A Conjuring of Light

29939230A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

 

2_stars

 

An enemy finds its way from Black London to Red London and it’s darkness is seeping into the very souls of its citizens. Only the antari and friends (with their powers combined!) can stop this foe.

The Story-Okay, unpopular opinion time. I did not like this book at all. It was soooooo loooongggg. With that being said, there was so much that wasn’t necessary in the book. From points of views to full scenarios. There is some conflict that arises between the countries that could have been left out of the book entirely. The only thing it really offered was an out for some characters. I honestly think there was too much time breaking each character down that it ended up being wasted on me. By the time we finally got to the end, it was anticlimactic and really proportionate to the buildup that spent leading to it. I think some of the arena scenes in the second book lasted longer than what we finally got with Osaron, or at least it felt that way. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there wasn’t so much blandness in between though! It was only my determination and love for the second book that got me through this one.

The World Building– I think the thing that bothered me most about this book was that there was no explanation for our villain. Like what’s his deal besides needing more, more, more.

The Characters– I still adore Delilah and Kell. What I did like about this book was the background story for Holland and all that he endured. I was really happy to get to know one of our villains, except for the fact that we don’t really know anything really about Osaron. He is such a vague villain that we don’t even know what he really looks like.

The Soundtrack– Hawkboy – Scoundrel

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Graffiti Moon

7863274Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

3_stars

Lucy is in love with Shadow through the art that he has sprayed all over town. Over the night of celebrating the last day of year 12, she and her friends embark on a mission to find him. When she does find Shadow he isn’t exactly who she had in mind, except that he is.

The Story– Okay, so despite this being a teenage romantic contemporary, it was far from the angsty stuff that we’re all used to. In fact, there are very few scenes were our characters were nervous about being near another, there insides getting all warm and tingly, or were there very few scenes where they boy has twinkling eyes of galaxies and smiles worth a million bucks.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a lot going to drive the plot to the end aside from the ramblings of artsy kids, who thankfully I can just slightly relate to (being married to an artist and all). I think for someone who isn’t very artsy or appreciates poetry might find the book a little convoluted. With that being said, I still think it sets itself apart from the rest since it isn’t the same dumbed down angst we usually get from YA contemporary.

The Characters-What made this book particularly special were that all these kids were from broken/poor homes, but weren’t exactly gripping about it either. They accepted where they were at in the social level without pointing it out. We had these kids that didn’t have any silver spoons, but still saw the world through gilded frames. Look, this book has me writing all metaphorically. Let’s stop that, because I don’t like to come off having feelings and what have you.

The Soundtrack– Elliott Smith – Twilight

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The Well of Ascension

6547260The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

4_stars

The Story-So I wasn’t exactly hooked on this book as much as I was the first book, but I found it still intriguing. There was enough to answer for that I had to just keep continuing on to get the answers I needed. This book had quite a few fight scenes that helped pull the length of the story along. In fact, I thought it balanced out the politicking and world building that held a majority of the book. Unfortunately, I found the ending to be quite anticlimactic. I had hoped for more war battle scenes as well as conflict surrounding the actual Well of Ascension – since that was this books namesake.

The World Building– I think a big part of this book was world development with the prophecies and how our characters tie in with it as well as other elements that are changing such as the mists and koloss. I think some of my favorite parts involved the understanding the koloss as well as learning much more about the kandra. I sincerely hope that both still play a role in the next book as well.

The Characters– There are so many characters in this book to really touch on any of them. Sazed continues to be one of my favorite characters, and I was very happy to have more chapters from him as well as character involvement within the story. The other was OreSeur. Both of these characters bring a certain loyalty that is naturally unexpected from their kind, and I found that without them, I wouldn’t have liked the book as much.

The Soundtrack– Phantogram – Celebrating Nothing, Tiesto ft Tegan and Sara – Feel it in My Bones

This was a buddy read with Bentley and Chelsea. Check these two lovelies out.

 

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Winter

13206900Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

5_stars

In the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles series, the girls and their beaus come together for a final stand against Levana and her rule on Luna and impeding rule on the Common Wealth. Though they all come from different backgrounds, have their own skills, and have their own end goals, they somehow band together against a tyrant that has been destroying their lives.

The Story– I absolutely adore these books, and the last one didn’t let me down at all. If you like a happily ever after, than these retellings definitely have it for you. The best part is that even though we all (probably) know the basic outline for these stories, Meyer has developed them into their own plot, and the story unfolds in such an exciting way that I could just not put it down till I had my happy ending – which at some points I thought was feeble. By the end though, I was happy and giddy and every other feeling a princess story usually gives me

The World Building-This book gave us a LOT more Luna, in fact a majority of the book is spent there. It was interesting to see how the Lunars were apart from just the thaumaturges, as in not everyone was power hungry narcissists.

The Characters– At first I wasn’t exactly sold on Winter & Jason, but by the end I found them just as swoon worthy as the other three princess/prince couples. I love how Levana ended up being the key villain along many platforms, even though there were a few different fairy tales interwoven.

The Soundtrack– Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll

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13206828Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

 

The Final Empire

6547258The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

5_stars

“The Hero of Ages shall be not a man, but a force. No nation may claim him, no woman shall keep him, and no king may slay him. He shall belong to none, not even himself.” 

Within the Final Empire the skaa have been enslaved for centuries by the Lord Ruler. Though the ashes still fall and the mists they fear still roil in each night, a rebellion has started to grow. A crew of thieves, each with their own unique specialty, have plans to turn this rebellion into a full on revolution.

The Story-I was fortunate enough that Bentley and Chelsea let me jump in on their buddy read. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much without their feedback, ideas, and understanding throughout the book. I seriously am so excited to start the next book. I have to admit, the long prologue and first few chapters weren’t the most exciting chapters ever, but from there the story really unfolds from slow burning to a full blaze. The story itself primarily follows Vin, who is a lowly thief, and her endeavors after she has been recruited by Kelsier, a man known as The Survivor of Hasinth for the biggest, craziest job he has ever planned. Mostly told between Vin & Kelsier the team is constantly berated by obstacle after obstacle that keeps you wondering if they will ever pull off the job or not. While an uprising isn’t some the most exciting, original idea, Sanderson did a wonderful job of introducing it as new through his wonderful world building.

The World Building– I thought that as the story progressed Sanderson did an excellent job of unfolding more and more about the world as well as character development. The world building for me was by far the best part for me. While I have a lot of questions about some aspects, I can tell by the way Sanderson unfolded information in this book, that we will most likely have them answered in due time throughout the rest of the series. With that being said, I’d like to point out some of my favorite bits that I found incredibly intriguing.
The Special Abilities– I loved how in depth all of this was. There wasn’t just one type of power. In fact the major ability, metal burning, wasn’t even as straight forward as just having it. There were levels of ability, uses, checks and balances, using up and refilling, and tricks unique to each type of ability. At first I was a little overwhelmed by the different types of metal and what they did. I thought I might have to memorize all of them to keep up with the story, but Sanderson flawlessly reminded me of their uses as the actions were performed without sounding redundant.
Creatures, Races & Histories-There are a few different races mentioned in the book, and each had their own history, special abilities, religions etc. In fact, I loved how Sanderson created multiple religions within the one people as part of the world building, even if it wasn’t relevant to the particular world they were living it, it still helped support the story, and it was these small details that really put this book above the rest. The creatures were so eerie & unnatural. First of all, the Inquisitors off the bat were so creepy I got chills reading about them. The mistwraiths have all their superstitions wrapped around them along with the fact that they only roam around in the mists just made them über creepy too. These creatures along with the superstitions really set the mood for the world.

The Characters– Okay, there are too many characters to really do all of them any justice, so I am only going to mention Vin (who I consider the main character) and my favorite from the whole crew.
Vin-Now while Vin turns out to be a super bad ass chick, my favorite parts of her were her weaknesses. Despite her growth as a character in skill, confidence, and trust, she was still vulnerable to dangers, loss and disappointment. She never stops second guessing herself, she just pushes through because she simply has to. Just because she was certainly stronger and bolder by the end of the book, she could still cry out with relatively normal reactions.
Sazed-I loved this guy because he was entirely selfless. He only sought out the best for his friends, particularly in this book Vin, and even when they were stupid he did nothing but support them all. He is steadfast in his word and true with his friendship. For me he turned out to be one of the most intriguing characters, and I honestly think it was meant to be that way. He is shrouded in mystery for most of the book, despite his prominent presence, and I can only hope that he continues to play a big role in the upcoming books.

The Soundtrack
Radiohead – Daydreaming
Muse – Uprising
Thrice – For Miles

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Cress

13206828Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

 

5_stars

Cress has been in her satellite doing the bidding of Queen Levana for many years. But this is her chance to redeem herself for all that she was forced to do. Imprisoned on a Satellite with only the occasional supply visit she has little interaction with the outside world (errr universe). That is until she requests an escape from none other than Cinder, the fugitive she has been ordered to find for the Queen. This unlikely crew of rebels soon find out that they not only need to stay out of the clutches of the Queen but are probably the only hope of stopping her.

The Story-I can’t believe I put this book off so long. These books are just so stinking cute, I don’t even care if they’re cheesy or anything. They just make me feel good and sometimes you just need that in your life. Fairytale retellings in space? Seriously, so much fun. I know I am ridiculously late to this bandwagon, but I don’t even care.

Anyway, the pacing in book three stays steady with espionage, escapes, and even kidnapping. Along with all the sweetness these girls bring, the situations they find themselves in only keeps you on the edge of your seat with excitement.

The World Building-In Cress we start to get a little bit more of the Lunar perspective and it’s quite disturbing. It’s really quite chilling to learn what they are willing to do to hold and gain more as much power as they can. It was really interesting to see more of Earth and how they interact and handle Lunars as well. I am really curious how Earth is going to react in the next book with all that has happened in this book.

The Characters-So since we are starting to really collect a huge cast, I am going to focus on our title heroine, Cress. I am pretty sure she’s my favorite thus far and I think it’s purely for her sweet naiveté. Unlike our other retold heroines, she remains to be the girl you want to save. Not because she is exactly helpless, because let’s be honest, the crew would not be alive without her. It’s because I feel like there is something about her that needs to be persevered. I hated seeing her go through more and more troubles, but her relationship with Thorn is just so stinking cute. Despite the fact that she is the one being “saved” it was incredibly endearing how their friendship developed as he had to rely on her.

The Soundtrack
Anya Maria – Satellite Heart
Justin Bieber – Hit the Ground
The Chainsmokers feat. Daya– Don’t Let me Down

 

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Adorkable

28791088Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

2_stars

“He was my Huckleberry, my Han Solo, my one, but most of all he was my Becks and I was his Sal.” 

Sally Spitz hasn’t ever had a boyfriend, and her good friend Hooker is bent on playing matchmaker by setting her up repeatedly on blind dates – that go pretty bad. In an attempt to dodge more awkward moments with boys she’s not into Sal adopts the plan to use a fake boyfriend as her get-out-of-blind-date card. Fortunately, her best friend Becks would do anything for her. Unfortunately, she has been in love with him since they met in elementary school.

The Story– To start, I’d like to point out I think it’s stupid that her friend and mom are in cahoots to set her up over and over with boys. Like seriously? She’s just 17, let her meet boys on her own. The premise that started the whole book was funny yes, but I just wanted to push her friend down a very long flight of stairs (see below).

Anyway, if you are a cliché trope devourer then this book is probably for you. I love that stuff. But the entire time I was reading this book I was wondering, why did I pick up this garbage?. Super cute popular boy? Love triangle? Misunderstanding? Girl who melts at the touch of said cute popular boy? Happy ending? Yes, it’s got all this and more. I am totally okay with all of this, I especially love the hidden feelings best friend trope that it is centered on. Even though I am okay with all of it, I sort of feel like when you’re doing a same ol’ story you still have to bring something fresh to the table….also those characters. I am not sure how by the end though I thought, dang that was cute. I think it’s the grand gesture….it has to be, because who can get over that?

Another thing that just sort of bothered me on a really small irrational scale. Each character was introduced with a first and last name (except the brothers because duh, they have the same last name). I don’t even know why it bothered me so much why each character’s full name had to be pointed out.

The big problem I had with this book was how it took peoples names and made it a point to make fun of them. MAINLY SPEAKING when my name, Priscilla, was changed to Pisszilla. GTFOH! I’ll never get over that.

The Characters
Sal-So Sal was supposed to be a dork right? She as obviously beautiful without really knowing it, because she is repeatedly told she is good looking throughout the book, but at least she wasn’t Debbie-downer about herself either. But really, the things that made her a dork I didn’t personally think was dorky. Like really, I’m pretty sure guys think it’s pretty cool when a girl can be into things like Star Trek or Star Wars. Liking Harry Potter? Pretty sure that’s not dorky at all – there’s an entire theme park and franchise dedicated to its fan base, what other book series ever got its own theme park?!. This girl is sort of rude though. For example, she’s a Griffindor so she had to go and bash on Slytherin – not cool in my book at all.

Becks-Oh Mr. Perfect? He’s incredibly good looking and just so amazing at soccer. He’s pretty much the prince of the school. What bothered me about this book was that he was making out with half the school, and of course is spared the man whore card, all the while his best friend Sal is judging every girl for going after him. Like I know you’re jealous and all, but quit objectifying the girls vying for his attention.

Hooker-Can we just talk about how much she pissed me off? If I had a friend that acted like this I would bitch slap her to Antarctica where she can set up some penguins. Seriously, screw this chick. No means no doesn’t apply to just sexual situations….so when your “bestie” says to please stop setting up her with blind dates because she’s not interested and only 17…then you should probably stop. She had zero personality and added nothing but premise to the story. She could have easily been taken out of the story all together and been set up by guys her mom randomly bumped into. Really, half the guys that she was sending to Sal was her cast offs. What kind of friend does that? He wasn’t good enough for me, so you can have him. Hooker you are awful.

The Soundtrack-Okay, now since I wanted to punch a hole through this book, I have a few qualms about assigning some good jams to this book, alas, it cannot be helped.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – Can’t Take My Eyes of You (because big gestures in stadiums make me think of Heath Ledge & 10 Things I Hate About You)
Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games with My Heart
Jimmy Eat World – Carry You
Civil Wars – Poison and Wine

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Just Friends

25876985Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

5_stars

“Their past might be fake, but their future was real. It was theirs to build. It was real, unscripted and unplanned.” 

When Jenny and Chance are paired together for an assignment for Oral Communication, they end up winging the whole thing and making up lies about how they have basically been best friends forever. After the class is over, they just go with it, pretending to be best friends. As time goes on, they learn to trust and rely each other like it’s all true. The more real memories they create the closer they get until their need for each other by their side is undeniable to everyone.

The Story– Pitcock mentions in her acknowledgements that Reality Bites played a part of inspiration for the book, but I honestly have never seen it. However, the entire time I was reading this I had actually wondered if it was a When Harry Met Sally retelling. Which, I completely adore.

Let me be completely candid here. I started this book last night and read till 2AM, woke up and finished it in bed before getting up for coffee. If you knew anything about me there are two things important to me in the morning – washing my face & drinking coffee. So the fact that I just had to finish before marking these tasks off my morning routine has got to show how much I adored this.

I have to admit that the first chapter or two had me wondering if this was the type of book that would talk about how great Chance is with enough cheese factor to put Tillamook out of business. Fortunately after the initial meet-cute it tempered down a bit to a steady and consistent feel goodness. While the whole story wasn’t just cutesy scenes, I think it’s also important to point out that it did have some familial issues that are addressed though they weren’t a heavy influence to the vibe to the book. The issues were used as a way to reinforce the friendship that was so needed between Chance and Jenny. Other common teen issues are lightly used as well, including rumor mills, double standards, and relationship expectations.

I just loved how this book deals with friendship and how they were there for each other first before their feelings became an issue. That’s to say that sparks didn’t not fly from their initial reaction, it just didn’t quite take off in a steamy or confusing romance. Just read this, it’s a good balance of romance and comradery.

There was just one bit that I felt could have been done just a smidge better and that was how many 90’s or 00’s references that were used throughout the book. I think it really dated the Pitcock’s generation, which was okay, but probably could have been a more relevant if it also included some more recent references. Don’t get me wrong, it is the same era that I reference most, but just saying for the target audience that the book is for…

The Characters-Jenny & Chance were stinking cute. I seriously loved their interactions and the stories they came up for their fake past were super cute too. They made it super nostalgic for my childhood best friend. It was incredibly endearing how Jenny & Chance would put the other’s needs before their own over and over despite their own personal issue.

The Soundtrack– At the end of this book Pitcock had already supplied playlists from Jenny & Chance, so I’m not going to list a bunch here. You just have to get the book to see hers for yourself.
Taylor Swift – State of Grace (this was also on Pitcock’s Jenny & Chance playlist)
Rooney – If It Were Up to Me
Feist – Secret Heart

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Last Star Burning

28797211Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

3_stars

“They say war is no dinner party. Not refined, graceful, courteous, or magnanimous. It’s complete devastation.” 
Years after the fact, Sev is still ostracized and paying for the crimes of her traitor mother. When an attack on the city is blamed on Sev, she is flung into an escape that puts her outside the safety of the city’s walls. In her escape, Sev learns who she can really trust and how deep deception goes.

The Story– I am not going to lie, and just say that I was initially drawn to the cover of this book. That pagoda with the human suspended in it is just chilling. Unfortunately, I was a little let down from this book.

The pacing was all sorts of wack. To clarify, despite the necessity of the information and character building that the first half provides, it had the plot moving at a sluggish pace. You really spend a lot of time getting from one place to another. Granted, there is development in Sev, she makes friendships, and we learn enough about what is happening to keep you going. At about 70% you finally start to get some answers to the questions that have been leading up to that point, 70% is a LONG time to get some information. It’s all ends up being, for the most part, worth it once you hit 80% and the book throws you in a tailspin of action and excitement. We aren’t exactly left with a cliffhanger, but still have the need to find out what happens next.

The World Building-I love the Chinese influence that played into this book. Even though it was kept pretty minimal, it really helped build a unique setting. Sangster did a good job of taking something real (sleep sickness) and warping it to fit this story. I am really curious to see a bit more about the monsters that roam the land, and even to see if there are more than just the one type.

The Characters
Sev-A character with morals that has fallen from grace not by her actions…What I love most about Sev is that she isn’t rebelling, she’s just trying to do what’s right in all the situations she finds herself in. Self-preservation meets a moral compass.

Tai-ge-Sorry, but this guy was sort of boring. I don’t remember anything interesting about him at all, which is just sad since he is Sev’s best friend.

Howl-The entire time I was reading this I hated on him just because his name was Howl. In my head I just kept thinking of Howl’s Moving Castle, and it just ruined it for me. I know that’s not fair to him, but what can I do? I do get the feeling there is more to him than we are really let on.

June-This girl was my favorite, she was the unexpected element that turned the tide for Sev and there is nothing but appreciation for this girl. Even though she had a fairly minor role in the book, as soon as she was brought in, she had a heavy presence in the story.

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

8591107The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

2_stars

“I didn’t know what was real, what was a nightmare, what was a memory.” 

Mara Dyer survives an accident where three of her friends die. She has no idea what happened or what is happening to her. In her recovery strange things start to happen around her and she can hardly handle the stress that is honing in around her life, including the attention of heartthrob Noah Shaw.

The Story-Okay, to start I was pretty intrigued about the plot. I just really, really wanted to know what was going on. At about 70% I had a major “why is this even happening” moment. It sort of felt like this story was jumping from scene to scene of Mara’s delusions. I’m not sure if it comes up again later, but there were a few things that I felt sort of just dropped off in the story line, and I am not sure if it’s for mysteriousness or…? I think my biggest issue with the book besides it sort of being jumbled was the fact that Noah would speed off in his Prius…I am pretty sure those go zero to sixty in about an hour, so it was really hard for me to imagine him doing that.

Truthfully, as a whole I didn’t care for the book, and I think a big part was also the characters. The only reason why I even went more towards a 2 star than a 1 was because I finished it so quickly. Despite its flaws I still kept turning the pages, and you know what? I actually want to read the next book…even though I almost want to hate this one.

The Characters-Guys, these characters made me want trap them inside a building where they can all die when it crumbles.

Mara-I really hate girls who know to stay away from a guy and then melt into a puddle when they come near. Like really Mara, just because a guy tells you to do something and is grossly charming doesn’t mean you have to do what he says or follow along. Get a back bone.

Noah-Can we just point out how awful this guy is? Somehow we get through the story with only Jamie telling Mara that it’s basically a bad idea to get involved with him. Honestly, great, he’s not perfect, but you know what? Maybe he could feel just a little bit ashamed about how he used the girls at his high school. Oh and his possessiveness was really not attractive, despite how often we are told that he is basically McDreamy. Hey Noah, when a girl says no, that means no. That doesn’t mean pursue her more just because you have some weird fascination with her as well as a disposition of getting everything that you want. Also, I really hate when writers point out how much someone is smiling. Okay enough already with the smiling, smirking, and upturned lips!
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Joseph-How can this kid be so smart but then just roll over and take Mara & Noah’s word for something that happened that was incredibly sketchy.

Daniel-What kind of dick big brother pushes his sister to spend time with a known playboy?