Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Ensnared

After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She's determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world--a parallel dimension filled with mutated and violent netherling outcasts. 

In the final installment of the wildly popular Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that's gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But if they succeed and come out alive, can everyone truly have their happily ever after?   Quoted from Goodreads


I have totally mixed feelings about this book.  In some ways I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it's possibly the best book in the series, absolutely better than book two.  However, there are aspects of the ending that really bothered me and dampened my enjoyment somewhat.  I'll talk more about that later on in a special spoilers section.

First, what I liked. In a sort of twisted way, I enjoyed the world building.  You know with anything Wonderland related theres going to be a sense of the macabre, and A.G. Howard certainly brought it. Wonderland was strange and horrifying in it's madness, but the looking-glass world was worse.  It was even more cruel and strange than Wonderland, which is kind of needed for a for the final book in the series.  It was crazy and chaotic and delightfully imaginative in a gruesome but occasionally beautiful way.

Second, Morpheus. Or maybe he should be first. Yes, probably first. Seriously, I love him. He's by far the best character in the series (and yes, I am team Morpheus).  He's crazy, unique, confident, inventive, and best of all, he's totally manipulative.  That sounds horrible, and no, that's not what I look for in a boyfriend, but it still makes him my favorite character. He literally plots circles around everyone else, and you never guess exactly how his plan will play out. He always knows exactly what he's doing, and when an obstacle stands in his way, he finds a brilliant work around. He's loyal, and would do anything for Wonderland and Alyssa.  Plus, he perfectly embodies the madness that is Wonderland.

All in all, (besides my upcoming little spoiler-filled rant) this is a satisfying conclusion to an interesting trilogy. There's some good action sequences and a few great twists I absolutely loved.  I'm giving it a nice 3.5 stars because despite my issues, there is a lot of good stuff here.  I loved the twist on Wonderland and especially her ideas about dreams and imagination and how important they are.   

Okay, SPOILERS ahead, so considered yourself warned!

My issues.  If the author decides to put in a love triangle, I believe the main character should, at some point, be forced to choose one boy over the other.  I hate this whole I love you both equally, and so spends two separate lifetimes with each boy, so in the end everybody wins!  Uggggg. One mortal life with Jeb, and after he dies, she fakes her death and spends the rest of forever with Morpheus in Wonderland.  I hate it.  The whole point of a love triangle is the different options each boy offer, yes, but also the anguish of choice.  This, just like The Clockwork Princess, eliminates that and sort of put me off the whole series.  Of course, I am team Morpheus, so I liked that he ended up with her in the end, but if the author had written the book well and explained why Alyssa was better with Jeb/chose a life with him, I would have accepted that as a better ending than this whole "I can't choose, so magically I'll get to have you both garbage.  There.  Maybe you like the "everybody wins" scenario. If so,  this book might be perfect for you, but that aspect really wasn't my cup of tea.

And while I'm ranting, I have one more little thing/SPOILER to add that bothered me.  When Alyssa thinks Jeb has been killed, she tries to kill Morpheus  Again, he's my favorite, so it makes me mad on principle, but I thought it was horrible that she would do that.  I get being furious and heartbroken.  I get banishing him or choosing to never love him again, but not murder.  It's not like he stabbed Jeb in the back himself, and even if he had, sacrificing one person for a whole nation would sort of fit with his MO.  She knows he would do anything for Wonderland. I hated that she told him she loved him then tried to murder him without listening to any explanation in a land where your soul turns to dust.  It made me like her a lot less as a character, and sure, maybe the whole Jeb reveal was more powerful, but really, did anyone believe that he was dead at that point?  I mean, the cover gives the whole thing away, so it just made Alyssa into a horrible person.  Still, beyond my few issues (and it's always easer to rant rather than praise, unfortunate) this book does have some really good points, like . . . Morpheus. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Review: Firefight

They told David it was impossible--that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand. 

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs. 
Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.   Quoted from Goodreads


Read this book.  

I'm serious.  Go to the library, borrow it from a friend, visit your local bookstore---whatever you need to do to get your hands on this book.  It is that good.

This book picks up a few months after Steelheart (and if you haven't read that book yet, what are you waiting for?).  Someone is sending Epics to attack Newcago, so Prof, Tia, and David head to Babylon Restored to confront Regalia, Oblivion, and Firefight/Megan.  If you liked book one, this is possibly (probably) better.  In Steelheart, we mostly see Steelheart. Here we have multiple Epics to destroy and more mysteries to solve.

This book starts with a bang and never lets you put it down.  I loved Steelheart, so this was clearly one of my top anticipated books of 2015, and it met every expectation and then some.  Some of the things I loved: David.  He is one of my favorite main characters.  I love his focus, his worry about being a nerd, his horrible (totally makes me laugh) metaphors/smilies, his earnest belief in others, and his impulsive nature. Plus he grows even more in this book.  He leaves the only city he's ever known, and has to deal with a different world, full of different rules and people. I love how he discovers and confronts his fear of water, watching his interactions at his first party, his relationship with Firefight/Megan and Prof.  

Worldbuilding: It's Brandon Sanderson, so you know this is going to be good.  I love the new city---New York, aka Babylon Restored---and how creative it is.  It's a complete contrast to what we saw in Newcago and even more creative.  It's a completely unique end of the world scenario and I really loved the feel of it. Plus, it presents its own challenges and trials.  Along with the city itself is the mystery surrounding Epics and their weaknesses. There are so many fun and unique powers here.  We get to skip right past the standard super strength and flight to truly unique and creative skill sets.

Action: There is so much action. We start with a fight, and that's just the beginning.  I mean, how are you supposed to resist these two sentences. "My name is David Charleston.  I kill people with super powers." You can't.  This book hooked me in from the beginning and just kept getting better and better.  By the last quarter so many amazing things were happening I couldn't stop smiling with excitement . . . or turning pages.  

Basically, this book is amazing.  I said it with Steelheart and I echo it again.  If I were a hollywood producer/director, this is the movie I would make. It's got everything you could possibly want it a good story: tight plot, amazing bad guy, unexpected twists, mystery, action, peril, flawed/real  characters, and an unique backdrop for it all to take place.

This book is a strong 5 stars for me. I know that's starting the year out on a high note---I mean, where am I supposed to go from here---but this book totally deserves it.  Read it.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Most Anticipated New Books of 2015

This was a harder list to make than my anticipated series list, because some of the authors I've never even heard of, let alone read. Of course, there are some that I know I will love whatever they write, but there are several on this list I'm taking a chance on because the books sound awesome.  What will be really fun is comparing this list to my top books of 2015 next December, to see how right or wrong I really was. Now check out the books below.  Maybe you'll end up as excited as I am for some of these.

1.  All Fall Down - Ally Carter

2.  The Stars Never Rise - Rachel Vincent

3.  Reawakened - Colleen Houck

4.  The Fill-In Boyfriend - Kasie West

5.  Silver in the Blood - Jessica Day George

6.  An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

7.  Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson

8.  Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

9. A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Mass

10.The Orphan Queen - Jodi Meadows

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 10 Anticipated Sequels of 2015

There are so many amazing books coming out next year, I can hardly wait! I'm dividing up my most anticipated books for 2015 into two separate lists.  The first one is continuing series, the second one is stand alone books or first books in a series,  So, in no particular order, here is my list of most anticipated sequels coming out in 2015.

1.  The Heart of Betrayal - Mary E. Pearson

2.  My Fairly Dangerous Godmother - Janette Rallison

3.  Winter - Melissa Meyer

4.  (Untitled) Elemental Trilogy #3 - Sherry Thomas

5.  (Untitled) Throne of Glass #4 - Sarah J. Mass

6.  Firefight - Brandon Sanderson

7.  The Winner's Crime - Marie Rutkowski

8.  Polaris - Mindee Arnett

9.  Miss Mayham - Rachel Hawkins

10. The Forgotten Sisters - Shannon Hale

Top 10 Favorites of 2014

I realize it's a new year, which means new resolutions, right? This is not a list for those.  However, since I was a total slacker in December and didn't do my usual top lists for last year, I decided I would give you my favorite books of 2014 on the first day of the new year.  Now, these aren't necessarily the best books that came out this year.  These are simply my personal favorites. These also exclude books that I read this year that came out before 2014 (or else Ann Aguire's Hoard would probably be included on the list).  They are also in no particular order.

1. Cress by Melissa Meyer

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.   Quoted from Goodreads

2. The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkowski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse
 by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.  Quoted from Goodreads

3. Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
   Quoted from Goodreads

4. The Perilous Sea - Sherry Thomas

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.  Quoted from Goodreads

5. The Kiss of Deception - Mary E. Pearson

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.
Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.  Quoted from Goodreads

6. Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.    Quoted from Goodreads

7. Avalon - Mindee Arnett

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.
Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.  Quoted from Goodreads

8: Cruel Beauty - Rosamond Hodge

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.  Quoted from Goodreads

9. Death Sworn - Leah Cypress

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose . . . and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
   Quoted from Goodreads

10: Stitching Snow - R.C. Lewis

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.  Quoted from Goodreads