Review: “Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)” by Maggie Stiefvater


17378508Title: “Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)”

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA, magical realism, contemporary, AWESOME

Source: ARC from publisher

Publication Date: October 21, 2014 (Scholastic – North America)

Summary: There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

☆: 5/5 stars – SO MANY FEELS YOU GUYS.

Review: Guys, I just…I can’t even with this series anymore. But in a good way. So much heartbreak, but it feels so good. This book (which I guess, is kind of a middle book? out of four?) just proves Stiefvater’s prowess and her unstoppability in terms of keeping a story going with no loss from when you put down the previous book and start the next. With the plot getting crazier, more puzzle pieces falling together, and more doom and gloom gathering, “Blue Lily” is an AWESOME addition to the series, and it makes me hanker for book four even more. Trust me. You want this book.

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Review: “When My Heart Was Wicked” by Tricia Sterling


22749511Title: “When My Heart Was Wicked”

Author: Tricia Sterling

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Magical

Publication Date: February 24, 2015 (Scholastic – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: “I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins.

But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good.”

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She’s a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter’s heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the “old” Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?

☆: 4/5 stars – a great magical realism debut!

Review: This one was a pleasant surprise, though I wish it had been longer. “When My Heart Was Wicked” is a snapshot of what can happen to someone as a cause of an unstable, dangerous childhood trying to become an adult – but through the lens of Francesca Lia Block-esque magical realism. I loved this one, and it makes me feel like Stirling will be one awesome author to watch. If you’re looking for a little magical realism in your tough stuff YA issues book, “When My Heart Was Wicked” is definitely the one you want to pick up.

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Review: “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski


16069030Title: “The Winner’s Curse”

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: AWESOME, YA, Fantasy

Publication Date: March 4, 2014 (Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – I NEED BOOK TWO NOW.

Review: While this one started off kind of slow, “The Winner’s Curse” is one of those books that sneaks up on you and won’t let go until the very last page. It’s almost a remarkable leap when compared to “The Shadow Society” in terms of nearly every technical area of writing. Plus, you have a wonderful high fantasy/political intrigue that would make George R R Martin quite proud. “The Winner’s Curse” is definitely one of my favorites of 2014 so far, and for good reason. I’m definitely hungering for that next book. NOW.

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Review: “Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)” by Marissa Meyer


13206828Title: “Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)”

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Fantasy, YA, PNR, AWESOME, Space Opera, Retellings

Publication Date:  February 4, 2014 (Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

☆: 5/5 stars – Another great installment in this quartet!

Review: You know, guys, I’m starting to see the greater parallels with Sailor Moon (of which Meyer is a great fan) as this quartet progresses. But you know what? I’m entirely okay with that. That little observation aside, I think that the way that “Cress” is put together is going to throw some of the fans of this series off – I know I was at first – but I encourage everyone to hang in there. “Cress” is just as enchanting and amazing as the other books – if anything, more so, and it was fun to see Meyer playing with how she was structuring her storytelling. Just like “Scarlet” doesn’t immediately delve back into the lives of Cinder and co., “Cress” does the same, except with a more extended timeframe. Regardless, “Cress” is AWESOME, and definitely one of my favorites for this year. Definitely on my top ten list for 2014 so far.

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Review: “Cruel Beauty” by Rosamund Hodge


15839984Title: “Cruel Beauty”

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Genre: Fantasy, YA, PNR, AWESOME, Retellings

Publication Date:  January 28, 2014 (HarperTeen – North America)

Source:  Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

☆: 5/5 stars – An absolutely mindblowing debut from Hodge!

Review: Man, I’d been hearing some great things about this book before I even picked it up, but I didn’t expect to be this blown away by a 2014 debut. “Cruel Beauty” isn’t just a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast”, but it also mixes in alternate histories/universes and Greco-Roman mythology. Oh, and ass-kicking females. Which definitely got my attention. Guys, this book is a total breath of fresh air for YA, and I’ve already reread it once before doing this review. If you’re looking for a really amazing fairy retelling with a lot of other elements thrown in, “Cruel Beauty” is definitely the book you need to pick up this year in terms of debuts.

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Review: “The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2)” by Maggie Stiefvater


The Dream ThievesTitle: The Dream Thieves

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA contemporary, Magical Realism, Mystery, Paranormal

Publication Date: September 17, 2013 (Scholastic Press – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

☆: 4/5 stars – Not quite as amazing as “Raven Boys”, but still pretty damn good.

Review: If “Raven Boys” was Gansey’s book/the intro book, “Dream Thieves” is definitely Ronan’s book,  100%. We also get a lot of juicy details about backstory about Ronan and his brothers, as well as some new characters, and new mysteries to solve in order to get the boys back together, and back to business at hand. Yes, while “Dream Thieves” had a little more introspection than its predecessor, it’s still a really good sequel, and it’s making me froth at the mouth for book three.

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Review: “Perfect Ruin” by Lauren DeStefano


17339241Title: “Perfect Ruin”

Author: Lauren DeStefano

Publication Date: October 1, 2013 (S&SFYR – North America)

Genre: YA, dystopian/utopian, mystery, AWESOME

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

☆: 5/5 stars – an absolute knock out of the park for DeStefano, sealing her fame in the YA canon!

Review: Wow. If you guys thought the “Chemical Garden” trilogy was good, “Perfect Ruin” will absolutely knock your socks off. DeStefano has improved in her craft so much, it was almost as if it were someone else writing – though it did have her familiar prose landmarks here and there. “Perfect Ruin” is the question of the divide between dystopia and utopia, and whether the two really can be the same thing, or if they’re just two sides of the same coin. Can humans as they are now (or at least, by the time Internment exists) really create a fair utopia for all? “Perfect Ruin” delves into these questions and more with a murder mystery and a curiosity that may destroy all of these characters. Absolutely gorgeous, even if you haven’t read the previous trilogy, this is one 2013 release that simply cannot be missed.

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