Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire


I am coming.
Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance?  Quoted from Goodreads


I'll be honest, I had some issues with the way The Clockwork Princess ended (mostly good, but a few things that really bugged me) so I was a little nervous going into this book to see if it was even worth reading books 4, 5, and 6 of the series when I enjoyed the way book 3 ended so much, and I did end up liking it.  I felt like this book sort of brought the series back up to where it was in the first three.  We get a lot more action and a lot less angst (of course there is some angst.  This is a Cassandra Clare book, after all).  

So what made this book stand out from all the others so far?  First: Jace and Clary's relationship.  Everything is just so much better here.  Yes, (and warning, there are some spoilers for the last book if you haven't read it, so be careful) they can't touch each other for a good portion of it, but their relationship is solid.  The indecision and doubt that we get in the five previous books is gone, so while they still have problems, they work together much better as a team.

Second: Action.  This book has an amazing prologue that completely sucks you into the story and never lets up.  We get deception, murders, war, kidnappings, and as evil a villain as you could desire, all of which leads up to a climactic ending.  I'll be honest, I was expecting more deaths (don't worry, we do get a few) and destruction, but I felt like it was still an satisfying conclusion, and enough bad things happened you never knew who exactly was safe.

Third, Cameos and the Clave. There are a lot of really fun cameos from the Infernal Devices (Tessa and Clary have a fun little conversation), so the books tie in well together. As for the Clave, I love that they're supposed to be good but  kind of evil at the same time.  It lets you totally see why Valentine was able to gather so many followers against them.  At one point, I was ready to overthrow them myself, which leads into my next point.

Warning. If you're thinking maybe I'll just finish up this book then take a little break from Cassandra Clare's novels for awhile, think again.  This book totally sets up her next series.  The prologue is all Emma Carstairs.  We periodically get chapters from her POV throughout the book, and there's even a pretty emotional cliffhanger ending for her part of the story.  Aaaaaaaaaaaah!  

As far as Clary, Jace, Simon, Sebastian, Isabelle, Alec, Magnus, Jocelyn, Luke, Maia, etc. goes, this is a pretty good ending (I'm not saying they all live, I'm just trying to give you all the people who get a POV in the story).  Things aren't perfect, and I'm betting they'll make small appearances in in the next series, but it ends really well.

So are these last three books worth it?  I'd say yes.  It's another fun adventure full of the characters you know and love.  It also ties into the ginormous universe Clare seems to be building, and it's fun to get all these connections. I'm giving it a strong 4 stars, with potential to being bumped up half a star later depending on how I feel in six months.  And I will be reading Lady Midnight when it comes out next year.  With the introduction to fiery, little Emma and all her problems, it would be impossible not to.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Trailer Tuesday

This was supposed to go up last week, but due to some computer issues, it never made it. Still, guess what comes out today!  I'll be honest, I haven't liked the second trilogy in this series as much as the first, but it's still fun to revisit that world, and I'm excited to see what happens in this sixth installment.

Okay, so maybe after the City of Bones movie trailers, this one isn't quite as impressive, but I still admire how much they put into it. Plus, it's kind of a no brainer what I'm currently reading (smile).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review: Missing Lily

“You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house.

He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night.

Lylin is not used to being alone—much less alone, hurt, and lost. So when she is separated from her guard and forced to abandon her horse, she counts herself lucky to stumble upon a manor house. Still frightened by those who chased her into the night, she keeps her identity a secret, calling herself Lily as she accepts the help of kind servants and the compassion of Lord Fallon. When they fall into an easy friendship, she wonders if her secrecy was too hasty. However, as she gets to know the manor and its residents, Lylin discovers that she’s not the only one hiding secrets, and it may be a very good thing that her host doesn’t know her true identity as a member of the royal family.  Quoted from Goodreads


If you've read Edenbrooke and Blackmoore and wish the author would put out something else or you have discovered Just Ella and are dying for another installment or if you're just in the mood for a fun, clean romance, may I suggest Missing Lily.

This is, simply, a quick, fun, delightful book.  It's one of those you read when you want to curl up on the couch with a blanket or maybe soak up some sun on the beach and fall in love.  Between the cute moments, the author actually explores some interesting issues, such as staying true to who you are vs. pretending to be someone you aren't in order to impress a boy, personal happiness vs. duty to your family and country, and falling in love/staying in a relationship with someone you know is bad/wrong for you.

Despite all that, if you're reading this book, you're here for the romance, and it is adorable.  Some of the twists are pretty predictable, but I loved the way the characters handled the obstacles thrown in their path. Both of them consciously tried to do the right thing from the beginning even though it wasn't always easy.  Lily/Lylin and Lord Rhys Fallon are both strong characters, and I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and develop over the course of the book.

Probably my favorite aspect of the book, though (and yes, this is part of the romance) are the letters Lily and Rhys write to each other and never intend to send.  Even though there were ample reasons they shouldn't write each other, I love how it recognized that each found a person in the other that they trusted their whole selves with and were willing to share their deepest thoughts and feelings. It helped move the plot along even when they weren't together (and explains the picture on the cover).

This is a stand-alone book, but it is better if you've read Just Ella (which, in my opinion still might be the better of the two, but they're both very cute).  Not only do we get to see Ella and Gavin again and how their life is going, but you can tell Ella's had a big influence on Lily and the way she sees the world.  All in all, if you're looking for a light, sweet romance, you really should pick this up.  I'm giving it a strong 4 stars (which is kind of hard for me on pure romance books), and I can't wait to see what the author comes out with next.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Theater Thursday: Cinderella

This came out today, and I know it's not much, but I am really excited for this movie.  Plus, there are so many YA adaptions of this classic fairy tale I feel it sort of fits right in with my blog.  Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think.  Me, personally? I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: Of Neptune

Emma and Galen’s kingdom and their love is threatened by long-lost Syrena in the brilliant conclusion to Anna Banks bestselling trilogy.

Emma, half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.
Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean and the land-dwelling, freshwater Syrena. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love but their ocean kingdoms.  Quoted from Goodreads


I went into this book completely blind---again the case of not reading the blurb, but I figured, what's the point?  I already read and liked the first two, so of course I was going to read the third one.  The interesting thing about this series is that it easily could have ended at book two. I had no idea where this book was going in this third installment.  Basically Galen and Emma had everything they wanted, so what was next?

I actually loved this format because it made the second book VERY relevant to the series instead of a placeholder like so many middle books.  Plus, it left this third one open to a new (sort of) adventure.  Don't get me wrong, everything is still connected to the first two books, but we get new places, new people, and it doesn't matter that I read the second book a year before because half of this book is new stuff anyway.

This actually was a delightful little adventure. It didn't feel quite as earth-shattering as the end of book two but it was much more personal and in Emma and Galen's scope. The town of Neptune was a perfect blend of welcoming small town with secret, sinister undertones, so you never quite knew who to trust.  Plus, Galen and Emma saw everything differently, so each brought their own viewpoint and suspicion to what and who they should believe.  Emma and Galen also spend a good portion of the book apart. While I'm generally not a bit fan of this, I loved it here.  We've already established them as a couple, so the romance didn't have a lot of suspense left, but the creepy factor of the town certainly did. Separating them, contrasting Galen's experiences with Emma's, made for a much more exciting story.

As for the love triangle? Meh.  Honestly, it wasn't really much of a factor. It's not like you don't know what's going to happen there from the beginning. Mostly I was just worried Emma would do something stupid (which she occasionally did, but so did Galen), resulting in drama and taking away from the book's more exciting and mysterious plot lines.  I think the whole plot line was more designed to create problems (really, the purpose of all love triangles) and to show that Emma had options before committing to Galen.

So if you've read the first two books and enjoyed them but didn't know how you felt about reading this one because the ending of the second one was so perfect, I would absolutely pick it up.  I'm bumping it up to a surprised 4 stars.  I sort of had low expectations, and this totally exceeded them.  Mermaid books are hard, and while this one is a far cry from perfect, this series is probably the best I've read so far.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review: After the End

She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.  Quoted from Goodreads


I enjoyed Amy Plum's Die for Me series, so when I saw she was writing a new book, it went straight on my to-read list.  The one downside to this was I never actually read the little blurb accompanying it.  I looked at the title, the barren cover with a city in the distance, and thought I knew what this book was about.   I was 90% wrong.

This isn't a post-apocalyptic survival story or even a dystopian one (though those are on the outs, so I didn't really expect that), though Juneau thinks that's her life.  No, it's much more a journey to uncover the truth after a lifetime of being lied to while, at the same time, avoiding people who want to capture her just like they did the rest of her village. What the blurb doesn't tell you is it's dual POV, so only half the story is Juneau's.  The rest belongs to Miles, and while his path joins hers pretty quickly, his half the story is, for the most part, pretty different.

I'm not sure how I feel about the dual POV.  I really liked Juneau as a character.  She's different, independent, responsible, smart, and very determined.  With her we get the whole fish-out-of-water with a mystical twist that makes her a superb character.  Miles, on the other hand, is your typical misunderstood rich boy, and honestly, his story is a lot less exciting.  Sure, it's fun to see exactly how odd Juneau is from another person's perspective and I liked knowing exactly why Miles was with her, but half of his chapters (especially the first half) could have easily been taken out.  The good news is he looks to become a much more interesting character in the second book and I really did appreciate his growth.

There's a lot of betrayal (which I love) and manipulation to keep the plot moving.  We also get a bunch of separate groups looking for Juneau, so there are different sorts of threats for them to watch out for, especially right at the beginning and the very end, but a lot of this book is a semi-mystical road trip/mystery.  The magic/science in this book is also really interesting.  I enjoyed the juxtaposition of   the two different elements and how both work together to form Juneau's world.

As for the romance, I appreciate the lack of insta-love, though I still felt like the characters grew close a little too fast.  I'm going to be vague to avoid spoilers, but I liked how Juneau put finding her family before Miles and how Miles reacted when she did something a little too off the wall/creepy.  It made their relationship more realistic, and while that may have made it less "romantic," it made the characters ring more true.

All in all this was an enjoyable read, despite the fact that it really wasn't what I was expecting at all.  It ended up being very 2014, and while this could have hurt the book, I actually really liked it.  I enjoyed the mystery and the lies that tore Juneau's world apart, and despite this, she's still determined to find her family and the father that deceived her.  This is a solid 3.5 stars for me. It was an interesting beginning to a new adventure, and based off her previous series, I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes next.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Book Review: Royally Lost

Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince.

Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour.
When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?  Quoted from Goodreads


Okay, put the book down and slowly back away. I'm serious.  I know it looks cute and fun and the perfect fluffy, summer read, but it's not.  I actually had to force myself to finish this because I kept thinking maybe it would get better, and then I was so close to the end, I figured why not keep going? But honestly, it was a complete, irritating waste of time.

So why should you avoid this book at all costs?  First, I absolutely hated the main character.  She came across as a spoilt, selfish fourteen-year-old rather than a competent 18-year-old about to attend Northwestern University.  She's traveling through Europe (which, because it's me, I'm totally envious of) and all she can think of is that everything is, like, a bazillion years old, and why are Europeans so stuck in the past?  She worships at the alter of McDonalds (because who likes food in Europe?), is constantly whining because her parents forcer her on a European cruise (oh the tragedy!), and rebuffs every effort her nice, well-meaning step-mother makes at trying to bring their dysfunctional family together.  I honestly couldn't stand this girl, and while she eventually gives her step-mother a chance at the very end of the book (the only real growth we see in her at all), it's far too little too late.

But if the main character is annoying, at least the love interest/royal prince should be awesome, right? Meh.  Not really. First is his very questionable taste in women.  Second, while he's not nearly as annoying and whiny as Becca, he's nothing to write home about, either.  He's hot and rebelling against his antiquated parents.  At least in his case he does have a bit of a point, but there just wasn't enough character development for me to really care.

Their relationship goes a bit too fast for me, and after a week, they are both declaring their love for each other.  He travels half-way around the world to find her, and she mopes for weeks on end because nothing in life matters after he's gone. I just didn't feel their connection. I was told it plenty of times, but I never actually felt it. It was all about how beautiful and fun the other person was, but mostly built on their mutual dislike of their parents.  

That's the last problem with this book.  Way too much telling and not enough showing.  I realize that I won't always relate to characters in books or necessarily even like them, but if someone or some book is well enough written, that doesn't matter all that much because it works and serves the story.  That wasn't the case here. 

As far as the good stuff about this book? I love the cover, and you can tell the author has either a) been to the places she describes or b) done her homework.  She actually threw in a lot of fun places on this river cruise through Europe that I enjoyed, despite the main characters distinct lack of enthusiasm.

I had such high hopes for this book. It should have been a delightful modern fairy-tale read, but it failed on almost every point.  It made Monte Carlo look deep. Really it should be a 1 star book but because I'm feeling generous and kind and I really don't like giving them out and it had so much potential, I'll bump it up to a low 2 stars.  I know it looks intriguing. Believe me, I was sucked in, but, really, don't bother.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: The One

The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.
From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers' hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey... Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.  Quoted from Goodreads


This was such a pleasant surprise! To be honest, the second book didn't up the stakes enough for me, so I was a little bit worried about this one.  There could have been too much drama, too much stupidity, and one of the most pathetic love triangles ever written.  While this book did have it's stupid moments, it was so much better than it's predecessors, fixing most of the things that drove me nuts and explaining elements we've wondered about through the first two books.

Things I loved.  First, I love that we get more interaction with the rebels. I realize this is the subplot, but since you basically know where the book was heading from about page 50 of The Selection (I mean, you read if for the journey, not the end result)---and note, I'm trying not to include spoilers---this is where most of the mystery and world building comes in, and I love how we got all our questions answered and the world fleshed out a bit more.

Second, I love the friendships America makes.  Even characters that annoyed me are fleshed out and I ended up liking some that drove me absolutely crazy before.  This book could have been girl vs. girl (and of course it is at times), but I love that she actually befriends her competitors and not just her maids.  Sure, there's still conflict, but I thought the whole issue was actually handled really well.

What bothered me?  I'd love to say the book is flawless, but there were still some really stupid moments, but they weren't unrealistically stupid . . . mostly. Plus---and again, I'm not really giving anything big away here---I don't like when the other person in a love triangle finds a different love by the end of the book. Hope? Sure, but not the love of their life after loosing the former love of their life.  It's too easy an ending.

As for the romance, because honestly why else would you read this, I thought it was really cute. There were a lot of insecure moments but a lot of really sweet ones thrown into the mix.  The epilogue was perfect.

All in all, this book is a wonderful conclusion to the series.  Will it win you over if you didn't like the first two? Probably not. However, if you're a fan of the first two, this is an absolutely delightful ending full of everything you've come to love in the first two books and with a lot less of the stuff I personally didn't much care for.  There are some sad moments and some shocking deaths that really didn't get enough page time, but it lends a much needed weight to the series and I actually appreciated that the author went there.

I'm going to give this book a high 3.5 stars.  I honestly was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Lately I've read a bunch of really disappointing endings to series---either they kill of the main character or fix the big problem in an artificial way or randomly have the main love interest find the love of her life and leave our protagonist after 13 books!---and I'm happy this one worked out so perfectly.  So if you're like me (and really you should all be team *****) than you need to pick this up now.

Trailer Tuesday: The One

This comes out today!  Okay, so I have some definite ideas about how this book should end up, and to be honest, if it doesn't I'll be bitter and probably hate the series---yes, I'm that petty.  Anyway, check out the trailer below and enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Review: The Hunt

Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life. 

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other
 hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?  Quoted from Goodreads


This was surprisingly excellent for a second book in a series.  It also avoids a lot of the pitfalls and things that annoyed me in The Rules, for example all the high school drama, the mean girl, the vapid/annoying best friend, etc.  So if you read the first one and are on the fence about this second one, I definitely recommend picking it up.

Basically this book takes everything that was amazing/nail-biting at the end of The Rules and keeps going.  Ariane is on the run with Zane, and instead of just having GTX to worry about, we now get two more evil corporations looking for her, but instead of capture, their intent is to kill, and they don't care about collateral damage.  We also get, not one. Not two. But three new hybrids for Ariane to contend with, and their methods and intentions are dubious at best.  Sounds fun, right?

I actually really enjoyed this book, though I will admit it suffers a little bit from middle book syndrome. The entire thing is action packed, starting the second the first book left off and finishing with an absolutely delightful cliff-hanger.  Seriously, it made me so excited for the next book, and I'm really curious to see how the author plays with this.  Despite a pretty decent recap, you need to read the first book to really appreciate everything that's going on and the emotional burdens Ariane and Zane are carrying throughout the story.

As for Ariane and Zane, I loved them.  The book is told in dual POV, and while I found in the first book Zane's chapters were kind of boring in the beginning,  they never suffered from that in this book. In fact, it's kind of fun to see each of their thoughts on the  issues that both characters are dealing with as they grow and develop.  The romance is cute, though it did get a little bit strong at times, and I wanted to shout at both of them to focus and deal with their issues later.  Still, I actually thing the author did a great job of portraying how their situation would exacerbate so many issues and insecurities that they both carry.

All in all, this is a great second book in a series, and while it does feel like a second book, it continues all the good things and drops a lot of the bad.  It's sort of the book I think I was hoping to read in the first one, so I'm glad I kept going.  I'm going to give it a solid 3.5 stars.  It's fun, action packed, and has such a great ending, I'm dying for the third book to come out. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Anticipating May!

 May looks amazing!  I mean, take a glance at the titles I've listed below.  There are so many books I can't wait to get my hands on.  It's good, too, since summer always slows down book-wise, so I'm sure I'll have tons of books left over from April and May to help hold me through the summer.  Anyway, check out my list below, and if I missed anything you particularly want to read that's coming out this month (which is quite possible with so many titles coming out this month, something delightful could have slipped through the cracks), let me know.

            6th: The One – Kiera Cass
                   After the End – Amy Plum
                   Of Neptune – Anna Banks
                    Rebel – Amy Tintera
                    Wish you were Italian – Kristin Rae
                     The Originals – Cat Patrick
                     The Falconer – Elizabeth May
                     Royally Lost – Angie Stanton
                    Fool Me Twice - Mandie Hubbard

            13th: The Lovely and the Lost – Page Morgan
                     Second Star – Alyssa B. Sheinmel
                     Renegade (Mila 2.0 #2) – Debra Driza
                     Missing Lily – Annette K. Larsen
                     Raging Star – Moira Young

            20th: Girl with the Windup Heart – Kady Cross
                     Mortal Enchantment – Stacey O’Neale
                      Staff of Serepis – Rick Riordan
                      Threats of Sky and Sea – Jennifer Ellision
                     The Art of Lainey – Paula Stokes
                      Reborn – C.C Hunter

            27th: City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare