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Rebecca122

Becca's Bursting Bookshelf

I love all things books, especially young adult. Talking about fictional characters and interesting worlds makes me all kinds of happy.

Currently reading

In the After
Demitria Lunetta
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2)
Rick Riordan
All Our Yesterdays
Cristin Terrill
Origin - Jennifer L. Armentrout

After the completely cruel and horrifying cliffhanger at the end of Opal, I knew I had to get my hands on Origin as soon as possible. The Lux series definitely has that addictive feel to it, and I'm sad to see that there will only be one more novel set in this world (okay, so five books is a pretty decent length for one series, but still.). I kind of dislike the cover change, though. It's not too different, but I feel like the first three had a much darker tone and the bright blue on this one would just look kind of weird sitting next to the other three. Also, the summary of Origin asks if Daemon and Katy will be together at the end of the story, and combined with the fact that only he was on the cover, whereas they both had been previously, it made me a little nervous. I guess it was all about creating lots of suspense, but they should stop foretelling the end of Daemon's and Katy's relationship for the sake of my heart and stress level, seriously.

Thankfully, Origin picks up immediately after Opal. I hate it when something major happens at the end of one book and when you pick up the next it's suddenly six months later and we have to go through endless chapters containing flashbacks of things that already happened. That's not to say that occasionally this technique isn't done well - it is - but it's definitely not my favorite method of gathering information. Obviously at the start of this book, Katy is not in a good place, physically or mentally. She's just been captured by Daedalus, a big bad government organization that likes to work with the Arum in its spare time. The summary also hinted that maybe this giant corporation wasn't quite as bad as we first thought, but honestly I never believed that for a second. There were just way too many bad things they've done for me to even consider that they were good people. Perhaps the employees who work there believe they're doing the right thing, but the ways in which they went about everything was horrifying. They tortured and hurt Katy multiple times all for the sake of research, and this tactic is something that is used on a regular basis. I very much wanted to jump into the book and slap everyone there, especially Nancy, the evil boss lady who's in charge.

I had no idea what Origins were going to be, but I figured they would be something along alien-ish lines, and I was right. Finding out exactly what they were was a little surprising, though, and I definitely appreciated the new plot twist. It was interesting and very unexpected. However, I hate it when there's a bunch of creepy little kids running around in books. Something about evil kids just really scares me (the same goes for dolls, by the way). I did find it a little odd that the government continued to encourage the creation of Origins when apparently they have so much power. I can see making one or two just to study, but making lots and lots? It doesn't make a lot of sense, considering all the things they can do. That was just an accident waiting to happen. I know Daedalus had a lot of fancy gadgets to contain them, but honestly, how can they hope to do that forever? I was instantly annoyed when Blake popped back up into the story. Even when he was portrayed as a decent guy - as well as a love interest - I never liked him much (I mean, really, very few men could compete with Daemon in the Lux world). However, I was pretty surprised at the decision the author made regarding his character. I can't say too much without spoiling anything, but the suddenness of said decision was a little disorienting because it was so fast.

One of the best aspects of this series besides all the alien awesomeness is the romance. I first began to root for Daemon and Katy as a couple towards the end of Obsidian; even though they frequently argued they were so cute together. I was irritated when Onyx came along and the dreaded love triangle reared its ugly head. Thankfully, it ended when the second book did and I didn't have to worry about it anymore but for that reason Onyx is definitely my least favorite Lux book. But what makes this particular romance special is the fact that for two whole books now Daemon and Katy have managed to stay together, and it's so refreshing to see because it seems like in all YA books these days, the two main characters who end up together spend most of their respective stories being distracted by a second love interest, or they are forced to stay away from their loved one to keep him/her safe. Armentrout does an amazing job keeping up the chemistry between them even though the reader is no longer waiting impatiently for them to admit their feelings and just be together. The love and intensity between them was just great and they're most definitely among my favorite couples. They make a lot of leaps and bounds together in Origin (and if you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about), and I can't wait to see where they go from here.

Sadly, though, Daemon and Katy don't really have a lot of time to focus on just each other what with Daedalus hanging around all the time. They are constantly around to screw things up, but after what happened at the very end of Origin, I can't help but wonder if there's some truth in what they said about the Luxen - they are firmly convinced that a good chuck of them are hellbent on coming to Earth and taking over completely. I'm pretty sure the final novel will cover that topic in greater depth. The climatic battle sequence was done very well; the descriptions had me imagining everything very vividly and putting down the book was nearly impossible. We don't see much of the secondary characters until later on, but I was glad when they finally showed up. Beth is mostly sane, but she has episodes here and there, and Dawson does his best to help her. I was happy when Dee finally made up with Katy - I wasn't sure if it was ever going to happen. After all, Dee had a pretty good reason for being mad. While Origin's cliffhanger ending is not quite as bad as Opal's, it still stops on a pretty interesting place. I'm very excited to see how all of this ends, and hopefully I won't have to wait very long - the author seems to have no problem with writing fast (and I am grateful for it).

4.5 stars

The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

I've been hearing about this series for at least two years, but I've avoided it because for a long time I didn't think I would like the Greek mythology and middle grade isn't a genre I love. Those two reasons combined were more than enough for me to steer clear of it forever. If a friend of mine hadn't nudged me to finally pick it up, I probably never would have. But there's a movie adaptation already out with the sequel on the way and obviously the Percy Jackson books are pretty popular, so I figured there was no harm in giving it a try. I went into it expecting to be mildly amused, but it was actually a lot more engrossing than I expected it to be.

The best thing about the Lightning Thief is probably the pacing. Riordan does a really good job in making sure that something interesting is always happening. It immediately opens up with Percy talking about half-bloods, so I dove right into the thick of things without preamble. Sometimes that's not the best way to start a book because things can get confusing if there's not enough information presented, but thankfully this was pretty easy to follow (let's face it, there are a lot of Greek gods and I was worried about confusing their names and what their main powers were) and I learned everything in a timely manner that didn't feel like an annoying info-dump. Percy and his friends are always getting into some kind of trouble, but the action never really became tedious because it wasn't one of those books where the same situations play out under slightly different circumstances. The plot moves steadily along, and I was quite interested in getting to the end.

I've always kind of liked it when there's an ominous prophecy in the beginning of the story. It doesn't happen too often, but when it does I enjoy matching the events that occur to the predictions. One of them was that Percy was going to be betrayed by someone he called a friend. I guessed pretty easily in advance who it was, but honestly the predictability of that didn't bother me too much. As for Percy himself, he was a pretty charming protagonist. I enjoyed his sense of humor and how he seemed to have a really kind disposition (but, you know, could kick butt when he wanted to). I particularly liked how he was close with his mother, because it seems like in every other book I read the parents just fade into the background and aren't really that important in the mind of the main character. Grover was also good for a laugh - I've never read about a satyr before, so that was different.

Annabeth was cool. I loved how brave she was, and yet still freaked out really badly when swarmed by a bunch of spiders. It was kind of funny how she was mean to Percy in the beginning and tried to explain that she was that way because their god parents didn't get along, and Percy kept saying that didn't mean the two of them couldn't. He's only twelve in this book, but perhaps later on a romance will develop between the two? Riordan also painted a pretty vivid setting - camp Half-Blood was clear in my mind and I enjoyed picturing a place where campers, centaurs and satyrs (not to mention the occasional monster) run around altogether. I'm really glad I read this, and I'm pretty excited to read the rest of the books in the series. I've heard pretty negative things about the movie, but the trailer looked decent to me and I'll definitely watch it at some point.

4 stars

Vicious - Victoria Schwab

I knew at least halfway into this novel that it was going be difficult to write a coherent review for it, which is why I've put it off for the past few hours. If I had read this a year or two ago, I probably would have just rated it and continued on my merry way because I decided it was too hard to organize my thoughts. However, since the beginning of this year, I've tried to write about everything I read, so I'm going to give it a shot. My only other experience with reading this author's work comes from The Archived, which I actually picked up pretty recently. I ended up adoring Schwab's writing style and the way she added depth to her characters, so there was little doubt in my mind that I would like Vicious. I did not expect to like it more. I was immediately intrigued by the summary when I first happened across it, but for some reason I got super excited for its release beforehand - which was why I was happy my bookstore got it a few days early. I don't usually like orange covers (the color has never appealed much to me), but it has almost a comic book feel to it, which goes really well with the superhero/villain theme of the story. The picture itself is a bit random, though - it's just Victor standing on his hotel balcony with a drink in his hand (though if you look closely you can see it's bleeding - he breaks the glass in the book).

Vicious is not particularly engrossing right off the bat. For the first few chapters, it's just a good book. I was enjoying it, mostly due to the writing - it's so beautiful and lyrical. I know this sounds extremely cheesy, but the words all come together in this magical harmony that's practically mesmerizing. So since that in itself is enough to keep someone reading, I was having no problems with it. However, once I got past the beginning and really got immersed in what was going on, it became almost impossible to put down. Schwab builds tension masterfully without dragging it out painfully and unnecessarily. I practically raced to the end to see Eli and Victor's final clash, because I just had to know how it ended. Among the many high points of the novel (besides the pacing and the writing), you have the characters. In the hands of a different author, I can see how they would have fallen flat - they easily could have. After all, both of the main characters are - in a way - evil. There is no clear-cut hero to root for, no black and white to be seen, but many shades of gray in between. The reader is left to decide who to root for even though both men have done horrible things.

Personally, I favored Victor. It was very strange to feel that way, though, because of the two, Victor is more of your standard villain. By that I mean, he's very intelligent with it comes to scheming and he doesn't feel a lot of basic human emotions (such as empathy, and possibly love?). Those two things combined really should be enough to hate him. However, despite all the bad things he did throughout the book, I could not but help wishing he would succeed in his attempt to get revenge on Eli. There was a passage somewhere towards the end of the story where it basically says that dying pretty much killed all of Victor's "softer" emotions (not that he was the most sympathetic guy before), but his brain did recognize the fact that murdering innocent people was wrong, so at least that's something to work with. Eli was the opposite of Victor in many ways. For one, he's a people person, very friendly with everyone. He's always smiling, people gravitate towards his personality, and he's kind of religious. Of course, in the end, none of that stuff made him any less crazy. He convinces himself that it's his responsibility to eliminate EOs after an incident that happens concerning Victor in school. I didn't care nearly as much about him because he seemed a little eviler to me, but like I said before, neither of these guys are saints.

The story constantly switches time periods. Sometimes we're in the past with Victor and Eli as the story from back then slowly unfolds and the reader starts to understand what caused the friendship between them to go sour and why they are now trying to kill each other. Sometimes we're in the present, getting closer and closer to the epic climax. And sometimes we're exploring different characters, like Serena, Sydney or Mitch. Most of the time I find it annoying when a book does this, but it works very well here and I loved how I only got bits and pieces of information at a time - it was like a puzzle. None of the side characters were pointless and they all had an important role to play. Sydney stars off as being pretty timid and naive, but by the end she's super strong and I loved her for it. Mitch seems very unlovable from the outside, but once I learned his story I was very sympathetic towards him and loved his personalty.

I never exactly grew to like Serena (though I don't think I was supposed to), but in the end I guess I appreciated how she was merciful towards her sister despite all the bad things she had done. When she first partners up with Eli, she basically calls him a hypocrite, and I wonder why she changed her mind so drastically and decided to help him. Maybe it was because she was scared of him killing her? But then I don't get why she was somewhat involved with him romantically. The concept was pretty cool - the idea of EOs was definitely interesting, and I can picture people going to drastic lengths to gain superpowers. The ending was very satisfying - there's absolutely no room for a sequel, no loose ends left lying around. While I'm glad to have an amazing standalone novel, I wish that it didn't end there because I grew so attached to the characters. Vicious ended up being so much more than I hoped for, and I would highly recommend it to anyone (even if you're not into comic book stuff at all). It's also an adult book - I've seen people shelving it as young adult, and I hope no one picks it up thinking that. There are a lot of dark scenes and I wouldn't want a fainthearted person to read it - the parts where Victor and Eli attempt to become EOs in particular are a little uncomfortable.

5 solid stars

Pandemonium  - Lauren Oliver

***WARNING*** Spoilers in this review.


Wow, wow, wow! Lauren Oliver wrote an awesome sequel that I was not disappointed in. 

Her cliffhangers sure are evil, though. I'm not sure I'm be able to wait another year to find out what happens next in Requium (which I had to look up - it means "the Mass celebrated for the repose of the souls of the dead" or "any musical service, hymn, or dirge for the repose of the dead", which I found interesting). 

First, let me just take this moment to scream in all caps: ALEX IS ALIVE!!! Unfortunetly, I knew that he would be throughout the whole book, because my friend (*coughVeggieGirlcough*) spoiled it for me before I started. But the exact time and place where we found out this grand peice of information still got my heart racing. 

Lena was such a different person in this novel than she was in Delirium. I felt like it had switched POVs to some other narrator. The comparion between the new and olds Lenas is staggering. Have to say, though, that I like the new one much better. She's much stronger, smarter and so much less naive. 

I really liked the new characters, specifically Raven and Tack. And the bit we found out about Lena mother? Can't wait to see where that goes. 

I sort of wish this hadn't turned into a love triangle. I am just one of those people who does not like them. Period. While I was reading and Lena was around Julian, my thoughts went something like: "Lena, NO! You love ALEX! He's still ALIVE! And I know you don't know that yet, but STILL!" 

Don't get me wrong. I liked Julian. He seems very sweet. Loveable, even. And knowing that someone who was formally so anti-love, pro-cure has switched sides makes me do a fist pump, because I know it'll help out the resistance (the zombies need to FALL). That being said, he just isn't Alex. He's sort of boring in comparison. Plus, Lena and Julian didn't even know each other for that long. Their relationship was born out of desperation, when they bonded while they were both captured. Lena and Alex fell in love over time and attraction. And even when Lena and Julian kiss, she thinks of Alex and knows that she'll take Julian because he makes her feel better and somewhat happy. In my mind, though, he's second best. 

Lena says that Alex has hardened since the last time she saw him, so I guess that might pose a problem if they wanted to get back togeter (and man, I sure hope that happens. Julian, you should be happy too, but leave Lena and Alex alone). Still, I don't think Alex will go down without a fight as this love triangle plays out with all the drama that most love triangles have. This is clear when he he says his only line in Pandemonium: "Don't believe her." after Lena promises to be and stay with Julian. 

As always, Lauren Oliver's writing is beautiful, and I am positively green with envy. The woman could probably write a book about dirt, and I would freaking love it.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side  - Beth Fantaskey

This is kind of one of those books that I saw getting popular back with it first came out; many good reviews were popping up in the book community, and yet I continued to overlook it. I didn't even both to read the summary very closely. I was that certain I would dislike it based on the cover and title alone. In my defense, the title is a little misleading. It's different and makes the reader think that the book will be a light, quick vampire story. It was completely by chance that I saw it at a little used bookstore and decided to examine it more closely. To my great surprise, it actually sounded kind of interesting so I sat down and read the first few chapters. I continued to like it, so I bought it and stayed up half the night to finish.

There was something seriously addicting about this novel; I never wanted to put it down, always very eager to see how it would end. So I guess I could say that my favorite thing about Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side would be the pacing. It's not on the short side, nor is it particularly long; rather, it tells exactly what it needs to and ends at a satisfying point. Though I did like how it ended, I'm still very excited to pick up the sequel and see what the author has in store for these people.

Honestly, I loved Jessica's character. She was just a normal teenage girl in the start of the book, and of course she evolves by the end - what with finding out she's a vampire princess and all - but at the same time, she remains much the same in many ways. She reminded me a little of Meghan from the Iron Fey series; she, too, found out she was a princess (a faerie one, but still). Both of them grow up on a farm, as well. Jessica did have moments here and there where she acted kind of stupidly - though she stands up to her love interest a bit, she doesn't do it often enough.

Lucius (I just recently learned how to pronounce his name, by the way) immediately had my attention from the first time he showed up. Of course, the reader is already aware of what he his and his purposes, but he changes throughout the book almost as much as Jessica does. He bounces back and forth between one extreme to the other, and I kind of felt like he should have a big hug. The chemistry with Jessica (a.k.a. Anastasia) definitely wasn't lacking; there are some steamy moments here, and they were well written and much appreciated. And the letters he writes to his uncle are hilarious. Fantaskey's version of a vampire was interesting. I like the way she built her world with the royalty aspect, but at the same time, I'm confused about how the undead can have children (but then, I'm still confused about that aspect of Twilight, so.).

I wasn't extremely fond of the side characters - I've heard that Mindy starts narrating some of the time in Jessica Rules the Dark Side, and I have to admit that I was none too thrilled with that. She was an okay character, but I'm not so sure I want to see the story through her eyes. I did, however, enjoy the relationship Jessica had with her parents, and the conflicts brought about by Faith and Jake. I was pretty surprised by the novel took towards the end - I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll say I was surprised that who I thought would be the main villain of the book turned out not to be. Overall, I'm just going to go with the classic saying - don't judge a book by its cover (or its title, for that matter), because I'm really glad I picked this up.

4 stars

Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead

Honestly, I have no idea what possessed me to pick up Vampire Academy and read it. Ever since my friend recommended Marked to me a few years ago I have mostly steered clear of books that centered on vampires (Twilight does not count, in my opinion. That is a different kind of vamp entirely). I read maybe Honestly, I have no idea what possessed me to pick up Vampire Academy and read it. Ever since my friend recommended Marked to me a few years ago I have mostly steered clear of books that centered on vampires (Twilight does not count, in my opinion. That is a different kind of vamp entirely). I read maybe about 60 pages of it, hated it almost immediately and with a passion, and gave it back within the day. Which is kind of funny now, since I barely remember what about it I hated so much anyway. I think it was the heroine. Anyway, the genre was stained for for me, and the Vampire Academy series is one I've heard about for literally years, and steered clear of. I finally caved, and I'm happy I did. 

I loved how interested I was in all the characters. I've never been one of those people really into boarding school settings, but this was different; the way Richelle Mead builds her world is scary and satisfying. I felt like I had a good, solid understanding of how it worked, which isn't something that has happened after just the first book in a while. While I'm sure I still have a lot to learn (there are, after all, quite a few more books in the VA series, plus a spin off), I can appreciate the way it was written. 

I'm not going to lie, I got irritated with Rose sometimes; she could be really shallow, and selfish. The way the rumors in the school circulated to and fro were vicious, and she doesn't help the problem. But at the same time, I really liked her because she stood up for herself and her friend, was witty and funny, and and all-around great character. I also really loved her loyalty to Lissa, and how seriously she takes her guardian job, something she reflected on towards the end of the book. I guess I have a love-hate relationship with this MC, but it could definitely lean more towards love in the future.

It felt a little odd at certain points, because I feel like VA could have easily been written in Lissa's point of view rather than Rose's. With the amount of time Rose spends in her head, it almost felt weird for it not to be. But I'm sure Mead has a good reason for writing the series this way, and I really hope that I enjoy the rest of her novels, especially in this series. 

As a character, I really liked Dimitri. He's very much the serious, broody type of guy I tend to like in my YA books. I'm very interested in finding out more about him, but I didn't always understand the romance. I felt like the attraction between him and Rose was there, but that . . . it just didn't make me feel as strongly as I wanted it to. This, too, is something I hope changes later on. After all, this is only the first one, and there is plenty of time for their relationship to deepen (though I'm sure this will turn into a love triangle somewhere down the line, because, yeah, I can't escape those). 

All in all, this was an awesome start to a series, and I am definitively reading the others. I got my copy from the library, and I am now coveting all of the hardback books and wishing they were on my shelf, despite the somewhat unappealing covers. I have no idea where the story is going to go from here, and I'm so excited to find out!

4.5 starsabout 60 pages of it, hated it almost immediately and with a passion, and gave it back within the day. Which is kind of funny now, since I barely remember what about it I hated so much anyway. I think it was the heroine. Anyway, the genre was stained for for me, and the Vampire Academy series is one I've heard about for literally years, and steered clear of. I finally caved, and I'm happy I did. 


I loved how interested I was in all the characters. I've never been one of those people really into boarding school settings, but this was different; the way Richelle Mead builds her world is scary and satisfying. I felt like I had a good, solid understanding of how it worked, which isn't something that has happened after just the first book in a while. While I'm sure I still have a lot to learn (there are, after all, quite a few more books in the VA series, plus a spin off), I can appreciate the way it was written. 

I'm not going to lie, I got irritated with Rose sometimes; she could be really shallow, and selfish. The way the rumors in the school circulated to and fro were vicious, and she doesn't help the problem. But at the same time, I really liked her because she stood up for herself and her friend, was witty and funny, and and all-around great character. I also really loved her loyalty to Lissa, and how seriously she takes her guardian job, something she reflected on towards the end of the book. I guess I have a love-hate relationship with this MC, but it could definitely lean more towards love in the future.

It felt a little odd at certain points, because I feel like VA could have easily been written in Lissa's point of view rather than Rose's. With the amount of time Rose spends in her head, it almost felt weird for it not to be. But I'm sure Mead has a good reason for writing the series this way, and I really hope that I enjoy the rest of her novels, especially in this series. 

As a character, I really liked Dimitri. He's very much the serious, broody type of guy I tend to like in my YA books. I'm very interested in finding out more about him, but I didn't always understand the romance. I felt like the attraction between him and Rose was there, but that . . . it just didn't make me feel as strongly as I wanted it to. This, too, is something I hope changes later on. After all, this is only the first one, and there is plenty of time for their relationship to deepen (though I'm sure this will turn into a love triangle somewhere down the line, because, yeah, I can't escape those). 

All in all, this was an awesome start to a series, and I am definitively reading the others. I got my copy from the library, and I am now coveting all of the hardback books and wishing they were on my shelf, despite the somewhat unappealing covers. I have no idea where the story is going to go from here, and I'm so excited to find out!

4.5 stars

The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver, Iacopo Bruno

I like to think of myself as a diverse reader - I'll pick up pretty much anything that catches my interest, no matter what age group it's meant for. The only thing I tend to avoid like the plague is nonfiction. I'd like for that to change, but honestly it probably never will. I always tell myself that I want to read middle grade books more, but for some reason they're always the first stories to get put on the back burner, to read "later" (which is code for never). Probably the only real reason I picked up The Spindlers when I did is due to the fact that I loved the first two books in Oliver's Delirium series, and I wanted to see how she would handle a children's novel.

Whenever I actually do read middle grade, I'm always reminded why I like them so much. Most of the time it's because the storylines are just plain charming. Little kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for, and there's something magical about watching the story play out through the eyes of the narrator. Liza was no exception; I found her very easy to like and immediately appreciated how much she loved her little brother, Patrick. Almost always in this type of book, the adults are portrayed as strict and completely blind to the magical things that are going on around them, while the child protagonist is left to battle a wide range of monsters. The Spindlers actually reminded me a lot of Coraline, another book I really enjoyed.

Lauren Oliver definitely has a way with words, and I've really missed her writing ever since I finished Pandemonium (I've yet to read Requiem). It's so beautiful and I loved the way she described the world of the Below world. The plotting is also done very well, one event leading smoothly into the other. My favorite character was definitely Mirabella the rat; I loved her quirky and nervous personality. There were those traditional moments in worlds like these when something appears before the main characters that's far too good to be true - and in this case, it's the big table of food and the four beautiful sisters presiding over it. The moment Liza ran into them, I was immediately wishing her away, because this is exactly the kind of thing you cannot trust. I also liked the three-room trial at the end of her quest, though my favorite was probably the first room.

The little illustrations before the beginning of each chapter were very pretty to look at. The Spindlers is a very cute and quick read. I will continue to pick up other middle grade novels because of it, though probably not one after the other. Though I love the lightness of stories like these here and there, one thing about middle grade is that they often lack substance. Still, if you're in the mood for something to put a smile on your face, I would definitely go with this one. I'm now really looking forward to Oliver's other children's book, Liesl & Po.

3.5 stars

Obsession - Jennifer L. Armentrout

When I first saw this book, I was pretty excited. I absolutely adore the Lux series (well, Onyx was just okay but the other two were amazing), so to see a full size novel set in the same world but focusing on other characters was awesome. It was interesting that the author chose to make it adult, considering the series it's based off of is YA. Personally, I didn't mind, but at the same time I wonder if a good chuck of Lux fans might shy away from Obsession for this reason. Hopefully that won't be the case, because this book has a lot to offer all on its own. It's not often that I get into novels focusing on aliens - sci-fi has never been a favorite genre of mine - but Armentrout makes it impossible not to get attached to everything about her works.

Throughout the book, it felt a little strange getting to know Hunter and liking him, since in the Lux series the Arum are always portrayed as the bad guys. In Obsession, the opposite is true - the Luxen are the bad ones, and honestly I can see why. There is something mentioned towards the beginning called Project Eagle, and as the novel progresses you learn more about it, and I'm wondering now how it will play into the main series, because there's no way something like that won't have an affect on the characters in the upcoming fourth book, Origin. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like I ever have to wait that long, because Jennifer L. Armentrout is some kind of mean writing machine - it seems like she always has something coming out. And she writes so much diverse stuff - contemporary to science fiction. She is truly a gifted author.

Serena is different from Katy. For one thing, she's an adult. But there was that same love-bickering present between her and Hunter as there was with Daemon and Katy. Both couples argue a lot, but it's a happy kind of argue, if that makes any sense at all. Hunter is definitely one of those bad boy exterior characters who actually has a good heart buried somewhere deep inside - and I happen to be a sucker for that kind of thing, so by the end of Obsession I loved, loved, loved him. The side characters - Lore, Dex, and a few others - were all pretty good additions to the story. You'll be happy to know that Daemon makes the tiniest of cameo appearances here - he doesn't even say anything, Serena just describes him a little (as being completely hot, of course). I greatly appreciated the lack of insta-love in this novel. Though I guess Serena and Hunter didn't know each other for that long, their relationship progressed believably.

Towards the end, my Nook glitched and I couldn't read the last few chapters. Finally it started working again the next day, but I was beyond annoyed I didn't get to finish the book then - the climax at the end is very engrossing. All of Armentrout's books I have found to be paced very well, actually. Her books are just fun, all around. Obsession is a standalone book, but I wouldn't be opposed to another Serena/Hunter story. At least let them make an appearance later on in the Lux series, please, Ms. Armentrout?

4 stars

Out of The Easy - Ruta Sepetys

I enjoyed Ruta Septeys' other novel, Between Shades Of Gray, last year, so when I saw the blurb of this I thought it sounded interesting and decided to read it. I think I might be in the minority here, but I actually liked Out Of the Easy more than BSOG. They're both amazing historical fiction novels, but this one just felt more like a story to me. BSOF let me a see a whole new side of history, and I appreciated it, but it was also very lesson-ish. I'm probably not making any sense right now, so, moving on. 

I am officially in love with Sepetys' writing. It's very easy to get lost in, and the way she describes settings is beautiful. Historical fiction really isn't my thing in general, but once in a while I become enchanted with a certain time period. Reading Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution for example, made me really interested in the French Revolution for a time. Out Of the Easy has made me curious about the 1950s. I loved the French Quarter and all the mystery surrounding it. 

I found it very easy to love Joise, the narrator, and all the characters in general, even the ones I didn't think I would like. Willie, for instance, seems like a villain in the beginning of the story, and as it progresses, she still isn't exactly a saint, but I was surprised by how much I cared for her at the end. Every one of them is fleshed out at least somewhat. It just feels like a very emotional book, and I can definitely say that I will be looking into whatever the author decides to do next. 

The plot moved along nicely for the most part, with new questions springing up throughout. If I absolutely had to pick something out to criticize, I would say that I wish the love interest, Jesse, had been present a little more. I would have liked to more about him besides his unpleasant upbringing. 

4.5 stars

Game - Barry Lyga

I've been looking forward to Game since last year after I finished I Hunt Killers; for a while, it didn't look like it was going to have a sequel, so when I found out it was, I was beyond excited. I love the covers of this series; they're so fitting, and if you take off the jackets, the actual books have blood spatters on them. The font and the dice, just awesome. Although . . . maybe the dead guy shouldn't be holding the dice? The victims aren't the ones who play, after all. 

I guess I'll start off with the things I disliked about the book (which, admittedly, isn't much). I understand that it's probably really unrealistic to think that the NYPD would rely so heavily on a seventeen year old boy, as I've seen pointed out multiple times already. But hey, if it didn't happen we wouldn't have much of a story, right? It was just one of those things I knew, but didn't care about because I was enjoying it so much. 

The other thing was Connie. I loved how we got to spend some time with her, with lots of chapters centering on her doings. She's a tough, likable character, and I think she's good for Jazz. But, honestly, some of the things she did? I just couldn't believe it. A serial killer calls you and starts giving you sick clues to follow? Sure, I can understand trying to appease him so he doesn't, you know, come kill you right now. But she actually goes to a warehouse by herself in the middle of New York, sees graffiti meant specifically for her, and she goes inside the building anyway. I just, I can't even.

I loved the return of Howie; he's kind of the comical relief in the story, and his attempts to hit on Jazz's Aunt Samantha were hilarious. I understand his frustration with his situation, but he's very lighthearted. I really liked the addition of Sam as a character; she's still something of a question mark, but I'm sure we'll find out more about her in the last book in the series. And of course I loved reading Jasper's POV. He's still pretty disturbed about his past, and he's now having a different, sexual dream. I have a few guesses about what these dreams mean, but I'm not sure. He's still a pretty charming guy, and watching his internal struggles with himself really made my heart hurt (especially after Billy screws with his head over the phone). 

There were twists and turns throughout the book, so I never really got bored. Information unfolds slowly about this Game and what it involves. Though we never find out everything about it (like the thing with the crows, what was that about?), hints are placed here and there. I loved the little chapters in the killer's POV. I'm not going to lie - this book seriously creeped me out at times. The murders are more gruesome than they were in I Hunt Killers. I love these books, but they read like adult fiction, so I wouldn't recommend them to a squeamish person. However, if you have a strong stomach and enjoy thrillers, then let me direct you to these stories immediately! 

Barry Lyga's writing is very interesting, and I continue to be fascinated by his knowledge of the inner workings of a sociopath. However . . . I have to say, his choice of ending was cruel. If you think about it, we're left hanging in four different ways, and that is just mean. How am I supposed to wait another year for book 3 to come out?! Well, I guess I'll have to. But I'm not happy about it. 

5 stars

Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars.

I absolutely love a good historical fiction novel once in a while. It's not a genre I can read constantly, but sometimes I pick up one that pops. I read in a few reviews that some thought it was a little slower paced than they expected out of book that has "assassin nuns" in the summary. And, while I will admit to wishing Ismae would have a couple more action scenes rather than just talk about all the ways she can kill peoeple, I was actually pretty absorbed in the other aspect of the novel, the political part. 

The whole 'saint/god of Death' thing was really a put off for me for a while. But I decided to give Grave Mercy a chance, and I'm really glad I did! I really appreciated the world building and Ismae as a protagonist. Women were not treated particularly well in this time period, but Ismae was really strong and thoughtful under her circumstances. 

The romance was really quite lovely. I like the suble ones that kind of creep up on you for a while until they're suddenly just there, and the othes where the two people involved don't necessarily like each other much in the beginning. Duval was an interesting character who was extremely loyal to his Dutchess. 

I had my suspicions about the traitor throughout the course of the book, and even though I was right, sometimes the road leading up to the big reveal is entertaining enough to make someone not care that they already know. 

The author clearly did some research wih Grave Mercy, and it shows. The writing is also very sofisticated, which I can always appreciate. Nothing worse than a badly edited or poorly researched book.

The only thing that prevents me from giving this a full five stars is the ending. I thought everything wrapped up a little too nicely, a little too fast. 

I'm really excited for the next book in the series, Dark Triumph, which will focus on Sybella, Ismae's sister from the convent who shows up every now and again throughout Grave Mercy.

What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang

When I first saw this book, I really wasn't that interested. I'm not sure why, the summary sounds interesting enough. Maybe I was just really excited about other new releases at the time and just didn't really want to concentrate on something new. But I was actually really exited when I got it, because it sounded a little like The Host, which I loved. 

When I saw the cover on Goodreads, I thought it was okay. But for some reason when I had the actual book and got to look at it, I discovered that the cover is absolutely gorgous. 

I think it takes real talent to write a story about two people in one body, give them both separate personalities, separate thoughts, feelings and choices. The author had to have some issues with when to write "I" and "she", and keep everything straight. But I never got confused, everything was explained very clearly in an easy to understand way. 

Both Addie and Eva stole my heart in different ways. Their relationship was so heart-warming, the way they spoke to each other and considered each other. They truly loved each other. I think, after a time, it would be easy to start resenting the other person in your head for never going away, never fading, never giving you a moment to yourself. And even though they fought, they were just . . . good to each other.

I didn't get teary or anything when I read this, but it made me so sad to think of Eva. To be able to think, feel, hear and see, but be unable to move the body she's in. To be totally caged like that. It would be enough to make someone go insane, really. 

The pacing of this novel was really good. I never really got bored, I always wanted to know what happened next. I thought the author introduced the facts of her world in a way that wasn't too much or too little at any one time. It was very good world-building, which, in a dystopian novel, is absolutely essential.

The characters all had a personality of their own. Though there are fifteen children in the institution Addie and Eva are sent to and we only get to know a few, the ones we did know really came to life. None of them really fell flat. 

What's Left Of Me was so much better than I expected it to be, and I loved, loved, loved it. I cannot wait for the sequel.

The Iron Queen - Julie Kagawa

I loved the two books before this one (Iron King, Iron Daughter), but I think I like this one the best. That seems impossible, because I was fairly certain that the series could not get better. But Julie Kagawa has surprised me before, and her third book - The Iron Queen - exceeded my expectations. I loved how the characters didn't change - they were still the ones I know and love. Ash is much less cold without the influence of the Winter Court, and we get to know him better as a person (*swoon*). Puck was still the joking prankster - the guy that made me laugh during some of the darker scenes. I really loved how Kagawa settled the love triangle. Truthfully, I'm not a big fan of those. I think Meghan's and Puck's kiss in the Iron Daughter was more of a rebound thing, and that she was just really hurt and confused. She would have always chose Ash. I never really doubted that in my mind. And I like how Puck came to terms with that in the end, settling for just being the best friend. I also thought it was interesting, in the end of the book, when Puck commented that Meghan was always happiest with Ash, and that, by helping them get back together, he might right the wrong of Ariella's death. I also really liked how Meghan grew as a character in the series. In the Iron King, she was mostly just a typical sixteen year old girl, but by the Iron Queen, she was a totally different person; one who knows how to make decisions, when she needs to hold on and when she needs to let go. And I loved all the new characters, Glitch and the other "friendly" Iron fey. Grimalkin was around again, which made me happy <3. I love his sarcasm and his "I am a cat" explanation for everything. The ending of this book . . . is sad. Well, to me it is. I mean, I understand why what happened had to happen. And I was mostly okay with the outcome...I just hope Ash and Meghan can be together again in the Iron Knight. I can't WAIT for the Iron Knight. I'll be counting down the days until it is released. 

Overall, I love this book! 

PS. Did anyone else wonder where Tiantia went in the book after we first saw her? I mean, she was introduced once, but after that it was all Mab and Oberon....maybe I just missed where she went. *shrug*

Awesome

Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo

After finishing Shadow and Bone last year and being completely and unexpectedly blown away by the sheer awesomeness found within its pages, I was beyond excited to get my hands on its sequel. I pretty much stalked the goodreads page for it, jumping for joy when I first read the summary and saw the gorgeous cover art. It did not disappoint, and I decided to give it five stars upon finishing (though really, I was just itching to rate it that high before I even started). It's extremely difficult most of the time write decent reviews for books you love so much it hurts, but I'll give it my best shot. 

Just like before, I adore Bardugo's writing. There is simply something magical about it that draws you in and makes you feel all cozy. I love the rich detail she gives her world; there's so much thought and detail put into this story. You know how sometimes in books an author will sometimes spend a little too much time describing every last little thing, down to what color the nightstand is? Well, despite there being loads of explaining going on in Siege and Storm, it never feels like the writing is lingering in all the wrong places. I will admit that I did sometimes still struggle with the complex words - pronouncing them and remembering each of their meanings - but at the same time I like how unique they are. The pacing of the story is excellent - same as the writing. I'm beginning to sense a pattern here. Not a boring moment to be found in S&S. Even the additions of the prologue and epilogue being written in third person are oddly cool. 

Of course I love those wonderful things that always matter in a novel (writing, pacing, world-building), but what really shines through to me is the characters. Alina is definitely an interesting protagonist. At times, I didn't know how I felt about her. In Shadow and Bone, I loved watching her grow from being the quiet, somewhat mopey little girl into a strong woman. But in this sequel, she's forced into doing this even more. I felt very conflicted over her internal struggles. She wants to remain a good person, but she's fearful that by gaining more and more power (and she does just that), she may become a bit hungry for it. If felt like she always did the best she could, given the difficult circumstances. Overall, I still love her character and can't wait to see how she changes in Ruin and Rising. 

Another thing I had mixed feelings about was her romance with Mal. Despite how good I thought they were together in the first book, now I'm not so sure. It's not that I've grown to dislike them as a couple or anything, but many issues grow between them, and I'm not certain about how they'll be able to work through them all. I was disappointed by the cold distance kept between them for most of the story, and I was frustrated with Alina for not seeing earlier how miserable Mal was, and also frustrated with Mal for not being more understanding. I kind of just wanted to punch both of them in the face at times. Sturmhond is a great addition to this series. I'd seen a lot of raving about him in early reviews, so of course I was very excited to meet him. He's witty and funny and kind of mysterious. He's easily the comedic relief of the book. He says he's not truly interesting in Alina, but I do think he's lying. And . . . maybe it wouldn't be so horrible if a match between S/A happened. Just saying. 

This review would not be complete if I did not mention the Darkling. He was easily my favorite character in S&B, and I was devastated when we learned how evil he truly was after having served as Alina's love interest for maybe 80% of the book. Going into this, I was really hoping he would somehow change, but sadly, it didn't happen. He truly is the villain of this series, and that makes me very sad. However, he plays the role well and I look forward to seeing how everything works out for him - he'll probably have to die, there's no other way I can think of. I hope he's around more often in book three, because he's absent a lot of the time here, though he does still have a . . . presence. I don't think he truly has any feelings for Alina at all. 

This was an excellent continuation to one of my favorite stories of 2012, and I have absolute faith in Leigh Bardugo; the conclusion of the Grisha trilogy will be epic.

Creative

Splintered - A.G. Howard

When I saw that cover, and that tagline, I knew I had to read this book. It was love at first sight. I actually got an e-book of this, which I regret because I saw the physical copy for sale at my local bookstore and kicked myself because it is so, so utterly beautiful and was just begging to come home with me. And when I read the summary and saw that it was a retelling of Alice In Wonderland, I was even more intrigued. AIW was never my favorite story as a kid, in fact I found it kind of creepy, but as I grew up I understood it better and enjoyed it. I haven't read the book, but I might eventually. I've never been great with classics. 

The author, A.G. Howard, seriously has all kinds of talent with describing Wonderland and all its quirky traits. I really saw everything in my mind vividly - the rabbit hole, the sea or clams, the talking flowers. And when a book can transport me to another world in such a way, I immediately take a strong liking to it. So for this, it gets an extra star. Wonderland reminds me a lot of Faery. There are obviously differences (the aversion to iron, for example) but they also feel very similar in their craziness. 

I liked the heroine of the book, Alyssa. I questioned some of her decisions, but overall she was alright. There's a love triangle presented here, though it borders on the whole villian-is-taking-part-as-a-love-interest trend we seem to be seeing a lot of in YA lately. Honestly, I haven't really minded this happening, because I feel like it makes them a little more interesting and less cliche than usual. If I absolutely have to read a love triangle, which I do in this genre, let it be one like this. 

The two boys of the book are Jeb and Morpheus. I've seen Jeb get some hate in other reviews because of his help in making Alyssa's father demand that she stay where she is rather than move to London like she wanted to. And while I guess that bothered me, it didn't seem like a huge deal. I did, however, get a little irritated with him and his girlfriend, Taelor (I think it was spelled a little differently than normal, not sure). She's pretty mean to Alyssa in general, and I felt like Jeb didn't do very much to defend Alyssa, who is apparently his close friend. And then later in the book it is revealed that Jeb dated her as a distraction because he really loved Alyssa but couldn't be with her for some reason or other. He could have picked someone a little less vicious. Just saying. 

Morpheus was an interesting character. I was a little thrown off at first with the whole big black wings thing and obsession with hats, but once that was out of the way I pictured him much easier. I love people in books whose intentions and motives are hard to guess, and he is such a person. I won't lie and say I wasn't disappointed in the end with Alyssa's choice. I understood why, and the reasoning behind it, but that doesn't stop the wanting.(view spoiler)

The pacing of Splintered is good, though there were bits and pieces here and there that confused me, eventually it all got put together rather nicely and now I understand what happened (I think). I believe this book is a standalone, but there is definitely room for sequels, and I will definitely be looking into them should A.G. Howard ever decide to write them. 

4.5 stars

Haunting and lyrical

The Archived - Victoria Schwab

I put off reading this for a long time because it didn't look like something I'd be interested in. It looked pretty creepy, and for some reason I just bypassed it pretty easily and didn't give it a second look until a short while ago. This changed because I saw the blurb for Schwab's upcoming novel, Vicious, and thought it looked awesome. Before I bought it, though, I wanted to see if I would enjoy her writing style, so I would have an idea of what to expect when it finally came out. I'm ecstatic that I did, because I ended up liking The Archived more than I ever thought I would, despite the numerous glowing reviews I've seen. The cover is simply stunning, and the actual book is really soft. I loved how they added the wallpaper in the beginning and the end; this added touch makes everything combined perfect for the story. And after having seen similar art done on the sequel, The Unbound, this is definitely a series I hope they don't touch with a stupid redesign.

The only reason I'm subtracting half a star from my overall rating is that I had a difficult time getting into the story at first. Schwab had a lot of explaining to do with this elaborate world she created, so I constantly had questions and was confused a lot in the first half. This made the story a bit difficult to go back to after I set it down. However, once everything came together and all the pieces fell into place, I was in awe. The author really does a spectacular job in all the different aspects of the Archive, the Narrows and the Outer. In comparison to everything else I've read, this novel feels like a breath of fresh air. It honestly felt different in a good way. I've seen a few people say that they thought the villain was a bit predictable, and maybe I did have an inkling of who it would turn out to be, but at the same time there's a lot of characters so it was difficult at times to narrow it down.

Beside the marvelous world, you have the excellent writing. It flows so beautifully it's hard to stop once you've started. The atmosphere of the entire story felt somewhat relaxed . . . but not. Like this undertone of creepiness created this ominous feel like something really bad was just around the corner. For the narrator, Mackenzie, this is a literal thing, because she never really knew when the Histories were going to come peacefully or when they were going to be crazies and attack her. Again, I must go back to how original this concept is. I was intrigued by the ideas of Keepers tasked with Returning Histories after they've woken up, and the fact that the Histories themselves are "records" of the people they once were. Stranger than that, they actually sleep in the Archive; loud noises wake them up. The words Schwab used evoked a lot of emotion in me, and I was surprised to find that I actually got a little choked up during certain scenes. Caring to that extent really makes me love a book.

It took be a while to get used to the frequent flashbacks between Mackenzie and her grandfather (who, confusingly at first, is referred to as "Da"), but eventually I quite liked them. I could feel the strong bond between them since at the time they were the only two people who knew about the Archive, and naturally having to hide something that big from everyone else they know isolates them a bit. Normally, I would question how often Mackenzie lies to her parents to get away and and attend her Keeper duties, but as they were distracted by their new home and combined with their unspoken sadness in trying to move on from their youngest child's death (Ben), it was easy enough to ignore.

Mackenzie was not hard to emphasize with. She was a perfectly lovely character, and I loved seeing the story through her eyes. Her emotions felt so raw, and she deals with so much, but she remains very strong. I didn't think I would like Wesley at first, but I actually really did. He was there for Mackenzie when she needed him to be, while remaining charming and funny. I was really rooting for them to end up together. The other interest, Owen, was dead - a History, rather. I could see why Mackenzie used him for comfort since touching him was noiseless and painless, but that's all I ever saw it as - using. She wanted to escape the crazy outside world for a bit, but I never really saw a future between them, and honestly I didn't want to. The rest of the side characters were awesome - Roland, in particular, was pretty cool. I'm pretty happy with how The Archived ended, but there's definitely room for a sequel, which I will be checking out for sure when it comes out next year.

4.5 stars