Tag Archive | romance

Review: Keeping you a secret by Julie Anne Peters

272315Title: Keeping you a secret

Author: Julie Ann Peters

Series: standalone

Genres: young adult, romance, contemporary, LGBT fiction

Format: paperback

Length: 250 pages

My rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of young love.

REVIEW:

Julie Ann Peters books have been on my radar for quite some time now and I can’t believe I waited this long to read one! Keeping you a secret was a wonderful experience for me, and I’m now putting all her past/future books on my TBR list. It had all the things I love about a great contemporary YA read. Let’s see.

1. Super likeable main character. I pretty much loved Holland from page one. Her voice sucked me in immediately and I ended up reading the whole book in one sitting. She’s just so real and easy to relate to. Not just for LGBT teens, but for everyone. She’s strong and funny and she grows so much by the end. One of my favourite quotes from the very beginning of the book shows exactly why I liked her:

The guy with the serious orange spike and nostril ring was in my calc class. Winslow Demming. I remembered him from computer science sophomore year, except back then Winslow was a geek. Brilliant, though. And sweet. Another reminder why people shouldn’t be judged on appearance.

2. A romance to root for. Cece was really cool, and these two made me go ‘awwwwwww’ a lot. My only complaint with the book would also be the romance though. It was just a tiny bit too fast for me. I wouldn’t call it insta love (which I still hate) but I wouldn’t have minded some more time getting to know Cece before Holland started falling so hard for her.

3. Supporting characters who stole my heart. Mostly Holland’s ‘weird’ stepsister. I use the term weird loosely here because it’s really subjective, and I’m the last person to call ANYONE weird. Let’s just say she doesn’t fit in with the ‘cool crowd’ in high school. Which of course meant I was going to like her from the start. Same goes for Winslow. You can never have enough quirky characters in one book in my opinion.

4. Characters I loved to hate. Holland’s mother. She was pretty much the worst kind of parent even before she had to deal with Holland’s sexuality, but her reaction to that really sealed the deal for me. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but you’ll see. In the meantime, here’s a quote that sums her up nicely:

“You could’ve been finishing these instead of whatever that is.” She pointed to my tablet, which was open at the bottom of my bed. Had I left it open? “Why in the world are you taking art? What a waste of time.”

5. Characters I was conflicted about. Seth, Holland’s boyfriend. To say my opinion changed about this guy every other page would be an understatement. On one hand, it was obvious he genuinely cared about Holland and you can’t help but feel at least a little sorry for him considering everything that happens. On the other hand, he just got on my nerves a lot. He was pushy, and pressuring a girl about sex is NEVER OK. And pressuring her to go the same college as you so you can maybe end up together in the distant future? Yeah… I don’t think so.

6. A not too neat ending. As much as I like an uplifting/happy ending, in books like this it’s just too unrealistic to expect everyone is magically going to be OK with everything by the end and we’ll all get along nicely. In this case, the ending doesn’t tie everything up but it did leave me satisfied.

Overall I really really loved this book, and I’m so looking forward to more Julie Ann Peters. I highly recommend this to everyone who’s looking for a great contemporary read. Luna is next on my TBR, please tell me it’s just as good.

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer – Satellite girl

13206828Title: Cress

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar chronicles #3

Genres: young adult, sci-fi, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 15 hrs 44 min

Narrator: Rebecca Soler

My rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.

REVIEW:

NOTE: this review is spoiler free for the whole series.

HOW DOES MARISSA MEYER KEEP DOING THIS TO ME??? I’m back with another swoony review of what’s quickly becoming one of my favourite fantasy/sci-fi series of all time, The Lunar chronicles. Everything I adored about Cinder & Scarlet is still very much present in this book, and then some. This book has it all: swooning, humour, action and heartbreak. Oh, the heartbreak. Marissa Meyer ripped my fragile heart out and stomped on it several times by the end.

Cress is a very different heroine that Cinder and Scarlet. She’s more of a dreamer, and could be considered a little naive, but she’s by no means stupid or weak. Her compute hacking skills are really cool, and probably will come in handy a lot in the future. And Thorne!!! Awww. What can I say? I have a huge soft spot for the guy. I don’t love him as much as I love Kai, but still. He was mostly comic relief in Scarlet, but he’s tested more after a specific event this time around, and definitely grows a lot. The rest of the gang is still here (Iko!!!) and there’s progress there too. Queen Levana continues to be creepy and terrifying, an excellent example of a good villain. I honestly can’t wait to see how she ends in the last book. Hoping for a satisfying takedown. 🙂

And now onto something else. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the things I personally look for most in a good fantasy series is structure. Not just within one book, but the whole series. Harry Potter is obviously a good example for this, and so is anything Richelle Mead writes.  The reason so many series goes downhill for me (especially the more drawn out ones) is because after a point the authors have no idea where the story is going, and just keep writing filler books rehashing the same old, hoping readers won’t notice. Or they twist the storylines so much, that the whole thing turns into a bad soap opera. Marissa Meyer clearly put a lot of thought into the entire series before she ever wrote a single word, and it shows. The plot is tight and things are unraveling at a good pace. No boring or unnecessary parts here. This is a huge bonus point for me.

If I had to complain about something, it would be Jason. He’s a new character and he’s going to be princess Winter’s love interest. He didn’t impress me much so far, and I really hope he’ll improve in the next book.

The ending probably can’t be considered a truly major cliffhanger, but it leaves many things unresolved, and I’m so invested in the characters at this point, that I just want to get my hands Winter. 2015, hurry up already!

 Narration:

Excellent narration once again from Rebecca Soler. Her ‘Iko voice’ is my personal favourite.

Review: Written in red by Anne Bishop – Learning from you

15711341Title: Written in red

Author: Anne Bishop

Series: The others #1

Genres: adult, urban fantasy, romance (sort of)

Format: audiobook

Length: 18 hrs 36 min

Narrator: Alexandra Harris

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

REVIEW:

I came across the sequel of this book (Murder of crows) soon after I started blogging, and put the whole series on my TBR because it sounded intriguing. It’s not really what I would usually pick up, but I’m trying to read more out of my comfort zone these days, and that includes more urban fantasy. Glad to say it’s paying off so far. 🙂

Things I liked a lot:

1. SHAPESHIFTERS. YES. Shapeshifters are my favourite kind of supernatural creatures, and I loved everything about them here. Shapeshifters usually mean werevolves in most cases, but there are all sorts of animals here.  Crows! BEARS!!!! Spirit bears!!! Grizzly bears!!! Bears are awesome. More bears please.

2. Meg. To be honest, I had a hard time connecting with her in the beginning, but she ended up surprising me. Like I said, urban fantasy is not my strongest genre, but whenever I do read something that qualifies as such, I’m used to the heroines being strong in the physical sense. That’s not Meg though. I was initially a little disappointed by this, but by the middle of the book her character started making perfect sense. She’s exactly what the people in the Lakeside Courtyard need to shake things up. And make no mistake, just because she doesn’t beat people up, she’s NOT weak. Her blood prophet abilities come with a price and she has a mental battle to fight. That said, I wouldn’t mind if she learned some self-defense skills in the future. She’s going to need it.

3. Simon. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the guy. 🙂

“It was easier when all we wanted to do was eat them and take their stuff,” he grumbled. And it had been easier when he hadn’t cared if he made any of them cry.

4. Complete lack of romance. The series is obviously headed towards a relationship between Meg and Simon at some point, and I’m more than OK with it, but it is kind of nice to read a book without all the added angst every once in a while. It will come soon enough.

5. The humour.

Vlad hated doing the paperwork as much as he did when a human employee quit, which was why they’d both made a promise not to eat quitters just to avoid the paperwork. As Tess had pointed out, eating the staff was bad for morale and made it so much harder to find new employees.

6. All the secondary characters. I came to love pretty much everyone by the end (except for the bad guys of course) but especially Tess & Winter. A book can never have too many kickass female characters and these two were amazing. And more Vlad please. Because he really doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

 “Is it that time of the month?” Vlad asked.
Some feeling blew through her. It might have been embarrassment, but she suspected it was closer to rage. “What?”
He studied her. “Is that not an appropriate question to ask?”
“No!”
“Odd. In many novels I’ve read, human males often ask that question when a female is acting . . .” Puzzlement as he continued to study her face. “Although, now that I consider it, they usually don’t make that observation to the female herself.”

7. COOKIES. Shapeshifters are big and scary, but you can always bribe them with cookies. 🙂

Things I didn’t like that much:

1. The Others referring to the humans as monkeys. I had no problem with them thinking of humans as prey, but I wasn’t crazy about this particular detail. It’s a small thing but it bothered me.

2. Asia Crane. For someone who was supposed to be a bad ‘guy’, she was pretty much just annoying and delusional. I pretty much just wanted to fast forward whenever she showed up. She was crafty, I’ll give her that, but when it came down to it, she couldn’t actually accomplish anything ever and that does not a good villain make. I’d like higher stakes in the next book.

There’s no major cliffhanger at the end and things are temporarily resolved, but there are plenty of questions left. Overall, this book was definitely worth the read, and I hope to like the sequel even more.

Narration:

This was my longest audiobook to date (Richelle Mead’s Last sacrifice was almost 18 hours) and I really enjoyed it. Alexandra Harris is a brand new narrator for me, and she  does a great job here.

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee – End of the world

11500217Title: Angelfall

Author: Susan Ee

Series: Penryn and the end of days #1

Genres: young adult, dystopian, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 8 hrs 46 min

Narrator: Caitlin Davies

My rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

REVIEW:

Wow. WOW. Reading much hyped books seem to be paying off lately for me, and Angelfall is no exception. To be perfectly honest, I did not expect to like this one so much. Angels aren’t high on my list of favourite fantasy creatures, and what little experience I had with them so far hasn’t been all that great (looking at you Halo & Unearthly) but this book was AMAZING. It seriously has EVERYTHING I want in a good YA book.

1. Kickass heroine? Check. I was fully invested Penryn as a character from the first page. She’s kickass, sassy and matches Raffe in every way. She deals with a lot throughout the book, but keeps moving forward and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her.

2. Swoony and sarcastic hero? Check. I loved Raffe so much. His swoony and sarcastic, and his banter with Penryn was hilarious. I could seriously quote them all day.

“I never kid about my warrior demigod status.”
“Oh. My. God.” I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. “You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.”

3. Crazy action from the first page? Check. The book starts off with a bang and never lets up. No filler or boring parts here.

4. No love triangles? Check. YES. Fantasy without a love triangle. Always a relief for me. The potential is there in the future, but I really hope this series doesn’t go there.  Please tell me it doesn’t go there.

5. No insta love? Check. The romance develops at a snail’s pace, it’s barely there for now. Again, this is just fine with me. Penryn and Raffe were never boring, and I didn’t mind the slow development. They have a lot to hash out even without the very forbidden nature of their relationship, and I suspect it will take some more time for them to fully come to terms with their own feelings.

6. Creepy villains? Check. We only get glimpses of the villains and their big plan for now, but I already love to hate them. Hope Raffe kicks some angel ass in the next book.

7. Crushing ending? Check. I already knew from reviews that something bad was going to go down towards the end, but it didn’t really make it any easier when I got there. 😦 Trust me, it will have you reaching immediately for the sequel. Good thing it’s been released already. 🙂

Favourite Penryn quote (this one made me laugh out loud):

I grab the sudsy shirt out of the gray water and throw it at her.
It makes a plop noise when it lands on her face, wrapping around her hair. Her perfect hair clumps into a stringy mass, and her mascara smears as the cloth slides wetly down her blouse. She emits a high-pitched squeal that turns every head within earshot.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say in a sugary voice. “Did you not like that? I thought that’s what you wanted. I mean, why else would you be putting your paws on my man?”

This book even has a scorpion fetus or two. Yes, it’s exactly as disgusting as it sounds.

Overall, I’d say it truly deserves all the hype it gets, and I highly recommend it to everyone looking for an action packed read with great characters. I WANT WORLD AFTER NOW!!! (I’m reading Cress first though.)

Narration:

Great narration, can’t really say much else about it.

Review: Die for me by Amy Plum – Undercover SWAT team

9462812Title: Die for me

Author: Amy Plum

Series: Revenants #1

Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 9 hrs 23 min

Narrator: Julia Whelan

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life–and memories–behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant–an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

REVIEW:

I was initially avoiding starting this series (the synopsis just sounds a little too much like Twilight for me), but I eventually gave in and I’m so glad I did. I actually read the first book once already 2 years ago, but reread it recently to refresh things before I get around to the sequels. There’s a lot I liked about it, let’s see:

1. A very likeable and sensible heroine. The biggest strength of this book was definitely Kate for me. I pretty much loved everything about her. She’s strong, loyal and most importantly, her actions and reactions are realistic. She’s more mature than your average teenager, but considering she lost her parents before the beginning of the book, I think that makes sense. AND she has an appreciation for art without any actual talent. That’s how I am with literature, so there’s something to relate to there.

2. Excellent use of setting. A non-American setting is a huge bonus for me, simply because it’s done so rarely, and Die for me really excels here. Amy Plum actually lives in Paris, and let me tell you,  IT SHOWS. The city is used perfectly as a backdrop to the events taking place and I loved every second of it. There was everything from food and art galleries, to reading books in French cafes and the Eiffel tower. Paris is gorgeous, and the author’s admiration comes through loud and clear. Great stuff, seriously.

3. Georgia aka the best sister ever. I’m a sucker for protective and loyal siblings in YA books, and Georgia was everything I would want in a sister. She’s both hilarious and fiercely loyal, and her relationship with Kate was pretty much the best. They lean on each other after their parents’ death, there’s no petty bickering or jealousy here. I hope she gets a love interest of her own in future books.

4. Quirky, distinctive and loveable side characters. I often love the side characters in a book even more than I love the main ones, and Die for me has an awesome supporting cast. Everyone from Kate’s grandparents to Vincent’s ‘family members’ has a role to play, and I couldn’t pick a single one of them I wasn’t happy to see at any given time. Especially Gaspard. What can I say? I have a soft spot for the quiet ones.

5. No love triangle. Yep, I still loath love triangles. That’s never going to change.

This book is a great read. It’s not heavy on the action, and the body count isn’t high, but I was plenty invested in the characters to keep going. Vincent isn’t going to be my most memorable book boyfriend of all time (once again, just a tiny bit too nice for me), but he’s no douchebag, and he treats Kate well, which is pretty much the most important thing. Points for that.

There’s no cliffhanger ending that makes you want the sequel ASAP, but I’m very much looking forward to reading more.

Narration:

The audiobook version of this book is fantastic. Julia Whelan is my favourite YA narrator, another excellent performance here. I still don’t like accents (French here), but that’s my problem.

Review: The darkest minds by Alexandra Bracken – The ones who lived

10576365Title: The darkest minds

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series: The darkest minds #1

Genres: young adult, dystopia, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 13 hrs 59 min

Narrator: Amy McFadden

My rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

REVIEW:

Ugh, this book. I REALLY wanted to like this book. I was CONVINCED I was going to like this book. But I didn’t. Once again, I realize I’m in the 1 percent here, but everything about it fell strangely flat for me. If you think about reading it, please feel free to ignore this review. This is not a bad book. Seriously. I think most people would enjoy it quite a lot. I think my inability to get into it is more specific to me and I’ll try to explain why.

Everything that should have worked but didn’t:

  • The concept. I honestly think this is just me and no one else (what else is new?), but my biggest problem ended up being the basic concept of the whole book. I can roll with the crazy, but this one so far makes absolutely no sense to me.  Let’s see. There’s a virus that wipes out most of America’s teenagers. OK, I’m good so far. But then, the ones who survive end up with crazy powers literally overnight??? What??? How??? Maybe this will be explained further in future books, but so far my science brain has a hard time accepting the zero explanation, and this sort of thing really bothers me.
  • The characters in general. I just couldn’t feel for them or relate to them as much as I should have. The one time Alexandra Bracken really got to me though was when it was revealed what Ruby did to her parents. That was BAD. I had no problem feeling for her then. And by the end I’ve really come to like Chubs, too. He’s the kind of guy whose respect has to be earned but once you have it, he’s unfailingly loyal. Now there’s something I can relate to. I would love to have him as a friend.
  • Liam. One of the reasons I wanted to read this book was all the amazing things I heard about the Liam/Ruby romance and Liam in general. I know YA/NA is all about the bad boys these days, and I have no problem with that for the most part, but I have a huge soft spot for genuinely good guys myself, and Liam definitely qualifies as one. He’s a ridiculously good guy. The thing is, he’s virtual perfectness translated into boring for me. To borrow an expression, ‘flat as a pancake’. And I didn’t feel the romance at all, which really didn’t help.
  • The longest and most boring road trip I’ve ever read about in a YA book. So, there is this road trip which takes up a huge chunk of the plot, during which the characters get from point A to point B, and virtually NOTHING HAPPENS. For the record, I love road trips in books, and that alone is enough to get me interested, but this time it felt way too long and sort of pointless. Time could have been better spent in Clancy’s camp where things finally started happening.
  • Clancy. Ugh, that guy. Excellent villain, and I probably would have loved to hate him, except he reminded me too much of Warner from Shatter me. And no, I don’t mean that as a compliment (I’m in the 1 percent there too). I swear, if he’s going to be redeemed in the sequel as a misunderstood saint, who just needs to be loved, I’m going to DNF that book.

Yes, despite my low rating, I sort of still want to read the sequel though. Mostly because I liked Ruby as a protagonist well enough, towards the end the action really got going, and the book finally showed some potential. The ending didn’t crush me as much as I suspect it was supposed to (for the reasons above) but it definitely got me curious. What do you think? Should I keep going? Is the sequel more action packed?

Narration:

The audiobook version of this book is very enjoyable. Amy McFadden did a fine job narrating, giving unique voices to every character.

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – The Wolves

13206760Title: Scarlet

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar chronicles #2

Genres: young adult, sci-fi, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 11 hrs 22 min

Narrator: Rebecca Soler

My rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth…

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

REVIEW:

NOTE: this review is spoiler free for both Cinder & Scarlet.

It wasn’t that long ago that I read and raved about Cinder, the first book in The Lunar chronicles, so I couldn’t wait to get my paws on the sequel, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! This series is quickly becoming a personal favourite and I just have to gush some more! 🙂 Let’s see why this book is so awesome.

The new take on Little Red Riding Hood. LOVED IT! It was a fresh twist on a well-known story, and it included many of the main points while still managing to surprise the heck out of me more than once. Well done.
Scarlet. So, as the title indicates, this book introduces a new heroine, Scarlet. Her character is very different from Cinder, and took a little time for me to warm up to, but I loved her so much by the end! She was a little hysterical at times, but her loyalty and courage are admirable traits, and her tough love attitude with Cinder was great to see. I hope there will be more of these interactions in future installments. And Wolf? Hmmm. Honestly, my opinion and general feelings fluctuated a lot here. Some of that came from the plot twists, some of that came from the fact that with Kai already introduced as Cinder’s love interest in the previous book, the bar was set pretty high. I don’t love him as much as I love Kai, but we were more than OK by the end. I’m really curious to see where Marissa Meyer takes this particular character next.
Returning characters. Fear not, the old gang is still here, with a brand new addition in Captain Carswell Thorne. Based on the blurb, I already knew that the plot was going to be split this time between Cinder and Scarlet, and in the beginning I wasn’t completely sure about it, but I’m glad to say it worked. Scarlet’s story moved the plot forward more, but there’s plenty of Cinder too. Which brings me to Captain Thorne aka Cress’ future love interest. I honestly forgot he was already going to show up in Scarlet as a fairly significant character, but it was a welcome surprise. Yes, he was full of himself 98 percent of the time, and had the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old, but I see a lot of potential for character development here. He doesn’t fit the bad boy or the nice guy stereotype and provides some much-needed comic relief along with Iko. And Kai? In addition to being a worthy love interest, he’s shaping up to be a great leader too, but it’s not without sacrifice. The guy just needs a big hug. And he needs to be included more. Hopefully we’ll see that in Cress?
The ‘villain universe’  is also expanding with a new type. These creatures are pretty scary (and a little gross to be honest), though not nearly as much as Queen Levana and the thaumaturges. Their mind powers still give me the creeps.
The ending is similar to Cinder, not what you would call a true cliffhanger, but it makes you want the next book ASAP. I can’t wait to see how the plotlines and the characters come further together in Cress and Winter.
Overall, Scarlet is an amazing follow-up in a great series, no sophomore slump here! Highly recommended for everyone, and for once, ALL the hype is very well-deserved. Now I need Cress, and hopefully I’ll be back with the next gushy review soon! 🙂

Narration:

Excellent narration once again from Rebecca Soler. All the voices are spot on, even if I’m not the biggest fan of French accents or accents in general (Scarlet and her grandma lives in France though, so I can’t really complain).

Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan – A killer?

13645645Title: Uninvited

Author: Sophie Jordan

Series: Uninvited #1

Genres: young adult, dystopia, sci-fi, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 9 hrs 57 min

Narrator: Rebecca Gibel

My rating: 3.75 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

REVIEW:

Uninvited was one of my most anticipated books of 2014 for the following reasons:

1. The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report. I loved Minority Report to pieces and read Scarlet letter in high school so that alone was enough to pique my interest before I even started reading the rest of the blurb.

2. The cover. I have to admit I was one of those people who didn’t immediately notice the DNA strands in the cover models hair, but once I spotted them, that’s all I could focus on. If this is your first time visiting then you don’t know this, but I’m a science major in college (and a total nerd), so books with scientific themes will get me EVERY TIME. Books dealing with illnesses, such as OCD or dementia will get me EVERY TIME. A book involving gene identification? I was completely sold.

Needless to say, I had very high expectations.  So what did I get? An imperfect book that annoyed me sometimes, made me angry a lot (that’s not a complaint, this book is supposed to make you angry, especially girls), but a book that is worth reading nonetheless, a book I would recommend very much. And here’s why:

1. Davy Hamilton. I made the unfortunate mistake of skimming through a few very unflattering reviews of this book on goodreads, and the one common complaint they all seemed to agree on was Davy’s character. That she’s naive. That she’s weak. That she always needs to be rescued by the guy. So I went into this book pretty much expecting the worst: a really great concept – one that definitely needs to be written about – is ruined by an awful main character. And in the beginning of the book I was right there with everyone else. But then I kept reading, and slowly started changing my mind. Davy grew up so much in a relatively short time without ever losing sight of herself, and I was totally cheering her on by the end! She gets knocked down several times and learns a few hard lessons along the way but comes such a long way, and I honestly can’t wait to see what comes next for her. This is my definition of character development done extremely well.

Let’s talk about Davy some more. I’ve actually thought a lot about why so many people had issues with her, and I keep coming back to the same thing: it seems like ever since The Hunger Games, when it comes to dystopian heroines, people expect some version of Katniss Everdeen or someone equally badass. Well, guess what? Davy Hamilton is NOT Katniss Everdeen. She isn’t anything like Katniss, and that’s OK. The world of Uninvited isn’t anything like The Hunger Games. Davy is a perfectly normal and very talented high school student who actually focuses on school, and who’s excited to go to college. She doesn’t have to hunt for food in the woods, or provide for her family in any way. And she doesn’t think twice about carriers, until she’s labeled one. Is she naive? Oh God yes (more on that later). But is she weak? NO. Just because she’s not kickass from the very beginning and can’t beat up a guy twice her size, doesn’t make her weak. And yes, she’s saved by Sean more than once, but by the end she learns to hold her own, and that scene with Jackson and company towards the end gave me enormous satisfaction.

2. MURDER IS A BIG DEAL. It’s pretty much the moral center of this book. Characters in dystopian books are often forced to kill in a life or death situation and I feel like that at some point the bodies start piling up and it becomes no big deal, they just keep going. I understand that you do what you have to do to survive (that’s pretty much what the whole genre is all about, right?) but it doesn’t change the fact that taking a life changes you forever, and this book deals with that in a very realistic way.

3. Nature vs. nurture. It’s basically what this book comes down to. If nothing else, the book makes you think HARD about this question. It will also make you angry a LOT. The treatment of the carriers, both by society and each other definitely made me angry a LOT. The treatment of female carriers made me angry TEN TIMES AS MUCH (I generally get homicidal whenever so-called ‘tough’ guys threaten weaker girls with sexual assault just because they can) It’s a fact, that many of the carriers do indeed become murderers. But why? Is it really because of the gene? Does the hostile treatment play a role? Or is it inevitable? Should we give them a chance? This is definitely a topic that needs to be discussed, and this alone makes the book worth a read.

So why not 5 stars if I keep raving so much?

1. Davy turned into a great character, but I still spent much of the first half of the book wanting to smack her. She was naive a lot and for someone who was judged because of her diagnosis, she had no problem judging everyone else. Her ‘my diagnosis is clearly a mistake but everyone else is definitely a murderer’ attitude irritated me to no end.

2. Sean. Sean was by no means a bad love interest, but he didn’t really work for me for some reason. I guess this is one of those subjective things, right? We don’t always ‘feel’ the romance equally. I’ve seen plenty of people who liked him, so don’t write him off on my account.

3. The scientist in me wanted to know more about the HTS gene. Gene identification is a very real thing, but as of 2014 there’s no such thing as the kill gene. The book takes place in 2021, so that means it’s a fairly new discovery, but how? Why? Is this even a real thing? Or did the government make it up for some reason? Or is that just my conspiracy nut brain talking? I’m willing to let this slide for now though, because there’s still room for explanation, but if it remains vague, I’ll be a little disappointed.

I gave this book 3.75 stars (I know it’s a ridiculous number, but there you have it) because I reserve 4 stars for ‘very enjoyable reads’ (see the Rating system section) and for the reasons above this wasn’t quite there. BUT I honestly recommend it, it’s definitely worth a read to make up your own mind.

Narration:

The audiobook version of this book is great, Rebecca Gibel puts in another excellent performance.

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Get ready for the ball

cinderTitle: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar chronicles #1

Genres: young adult, sci-fi, romance

Format: audiobook

Length: 10 hrs 6 min

Narrator: Rebecca Soler

My rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

REVIEW:

WHY OH WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG TO START THIS SERIES??? *bangs head against the wall repeatedly*

I have only myself to blame. I’m usually allergic to overhyped books and I’ve learned to avoid them like the plague. If a series is loved by virtually everyone, like the Lunar chronicles seems to be, it’s safe to say I’ll be the one weird person who just doesn’t get what the big deal is. It happened most recently with the Shatter me series after Ignite me was released (I officially decided to give up on that series, I’m erasing it from my 2014 TBR list) and it will probably happen again in the future. WELL, NOT THIS TIME. This time, I’m not the weird one. For once, I get it. Phew. Rant over, let’s review.

All the things I liked:

  • Cinder. Cinder is already a total badass, and I look forward to watching her grow even more. I loved her to pieces, and her sarcastic attitude made me smile a lot. Also, knowing how to fix all sorts of mechanic things, like cars, is one of those superpowers I would secretly love to have, and I so appreciated seeing a teenage girl kick some serious ass and just being generally capable in this department.

“I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.”

  • Prince Kai. OH MY. *insert major swooning here* I know there has been a lot of discussion about the guys we like to swoon over in YA books, and how everyone seems to love bad boys, and I can see your point. Who doesn’t love a bad boy every once in a while? (And by bad boy, I don’t mean a total jerk. I don’t go for those even in fiction.) The thing is, at least for me, this doesn’t seem to extend to real life. In real life, I know better. In real life, Prince Kai is exactly the kind of guy I’d like. Kind, smart, sweet, and just a little bit awkward. I pretty much loved him from the first moment he showed up:

Cinder launched up from her chair, nearly toppling over when she forgot about her missing limb. Steadying herself with both hands on the table, she managed an awkward bow. The retina display sank out of sight.
“Your Highness,” she stammered, head lowered, glad that he couldn’t see her empty ankle behind the tablecloth. The prince flinched and cast a glance over his shoulder before hunching toward her. “Maybe, um…”—he pulled his fingers across his lips—“on the Highness stuff?”

  • The romance. OH MY GOODNESS THE ROMANCE. I was grinning like a lunatic every time these two came anywhere near each other. Seriously. It’s a good thing I was listening to this particular audiobook at home, because I would have gotten plenty of weird looks on public transportation (that happens way too often already). Plus things build slowly between them, which is just fine with me.
  • Iko. Iko is the kind of sidekick who steals every scene she’s in. She’s adorable. Her comments about Kai were hilarious. Curious to see how her story will be developed.

“Maybe her programming was overwhelmed by Prince Kai’s uncanny hotness.”

  • Queen Levana. A villain I already love to hate. Her mind powers are freaky, and I suspect we haven’t seen the worst of her yet. The more despicable the villain, the more satisfying their downfall will be.
  • NO LOVE TRIANGLES. Thank you.
  • Shifting POVs. I know this annoys some people, but I happen to love being in more than one person’s head in a book, especially if it’s fantasy.
  • The ending. It has me immediately reaching for the next book, which is exactly how it should be.

All the things I didn’t like:

  • BIG FAT NOTHING. For once I can’t nitpick, and this almost never happens. Everything about this book worked for me, I have no complaints.

Now excuse me, while I go and get my paws on Scarlet ASAP.

Narration:

The audiobook version of this book is excellent. Rebecca Soler is a brand new narrator for me and she does an amazing job with all the voices. Looking forward to more of this in Scarlet.

Review: If I stay by Gayle Forman – She’s running the show

4374400Title: If I stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Series: If I stay #1

Genres: young adult, romance, contemporary

Format: audiobook

Length: 5 hrs 4 min

Narrator: Kirsten Potter

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

REVIEW:

If I stay is one of those books I’ve been putting off forever for no good reason and with the movie version coming out this year it was way past time to read it. It’s one of those generally beloved YA books everyone keeps raving about, so my expectations were pretty high, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Mia is a great character, one I couldn’t help but feel for. What happens to her and her family is truly heartbreaking, and an unwelcome reminder that everyone and everything you care about can be ripped away in a matter of seconds. Her journey from her initial confusion after the accident to the moment she realizes she has the power to decide her own future had me ‘glued to the page’ and rooting for her all the way to the end.

“And it’s while contemplating this that I think about what the nurse said. She’s running the show. And suddenly I understand what Gramps was really asking Gran. He had listened to that nurse, too. He got it before I did.
If I stay. If I live. It’s up to me.”

Her previous life, her relationship with her family and her boyfriend, Adam are described through flashbacks. I felt like the author did a good job of presenting both sides of Mia’s dilemma: all the reasons that made her want to give up on life (her parents and little brother gone) and all the reasons worth staying for (her grandparents, Adam, a possible future at Juilliard). I especially loved these flashbacks, to be honest it was kind of nice to see a functional family dynamic for once. Also, major bonus points for music as an underlying theme. Mia’s passion for playing the cello, and classical music in general shines through, and I could relate.
The ending is fairly predictable of course, but it doesn’t take away anything from the overall reading experience. This book is a great emotional read, and I honestly recommend it to everyone. There’s also a sequel, Where she went which takes place a few years later and it’s told from Adam’s POV, I will be reading hopefully soon.

Narration:

The audio version of this book is pretty great, complete with cello music (Mia plays the cello), I listened to it in one sitting.