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: “Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)” by Sarah J. Maas


Crown of MidnightTitle: “Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)”

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: High Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mystery, Paranormal, AWESOME

Publication Date: August 27, 2013 (Bloomsbury – North America)

Source: NetGalley review copy

Synopsis: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

☆: 5/5 stars – MY FEELS. THEY HURT.

Review:  After finishing this book, it feels like my heart went five rounds and lost, hard, face down on the floor. After “Throne of Glass”, it feels like Maas has made a huge leap from the writing in all technical aspects, which was originally setting us up in her world with her characters in book one, to making them feel so very, very real and full and there in book two. Definitely in my top ten for 2013 so far, “Crown of Midnight” is everything I could have possibly wanted in a sequel for “Throne of Glass” and more.

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Review: “Horde (Razorland #3)” by Ann Aguirre


10596724Title: “Horde (Razorland #3)”

Author: Ann Aguirre

Genre: Biopunk

Publication Date: October 29, 2013 (Macmillan Children’s – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

☆: 5/5 stars – The best possible ending to a series I’m really going to miss.

Review: This trilogy, you guys. I’ve been keeping score since book one, and the way that Aguirre has grown in her writing for YA has grown in such measure that I can’t even. Really. Seriously. This book is the best possible ending, and yet, the most the most painful, as I’ve really grown to love Deuce and the boys. In this final book in the “Razorland” trilogy, we see a major tribute paid to the US Civil War, almost re-enacted, and prairie life come back to life in a hell of a future created by humanity itself. If there’s a final book in a trilogy you’ve got to read this year, or better yet, start, it has to be “Horde”.

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Review: “3:59” by Gretchen McNeil


15836516Title: “3:59”

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: Multiverse/Alternate Universe, Sci-Fi, YA contemporary

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

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Synopsis: Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

☆: 3.5/5 stars – a fun multiverse tale, but could have been better.

Review: The multiverse books just keep on comin’ in YA, and that’s a happy, happy thing. I love reading about multiple dimensions and alternate histories or universes, so “3:59” was definitely on my TBR list. And while it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it was still a fun book, and I think a lot of people (especially those just getting used to the idea of reading multiverse lit) will enjoy it. If you’re looking for a good rainy day book, or a book to consume in one day, make it “3:59”.

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Review: “Weather Witch” by Shannon Delany


Weather WitchTitle: “Weather Witch”

Author: Shannon Delany

Genre: YA, alternate universe/timeline, PNR, UF, steampunk, paranormal dystopia

Publication Date: June 25, 2013 (SMP – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!

Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!

But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.

☆: 3/5 stars – a solid first book in a new series!

Review: Oh, “Weather Witch”. What to do with you? While absolutely awesome in basic concept, plot, and worldbuilding, I couldn’t entirely get on board with this book. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it – I did, and quite a bit. But I guess it’s another case of blurb seduction, but I just expected a whole lot more than I got. But it is a solid first book in a new series, and while I haven’t made up my mind as to whether I’m going to read book 2 yet or not, it’s still a great summer read, and a whole lot of fun. If you’re looking for something a little more original in your steampunk/alternate history PNR YA genre stories, definitely check out “Weather Witch”.

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Review: “Phoenix (Black City #2)” by Elizabeth Richards


16148491Title: “Phoenix (Black City #2)”

Author: Elizabeth Richards

Genre: YA, Paranormal Dystopia, PNR

Publication Date: June 4, 2013 (Penguin – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Phoenix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose’s Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.

The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn’t seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose’s Law, signing Natalie’s death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.

☆: 4/5 stars – a fantastic followup to book one!

Review: When I read “Black City” in anticipation of reviewing this book, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and how very thorough Richards was in pretty much all areas of building her book, her world, and her characters. Happily, “Phoenix” definitely doesn’t disappoint, and really ups the stakes for Ash, Natalie, and the rest of the bunch living in Rose’s state. However, there was one big issue I did take with this book (even though it all worked out in the end), that I thought Richards could have avoided (or used some other plot device to bring about the same reaction/payoff), but otherwise? I really enjoyed “Phoenix”, and I think that fans of “Black City” are going to love it, too.

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Review: “Icons” by Margaret Stohl


11861715Title: “Icons”

Author: Margaret Stohl

Genre: YA, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, PNR

Publication Date: May 7, 2013 (LBFYR – North America)

Source: NetGalley Review Copy

Summary: Your heart beats only with their permission.

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol’s family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn’t know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside — safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can’t avoid.

She’s different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador’s privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn’t a coincidence. It’s a conspiracy.

Within the Icon’s reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions — which they’ve always thought to be their greatest weaknesses — may actually be their greatest strengths.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – a really great new series from a great author!

Review: Wow. Where to begin? This book is pretty short at a shade under 300 pages, but it packs a huge punch. I didn’t think that Stohl was going to go into the space opera area of YA (a sub-genre that badly needs boosting), but I’m glad she did, because she’s done right by it. There’s a lot going on in this first book in the “Icons” series, and now I’m pretty much slavering for book two. If you’re looking for an exciting sci-fi adventure that still stays within the familiar elegance of Stohl’s prose, definitely be sure to give “Icons” a try!

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