Monday, September 3, 2012

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
HarperTeen, 400 pages

"Can true love be forgotten? As the only scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on. Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies' cry for blood is growing louder. As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen's sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos. Josephine Angelini's compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds all expectations."

Dreamless is everything you could hope for in a sequel for Starcrossed. Starcrossed is actually one of my favorite books, and that is because the concept of the book is completely enthralling, in my opinion. Toying with the idea of having the Trojan War play out in modern times? With a ton of Greek Mythology thrown in to boot? Absolutely!

While Dreamless is not the most solid book when it comes to substance and whatnot, I think it is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read, kind of how I feel about the Tiger's Curse Series. The romance is sweet and intense, the action constantly going, and the mythology rounds everything out to make it an awesome read.

While I absolutely loved Lucas as Helen's love interest in the first book, I am a bit more conflicted having read this book. Sure, it is obvious that Helen and Lucas should be together, but how much of that is simply fate pulling them together to be the next Helen and Paris? So, when a new character named Orion is introduced, I am kind of intrigued by him. He grows on me, and I actually found myself cheering for him instead! But enough with the romance. :)

The action in this book took a little bit to get going, but I wasn't complaining because I wanted to see a bit more of the interaction between characters before the gang had to get involved in some sort of brawl with Greek gods. (Yes, I'm completely serious.) Once the action kicked in, the book was extremely difficult to put down. You want to just fly right through to the ending, which I must tell you is really no consolation either. That ending is one heck of a cliffhanger. Everything is psychotic. And then you simply can't wait to get your grubby little hands on the final installment of the series.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

The Kill Order by James Dashner

The Kill Order by James Dashner
Random House, 336 pages

"Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares seared the earth and mankind fell to disease. The Kill Order is the story of that fall. A prequel to The Maze Runner trilogy, The Kill Order has been in the works since the completion of The Maze Runner. The story of civilization's fall was kept under wraps and is the explication of the events that began this bestselling series."

Ever since picking up The Maze Runner, I have been enthralled with this series. There was so much mystery and action that it is difficult to not like the books. When I finished with the last book in the series, The Death Cure, I couldn't believe that we didn't get any more answers. I think I just sat there for a minute or so with my mouth hanging open like an idiot when I found out that was all we were going to get. Then I squealed from excitement when I found out that Dashner was making a prequel to the series! Maybe we were going to get our questions answered!

The very first thing to keep in mind when going to read this book is that there are completely new characters. Sure, there may be some flash forwards or backwards to Theresa and Thomas, but these sequences rarely last more than a few pages. A majority of the time is centered around new characters about 13 years before the maze was built. Even though I adore the characters from the trilogy and was slightly disappointed when I found out they wouldn't be the main focus, the new characters will certainly grow on you. Of course they won't be anything like Thomas or Minho, but they are fun to read about nevertheless.

The second thing to be aware of when you start this book is that all of your questions will NOT be answered! Sure, a majority of them will be, but don't expect them all to be. As frustrated as I was with this, I think it is a good move on Dashner's part. By not revealing everything, Dashner keeps an air of mystery around the entire series, which is part of the reason I think the series is so fascinating.

The third thing to keep in mind when you go to read this book is that it is violent. Quite violent when compared to other YA books. I really don't have a problem with that kind of thing, especially when the violence in a book isn't gratuitous, but it is up to each person. The violence aids in making the reader realize how dire and terrible the situation is.

If you have read The Maze Runner Trilogy, you certainly don't want to miss out on this prequel! It has the same action and excitement as the other books, and alleviates a bit of the mystery from the series.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grace Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Books, 560 pages

"Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?"

I first saw this book while shopping at Barnes and Noble with my fellow bloggers. The cover was majorly epic and I am a historical fiction freak. So, naturally, when I saw the book at my local library, I checked it out to read it while lounging poolside at my house.

Within the first thirty pages, I was hooked!! This was a book that was virtually impossible to put down!! I read it in three days not only because I loved it, but because the narrowness of the pages makes it easy to fly through.

Being a lover of historical fiction, I found the fact that a girl from the 1400s who was a matron of Death very interesting. You get a small amount of a science fiction-ish concept with all of the fashion descriptions and vintage language of a historical fiction book.

The romance is another fabulous surprise. Although subtle in the beginning, the relationship between the lead characters, Ismae and Duval, is charming and, at times, steamy. The way the author slowly creates an alliance between these two characters that evolves into a smoldering courtship is genius! The reader can't help but read on to figure out what happens next in their relationship!

The aspect and presence of Death as a character in this book is beyond interesting, as well! The only other book I've read that involves Death as a character was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. While there are drastic differences between the two interpretations, they share an incredible depth into the thoughts of Death and how people view it. Throw into the mix a girl from poverty as Death's servant and you have a compelling subject. Ismae is not only a strong heroine, but she also is caring, smart, and compassionate. She is a woman that female readers will want to be. I adored this book and I can hardly wait for the continuation of the trilogy!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Dial, 576 pages

"The long-awaited companion to New York Times best sellers Graceling and Fire. Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle - disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the 35-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart."

The first two books in The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy literally blew my mind. Fire and Graceling set the standards for all of my favorite books. I have never been so captivated and empowered by a YA book before reading those two books. The characters were marvelous in both of the books, and it was hard to let them go. What was such an amazing and wonderful surprise is that characters from both Fire and Graceling reappear in Bitterblue! Bitterblue is the book that connects the dots between Fire and Graceling. It's wonderful, exciting, and enthralling just like it's predecessors. I know it says in the jacket cover that you don't need to have read Fire and Graceling before reading Bitterblue, but I disagree. I think a person wouldn't get nearly the same amount of satisfaction out of the book if they didn't.

While Graceling was much more of an action and adventure oriented book and Fire purely court politics, Bitterblue is much more about courtly intrigue with the action coming and going in spurts. If you took the best of Fire and Graceling, you would come up with Bitterblue.  There is plenty of mystery when trying to figure out King Leck's castle, and the flashbacks to when he would rule were certainly frightening at some moments. I love that Queen Bitterblue is such a strong female character. She has been left with a kingdom in complete shambles, and yet she finds the strength to bring it back.

When you first see the book in your hands, you will think, "Sheesh! Is 576 pages really necessary?" The answer is yes. Abso-freaking-lutely. You will get to the last pages and be totally upset that it has to end. Things get REALLY interesting by the end of the book! (Can we please have another sequel? :D)

I guess if you are wondering whether or not to read this book, the answer is this: HOW COULD YOU NOT? But you should definitely check out the previous two books first. That way you can fall irrevocably in love with the characters and world before beginning Bitterblue.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Simon Pulse, 336 pages

"What happens when happily ever after… isn’t? Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah. And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom. Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale."

When I heard that Jodi Picoult was writing a YA novel with her daughter, I instantly knew that I was going to have to check it out. I really enjoyed My Sister's Keeper (Don't even get me started on how much I dislike the movie!), so I figured that I would enjoy this novel. And I did, enjoy it that is, but I felt like something was missing.

I must say that the book has a very solid concept and idea, but I don't think it was executed as well as it could have been. Some of the personalities of the characters weren't justified enough, in my opinion. I simply could not find myself ever acting like Delilah did when I was her age. It just wasn't that believable to me. I thought Delilah's mother was not very understanding of her daughter at all... I did not enjoy her as a character. And even though I enjoyed Oliver, I liked the fairy tale version of him much more than the Oliver when the book is closed. When I don't really feel much for the characters, I know that I will not be raving about how great this book is.

The fairy tale writing was fantastic, and it is obvious that Picoult wrote most of those portions of the book. The other parts where Delilah was speaking were incredibly dull and not engaging. I think it was pretty obvious that Picoult had her daughter write a majority of these portions. The writing just wasn't clicking.

While the story is very sweet and will leave you with a happy feeling, it certainly isn't amazing. It's okay. It's obvious that the book is targeted towards the tween age group. I think I will remember how pretty the illustrations and text are much more than I will remember the content of the book. With that being said, if you want a quick, easy, and somewhat entertaining read, go for it. Otherwise skip it.

Rating: 3 stars - I liked it. Worth borrowing.