of her current society) will also be a major draw for YA readers. (With that in mind, this comparison may be a smart marketing decision, overall.) As for The Handmaid’s Tale, I suppose you could find some logic in this when you consider the hierarchical position of the bees in the hive and Flora 717′s struggles in the later half of the book. But when it comes to the overall tone, plus the direction of the story and the manner in which it is told, I cannot help but compare THE BEES to Animal Farm. This book is dark, y’all. This book has a statement to make. As I have already said, THE BEES does for religion what Animal Farm did for government. I see this book as high school or college reading material some day. Or at least, I hope it will be. This is a story whose topics will easily withstand the passage of time and are so important for future generations.

For a story that takes place almost entirely within a few square feet of space, there is so much to be said about the inhabitants of that space. Their world is so grand, full of societal rules, an all-encompassing “purpose” and almost (who am I kidding, this is more than “almost”) fanatical religion. The creative lengths the author took in tying the bee’s world into our own are astounding. I wish I could point out every way that she makes her characters sympathetic while making them so very “other” and obviously bees, but that would be a novel unto itself…

Flora 717 may be the smallest character I have ever read about, but she is also one of the most fully-realized characters I have ever met, too. From the moment she’s born she’s… different. For her kind, “different” means instant death, but by the grace of a higher level bee, she is saved. Little did she know that her life would play a major part in a ploy for power, that so many difficulties would befall her and that she alone could change the fate her world. She is born as one of the lowest of the low on the hierarchical totem pole, but by both shear luck and her own abilities, Flora 717 moves through various positions in her hive. As a result, the first half of the book is spent associating the reader to the hive and their way of life as Flora 717 is thrust from one role to another. Her position is obviously uncommon for bees, since they are born into and usually die performing the task they were born into. She obtains a wider view of her world and is what we humans would call “enlightened” by what she learns. I enjoyed the tour, and Flora 717 is a most enjoyable guide.

The story is rife with matters of chance and fate, faith and predisposed role expectations — I especially appreciate the questions THE BEES asks with regard to morality, religion and leadership. Just because Flora 717 is born “different”, does this automatically make her a sympathetic character? Does the knowledge she gains make her decision “good” or “right” when she tries to override the mindset that has been ingrained in her people since before time itself? Will her every action be met with agreement by the reader? Although Flora 717 is the “hero” of the story, she does make mistakes, she commits crimes against society, she makes highly questionable decisions. Her mistakes, as well as the impact they have on the hive, only adds to the depth of her character, her world and the story. Never does Flora 717 think of herself as “better” than others, never do her intentions become overly-preachy to the reader… I really appreciated this, though, sadly, the fear that this could happen sat in the corner of my mind as I read, and as Flora became more determined in her “purpose”.

Ultimately, I loved where both Flora 717 and her hive ended up at the conclusion of THE BEES. It was fitting… and that epilogue was superb! What a touchingly sly little twist!

Pros:

  • Inventive, original, unique… All of these words – and more – will be thrown around when you see or hear people describing THE BEES. The book is 100% deserving of these descriptions.
  • There is plenty of action and suspense. Correction: There is plenty of terrifying action and suspense. Even with the highly descriptive manner in which the story is told, I doubt that readers will become bored…

Cons:

  • … With that being said. Maybe some readers will grow bored learning more than they ever thought they would ever learn about bees. What do I know, right?
  • BEES.

animated-gif-bees-oprah

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the most popular bee gif on the web…

Come on, guys, we are talking about bees here… Let’s face it. THE BEES will either make you shudder to think of such a small space crawling with thousands of insects – or it will open your eyes to a world you have never known. I will say it again: I have always despised bees. I have always been that girl who will run away screaming if one comes within 20 feet of her person. But my eyes have been opened. Maybe it’s the idea of bees using “brooms and dustpans” to clean up messes (seriously cute visual!), maybe it’s the motherly way they look over their larva in the nursery, maybe it’s the endless thought of dripping honey… but I’m not so afraid anymore, but rather… intrigued.

In contrast, I think I now despise and fear wasps 10 million times more than I had previously. Thank you, Laline, for that.

THE BEES is destined to become one of my tops reads in 2014.

Plot: 10
Characters: 9
Setting: 10
Pacing: 9
Style: 10

Grade: 98

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Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

 

Book Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnisIn a Handful of Dust
by Mindy McGinnis

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Published by: HarperTeen on September 23, 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Country Life, Lifestyles, Love & Romance, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Source: eARC from Publisher

 

 

In an unlikely turn of events, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST by Mindy McGinnis – a sequel to a book that was already so spectacular, no, stellar, no, absolutely stunning that I am resorted to using alliteration – has out-shined its predecessor to the point that I just might be speechless. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST is filled with all of the things that fans of survivalist stories (specifically those that span across perilous stretches of land) will devour with every inch of their being.

If you merely clapped after reading Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, but appreciated it’s tone, the characters and the author’s daring approach at telling a story that just might come to pass, you will probably give the author a standing ovation after finishing IN A HANDFUL OF DUST.

…Which will immediately be followed by: “Please sir, I want some more.”

Trust me on this.

IN A HANDFUL OF DUST takes place roughly 10 or so years after the end of the events in Not a Drop to Drink. Lynn is no longer a “young adult”. In her position as the main character is Lucy, the young niece of Eli and daughter or Neva and who is now a teenager herself. At first Lucy comes across as a timid, cardboard cutout character with none of the strength or determination that Lynn had when she was younger. Being inside Lucy’s head is an altogether different sort of experience because her and Lynn’s personalities are so much different from each other. When you look at their separate upbringings, this is not at all surprising. Whereas Lynn only ever had her “shoot first, ask questions later” mother around for company, Lucy has been surrounded by a “village” of sorts that has provided her with both love and protection. The fact that Lucy is being trust onto the road – alone with only Lynn to guide her – provides plenty of room for this meek girl to grow up and gain some skills.

One thing you’ll probably be happy to know is that Lynn has not changed a lick since the events in book one. Sure she has learned to show love and compassion for others, but when push comes to shove it still comes down to her and her gun. Since she accompanies Lucy on her journey, so we are graced with her presence on almost every single page. Those concerned that this was going to be an entirely different story altogether with little-to-no Lynn, put those fears aside… But not completely! Just as Not a Drop to Drink taught us, this is the “real world” – no one is safe.

The obstacles that Lucy and Lynn face in their travels are numerous. The duo encounters people who are both trustworthy and completely despicable (and some people are just downright weird – I mean seriously WEIRD.) With every obstacle they will experience both disappointment and joy. Essentially, these encounters and experiences will change their perceptions about the world, each other and about themselves.

In addition to the people is the terrain itself. In a world where the land is as unpredictable as that fact that a person might not live to see their next meal, Lucy and Lynn (what with all the miles they have to travel) will experience it all. Arid deserts, high peaks and a strange twist with water that nobody will see coming, it’s a wonder if the two even manage to stay together. Like I said, theirs is a world where nothing is guaranteed. You’ll never guess just where this story will take you.

I marveled over the distance that the pair traveled. In fact, I think that the land itself was as much a character of the story as was Lucy and Lynn. Her descriptions are rich with detail, you can imagine just where they are as they move across the U.S.. As a result, I felt the grass on my fingertips and heard the wind as they traveled across the seemingly endless plains. I feared the approaching high peaks of the Rocky Mountains just as much as Lucy. I learned something new about the effects of high elevations on people. I understood at one point exactly why the author chose the title IN A HANDFUL OF DUST for her book, and it was beautiful… and treacherous. Few people can walk as far as Lucy and Lynn were forced to – much less a world ravaged with limited resources. (All I have to say is thank goodness for cars!)

Now I only hope that Mindy is working on more in her post-apocalyptic survival story. I’d love to revisit some of the people and the places, even if just one more time.

Pros:

  • The world has grown. The road trip that many were hoping for in book one is, at last, taking place. And what a road trip it is.
  • The writing surpasses that in book one. Impossible, I know!
  • The characters, particularly Lynn, are explored in even greater detail. The relationship between Lucy and Lynn is unique and somewhat heartbreaking. They are friends, if not family.
  • One scene reminded me that people will go to extreme lengths to stay alive in a ravaged world. I am not sure if I can ever look at “Sin City” in quite the same way ever again.

Cons:

  • I cannot think of any major cons. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST is darkly beautiful and I highly recommend it to all readers.

And so I leave you with this:

“Lynn? What are you thinking?”

Lynn startled and seemed to struggle to focus on Lucy. “Just this–

“And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Setting: 10
Pacing:
 10
Style:
 10

Grade: 100

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Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi – review

 

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

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Published by: HarperCollins, HarperTeen on November 15, 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368

 

 

 

 

JULIETTE Ferrars – Odeya Rush

Juliette Ferrars is the main character and the narrator of the SHATTER ME trilogy. She has a lethal touch and was locked up in a Asylum.

Odeya Rush has the look down pat. I also think that the exotic look she has going on would separate her from the rest of the cast. Just look at her eyes! Perfect!! Not to mention, Odeya Rush has landed some big roles, including the film adaptation of The Giver, Mary: Mother of Christ and Goosebumps alongside Jack Black.

 

Aaron Warner – Hunter Parrish

Aaron Warner is the son of Supreme Commander Anderson and Leila Warner, and the leader of the Sector 45. He has two tattoos: The word IGNITE on his back and the other is a Shakespeare’s quote: Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.

Hunter Parrish is “practically perfect in every way”, wouldn’t you agree? I picture him when I picture Warner – blonde hair, green eyes – and then I have to wipe the drool off my chin just thinking about Warner… Hunter has starred in films such as 17 Again (with Zac Efron and Matthew Perry), It’s Complicated and Still Alice

Adam Kent – Matt Lanter

Adam is Juliette’s love interest. He has known her since they were 8 years old; and on his own words, he has always felt attracted by her.

Matt Lanter is such a little cutie, isn’t he? With dark blonde hair and blue eyes, he’s perfect for the brooding, yet romantic Adam. He’s also a bit more built than Hunter Parrish, which is how I imagine Adam as compared to Warner. Matt has starred as the voice of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Clone Wars and as Edward Sullen in Vampires Suck.

Kenji Kishimoto – Booboo Stewart

Kenji is a very straight forward person and citizen of Omega Point. He tends to make everything a joke, but eventually becomes serious when necessary. Kenji has the ability to become invisible.

Booboo Stewart. The little boy who has grown into quite the… stunning… young man. Part Japanese, part irish, this ex-werewolf from the Twilight Saga would make a humorous and aptly-aged Kenji. (Honestly, I have a hard time thinking of Asian-American actors who would fit the part. Can you think of anyone better?)

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Tiger’s Promise Blog Tour: Music Playlist + Review

 

Tiger’s Promise Blog Tour: Music Playlist + Review Tiger’s Promise
by Colleen Houck

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Published by: Self Published on June 1, 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Animals, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Love & Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 140
Source: ARC

 

 

 

TIGER’S PROMISE by Colleen Houck may not be the long-await sequel about Kishan that we all have been waiting for, but it is a worthy prequel and pseudo-curse origin story in this epic tale of the unfortunate tiger princes. It’s a top-notch historical fantasy that fans will adore.

What I appreciated the most about TIGER’S PROMISE (aside from being able to return to this stunning world and the author’s words that I have craved time and time again) were the new perspectives gained as a result. Long have I had a very specific point of view when it comes to Yesubai and her role in the cause of the tiger’s curse. I admit, I’ve held her in such disdain. Then again, if it had not been for her, Kelsey would have never met her tigers, right? My inner turmoil with regard to Yesubai is laid to rest after reading this installment.

TIGER’S PROMISE is the story of a girl with a secret. It is also the story of abuse, betrayal and a secret corruption that would eventual lead to the tiger’s curse. While there is some fantasy and magic in this novella, there is more historical detail about ancient India than we have seen in any of the previous Tiger books. The voice is Yesubai’s, which makes this book quite different than those told in Kelsey’s perspective. It is definitely a “period” piece. We’ve all been talking about needing diversity in fiction, right? Well, you have one especially diverse novel right here.

The writing in TIGER’S PROMISE is impeccable, rich in both detail and beauty. I’ve said it before in my reviews of all of the Tiger novels, and I will say it again: I love-love-love detail in these books! I’m not talking about the detail that is obsolete to the story, no, but detail that assists in building the world in which I am lost. Everypage of TIGER’S PROMISE is resplendent with detail. I can easily imagine the horrors and granduer of the world in which Yesubai lives. Plus, I started to understand her more as a pivotal player in both the tiger’s and Kelsey’s destinies.

Yesubai’s world is one full of immense horror. Imagine having to lie to and hide from the man who gave you life, knowing the truth about his terrible ways but not being able to say anything for fear of your own life… I enjoyed learning more about Yesubai than the little that Ren and Kishan really knew. I actually feared for her, and wished for a different outcome than the one that I knew was to come (having read the full-length novels in this series, it was inevitable that I knew how this one would end). BUT there are plenty of surprises in store in TIGER’S PROMISE, surprises that add a new twist to the overall story.

TIGER’S PROMISE is a MUST READ for long-time fans of Colleen Houck’s series. It provides a greater understanding of the origins of the curse as well as a long-misunderstood character. It may also even introduce new readers to this epic tale. Available in both e-book or print formats, I encourage you to pick this one up today!

Pros:

  • Yesubai is suddenly thrust into the role of main character, turning our existing feelings about her on their head.
  • How often have we been taking to ancient India? Never? I didn’t think so. Such fantastic historical reading here, guys.
  • I adore the writing, which stands up to the best of the series.
  • The surprises in store for readers are abundant. Long-time fans of the series are sure to be delighted.

Cons:

  • I’ve often heard readers say that the detail in Colleen’s novels are too much. While I don’t agree, those who do feel that way may not like the detail within this novella.
  • It’s a novella. While the length is more than appropriate for this particular part of the tale, it’s still a tease. I want more of Colleen’s words!

Plot: 9
Characters: 9
Setting: 10
Pacing:
 8
Style:
 10

Grade: 96

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