Friday, June 22, 2012

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 256
SynopsisMeant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.
Review: This book! This book, you guys. It had me:

  • Staying up till 4am finishing it
  • Wishing it had far more pages than it actually does
  • Crying
  • Laughing
  • Wanting it to be November 13, 2012 already so that I could have a finished copy in my hands
   This book had an addicting factor to it that wouldn't let me put it down. Not that I minded. I was so engrossed in the story that I was happy to keep on turning pages--until I got to the last ten pages, of course. Then I wished that it would have fifty more so that I could keep reading.

   The main characters are Julia and Jason, who are assigned to be "buddies" for the buddy system. Problem is, Jason is an annoying troublemaker and Julia is a rigid "book licker." (No, seriously, that's her nickname, you guys.) Neither character is particularly likable and they both have a fair share of flaws. It's easy to get frustrated with either of them, but at the same time, it's so easy to fall in love with them as well. 

   I liked Julia a lot. She's a rule-follower and, unlike the rest of her class, wants to actually experience London and its culture. Sometimes, she could be way too strict, or would overreact too much, but all in all, I really enjoyed her character and reading through her point of view. I also liked Jason a lot. He's a huge goofball and likes to have fun (sometimes, too much of it), but he could also be incredibly infuriating and... well, douche-y. Both main characters had their flaws, but it just made them that much more real and likable.

   The romance was lovely. I can understand why some readers might think it's too insta-lovey, considering the book is set over only a few days, but I didn't feel like that at all. The relationships in this novel build slowly and deeply, so I didn't feel any rush to the romance. All I felt was that warm mushy-gushy feeling when you read something adorable.

   The plot was definitely extremely predictable, and I think that's probably the biggest issue I had with the book. I could usually guess most of the plot twists early on in the book, and when everything was revealed and confessions were pouring out, I wasn't surprised. 

   In conclusion, Meant to Be is an outstanding debut that left me wanting more pages--or maybe just another book by the talented Lauren Morrill!

   4.5 keys.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 358
SynopsisSurrounded 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.
Review: After hearing so much praise for this book, I tried my best to lower my expectations. After all, I didn't want to end up being disappointed. However, after reading the first three chapters of this book, I knew that I was hooked completely.

   Alina is the main character and for the most part, I loved her. She had a stubbornness and a loneliness that were very relatable. I connected with her very well and found her admirable. The secondary characters felt flat to me, though. The character that stood out to me was the Darkling. I found him the most intriguing. He was so complex and interesting, I found myself getting more excited when he was in a scene.

   The writing was very plain and sometimes felt dry to me. The writing wasn't particularly noteworthy, but Leigh Bardugo certainly writes compellingly. She knows how to keep the plot moving quickly and the reader entertained. There were times when I'd feel that there wasn't much happening, but that feeling never lasted very long. There were many twists in the plot that I didn't see coming.

   The romance was just crazy. I had heard so much about the Darkling before reading the book myself, so I was so surprised when I realized that I liked his character. He had a certain charm to him that I was drawn to. For those who've read this book, you probably know why that didn't last. As for Mal, at first I didn't like him. But then, gradually, I became more and more fond of him, as he showed more of himself to Alina.

   Shadow and Bone is an impressive debut that stands out with its likable protagonist, original love story, and unique plot line.

   I'm seriously so torn between 4 and 4.5 keys. I can't decide! Maybe 4.25 keys?

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Publication Date: October 26, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Format: eBook
Page Count: 368
SynopsisTo cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Review: This book is different from the other books in the Iron Fey series because it's told through Ash's point of view, rather than Meghan's. Julie Kagawa does a fantastic job of switching POVs, in my opinion. Sometimes, when authors switch POVs, it's unconvincing. I might be confused as to whether it's Character 1 or Character 2 narrating. But while reading The Iron Knight, there was no confusion. I felt like Ash's voice sounded distinctly different compared to Meghan's.

   Ash has never been a character that I particularly loved. The Iron Knight didn't exactly change that. However, we definitely learn a lot about him, as he is our main character. This new knowledge includes the crimes that he's committed, the awful things he's done, and his true personality. This knowledge also includes his genuine feelings and kind heart. Readers can definitely tell that Ash is a good person, despite his history.

   I feel like this book wasn't quite as action packed as the previous one. There was a lot going on, but I still felt like it could have had something, just a little bit, more in it. Maybe it's because I took longer reading this book than I did The Iron Queen, but I think that this book lacked the intensity of the previous installment.

   The ending was so perfect. Almost too perfect, really. Everything was tied up nicely into a little, decorative bow. I expected at least something to be a little bittersweet, but instead, it was like a Disney fairy tale ending. If I weren't so keen on Meghan and Ash having their well deserved happy ending, I might've been irritated.

   The Iron Knight is the perfect conclusion to a remarkable series, complete with a memorable adventure and a romantic happily ever after.

   4 keys.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Level 2 (32)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

This week, I am waiting on...
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Expected Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
SynopsisSince her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
Why I'm Waiting: Well, 1) I love afterlife stories. 2) The author's a book blogger! 3) It just sounds abso-freaking-lutely amazing! Don't you agree?! :D

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Publication Date: January 25, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eBook
Page Count: 295
SynopsisMy name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.
Review: Book 1 was just all right. Book 2 was good. And the book 3 comes along and asdfghjkl--my mind is blown. My mind and my tear ducts. This book just completely amazed me. I can definitely say that I am now a huge fan of the series, because my goodness, this book...

   I have grown to really like Meghan. She's become stronger, smarter, and a lot more likable. Unfortunately, she also has rotten luck. My heart broke while reading her story. By the end of the book, I was in tears and I had to start The Iron Knight right away. I also began to grow fond of Ash. I definitely didn't swoon over him or fall in love with his character, but I figured he wasn't that bad. Plus, there were so many mushy moments between him and Meghan that I just couldn't help but root for their relationship.

   Of course, my favorite characters were still Puck and Grimalkin, as usual. They're just so fun and fabulous to read about. Puck is so silly and hilarious, whereas Grimalkin is more serious and wise. Despite their contrasting personalities, they're both my favorite characters.

   The plot was a bit predictable, I will admit. I obviously knew how this book would end (hint hint: the title!), but it still didn't lessen the shock value. Or the heartbreak. Julie Kagawa managed to always have something interesting going on, never letting a dull moment occur. This made reading this book entertaining and enjoyable.

   The Iron Queen is a heart-wrenching installment in the marvelous Iron Fey series that will leave readers dying for the next book. It's, without a doubt, the best book in the series so far.

   4.5 keys.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Publication Date: August 1, 2010
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Format: eBook
Page Count: 296
SynopsisHalf Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey--ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
Review: I didn't like The Iron King as much as others did, so I didn't expect on continuing the series. However, after reading Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules (which I LOVED) and hearing many amazing things about The Iron Queen (especially the ending), I decided to give the sequel to The Iron King a shot.

   At first, I regretted my decision. I had many problems, starting with Meghan. She was heartbroken over Ash. This reminded me that I never fell for Ash in the first book, nor did I believe in their feelings for each other. This was a major problem for me throughout the first quarter of the book. Meghan was so infatuated with Ash, it made it difficult for her to be the kick butt heroine I wanted her to be.

   But by the time I was halfway through, I realized that I liked the book. A lot, actually. Meghan was starting to grow a backbone, becoming a stronger character as the page number grew higher. Also, I loved so many of the characters. Although Meghan and Ash never really made it onto that list, a few other characters did.

   First off, Puck. Robin Goodfellow. He truly is a good fellow. (Lame joke, I know, whatever. Leave me alone.) I guess I could label myself as "Team Puck" although not in the way that I want Meghan and Puck to necessarily end up romantically together. Instead, I'm "Team Puck" in a way that says, "I am so in love with Puck because he's hilarious, cute, kind, comforting, and everything amazing in the world." Whereas, when it comes to Ash, I just see a brooding, attractive boy that's too mysterious and too capricious for my taste. He also does that thing where he pushes Meghan away for her own good. I'm a bit tired of that move because it's done so frequently. And in the end, it just hurts both parties.

   Other characters I loved include Grimalkin and Ironhorse. Grimalkin is probably one of my favorite--if not my absolute favorite--characters. He's wise, dryly humorous, and I just loved him. Ironhorse was also an enjoyable character. His loyalty and loud voice were especially admirable, and it's a complete shame I won't see him again after this book.

   The love triangle goes into full effect in this book, although I'm not completely sure that Puck is even in the running. Meghan doesn't really notice any other male besides her Winter prince. No worries, though. I'll totally have Puck for myself.

   I loved the plot in this book. There were so many twists and turns. You could never expect what was going to happen next. There was always something going on, keeping me reading and flipping pages. The ending definitely shocked me and makes me eager to read The Iron Queen.

   The Iron Daughter surprised me with its character development, exciting plot, lovable side characters, and wonderful prose. Despite the bad start, I enjoyed this book. Now, I'm off to read the sequel!

   4 keys. (P.S. I think this is my longest review ever. Jeez.)

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