Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Young Adult Genre444 pages
Published in 2016 by HarperTeen

Goodreads Summary:

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Review:

So, in this book (the second in the Red Queen series), we get to follow Mare during her search for others like herself. Since Mare thought she was the only Red-and-Silver person, it’s really cool to meet the new characters that belong to this rare group. Throughout the book you get to visit more locations and learn about the world Mare lives in. It’s certainly bigger than it seems in the first book.

Watching Mare and Cals relationship form was interesting; definitely not a typical romance. I liked how Mares family is more involved in this book, especially her brother Shade. His character is like any older brother, which is endearing and entertaining. This book has more romance play out than the first book and there’s a lot more death.

Throughout the book, Mare struggles with what is right and wrong. Often times, she seems to do the wrong thing, but with the right intentions; and does the right thing with questionable motives. Her character really starts evolve and dissolve while searching for these “Newbloods”. As I said before, I liked the new characters, which shows a whole new range of abilities; abilities that not even the Silvers have.

Overall, I really liked this one. I personally liked it better than the first book and would hope that people read it after reading Red Queen. It has a lot of action and keeps the reader from wanting to put it down. The end has a cliffhanger, so you’ll want to read the third book as soon as possible. Thankfully the third book, Kings Cage, is available, and I will post a review on it soon.
Rating 4.5/5

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Young Adult Genre387 pages
Published in 2012 by Feiwel and Friends

Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

Review:

Fairy tale meets Sci-Fi is a good way to describe the book Cinder. Cinder is based off of the character Cinderella, and the book carries bits of the fairy tale throughout it’s telling. She’s a true heroine that I’ve never seen before. She just wants to live her life. She doesn’t want to be judged or mistreated anymore. I think that’s something a lot of people can understand.

With most fairy tales, there is a prince, and as we all know Cinderella meets Prince Charming. Cinder meets her prince, Prince Kai, when he seeks her out. There are obviously some changes to the original Cinderella tale, and it is infused in an original story created by Marissa Meyer. She does a really good job combining the two stories without it becoming nonsense.

I liked how the story flowed together and all the characters meshed together; even when good mingled with evil. With Cinder being the main character, she’s really likable and you really do feel bad for her situation. You want to root for her from the beginning.

I don’t really have anything bad to say about it, so I’d say to give it a go and see if you like it. It is a weird concept, mixing fairy tale and Sci-Fi together, but it surprisingly worked really well. This is the first book of four, and I have already read the second book, called Scarlet. Be on the lookout for the review of that one. I’m currently waiting on the third to be available at my library.

Rating 4/5

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Adult Fiction352 pages
Published in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press

Goodreads Summary:

Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She lives in San Diego with a husband she adores, and they are trying to adopt a baby because they can’t have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings to light many questions about Molly’s past and her family—the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years before. The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison’s Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head. The summer of twenty years ago changed everything for Molly and as the past weaves together with the present story, Molly discovers that she learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. If she learns the truth about her beloved father’s death, can she find peace in the present to claim the life she really wants?

Review:

I actually picked up this book on a whim during one of my weekly visits to the library. I mostly read YA books, but something about the summary just told me to take it home. The first few chapters were kind of slow for me. It was a good beginning, but it didn’t quite hook me in. But once I got a little further, I couldn’t put it down.

First of all, I loved the flashback story taking place twenty years ago; which was the 90’s. Talk of Johnny Depp, New Kids on the Block and Doc Martens were the definition of nostalgic. It told a very real story of a young teen trying to find herself and trying new things while in a close-knit family. The topic of peer pressure was strong throughout the characters past; something a lot of people, especially young girls can relate to.

Another thing I could relate to was the story of Mollys’ father. He has M.S, which is a disease my own mother has. Reading Molly’s point of view was like seeing my own experiences in print. Having a parent slowly deteriorate in front of you is painful, confusing and at time maddening. She has to come to terms with her fathers death and it forced me to think about my mothers death in the future.

Something I wasn’t able to relate to was Molly and her husbands struggle with fertility and adoption. I, myself, have not had to deal with this, but I was intrigued with their story. It showed me a whole new world of what it is like to become parents. It showcased the real fears women, and couples, have before, during and after adoption.

I highly recommend this book. It’s a solid paced book that keeps the reader engaged and having real feelings; up and down.

5/5

The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land

Young Adult Genre400 pages
Published in 2017 by Tor Books

Goodreads Summary:

Twenty-four hours. That’s all it takes for the lives of two young people to be changed forever.

Alex Chin has the world on a plate. A football hero and homecoming king with plenty of scholarship offers, his future looks bright. His tutor, Samantha Dixon, is preparing to graduate high school at the top of her class. She plans to turn her NASA internship into a career. When a football accident lands Alex in the hospital, his world is turned upside down. His doctor is murdered. Then, his parents. Death seems to follow him wherever he goes, and now it’s after him.

Alex flees. He tells Samantha not to follow, but she became involved the moment she walked through his door and found Mr. and Mrs. Chin as they lay dying in their home. She cannot abandon the young man she loves. The two race desperately to stay ahead of Alex’s attackers long enough to figure out why they are hunting him in the first place. The answer lies with a secret buried deep in his past, a secret his parents died to protect. Alex always knew he was adopted, but he never knew the real reason his birth parents abandoned him. He never knew where he truly came from. Until now.

Review:

I just finished this book last night. Now, normally, I can finish a book in a night; maybe two if I started late at night or if it’s super long. But with The Rising, I bumped into a few problems which made it a bit difficult to read. It took me three days to get through it.

I’m trying to figure out how to best review this book, but I’m having a really hard time.

I guess I should get it out of the way and just admit that yes, I did like it. The beginning was a bit slow for my taste. Most of it was consumed with the play by play of a football game, and I feel like it wasn’t really necessary. But my problem lies in the fact that at times I did get a little bored and overwhelmed by all the information given.

This could be because I’m not a big Sci-Fi reader. It’s actually kind of rare of me to read a book from that genre. But I have done it, and I have enjoyed those books. For me, with The Rising, it was just too scientific for my non-scientific brain to follow at times. There were some chapters that just revolved around talking about space, particularly wormholes, which I really have no clue about.

Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting. I often found myself rereading paragraphs just to try to follow what was being explained, but for the most part I did end up understanding.

Please, don’t let this discourage you from reading it, though! Despite the heavy duty science talk, there’s adventure and suspense found in the book. And great characters! The characters themselves was probably my favorite thing while reading The Rising. Let me just say, I loved Dr. Donati. He’s what you would expect from any “crazy scientist”, but I enjoyed his personality.

The story follows Alex and Sam, both are great characters as well. Watching Alex battle his identity crisis and dealing with the events that take place, is at times heartbreaking. You really do feel bad for him and want to root for him. Sam is a not-so-typical science nerd. She’s highly intelligent but far from being the cliché dorky secluded classmate. I liked that about her.

So, I know this review is really wishy-washy. Overall, I like it. I think this is more suited for ages late teens and adults. It has a mature feel to it with some of the dialog between the scientists, but the story line between Alex and Sam is more geared towards teens. Once the story gets going, it’s consistently fast paced and kept my interest. Some of the scientific information was above my head (like I said, I’m not a science person), but if you’re in the same boat as me, just take it slow.

A second book is expected.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Struggle is real!

I currently have five books out from two different libraries and two movies rented from the one library. I just started reading The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land last night. I didn’t get very far, because it was 2:30a.m. and I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I will be going back to reading it later.

So, while I’m trying to get through my small pile of library books, I also have to find time to watch the two movies I rented, which are Finding Dory and Suffragette. I’ve seen Finding Dory once, but I want to see it again. But I haven’t seen Suffragette yet, though I’ve heard great things.

On top of it all, I got a Premium account on DramaFever (a site that shows KDramas- Korean shows and movies) this month, but I’m having a hard time trying to balance everything.

Do I choose reading? Watching a movie? Catching up on my KDramas? Hell, playing a video game? I haven’t finished all the Taken King quests in Destiny yet… I really should get on that, so I can move on to Rise of Iron.

See my problem?

I feel like this happens all the time. I get so over my head with one thing while wanting to do it all. But I just can’t do it all. No one can. Funny thing is, when I go to the library this Wednesday or Thursday, I know for a fact I’ll be bring home at least one more book. I just can’t help myself. It’s a curse, and I just don’t know how to say no. I especially can’t say no to more books.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Young Adult Genre383 pages
Published in 2015 by HarperTeen

Goodreads Summary:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Review:

Red Queen (the first book of the series) had the perfect balance of a dystopian setting with superhuman characters, without seeming outlandish. Mare, a young woman trying to help her family survive, is captivating. She’s strong willed and has a sharp tongue, showcasing her wit. She’s a fun character to read because she’s someone that acts in the moment, and often times finds herself in trouble for it. Her actions and reactions keeps the reader engaged.

You meet two princes, half-brothers, who are very different from each other. They are both likable in their own ways. Mare finds herself being tugged back and forth between the two, which is obviously causing some down low drama.

The ending… oh the ending. Let me quote Guy from The Croods, “Whoa! I did not see that coming. Twist ending!”

Overall, the book kept a good pace and held my interest the entire time. It was really cool reading about the different Silver families and seeing what powers they had. If you like X-Men, then you’ll likely be interested in this series. The end definitely had me wanting more, which thankfully there is a second book to follow. The third book was released this year and a fourth one is set to come out as well.

Rating: 4.5/5

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Young Adult Genre270 pages
Published in 2015 by Viking Juvenile

Goodreads Summary:

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

Review:

Let me just say, I loved this book! The summary hooked me right away and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I read it from front to back in one sitting. The writing was superb, and I felt connected to the story the entire time. I have read Gayle Formans books: If I Stay and Where She Went, which were both really good, and she continues to touch her readers with her amazing storytelling.

The topic of suicide is becoming more open nowadays, but reading I Was Here uncovered a whole new area that really isn’t discussed. Dealing with depression and having a history of self-harm in the past, I really understood Meg’s character. But I also could relate to Cody because I often feel like I don’t know my best friend as well I think I do, and in reverse, I keep a lot of things from her.

The story was raw and real; definitely something people can relate to in some way or another. Despite the hallowing subject of suicide, you can find a story about love and humor throughout the book. This book would be good for older teens and adults alike. It definitely makes you question how well you know your friends, which is something I think we should do every once in awhile.

Rating: 5/5

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Young Adult Genre- 325 pages
Published in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin

Goodreads Summary:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Review:

Before I start my review, let it be known that this is comparable to The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched; basically your typical futuristic dystopian story. So, if you’re tired of that kind of plot line, then you may not want to read The Testing.

I have personally read the three trilogies I mentioned above. I loved them all, but I still really did enjoy this book. The Testing is book one of a trilogy. I have read all three, but just recently reread this one. The setup of the plot is pretty typical, but once Cia is chosen as a Testing candidate, things really start to get crazy.

The Testing is not what people are led to believe. It’s dark and haunting. Towards that last quarter of the book, think Hunger Games or Battle Royale. Both times I have read this book, I stayed up all night to read it. I simply couldn’t put it down. The characters are written really well, and you almost believe they are real people.

Honestly, even if you have read other books like The Testing, it’s worth giving it a chance. There’s danger, love and plot twists; what’s not to like?

Rating: 3.8/5

Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan 

Young Adult Genre340 pages
Published in 2016 by Sourcebooks

Goodreads Summary:

10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he’s Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He’s Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it’s also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust…

Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students-who also received invites-are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security “catches” them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It’s time for Rule #7: Always get payback.

Let the prank war begin.

Review:

To be honest, I love hearing about pranks. I love humor in general, but hearing about a good prank, especially if described really well; that’s just the best. This book is about 5 high school students that get caught up in a mega prank war, so definitely my kind of story.

I would compare this to “The Breakfast Club” and even a hint of “Paper Towns” by John Green. There’s the obvious cliché high school cliques and drama, but it’s very relatable. Even at 26, I can remember what it was like in high school, and found the book enjoyable.

Each character has their own little background story. As you get to know them and watch their pranks unfold, you start to really get attached to them. You’ll feel happiness and even some sadness while unraveling this story. There were many times where I was questioning my own moral compass, not sure if I would do some of the things they did. I would teeter back forth with yes and no. Which is something that is mentioned by Max, the main character.

I read a post by a parent asking if this would be appropriate for her 5th grader, and honestly, I would say no. There is some minor mature content and the book does follow high schoolers. I think starting at 8th or 9th grade, would be a decent starting age. As I said, I am 26 and I thoroughly enjoyed it; finding myself literally laughing out loud at times. So, not only will teens enjoy it, but so will adults.

Rating: 4/5