Monday, November 30, 2015

tgl The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

“Wasn’t that kind of the basis of passion? I didn’t know that either. The only thing I knew for sure was that this kiss had been a lot like the last one. Nice, but it didn’t blow me away. My heart sank. There was something wrong with me. Everyone was always going on about how socially inept I was. Did it extend to romance as well? Was I so cold that I’d spend my life never feeling anything?

Sydney Sage is back in the second installment of her spin-off series Bloodlines. In our previous chapter, the first of the series, we were shown quite a bit of action and familiar faces from the beloved Vampire Academy series and I’ve never been more excited! After an action packed fight involving a duo of Strigoi, and one former Strigoi who set his heart on changing back to the deadly monster he once was, and lastly some, shall we say, unexpected flames–we’re more than aware of dangers our gang just may be facing.

But can Eddie, Jill, Adrian and Sydney continue to keep their identities safe from the world? And can they keep each other safe?

Now that Sonya Karp, Dimitri Belikov and a very persistent Angeline, who readers will remember from Last Sacrifice as one of the Keepers, are thrown into their little family mix the stakes are higher than ever. Sonya seems to be in danger by a group of men who claim to have known her during her time as a Strigoi and an attack not long after which they only narrowly escaped.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

I know, I know what you're thinking. "Jessica, you run a book blog--why are you saying goodbye to a film franchise?" I suppose there is only one way to answer that and it goes a little something like this. All the way back in the late 2000s, when the first book in Suzanne's bestselling series came into my life, I was just a bored little high school student. It goes without saying that because of its start as an incredible, dark and breathtaking book series, I feel I can say a proper goodbye as the last of the films makes its rounds during opening weekend. 

But back to the novels. Back to where it all started.

I didn't know what I would be getting into by picking up the first installment to the trilogy. I had no clue. The Hunger Games was hardly a blip on my radar. Something to pass the time, really, and it never once crossed my mind that I would consider it amongst my favorites in the years to come. 

You see, I had purchased it to pass the time while waiting for other series I liked to finish their run.

Really, I didn't even know what the novel would end up being about. I only vaguely recalled its brief summary after purchasing it and set it aside. I had no idea that in just a few short books, I would be completely immersed in this dystopian series, so much so that it would rival my love for the Harry Potter books. Until one day I was home, sick with a flu virus, and I picked up the novel and dived into the world to forget feeling so crummy. Despite feeling so poorly, I stayed up all night--yes, all night--reading that first book and just like that I was hooked. It was more than a good distraction in my eyes after the first few chapters and I knew it was special. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

bloodlines Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

“The greatest changes in history have come when people were able to shake off what others told them to do.”

Returning to the same world her Vampire Academy series is set in, Richelle Mead introduces us to characters we’d already come to know (and love) in their own spin-off series titled Bloodlines. Although taking place in the same world and having a similar structure, Bloodlines is on the fast track to take on a life of its own.

And it’s really quite satisfying.

In this first installment we see through the eyes of Sydney Sage, who we know as the alchemist who befriends and helps dhampir, Rose Hathaway, in the original series. We know Sydney to be a bit more standoffish in comparison to the other characters due to her strict upbringing and the way in which she was conditioned to feel and think, and in Bloodlines we get an understanding of who she is and what exactly she feels.

Hint: her thoughts and complex and conflicting because the longer she spends in the company of those she once viewed as “evil and unnatural” she grows to care for them a great deal. Old habits do die hard, though, and in spite of the newfound warmth towards them she has an awful lot of struggles when it comes to what she feels and what she believes she should feel.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Untamed Has Arrived!

sp Well, okay, technically it doesn't arrive until December. But luckily for me I was sent a finished copy of the brilliant A.G. Howard's latest creation. Untamed is a collection of short stories set in the Splintered universe aka the perfect companion! For those who know me, know that Splintered is amongst my favorite book series and I've been anticipating Untamed's release for months.

After the ending of the original trilogy, A.G. Howard announced the return to her deliciously dark Wonderland with three fantastic novellas! As readers we were all stoked to learn that although the series has ended, we get one last look at some of our characters and saying goodbye seems much less bleak than it did last year.

Reliving the experience of Wonderland one more time. Our first novella, The Boy in the Web, gives us a look into the heart of Alyssa's mother as she looks back on her time n Wonderland and the decisions she had to make while rescuing the boy who would be her husband. Then there's The Moth in the Mirror which brings us Morpheus as he explores Jeb's lost memories, set after the events of Splintered. And lastly, perhaps most importantly, in Six Impossible Things we see our beloved Alyssa Gardner's life after Ensnared; giving us a view of her most precious moments.

All in all, I feel truly and incredibly speechless in the privilege of receiving this gem. Truly the highlight of November for me and I cannot wait to dive in.

Who else is ready?!

elty Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | Rating: ★★★★★

The best things aren't perfectly constructed. They aren't illusions. they aren't larger than life. They are life.

This year I’ve been attempting to read a bit more contemporary romance novels in the young adult genre but very little has captured my attention for the long term. Nina LaCour’s 2014 release Everything Leads to You is one of the few that gave me the warm and fuzzies and made me feel as though I were falling in love for the first time.

You’ve probably heard the buzz about this little gem by now.

Impossibly charming and sweet, and honest, Everything Leads to You will be an easy love for fans of David Levithan, Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins. Full of so much heart, it is crafted beautifully and is the next light read you should be picking up.

Set in the beautiful state of California, and full of film references and fun, readers are introduced to our narrator: Emi Price. Emi is gentle and fun and oh-so-real that it’s impossible to not love her instantly. I grew very attached to her in the span of the novel and wanted nothing but the best for her.

Emi has just finished up high school and is settling into her role as an up-and-coming set designer. Emi has been a film buff for as long as she can remember and has a thoughtful and authentic approach to her craft that is wise beyond her years. She can expect great things and plenty of opportunity in her future and I like that she has all these plans for herself at her age.


va6 Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

Sometimes the greatest tests of our strength are situations that don't seem so obviously dangerous. Sometimes surviving is the hardest thing of all.

It’s been a wild ride and latched itself carefully to my heart but in this sixth and final installment, Last Sacrifice, the much beloved Vampire Academy series has come to an end. Mead promises readers more romance, adventure and surprises are up her sleeves to fade this series out with a bang. And it comes as no surprise that she accomplishes this and more, all the while setting the stage for a spin-off novel.

We open with Rose Hathaway, our brilliant and badass narrator, hidden away in jail at court for a treasonous crime she has been accused of: murdering the queen.

All signs point all too clearly to her and so a great many have turned against her. She has been framed and the real killer is still out there; the evidence is strong against her, our girl is innocent, and it’s devastating seeing how quickly people were to believe the worst.

With her life on the line, and ready to clear her name, Rose’s future seems grim and almost hopeless. But with a surprising amount of help from Abe and her friends and boyfriend, she is able to bust out of jail and go into hiding with Dimitri and Sydney, while the others stay busy in court to prove her innocence.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

pllk Killer (Pretty Little Liars #6) by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★★

Four little teenage liars residing in Rosewood, Pennsylvania are only just beginning to be the pawns of a big game. After months of torture by the hands of an anonymous threat, A, the girls thought things were over the mystery of their best friends death was solved. They thought they were safe and back to the comfort of their designer digs and romantic little lives.

Emily, Aria, Spencer and Hanna are still as scandalous and sweet as ever. Lying is like second nature to each girl and their drama is only just beginning. With the resurrection of their pasts and the return of A, a new one, their lives are quickly going south. Rosewood better prepare themselves for more heat–the fire is only just beginning.

Killer is jam packed with mystery much like all previous installments and it’s impossible to put down. Yes, the sixth book still has that spark that makes it so fast paced and all the more intriguing. As a whole, the series is a bit prone to drag on–just look at how many books there are that have been published–but the fabulous thing is that it remains entertaining in the way that you’d expect.

Sara Shepard pens a tale of glamour, love, friendship, loss and danger perfectly. Pretty Little Liars surely has its flaws, but it’s not meant to be perfect. It’s merely a fun little romp. Campy, dramatic and filled to the brim with teenage angst.


SB Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

“Dreams, dreams. I walk them; I live them. I delude myself with them. It's a wonder I can spot reality anymore.”

As usual, the fifth book in the Vampire Academy series sets a course to destroy your emotions and make you feel everything you possibly can. Spirit Bound is just as good as the previous installments and proves that things keep getting better (and worse when it comes to heartbreak). Richelle Mead provides readers with an action packed, emotional, vivid read that proves to be impossible to put down.

It had a lot to live up towards with the stunning scenery and spooky moments we’d witnessed in the eyes of the narrator when she was in Siberia. But it was a task Mead did so beautifully–the novel is one of the best of the series.

After barely escaping the clutches of her former instructor and lover (turned Strigoi) Dimitri Belikov, Rose Hathaway finds herself back at St. Vladimir’s for one final term and prepares for graduation. While most of her peers are looking towards their careers as guardians, Rose can’t help but to wonder where life with lead her next and if she will ever truly be her best friends, Lissa’s, guardian.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

wicked Wicked (PLL #5) by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★★

I suppose I could let bygones be bygones, forgive and forget, yadda yadda. But where's the fun in that? These pretty little bitches got everything I ever wanted, and now I'm going to make sure they get exactly what they deserve.

In the small and luxurious town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania four little liars think they are safe at last. Alison’s killer is in jail and the anonymous stalker that spent the last weeks harassing them is gone. But the thing about comfort is that it never lasts for long in Rosewood and these four liars are about to get another rude awakening.

After the death of their best friend, Alison DiLaurentis, the girls went from as close as sisters to strangers. Friendships fell apart and years after their friend goes missing, life came back around to bite their asses in their designer jeans.

Spending years apart proved to be too good for each girl as they grew and then their junior year changed everything: the girls were begrudgingly brought back together with the news of Alison’s body and the appearance of a mysterious stalker named A, who seemed to know all of their dirty little secrets.

A certainly wasn’t afraid to use them against each girl. Every little step that Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer made, A was a few dozen ahead of them. When the taunting turned dangerous and they were constantly on the line. But you just can’t keep a bad girl down–and these four girls certainly are bad in a delectable light.


bp Blood Promise (VA #4) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

If your eyes weren't open, you wouldn't know the difference between dreaming and waking.

Armed with a mission–one devastating task–Rose Hathaway has left behind the comfort of her best friend and school all to pursue and kill the man she loves. In the events of the third book in the much beloved Vampire Academy novels, Rose’s school was under attack by the notoriously evil undead Strigoi and in this very battle a great deal is lost. But the biggest loss in the end was that of Dimitri Belikov–Rose’s instructor and the man she loves–is changed into a Strigoi against his will.

With loss beating down on her, a piece of her missing, Rose decides to take matters in her own hands and kill the monster he has become. Dimitri did not want this life. Dimitri was no longer Dimitri and Rose knows that the freeing of his soul is what he would have wanted. As a guardian-to-be, Rose Hathaway is trained for this sort of kill.

Taking off with some cash that her friend Adrian Ivashkov loaned, Rose sets off to travel the world and hunt Dimitri down. After choosing this mission over staying in school, Rose’s emotions are torn: being separated from Lissa destroys her in a way different from the loss of Dimitri. And if you pair this with the loss of her friend Mason back in Frost Bite, it’s easy to see that Rose is in a very fragile place when it comes down to losses.


hon Marked (HoN #1) by P.C. and Kristen Cast | Rating: ★★★★☆

Believe in yourself and you will find a way. But remember darkness does not always equate to evil just like light does not always bring good.

Looking back on my high school years, my mid and late teens, Marked was the start of something special to me. It still is, in a way, which is why I've decided to reread the series. House of Night became a series I all but worshiped and there was just something so unique about it. Hell, I remember when I was 17 years old there was a huge snowstorm the night of one of the books first print dates and I nearly got myself in a car accident to get my copy.

Oh, yes, I was that obsessed. I was hooked from the first few chapters of Marked and didn’t put down my copy all that often. I was babysitting the night I started the series–I remember this so clearly–and my best friend was getting annoyed with me trying to fix dinner and babysit and read in shifts. But I couldn’t put Marked down.

And all right, my taste has changed a lot in recent years. I didn’t like as much of it now in my reread as I did all those years ago but I still hold a certain fondness for House of Night and the way it shaped my reading habits. Maybe it isn’t the greatest story ever told nor is it the best writing, but there’s something about it that just makes me nostalgic and I’m still attached to the likes of Zoey Redbird.


tjl The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Isabel Allende returns with The Japanese Lover and has already been greeted with anticipation from her most loyal of fans and new readers alike. It’s a relatively solid release about history, love and survival and Allende has a knack for speaking to the soul of many in the past. Many readers will agree that it is very much so in the vein of some of her past works. I, like many others, was eager to get my hands on this release.

Although it has her signature sweetness, honesty and talent; the novel itself didn’t do much for me in terms of captivating my attention for a good chunk of it. I feel indifferent now as I look back. And even though it picks up near the end, it just wasn’t for me at the end of the day. It was good but not great. It is not her most memorable work.

I’m sure many will disagree with me there.

Historical fiction is a tricky thing and while her writing is as vivid as ever, something about it just didn’t flow I sat it down multiple times and found myself needing more from its tale. See, here's the weird part: it isn't the history aspect of it all that makes a weak point, it's just something about the story.


skva Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

“Don’t worry, little dhampir. You might be surrounded by clouds, but you’ll always be like sunshine to me.”

One thing is certain: Shadow Kiss proves that things just keep getting better in the beloved Vampire Academy series. Or more heartbreaking. First things first: I love that this series toys with my emotions and that Richelle Mead flips me on my ass multiple times. She is a pro at this. I am never quite sure if she is going to make me swoon or cry or a mixture of the boy.

That’s what makes this such a good series to me. It keeps me guessing, it gets me attached, it makes me question a lot in their world. Also, it’s a plus that the characters act like actual teenagers. Rose and Lissa are both highly flawed and in their world it’s almost as if they have to act more grown-up than they should–but their sarcasm, Rose’s recklessness and all their flaws are what make them seem real and it also gives us a promise of development in the future, which is solid.

I repeat, I repeat, I repeat: this is what makes Rose real. Her immaturity can be frustrating. Her sassiness can be obnoxious. But hello? She’s a teenager, guys. Use your heads.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

hae Happily Ever After (TS Companion) by Kiera Cass | Rating: ★★★★★

For the first time maybe ever, it didn't matter if I looked beautiful or not. I felt it.

It’s funny to think that, all those years ago when first novel to the series, The Selection was announced I had no idea I would end up so consumed by this series. Truthfully I had no idea I would even like it slightly based on how it was marketed as a mix between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor. I mean… come on.

I was intrigued, though, and that alone sparked just enough curiosity in me to pick up that first book.

I’ve been hooked ever since. And years later, fans like me have been treated to an expansion of the series and now a brand spanking new (and absolutely stunning) hardcover companion novel. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling positively spoiled!

Kiera Cass has an incredible talent and a colorful way of expressing her characters emotions. In writing so simple, she conveys complexities of emotions and the turmoil of love that is trying and unexpected. It’s easy to get invested in the lives of her characters and their world of intrigue, glamour, royalty and danger.


f Frost Bite (VA #2) by Richelle Mead | Rating: ★★★★★

You can’t force love, I realized. It’s there or it isn’t. If it’s not there, you’ve got to be able to admit it. If it is there, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to protect the ones you love.

Frostbite, the second of the international bestselling series Vampire Academy, proves that sequels can take a bite out of your heart and kick your ass in ways that the first book didn’t. Just when you think you are safe from the feels, they come right back and punch you in the face.

If you didn’t know already: Richelle Mead’s take on vampires is filled with thrills, romances, mythology and more that will delight readers in a way that most in this genre can’t. Which is what makes the series so damn delicious. And for me, Frostbite is even more appealing by the fact that it takes place during winter break at St. Vladimir’s.

Picking up where Vampire Academy left off, we’re treated to our fill of Rosemarie Hathaway’s badassery in form of her always witty narration. Fresh off the events in which the despicable Victor Dashkov attempted to torture Lissa Dragomir in a mind blowing betrayal to both girls, readers can’t help but to wonder what could possibly be next now that Victor is locked away.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

co Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | Rating: ★★★★☆

You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can't carry on at all.

Rainbow Rowell triumphantly returns with her latest release, Carry On; taking characters readers were already familiar with in her bestselling novel Fangirl and spinning into a story of their own. I think we’re quite lucky with this one because in spite of its flaws, it is VERY fun and nearly impossible to put down. As always, Rowell’s writing is so on point and full of emotion, wisdom and angst, you can’t help but to see the sparkle in even the most simplest of ways.

She has a gift with words and an even bigger one with breathing life into those words.

Originally a story within a story Carry On is a promising and thrilling ride from start to finish filled with fantastical rides of thrills, romance, chosen ones, danger and unexpected twists. Reminiscent to the Harry Potter series it may be, and legions of its fans will either love or hate that fact, but ultimately it is a story of its own.

And a damn good one at that.