Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mind Games by Kiersten White

Genre: science fiction
Series and Book #: unknown
Pages: 237
Summary:

Two sisters. Bound by impossible choices. Are determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

James’s frozen face melts into a smile. “Do you want to know the trick to getting in trouble under the watchful eye of a psychic?”

I think of the nailed-shut windows. I think of Clarice. I think of the two, the two, the two who are now zero. Tap tap. “Yes, I absolutely do.”

“Don’t plan it. Don’t even think about it. The second you get an inkling of what you could do, do it then. Never plan anything ahead of time. Always go on pure instinct.”


I smile. “I think I can do that."

--------

This has to be one of my favorite books. They way the book was structured, the characters, and the plot were all amazing. I could read Mind Games again and again and never get bored.

Fia was a perfectly broken character. She's been hurt and she deals with it by internalizing the pain. Her defiant nature keeps everyone away from her, granting her privacy in a place where nothing is private. Not thoughts, feelings, or the future. She was clever, funny, and continuously loyal to her sister. Despite everything she'd been through, she never cared so long as Annie was safe. Fia was soft and rough and her character was just impeccably well written. 

Annie, like her sister, deals with the pain. But she remains optimistic and hopeful where her sister has come to terms with their entrapment. Annie was very naive to their situation throughout the entire book. It was only until she actually heard that Keane didn't really care for her that she started to realize Fia was right all those times she'd said the Keane Foundation was wrong. But I suppose when you're blind, its hard to distrust everyone you meet. Annie was a perfect contrast to Fia. 

I loved it. Hands down. It is confusing at first. Kiersten doesn't provide any background information whatsoever. Even the summary is vague. Though I didn't have any information on the backgrounds of the characters, it was a brilliant novel. Kiersten slowly reveals the details of how Fia and Annie managed to become intertwined with the Keane Foundation. She flips back and forth between the present and the past. Its was a wonderful way to write this book. I'm looking forward to more. 

The Cover: I like the varying images over the girl's face. Reminds me of Annie's visions and Fia's face. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Endlessly by Kiersten White

Genre: paranormal
Series and Book #: Paranormalcy Trilogy #3
Pages: 385
Summary:

Evie’s paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate.
 
The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie’s hands.
 
So much for normal.
 
---------

Evie is back, witty banter, pink Taser, and all! Putting aside Supernaturally, a definite low point for the trilogy, Endlessly was a wonderful return to the Evie we've come to know from Paranormalcy.

The writing in Endlessly was sporadic. One minute we're at Lend's, then we're in the Faerie Realms, on to IPCA headquarters, back to Lend's, IPCA, Faerie Realms...it was breathtaking, and not in a good way. There were also some plot holes. For instance, Evie seemed really into planning the Winter Formal for school, but its only relevant at the beginning of the novel. More consistency would have made this book easier to keep pace with.

Kiersten White's creativity is amazing! I loved her idea of the Empty Ones and the gate closing off Earth from the true world of the paranormals. This makes the trilogy set apart from other paranormal reads out there.

This was a great conclusion to a funny, unique trilogy. Its such a peaceful ending, I don't know what to say! Thankfully Evie gets her happily ever after with Lend, in a world blessedly less-full of paranormals. I'm glad she gets serenity after all.

The Cover: All the Paranormalcy covers are beautiful, this one included. I like that the model looks tranquil and happy, like she knows the end is near and everything is going to be okay.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Prodigy by Marie Lu

Genre: sci-fi, dystopian
Series and Book #: Legend Trilogy #2
Pages: 371
Summary:

After escaping from the Republic’s stronghold of Los Angeles, June and day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the pair joins a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and who offer them passage to the Colonies. The Patriots have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
 
It’s the chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silence for too long. But as June realizes this Elector is mothering like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood? What if the Patriots are wrong?
 
--------

The sequel to Legend was a thrilling, action-packed novel! The true villains are revealed, Day and June's relationship is pushed to the brink, and the ending is not what I was expecting at all.

June is used to not revealing her true feelings because she's be trained to keep her emotions in check. But she's so compassionate, loving, and loyal. She loves Day, even though he doesn't realize just how much she does. His ring meant so much to her and she didn't have the capacity to show him that what he'd made out of paper clips was something more special than all the diamonds in the Republic. She's so smart. She always thinks before she acts which is why I think Day should have trusted her more when she said the Elector was someone they could trust. Day was blinded by his hatred for the Republic. I wish he would have trusted June more. It was so hard not to hit him over the head when he claimed he and June could never work because of her status vs. his. Honestly, if June didn't feel the same way as Day, she wouldn't have pushed so hard to keep them together. 

*HUGE SPOILER! CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK!* Day's DYING???!!! NO. YOU CAN'T JUST KILL THE MAIN CHARACTER. UGHHHHHH!!!!

I need the third book. Do June and Day stay together? Does Razor get away? How does the Republic react to Anden? Will the Colonies come back with a vengeance? Is Tess good or bad? Will Day live or die? WHAT WILL HAPPEN???!!!! I have high expectations for the finale of this trilogy.

The Cover: I like how its spray-painted on a wall. It makes it look like someone purposefully put it there as a sign of rebellion against the Republic.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Genre: social issues, romantic drama
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 292
Summary:

Why can’t you choose what you forget and what you remember?
 
There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.
 
But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people—suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon and strangely full of Doug.
 
---------

Just like Jennifer's first book Going Too Far, Forget You was a wonderful teen romance. Doug and Zoey were such a great pairing even if it was bittersweet.

Zoey's dad was such a jerk! How dare he make her feel terrible about herself? It was frustrating to see Zoey fall into this trap with her father over and over again. Him yelling at her about keeping her mother's attempted suicide a secret and then his complaining that she had gotten into a car accident and lost her memory just to ruin his vacation? Right, because anyone in their right mind would do something that horrible to sabotage a Hawaiian getaway for the heck of it. WTF? Jennifer making the connection Doug had called her a spoiled brat, and then Zoey mentioning it to Doug later on, was great. Their relationship was already tempestuous. Zoey didn't remember the night her and Doug hooked up even though he did. Doug already had this developed relationship with Zoey. Zoey tried so hard to deny that anything happened while at the same time falling in love with Doug...it was a great way to write a love story.

Zoey should have known her relationship with Brandon wasn't really a relationship at all. She spent all summer with him, watching him bounce from one girl to the other. I don't understand why she would think she was any different. I hated how everything was sex with Zoey, too. She thought that if she had sex with Brandon it would restore whatever broken relationship they had in the first place. Then she wanted to redo the night with Doug. She couldn't do that without the love making?

Another excellent summer romance, this one with some drama! The characters were all well-developed. I loved loved loved Zoey and Doug together!

The Cover: I like that Zoey looks a little confused, possibly even tormented by her attraction for Doug while she's "with" Brandon whereas Doug seems happy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

From What I Remember... by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas

Genre: comedy, social issues
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 462
Summary:

Kylie: Mexico? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger??
 
Max: It started with Kylie’s laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics, and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we’re stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.
 
Will: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border—but there’s no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.
 
Lily: This CANNOT be happening. It’s like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes, and when I reopen them, they’re still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I’m giving him up without a fight, she’s dead wrong.
 
----------

The events of this book snowballed: first its Kylie and Max at the café, then they're chasing after the guy who stole Kylie's laptop, then they're following the U-Haul truck, sneaking in, and being shipped past the Mexican border, stealing the U-Haul and driving to Ensenada...and that's just the beginning! It was a fast, funny ride!

Max and Kylie are very sincere characters; however, the way they talked took away from any emotional scenes between the two of them. Sure, teenagers will mumble and use way too many "likes" and "you knows" but that doesn't mean its the entirety of their vocabulary. The conversations they had made them sound vapid which contradicted their thoughts.

The biggest character development happened to Kylie. I loved that she learned to let go while she was with Max. An uptight main character is difficult, at least for me. I always just want to them to try something, to go through with the stupid idea, etc. I totally understand her anger toward Max when he denies anything happens between the two of them, but I don't think she should have let him go so easily. Max was made to seem like the dumb jock, but then Stacy and Valerie made him extremely literate...and that's where it stopped. Sure, he was the responsible one in Mexico, but once he was back with Lily he regressed to his beginning dumb-jock self. I wish there would have been a more significant change in his personality. If I was supposed to feel sympathy for Lily, I didn't. Her complaining about how she lost the family fortune wasn't all that terrible; people have it worse. She didn't need the fancy clothes, cars, and houses. Her materialistic attitude didn't change at all. Will was a great character who served his purpose but I don't know how much he needed to change vs. how he was needed to give us perspective on the events happening in the book. Same with Jake.

Wow...that was a lot. The plotline of From What I Remember... was great but the writing left something to be desired. A great summer read.

The Cover: I like how each character is portrayed and all with different expressions. Will (boy, far left) looks as if he could care less. Kylie's frustrated. Max is trying to explain to Lily, who isn't taking his crap.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

Genre: steampunk, science fiction
Series and Book #: Steampunk Chronicles #3
Pages: 377
Summary:

In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken.
 
When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What’s left, of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends’ lives.
 
With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke’s sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kissed her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him…and for Griffin.
 
Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel’s desolate alleyways to Mayfair’s elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.
 
To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist’s ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she’s to have any say in triumph, she must summon a strength even she doesn’t know she has….
 
---------

The villain the Machinist is revisited in the third novel in the Steampunk Chronicles. I kind of wish Kady had developed another antagonist. I don't think the Machinist really needed another mention. His main master plot was foiled in The Girl in the Steel Corset. It was unnecessary for him to come back, this time with another plan to kill off Griffin's friends. Same with Mei. I don't like her returning to the books.

Kady has as way of developing romantic relationships rather slowly. Griffin and Finley still have doubts about one another even though they're obviously in love. Emily and Sam care deeply about one another, yet they still hold off from it. The game of will they/won't they is very tiring.

I'm excited to see what happens to Mila. She's an automaton that looks like a fully grown woman, has the IQ of a fully grown woman, but the emotional quotient of a two year old. Her developing relationship with Jack Dandy is sure to be interesting especially since she's not human.

I JUST REALLY WANT TO SEE THE NEXT BOOK COVER!

I wonder what Kady has in store for the next couple of books. I'm sure the Machinist will make more appearances, but it seems like most of the conflicts she's introduced throughout the series have already been resolved. I mean, Finley has already chosen a boy to love. Emily is back home, safe and sound, in Sam's arms. The Machinist is finally defeated in the real world. Now all they've got to do is get him out of the Aether so that he doesn't torture Griffin. There was a little something with the medium who visited Griffin's estate, but that's it. I don't know what to expect!

The Cover: Oh, goodness, these covers! They're so prettyyyy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

Genre: steampunk, science fiction
Series and Book #: Steampunk Chronicles #2
Pages: 408
Summary:

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling—or dangerous.
 
Sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne and her “straynge band of mysfits” have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper, hauled off by bounty hunters. But Jasper is in the clutches of a devious former friend demanding a trade—the dangerous device Jasper stole from him…for the life of the girl Jasper loves.
 
One false move from Jasper and the strange clockwork collar around Mei’s neck tightens. And tightens.
 
From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens with supernatural abilities is on Jasper’s elusive trail. And they’re about to discover how far they’ll go for friendship.
 
More than ever, Finely Jayne will rely on the powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley…and will risk his life and reputation to save her. Sam, more machine than man, finds his moody heart tested by Irish lass Emily—whose own special abilities are no match for the darkness she discovers on the streets.
 
Now, to help those she’s come to care for so deeply, Finely Jayne must infiltrate a criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much….
 
---------

I loved the plotline of this novel. Jasper was a character only lightly touched upon in the first novel unlike Emily, Finely, Griffin, and Sam. Since he is a member of Griffin's crew, it only seems only fitting we should have a better glimpse into who he really is.

If Kady had the goal of making Mei's deception elusive, she certainly did the job. Initially, I thought Mei truly loved Jasper. It was only until Wildcat made the comment to Finely she didn't trust Mei that I started distrusting her. Even after that, Mei was an on again/off again character. I couldn't really decide what to believe. It wasn't until the very end it was blatantly obvious Mei didn't share Jasper's feelings.

In The Girl in the Steel Corset, Kady created a love triangle between Finley, Griffin, and Jack Dandy. What happened to that? Finley obviously loves Griffin more than she loves Jack. The love triangle seemed to only be necessary in the first book, when Finley had a hard time uniting the two halves of her personality.

Its a good sequel to the first novel. The book picks up pretty much where The Girl in the Steel Corset left off. The ending was satisfying. Kady sometimes will repeat herself. It was distracting. There are some bits that I hope will find themselves in the third installment of this series, or else there are some questions that need answering.

The Cover: The Steampunk Chronicles must have some of the prettiest covers I've ever seen. Everything about it is gorgeous. The plain background draws the eyes to the lovely purple of the dress. The gigantic collar around her neck just makes me cringe, especially after reading the summary.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Genre: fantasy, paranormal romance
Series and Book #: Caster Chronicles #4
Pages: 451
Summary:

I’d had nightmares about him before. Before I knew him, or at least knew he was going to be Ethan. But this wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen in any nightmare. It was real.
 
Ethan Wate has spent most of his life longing to escape the stiflingly small Southern town of Gatlin. He never thought he would meet the girl of his dreams, Lena Duchannes, who unveiled a secretive, powerful, and cursed side of Gatlin, hidden in plain sight. And he never could have expected that he would be forced to leave behind everyone and everything he cares about. So when Ethan awakes after the chilling events of the Eighteenth Moon, he has only one goal: to find a way to return to Lena and the ones he loves.
 
Back in Gatlin, Lena is making her own bargains for Ethan’s return, vowing to do whatever it takes—even if that means trusting old enemies or risking the lives of the family and friends Ethan left to protect.
 
Worlds apart, Ethan and Lena must once again work together to rewrite their fate, in this stunning finale to the Beautiful Creatures series.
 
---------

I don't really know why there is a fourth book. I think Kami and Margaret could have made it a trilogy and called it a day. Beautiful Redemption seemed like a novel they tacked onto the end because there were some loose ends that needed tying. There weren't any crucial moments in this book that there couldn't have been tucked into the first three novels.

Other than the apparent pointlessness of this book, it was fine. I liked both Ethan's world the dead and Lena's land of the living. I would have liked if there had been more challenges in the labyrinth leading to the Far Keep. It seemed really easy to pass through. Kami and Margaret made it seem like it was a feat no one dared face. Lena wasn't weighed down by grief for Ethan's loss. She was a bit manic in her search for any evidence Ethan was trying to communicate. I guess I would be, too, if my boyfriend had died and told me he would try to speak to me in the afterlife.

Many previous characters were found in this book. I am so glad that all the relationships worked out in the end. Ridley and Link, Liv and John, Lena and Ethan...it seemed everyone got their happily ever after. Amma found her peace, as did Ethan's dad, Marion, and everyone in Gatlin. As cheesy as it may seem, all these characters deserved happiness. I have loved them so much. This was an amazing series that I will never regret reading.

The Cover: I don't really understand the staircase.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Genre: fantasy, paranormal romance
Series and Book #: Caster Chronicles #3
Pages: 518
Summary:

This summer has changed everything, in both the Caster and Mortal worlds, even if the folks in Gatlin didn’t know it.
 
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impacts of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected—and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What—or who—will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?
 
For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena—and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself—forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask.
 
Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.
 
---------

"When I first met you, that's what I remember. I looked up at the sky and thought, I'm going to love this person because even the sky looks different."
Lena from Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, page 494
 
I hate Ethan for not telling anyone about his dreams or about his getting "sick" (if you call losing part of your soul getting sick, I guess). Because I think a lot of pain could have been avoided if he just had been honest with Lena! The panic in Gatlin is fun to watch. Throughout the series its been made clear that a lot of the citizens of Gatlin are pretty superstitious. Since there are signs of the apocalypse its a welcome change of pace to witness the city suddenly readies themselves for the second coming. Especially since Link has changed, Ethan is slowly losing his mind, and Lena can't control her crazy powerful magic. It's seriously chaos.

In this book, Ethan and Lena's relationship has solidified to the point Lena can stand to let Ethan go, but only because she knows he will do everything in his power to bring her back. Amma, on the other hand, goes to great lengths to change fate so that he won't die when previously she was a firm believer in the Order of Things. Roles are reversed and its great that throughout the series, Kami and Margaret have been able to offer a broad view of the characters personalities. It makes the characters very realistic.
 
*WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!* Seriously, though? The ending? Really, Kami and Margaret? REALLY? DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO PUSH ETHAN OFF OF A WATER TOWER? WHAT POINT ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE??????
 
Anyway, I don't know what to say except that Beautiful Chaos is just as excellently written as the first two books of the Caster Chronicles. 
 
The Cover: I don't know what to say other than that it's perfect just like the others 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Genre: fantasy, paranormal romance
Series and Book #: Caster Chronicles #2
Pages: 503
Summary:

Some loves are meant to be. Others are cursed.
 
Ethan Wate used to think of his small Southern town as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along.
 
Together, Ethan and Lena can face anything, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away. Haunted by strange visions, Ethan finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.
 
Now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back.
 
-----------

The second book is just as good as the first! I'm so upset I wasn't able to continue this series until now, long after I've read Beautiful Creatures. That was such a long time ago.

Lena acts like an actual person mourning from serious loss. Albeit she is a Caster and has a more powerful way of displaying her emotions. Although this whole series is based on Ethan and Lena's relationship, their not being together didn't make the book collapse. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have added enough substance to the novel that it's not boring when Ethan and Lena aren't together. I think that is an excellent way to write a book, because a single relationship shouldn't be the sole purpose of a book. There should be adventure, mystery, and bigger problems than two teenagers who are having trouble in paradise.

There was so much going on but it wasn't overwhelming. I was able to keep all the details straight as I read the book. Ethan, Liv, and Link's treks through the underground world of the Casters were fun if not a good glimpse into the magical world Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are writing about. They are very good at making their setting and characters truly realistic.

The Cover: The lettering is so lovely. Thank goodness they haven't changed the covers. I don't know if I would like any other covers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rapture by Lauren Kate

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Fallen Series #4
Pages: 448
Summary:

The sky is dark with wings….
 
Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.
 
Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this—live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies…and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.
 
And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her—and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters.
 
In the fight for Luce, who will win?
 
---------

The final book of the Fallen series redeemed the series for me. Daniel and Luce have resolved whatever doubts they have had in their relationship, there is serious conflict, and Luce has gotten past her selfishness and is actually becoming someone I like as a main character.

Luce being an angel wasn't as big a reveal as I think Lauren Kate was intending. I had the inkling of the idea from the get-go. The dramatics were unnecessary, and I'm not entirely sure it needed to wait until the final book for it to be revealed. I realize that whenever Luce becomes aware of her holy heritage, she spontaneously combusts, and I know Daniel doesn't want that to happen ever again, but its already established this incarnation of Luce is different because she wasn't "claimed" to one side of the holy war. Since Luce figures it out in the fourth book, and nothing happens, I think it should have been brought to light earlier. Dragging out the series for this long was a little unnecessary.

Rapture was a good finale for this series. There's some true character development from Luce, there's actually a climax that made me really want to read the book, and the side characters were lovely. Dee, Arriane, and company will always be my favorite part of these books.

The Cover: Thankfully, they're back to normal. I think she's supposed to be on the Mount in Israel? Anyway, I like the return to the dark covers.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Passion by Lauren Kate

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Fallen Series #3
Pages: 420
Summary:

Luce would die for Daniel.
 
And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way….
 
Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime…going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel…and finally unlock the key to making their love last.
 
Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history. Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames…forever.
 
--------

"You knew it when I followed you to the top of Corcovado in Rio, when you wanted to see the statue up close. You knew it when I carried you two sweaty miles to the River Jordan after you got sick outside Jerusalem. I told you not to eat all those dates. You knew it when you were my nurse in that Italian hospital during the first World War, and before that when I hid in your cellar during the tsar's purge of St. Petersburg. When I scaled the turret of your castle in Scotland during the Reformation, and danced you around and around at the king's coronation ball at Versailles. You were the only woman dressed in black. There was that artists' colony in Quintana Roo, and the protest march in Cape Town where we both spent the night in the pen. The opening of the Globe Theatre in London. We had the best seats in the house. And when my ship wrecked in Tahiti, you were there, as you were when I was a convict in Melbourne, and a pick-pocket in eighteenth-century Nîmes, and a monk in Tibet. You turn up everywhere, always, and sooner or later you sense all of the things I've just told you. But you won't let yourself accept what you feel might be the truth."
Fallen by Lauren Kate, page 357


I liked this installment of the Fallen series because we get to glimpse into Luce's past lives. Thankfully, she's looking for something more concrete in her and Daniels' relationship that isn't just blind passion. Also, Lauren Kate includes Daniel's perspective as he travels back in time to find Luce. Not only was I able to experience Luce's feelings, but also Daniel's, and it added some dimension to their relationship.

I wrote down the quote you can find at the beginning of this post when I was first reading Fallen, and I appreciated being able to recognize the places Luce and Daniel went because I'd heard them before. I have to give Lauren Kate props for her continuity.

Passion was my favorite novel of the bunch because I liked going back in time with Daniel and Luce. I, too, wanted to figure out how their relationship has developed over the ages. And trust me, the end is shocking, if not a bit crafty on Lauren Kate's part.

The Cover: Not my favorite at all. The Fallen covers are dark and the bright splotches of  clouds threw me off.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Torment by Lauren Kate

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Fallen Series #2
Pages: 452
Summary:

Hell on earth.
 
That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.
 
It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.
 
At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows into her previous live. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.
 
What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?
 
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Oh my goodness, did this book fall to the Curse of the Second. I understand that Luce is frustrated and no one is answering her questions, especially not Daniel (who, let me add, is breaking his own rules), but I don't think that's a good enough reason to search for anything and everything that could lead her to her true identity. Especially when she's almost killed on one of her searches for answers. Plus, after all the warnings Daniel and her teachers at Shoreline have given her, you would think a girl would learn that its dangerous to be away from school property by herself.

Also, let's just talk about Daniel for a second. He's the one who has been drilling into Luce's skull that there are rules and they need to be followed and they can't see one another because its dangerous yet he still sneaks on campus and talks to her. How do you expect your girlfriend to follow rules when you can't even follow your own? And the revelation that Daniel hasn't been exactly exclusive in their centuries-old relationship is supposed to be surprising and heartbreaking? Yeah, sure, every seventeen years Daniel ventures out into the world in search of Luce's reincarnated soul, but that doesn't mean he's gonna be alone for those breaks. Besides, didn't Luce have a thing for Cam? And now the boy at school? She's not without sin, either.

Obviously I didn't really like Torment. As I said in my review of Fallen, I think Luce is a shallow character, and a bit selfish too. Maybe through her decision at the end of this novel will help her personality.

The Cover: I like the theme going for the novels. The backgrounds always reflect the setting Luce finds herself in and this time its on the West Coast ocean.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Fallen Series #1
Pages: 452
Summary:

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
 
Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are screwups, and security cameras watch every move.
 
Except Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce—he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret…even if it kills her.
 
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I appreciate Lauren Kate didn't initially push Luce and Daniel together. Of course, there was the whole "I-recognize-him-from-somewhere-but-I-can't-exactly-remember-where" mixed with "Oh-my-God-he's-so-hot". Daniel's rude reception of Luce kind of puts off their romance until later in the novel, after Luce gets tangled with other people. Still, it's a little unbelievable the amount of time Luce spent fawning over Daniel.

Luce wasn't a terrible main character but she was shallow. First, she's all upset that Daniel doesn't seem attracted to her. Then she's upset that Cam likes her instead of Daniel. I mean, she has two attractive guys vying for her attention and she still has a poor-me attitude? Her commitment to her friends was a good quality. Luce loves Penn and Arriane to no end. 

So, altogether it wasn't bad, but it wasn't my favorite. I loved the side characters more than anything, especially Gabbe and Arriane. Luce didn't really undergo any character developments as the story went on. I hope she becomes a more three-dimensional character as the series continues.

The Cover: The background of the forest surrounding Sword & Cross is good, as well as the darkness. The model looks a lot like Luce is described.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Genre: adventure
Series and Book #: Heist Society #3
Pages: 336
Summary:

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the Fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting—or stealing—whatever they want.
 
No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir—this time, Hale might be the mark. 
 
Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy.
 
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Hot diggity Ally Carter has done it again!

The reason I really enjoy the Heist Society novels (as well as the Gallagher Girl series) is that Ally Carter has a way of creating characters that never get boring. Kat and Hale continue to be themselves but now they have a bit more to risk. Kat's always been a con; Hale now has responsibility and he can't afford to tangle with the darker side of New York. Kat's family is compassionate. It's nice to have a real family built up within a novel. Many times characters don't have parents or are estranged from whomever they have left that could be considered their family. They don't trust them, they hate them for reasons, etc. The Bishop's stick together. A code among thieves, if you will. Because Hale means so much to Kat, he's considered a part of the Bishop's wacky family. Thankfully, Hale knows this too. I'm glad he and Kat weren't separated for long in the novel.

Ugh, and the cons are so much fun! There's never a dull moment with Kat's crew. They mesh very well. The dynamic within the group was enough to bring a smile to my face. There was conflict, of course, but the whole family situation really extended to Kat's friends as well. They stick together.

This installation in the Heist Society novels lives up to its predecessors. I can't wait for the next one!

The Cover: Elegant, classy, and is that Hale I spot in Kat's sunglasses?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Railsea by China Miéville

Genre: science fiction
Series and Page #: none
Pages: 424
Summary:

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death & the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea—even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-colored mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they comes across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a kind of treasure map indicating a mythical place untouched by iron rails—leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. Soon he’s hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters & salvage-scrabblers. & it might not be just Sham’s life that’s about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.
 
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What a strange book. It had hints of Moby Dick but at the same time, China Miéville created this intricate, slightly confusing, but altogether excellent novel.

Sham is an immediately likeable character. He has all these dreams and ambitions of doing what his parents used to do. Something like treasure hunting among the dangerous flatlands surrounding the rails. Instead, he trains to become a doctor like his uncles want him to do. He's a compassionate person. It seems as if everyone likes him, from the captain to the rest of the moletrain crew. He's very ambitious, too. He comes into himself while he's in the railsea. Its fun to see him develop throughout the book.

While the characters excelled, the descriptions were kind of vague. China Miéville didn't do such a great job of explaining the setting of the novel. There was a little description of the way the world was built because there were layers of earth where humans inhabited and where creatures roamed...? I was very confused.

Its difficult to really get into this book. But once you get past the initial exposition its easy to get into the flow of the book. The action was very well written, as well as the characters met throughout Sham's adventures. The descriptions were lacking and occasionally they took away from the novel. Probably not one of those books you'd find at the main shelves of a bookstore, but if you're looking for something new, I would recommend Railsea.

The Cover: I love this cover. The tracks and the garbage and the way the word "railsea" hangs there. It's an attention getter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Genre: fantasy, sci-fi, adventure
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 528
Summary:

There are six different stories set in different times: Adam Ewing, an American traveling across the world for his work; Robert Frobisher, a young musician seeking security and an apprenticeship in Belgium; Luisa Rey, a journalist following in her father’s footsteps hoping to uncover a dangerous nuclear power plant; Timothy Cavendish, an elderly gentleman who is sent to a nursing home and is waiting for his chance to escape; Sonmi-451, a clone beginning to understand the world; and finally, Zachry Bailey, a sixteen year old boy growing up in a primitive post-apocalyptic Earth. David Mitchell intertwines their lives in one simple novel.
 
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"A half-finished book is a half-finished love affair."
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, page 64
 
This was such an interesting read because David Mitchell didn't stick with just one genre as he explores all six different worlds he has created. It bounces from historical fiction to science fiction to post-apocalyptic. This may seem like it would be confusing to read, but it's really not. Its distinctive when he switches stories. The best part is, I got sucked into each story. None were any worse than the others.
 
Each of David Mitchell's characters in this novel had a separate voice. Each story has an upside and a downside; nothing is perfect. But when writing six separate stories I think it would be extremely difficult to make sure there's no repetition or one story filters into another. Nothing of that sort happened in this novel. The setup of this book begins with Adam Ewing. Then, about halfway through Adam's story, Robert Frobisher's begins. The pattern continues until Zachry Bailey's. That story continues until its finish and then the book returns to the second half of Sonmi-451's story. Then the book continues to the end of Sonmi-451, Timothy Cavendish, etc. until finally, Adam Ewing writes the final entry in his journal.
 
Cloud Atlas was made into a movie of which I haven't seen. I would like to see how they interpreted it onscreen.
 
Cloud Atlas is a unique novel. As much as it may seem confusing, it's not. each character has their own voice and David Mitchell does an excellent job of tying all the stories together so they're not random. Sometimes the individual stories ended a bit abruptly. I wouldn't immediately skip to the second half of the story because you'll miss some crucial details in between.
 
The Cover: I love how it portrays different versions of the clouds. And there are six! One for every character. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Genre: mystery
Series and Book #: unknown
Pages: 243
Summary:

Some memories are better left untouched.
 
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family.
 
It’s a miracle…at first.
 
Then the tensions start to build, and his family starts falling apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together.
 
But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked.
 
Something unspeakable….
 
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Lisa really knew how to make Ethan's story believable, but she also plants the seeds of suspicion from early on. Ethan is a likeable character and it seems unlikely that he wouldn't be the same boy who was abducted when he was a kid. Throughout the book there are hints and clues as to who Ethan really is, and its such an interesting development of a character.

I admire Lisa because she must have had to do so much research into abductees and what they go through. Ethan was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, when hostages express empathy toward their captors. Ethan often reminisced about the woman who cared for him until he was dropped off at a home in Nebraska. His memory loss from when he was a kid seems pretty obvious. What drove me to believing Ethan's claim he was the same kid was his ever-present need to remember everything. He wasn't resisting his memories; he truly wished he could remember his brother and best friend and mother and father.

I hope there's a sequel, or something to tie up all the loose ends Lisa left at the end of Dead to You. There's more to be explored in this story (I won't say anymore because I'm afraid I'll let something slip that will ruin the book for you. But I will say this: you won't see the end coming.)

The Cover: It looks like Ethan is dead. The snow connects back to the climate Ethan returns to, and is another metaphor for death.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Genre: social issues
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 310
Summary:

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?
 
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R. J. Palacio did something I don't think a lot of authors would be able to accomplish. Walking into the mind of a ten year old with a facial deformity can't be easy, and it must be even harder to translate his thoughts into something poignant and understandable to an adult, or a young adult.

Auggie was such a sweetheart. He was so realistic that I can imagine him being out there somewhere battling people who only see his face and not his personality. He wasn't naïve. He knew what was going on and he had the courage to continue on with his life. Not only did R. J. give us Auggie's perspective but she also offered the thoughts of Auggie's friends and family. That gave a different view to what was going on, because although Auggie wasn't a naïve kid, he was kinder than others would have been in his situation.

Even though this isn't a young adult book per say, its still a great read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

The Cover: Simple and creative.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Genre: post-apocalyptic, paranormal
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 239
Summary:

R is a young man with an existential crisis—he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
 
After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R but also his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.
 
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"Who is she, this girl? What is she? She is everything. Her body contains the history of life, remembered in chemicals. Her mind contains the history of the universe, remembered in pain, in joy and sadness, hate and hope and bad habits, every thought of God, past-present-future, remembered, felt, and hoped for all at once."
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, page 222
 
R can't articulate his thoughts. This gives us more insight into R personally. He doesn't say much, because he can't, and so all we hear are his musings on the world around him. He's a very insightful person. Seemingly unlike his zombie comrades, R has some human consciousness about him. His relationship with Julie isn't immediate. Thankfully Julie has some reservations before she starts anything romantic with R. R, unlike Julie, can't seem to get her out of his mind. But for entirely different reasons. R is finally feeling something. Its an interesting pairing, although Julie's father being the head of a whole armada against the undead is a little tired.
 
Some of you may know that Warm Bodies was adapted into a movie. As far as I've heard, it was pretty good. I would recommend reading the book if you'd be more interested in R's philosophies. I think Hollywood spent more time on R's romance with Julie.
 
Oh my goodness, what a wonderful book. Isaac Marion's perspective on being undead was interesting. There aren't many novels that take a look at what its like to be a zombie. Warm Bodies isn't exactly Walking Dead or Zombieland. R is a likeable main character. I definitely would read this again, no question.
 
The Cover: So cool! The dark landscape says something about the dark world R's living in, while the beautiful red scarf shows his final shred of humanity, still clinging to him after all this time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Ruby Red Trilogy #2
Pages: 384
Summary:

Gwen’s life has been a roller coaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve. When not searching through history for the other time travelers and asking them for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surround the Circle really mean.
 
It’s not easy when a secret society, a dangerous Count, and her own time-traveling partner, Gideon, are determined to keep her from the truth. Especially since Gwen can’t decide whether Gideon really believes she’s a traitor to the Circle or might actually be on her side—and creeping into her heart.
 
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UGH! I wish it didn't take as long for these to reach the U.S. They're so good! Luckily, Sapphire Blue didn't fall victim to the curse of the second book. I'm sure you've all experienced it (and if you haven't, consider yourself blessed). I've always known the second book to be the least interesting of a series, trilogy, saga, whatever. Kerstin Gier's second book is just as great at as the first, and hopefully, the third and final book of this trilogy will be just as fun and thrilling.

Gwen was back, sparkling personality and all. She's an amazing main character. She's so quirky, and funny, and very loyal to those she loves. If that wasn't enough to make you love her, just imagine her drunk singing Memory from the musical Cats, in a time long before Andrew Lloyd Webber makes an appearance *waggles eyebrows suggestively*

Sapphire Blue delivers. Color me impressed! Gwen comes back with a vengeance, bringing her unique, awkward personality. Trust me, it's a page turner, and on the final pages you'll be frantically searching for what you missed. It's a cliffhanger if I've ever read one! If only Emerald Green would come out sooner in the U. S....

The Cover: Again, this is a different edition. I think it's the U. K. version...? Lovely. I like the dress theme continuing.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Steelflower by Lilith Saintcrow

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Steelflower Chronicles #1
Pages: 310
Summary:

Picking the wrong pocket can get a girl in trouble…
 
Thief, assassin, sellsword—Kaia Steelflower is famous. Well, mostly famous, and mostly for the wrong reasons. She’s made a good life for herself, despite being kicked out of her homeland for having no magic. She’s saving up for her retirement, when she can settle down, run an inn, and leave the excitement for others.
 
Then she picks the wrong pocket, wakes up with a hangover, and gets far more than she bargained for. Now she has a huge, furry barbarian to look after, a princeling from her homeland to fend off, and an old debt to fulfill. And for some reason, the God-Emperor’s assassins want to kill her.
 
It’s never easy being an elvish sellsword, and this time it just might be fatal…

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Sequel please! Steelflower was packed with amazing adventures, loveable characters, and a world full of intriguing stories.

Kaia was a great character, although she had a nasty habit of denying anything and everything Darik told her about herself and the Elven world she'd left. She was pretty adamant in her belief that she was magic-less and that she'd been kicked out of her country although with the combination of what Darik said and Kaia's memories, it was hard to believe. Which, I suppose, was the point. Despite her stubbornness, Kaia kicked butt, and she has a heart of gold despite her nickname as an Iron Flower.

Steelflower's world is tricky to delve into right away. Lilith Saintcrow doesn't explain things very well. The language, folklore, and idioms are for the reader to figure out for themselves. But it's not hard to get into the flow of things.

I would love to read sequels to this book. Unfortunately, Lilith Saintcrow says on the Steelflower page in her blog that due to piracy, she's not writing any sequels at this time. Hopefully they'll come around sooner rather than later because I really need to know what happens next! If not because of the plot than because of the characters. Kaia and Darik have finally started to develop a relationship, and they're so cute together!! This book is kind of hidden among the others Lilith Saintcrow has written (Strange Angels, for instance) but I think its wonderful. A++, would recommend.

The Cover: So lame compared to the story. Don't judge this story by its cover. At all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Genre: paranormal
Series and Book #: Strange Angels #1
Pages: 293
Summary:

Dad? Zombie. Mom? Long gone. Me? Well, that’s the scary part.
 
The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken down her fair share of bad guys. She’s armed, dangerous, and ready to kill first and ask questions later. So it’s gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust…
 
Dru Anderson has been “strange” for as long as she can remember, traveling from town to town with her father to hunt the things that go bump in the night. It’s a weird life, but a good one—until it all explodes in an icy, broken-down Dakota town, when a hungry zombie busts through her kitchen door. Alone, terrified, and trapped, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. The monsters have decided to hung back—and this time, Dru’s on their menu. Chances of survival? Slim to none.
 
If she can’t last until sunup, it’s game over…
 
Dru Anderson’s not afraid of the dark. But she should be.

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I've been meaning to check out this series for awhile, and finally when a friend of mine recommended them to me did I get around to it. I can't say its the greatest choice I've ever made in my literate life, but the book was definitely good.

Dru was a very stubborn and very moody character. She's always wanted her dad's approval, seeing as how her mother is dead, so she's very obedient to him. She's not all-knowing. She has her skills and her weaknesses, and Lili St. Crow does a good job of showing that she is, indeed, a teenager, and there's a lot she needs to learn. Graves was a fun sidekick. He wasn't portrayed as a typical strong-guy type seen in many paranormal YA novels. Dru had to save him from himself, which was a welcome change of pace.

Lili St. Crow's writing during the scenes with the supernatural was excellent. The werewolf jumping through the window at the mall, and the creatures trying to kill Dru in her dreams, and the zombies...I was scared for Dru's life! I'm interested to see how the series continues with the new character introductions at the end and, of course, I want to know what Dru is short for. But I must say, this series isn't my number one must read at the moment. It's one of those books to read in a lull, when you need something good and can commit to an entire series.

The Cover: Wonderful! The darkness, Dru's expression, even the lettering adds anticipation to the book.