ARC REVIEW: WE’LL NEVER BE APART

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SUMMARY

Murder.  Fire.  Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

MY THOUGHTS

I received a free advanced copy through NetGalley- this has in no way affected my review.

PLOT: Let me start by saying that I think a lot of how much people enjoyed this book was very much linked to whether they guessed the ending or not. I did not, so I rated it higher than some. The plot took me a long time to get into. I haven’t been in the mood for contemporary, so even though I started this a month and a half ago, I put it down and didn’t pick it back up until I needed a shorter read for day 2 of the read-a-thon I’m participating in. It started out well, but there was so much you didn’t know, and I was so into my audiobook re-read of Graceling that I just didn’t want to read more. When I did pick it up again, I felt like I was powering through a lot of places just to get through to the journal entries. I understand the need for some suspense, but I felt that a lot of the time spent on the present was a little bit repetitive. It all came down to the cafeteria, calling Chase names, and pining over Jason, the lost love.

Honestly, it was only toward the end that I started to really get into the plot. Once Alice starts unraveling the truth, and you start to understand what’s going on (at least for me- I really wanted to know what happened to Cellie) you just get this feeling of utter disbelief- like, “Wow, did that really just happen and this REALLY WHAT IT IS?!” -and then it’s super exciting. But again, you have to be someone like me who hasn’t figured out (and hasn’t tried to figure out) the plot ahead of time.

CHARACTERS: If there’s a book about complex characters, this is it. Well, one of them is complex. And unreliable- which I didn’t realize until the very end. That was a really neat twist that it added (since I didn’t know ahead of time, though I really should have suspected). The journal entries and the glimpses of Cellie were what I was really interested in- I didn’t like Alice, I was unnerved by Jason, and Chase didn’t strike me as well as a better bad boy would have. But I give them some slack- they’re all crazy. But Cellie- that was the character shrouded in mystery, so demented and twisted that you couldn’t help but want to know what she was all about, as well as what she was going to do once Alice.

What actually happened threw me for a loop. And maybe that means I’m not a very critical reader when it comes to mystery, or what, but I didn’t try to figure it out beforehand, I had no clue what was going on, and it was just…awesome. That’s what pushed this book up from ‘okay’ to ‘liked it’ for me.  But I’m not going to say more about the characters so that I don’t give anything away- but they were crazy, so they were unpredictable, and it got pretty interesting there at the end.

OVERALL: I hate rating books like this. They have their time and place, and you have to be in a specific mood to read a book like this. I don’t know if I was in the right mood, so for me, it was somewhere around 3 stars, maybe a little higher. It would have been lower, but I really enjoyed the twist and the resolution- since I didn’t expect it. Well done to Emiko Jean for a first novel that I imagine was rather difficult to write.

WHAT TO WATCH

As far as romance goes, there are some innuendos and also one implied sex scene near the end, but nothing graphic. There are also some kiss scenes, although those are not graphic either.  Violence plays a role in this book- there are two murders by arson, a suicide described secondhand, beating, and lots of crazy screaming and fighting nurses and doctors, as well as an abusive foster parent. There is also some language in varying degrees, name-calling and such. I wouldn’t recommend this for younger or sensitive readers- but that could have been anticipated based on the fact that most of the book takes place in an insane asylum with three orphaned pyromaniacs. So there you have it- read at your own risk, and beware the sudden twist!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: SHADOW AND BONE

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SUMMARY

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

MY THOUGHTS

PLOT: Okay, the first time I picked up this book, I put it down almost immediately. A few months ago, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for it.  This time, with some helpful prodding from Brianna Shrum (who is excellent) I enjoyed it much more. I think this is the only love triangle that I’ve been on board with, and I’m actually excited to read more- I’m feeling the Darkling love SO MUCH and despite that, I love Mal, too. The plot is kind of weird and was a little slow at first, which may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm. This time, however, I pushed through, and I didn’t regret it. I enjoyed the pacing, although the ending seemed a little bit off and I wish I had been more invested in it. I will definitely be finishing the series, though, because I think this could turn out being a really great series (and I would like to have these three under my belt before I start Six of Crows so I’m familiar with the universe).

CHARACTERS: Point number one, and perhaps the most important point, is that the way Bardugo wrote the Darkling is 100% perfection. You never know whether he is hero of villain (okay, you pretty much know, but you don’t care) his motives are vague, his morality is entirely questionable and you just. don’t. care. I understand now why many, many people choose the Darkling as their #1 book boyfriend- although he isn’t mine (yet) he’s climbing right up the list with those quartz eyes. However, it’ll be tough to beat the Caliph of Khorasan- Khalid’s tiger eyes and also vague morality are well established in my heart.

The reason I didn’t give this book five stars is Alina, our heroine. Although by the end of the book she had changed and had become something different- someone better- for much of the book I skimmed her thoughts unless they had to do with the Darkling. Her inferiority complex is something I just couldn’t understand, and couldn’t enjoy reading. I would have preferred if she came into her own sooner, and we got to see more of her powerful side. As it was, each change was sudden, abrupt, and almost a little bit confusing when it came to the final pages of the book. I do look forward to seeing where Bardugo goes with this character, though, because I think she could be pretty great once she gets used to being powerful.

Mal was a great character, and I do love him- he’s my kind of guy, and in any other book, I would adore him. But in this book, he’s competing with the Darkling, and that’s pretty much impossible. I understand this love triangle, though, because there’s an impossible pull toward the Darkling, and to me he’s just a fictional character. To Alina, he’s flesh and blood and smoking hot. So I totally get this LT, even though it hurts.

In all honesty, Genya the Tailor was my favorite character. Much like Despina from The Wrath and the Dawn, Genya is the servant who is much more, with a plucky determination, beauty, and flair all her own. I loved her flash and the way she acted- and I truly hope I see her in future books.

OVERALL: I’ll give this four stars, because Alina was so frustrating and the ending seemed a little bit rushed to me. But I did love many aspects of this book, and can’t wait to see more.

WHAT TO WATCH:

There are some pretty heated kiss scenes, but nothing too untoward happens. There are some hints to what the king does to servants he finds attractive, but nothing is detailed and the reader is left to draw conclusions on their own. They drink something called kvas, which seems to be some sort of alcohol, but no one is getting obviously drunk or acting crazy. Violence is the only issue- there are some scenes that are a little gory, and I wouldn’t want younger readers exposed to descriptions of the volcra, monsters in the Fold. I do wonder, though, what causes the Grisha’s powers- it never really tells you whether it’s just elemental or genetic mutation or if it’s magic. That’s something I’ll have to keep a lookout for.

REVIEW: ILLUMINAE

SUMMARY

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

THOUGHTS

This is just going to be a bunch of gifs, because what can you really say about a book this good?

So then, I’m sitting there, nearing the end of the book, and I kid you not- for the last 150 pages or so, this was my expression:

But then, just as all was winding down, the final blow was delivered, leaving me feeling like

So that’s that. Illuminae one of the (if not THE) best book I’ve read all year. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

ARC REVIEW: INHERIT THE STARS

SUMMARY

Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

THOUGHTS

I’ll be completely honest- I didn’t remember a lot about this book when I started it and since I hadn’t heard a lot, I didn’t expect much in terms of ‘Everyone says I’m going to love it!’

All of that was blown away.

The writing was amazing- not in the fantasy-elegant way that we’ve been seeing a lot of, but clean, fast, and engrossing. The characters- oh, my heart. Each one was round, dynamic, and nothing you could call stereotypical. There was good and bad in each of them, and you never could quite tell which was going to take over in any given situation.

Every time I thought the plot was going to veer in a direction that most stories of this kind do, it changed, twirling off into a completely different universe and making me excited and surprised all over again.

The romance is understated, subtle, and presses ever closer before you realize it, because you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the other shoe to drop on Eagle and Asa. Gosh, Eagle. Imperfection and wonder in a gorgeously damaged being- but not damaged like you might think. I won’t ruin the surprise, but don’t think that it’s another of those messed-up relationships where the girl still loves the guy even though he’s awful. No, the romance sets the background and keeps everything in motion even when you don’t think it will, and has that sort of quiet tension without 80 pages of teenage angst. I loved it. LOVED IT.

Inherit the Stars is a book I’m already eager to read again, and if there’s no more, I’ll be crying, for sure. I’ve fallen in love with the characters, the universe, and the potential for greatness only hinted at in the first book. Five stars, wholeheartedly.

Release Date: December 8, 2015 by Running Press Kids

I was provided a digital ARC of this book before the release date through NetGalley and Running Press Kids, but this in no way affected my review of the work.