Review: On The Edge

From Allison van Diepen, author of Snitch and Street Pharm, comes a sexy, dangerous novel about a teen who witnesses a murder and gets caught up in the seedy world of Miami’s gangs.
Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn't, she wouldn't have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.

But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?
On the Edge is a compelling story about fighting for what’s right and figuring out where you belong. The novel showcases a gritty, realistic voice and earth–shattering romance that will intrigue readers of Simone Elkeles and Paul Griffin and captivate fans of Allison van Diepen's other novels.

My Review

Author: Allison Van Diepen
Date of Publication: November 26, 2014
Pages: 304
Source: Library

On the Edge has one of the best openings that I’ve read this year. The first 30 pages, or so, of this book do everything right. They don’t only catch the reader’s attention and absorb you into the drama playing out on the pages but also set up all the background information almost inconspicuously.

On a midnight stroll home after seeing her friends, Maddie becomes a witness to a horrible gang related crime and she talks. All of a sudden her life is upheaved, she is no longer just the smart girl with the scholarship and editor of the school newspaper but now she is also on the Reyes gang’s hit list.

This is the fourth book I’ve read by Van Diepen and I think she is one of the best when it comes to writing about gangs. I recollect having read something about her having lived and taught in Brooklyn, NY, which lead her to come in contact with some students involved in gangs. I think this personal experience translates well onto the pages of her books. She writes gangs at a realistic level. They aren’t all heroes or villains; they are lost people who got involved with the wrong things. A villain may lead them and if they don’t take care, they may become villains themselves; as the gang members in the beginning of this book did.

I saw this book as very character run. There are so many that I want to talk about starting with Maddie herself. Maddie was a strong and righteous character. She did somethings that really took guts and I wonder if I would do the same if I were in her place. I liked how vulnerable she was but she struck to her beliefs and her sense of ethics. However, some of the things she did in the end, while fun to read were also extremely rash and she really got lucky with their results.

 Although this guys was probably not even a secondary but a tertiary character, he kind of stole the spotlight in my eyes. Manny is a guy from the hood who also works at the McDonalds that Maddie works at. He comes off as a harmless flirt and his banter with Maddie is cute, but he is also one of the first people to stand up for Maddie when she is in danger. I want to devote a song to him, because hell he was so sweet. Too bad he didn’t get much page space.

Van Diepen also featured Julia and Eric the protagonists of Snitch. I thought this was a nice addition, as it’s always nice to see how old protagonists are doing in their life.

Julia and Maddie’s friendship was also nice but a little unrealistic. Julia, who had heard a bit about Maddie, decided that she wanted to be friends and their friendship jumped from an introduction to romantic set-ups in 2 paragraphs. Julia also has a knack for dishing wisdom from her own experiences. I personally wouldn’t have been as open to such comments from new friends as Maddie was, which made their friendship suffer a bit as it seemed superficial to me.

On the Edge also features some failed ambiance. There was supposed to be this mysterious hero feel, and I, along with everyone else in a one-block radius, guessed the identity of this “mystery” person in seconds. Of course our protagonist took her sweet 100 pages but even still, she figured it out by mid book. I think the ambiance wasn’t done well and it would’ve been fine if it were left out completely as well.

This definitely wasn’t the perfect read. Somehow Van Diepen managed to find my pet peeves but when I finished the book after only 2 sittings, I wondered if it deserved a 5 star. Despite the things that peeved me, the book itself was enjoyable. There was a good main conflict, I managed to forget my issues as I read the book and the ending was satisfying. It was all in all, enjoyable. Not the best thing I’ve ever read but that’s a pretty tough pedestal to reach.



What do you think?

Cover Wars: A School for Unusual Girls vs. a Madness So Discreet

Cover Wars is a weekly showdown of two beautiful covers. The winner, as voted by you, goes on to face a new cover, and wins bragging rights. This is basically a fun way to discuss what we like in covers.

Cover Wars is back after suffering a bit of a sad turnout last week, still we have a champion. a Madness So Discreet managed to pull another win and is back to face the beautiful cover of Kathleen Baldwin's latest.

A School for Unusual Girls:

  • I adore the subtle pastel colours. The gorgeous red hair and especially the flowy cursive font. 
A Madness So Discreet:
  • The model's pose is so wonderfully done. She looks more stressed than scared. It's like she can't get away from something and the hands pulling her down embody that.

Which is your favourite? Vote now!


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Review: The Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu
Publication Date: October 7 2014
Pages: 355
Source: Library ebook

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I'm surprised Marie Lu's latest hasn't received that much fanfare because I thought it was great. The story was entertaining with so many nice aspects to it, and the overall plot was engrossing. Marie Lu wrote a story that is full of potential to be great, and I'm really happy with it.

I would categorize The Young Elites as light fantasy. It doesn't have the details some other fantasies might have, but one does get the impression Lu has spectacular ideas planned and this world will eventually be explored. Still, it has little background yet this does not bother me much because I so enjoyed the characters.

I love Adelina. Adelina is scarred after a fever when she was younger and she was raised by a monster: her father. Adelina's father is cruel and sees his daughter as a commodity he often attempts to sell and use. He's abusive and Adelina suffers from the trauma of her past. Her only other remaining relative is her sister, Violetta, whom she loves and hates. Violetta is not scarred. She is beautiful and doted upon by her father. It leaves Adelina jealous and angry, but in that complex sibling way where the darker emotions are mixed with love.

Adelina has a rough life. She is treated as deficient because of her lack of an eye and the scars, and she is known as a malfetto, which are considered demonic children by the common folk. My heart broke for Adelina because she so clearly craved some sort of unconditional love and companionship, and she was isolated for various reasons. Adelina makes her mistakes and does terrible things. She loses control of herself and she's truly no saint, but I couldn't help but love her and root for her, all the same. I want to know more about Adelina and her story. I think her voice is compelling and the internal conflict she possesses with her powers are definitely intriguing. This sort of story always appeals to me.

Now, my second favourite character is Enzo and I adore him. I adored him from the first scene, and loved him more in every single scene that followed. He is ambitious, he is vicious, he is ruthless. He is wholly committed to his mission and I guess I have always appreciated this kind of ambition. It's intense, and exciting, because you just know this kind of character is morally ambiguous. And The Young Elites should really be renamed, "The Elite Young and Gorgeous Morally Ambiguous Yet Lovable Characters". Because alllll the moral ambiguity! YAY! Now, back to Enzo. In reality, Enzo is a mystery. He does not actually reveal too much about himself, and yet I was totally excited whenever he showed up in a scene. He's just so charismatic and his relationship with Adelina is fascinating. He is instrumental to her knowledge of her powers, and I can't wait to see the consequences of their relationship as the series progresses.

All of the powers of the Young Elites were fun and cool. The Dagger society members weren't all incredibly fleshed out, because this really was Adelina's story, but they were fascinating. I think there are definite improvements Marie Lu could make to this book by developing more than just a few characters. Even in the Legend series, I felt like we knew all about June and Day, but everyone else was fuzzy. For this kind of story, I'd like to know more about the other characters and more about the world. Right now, the world does seem a bit flat. I mean, there are Inquisitors that hate the malfetto and there is some sort of explanation about this, but it's a little too simple. Learning more about the other Daggers and the other Elites is something I'm looking for in future reads.

Something I was really happy about were the little unique spins in Lu's story. For example, Adelina and her sister have olive skin and dark hair. As someone that is not white, this was so awesome. I remember every single olive-skinned person I read about because it's like, yay representation in YA, especially by deliciously dark characters like Adelina. Further, Adelina and her sister's relationship stood on its own. Their relationship does have issues, but they care for each other and I love seeing that. It's almost a Cruel Beauty-ish relationship! By virtue of having a sibling, I'm a huge fan of siblings and reading about their complex relationships in YA. Marie Lu, in general, writes really diverse stories and it's like a breath of fresh air.

In general, I was enthralled by this story. I read it at midnight and woke up and finished it the next day. I remember staying awake and thinking about Adelina and her story. This morning, I was still thinking about certain twists in the story (this review is not very spoilery because if it was, I would be freaking out and dead right now) and contemplating possible future plot points. I don't think technically, this was a perfect read. Still, the story just appealed to me so immensely and I thought it was so much fun. The ending was pretty explosive too, and I am desperately, hungrily, deeply craving The Rose Society. This series has monster potential and I'm just really happy that Marie Lu seems to be writing the kind of dark story I've always loved.


What do you think?

Review: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Date of Publication: June 5, 2012
Pages: 368
Source: Personal Copy
Surrounded 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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

I probably acknowledged this book and my eventual plans of reading it a thousand times. A thousand fake acknowledgements later, I'm here to say how much I enjoyed it.

Set in a Russian-esque backdrop, Shadow and Bone tells a story of fantasy and magical powers that is unique and fascinating. Bardugo’s Grisha are glamorous, revered and feared in their brilliant Keftas. The description of Grisha life has me awed and envious of the beauty and splendour that Bardugo created in her world. I sure wouldn’t mind a midnight blue Kefta of my own. 

At points in the plot I noticed some parallels to one of my favourite books, Eon by Alison Goodman. Alina reminded me of Eona, at the beginning of her journey. Like Eona, Alina is the only one of her kind and has a lot of lives resting on her new found talent. Similarly, Alina starts out as a weak, intimidated young girl and manages to grow and strengthen as a character. I can’t say she’s reached Eona’s level of growth at the end of the first Dragoneye novel, but that’s why this is a trilogy and I look forwards to seeing more of Alina. 

As for everyone’s favourite, the romantics of Shadow and Bone. I’m pleased to say that I adored it. Going into the series, I was quite cautious of how Bardugo was going to manage the romance between best friends. It’s not every book that the protagonist starts the story with a male friend that she actually has romantic attachments to. 

I thought Mal was fantastic. The flashes to Mal and Alina’s childhood were sweet and great ways to help the reader understand a relationship that has been there far before the start of the book. 

Alina also meets many new characters. Her new Grisha friends were interesting to read about though Geyna may have been the only one with much of a personality. I do wish that Bardugo spend some time fleshing out the secondary or even tertiary characters like Alina’s colleagues at the Little Palace: Marie, Nadia, Sergei, Ivan, David etc. 

The Darkling was a mysterious characters as I’m sure he was meant to be. His power fascinated me and his relationship with Alina did give me some conflicting feelings. He is already someone I hate to like but like to hate... Or I just don’t know how to feel. 

For all its amazingness and intricate world, Shadow and Bone did suffer from a minor case of debut noveltitis. There were some awkward scenes and dialogues, mostly between The Darkling and Alina, that I wish were done more smoothly. The Grisha terms were a little alien and hard to remember as well.

Nevertheless, Shadow and Bone has the workings of a great series. The book itself is fast-paced, interesting and well written. It is also a very quick read, clocking in at about 350 pages, and I flew through it. Fans of fantasy, Eon by Alison Goodman and good books, I think you’ve found the next best read! 



What do you think?

Cover Wars: Storm vs. A Madness So Discreet

Cover Wars is a weekly showdown of two beautiful covers. The winner, as voted by you, goes on to face a new cover, and wins bragging rights. This is basically a fun way to discuss what we like in covers.

So it's been a while since we did a Cover Wars. The post took a backseat during the second semester of university but it's back now and we hope you guys are ready for a new batch of amazing 2015/2016 covers!

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy Mcginnis is back as the reigning champion against Storm by Amanda Sun.

  • My favourite thing is the constrast between the black and the green on the cover. It makes the title pop nicely. In comparison to the original covers of the series, I'm a little disappointed. I miss the old water paintings. This cover reminds me a lot of the old Apple commercials for iPods though, and I loved those.

A Madness So Discreet:
  • Such a favourite. I love the beauty of the dress and the fair haired maiden versus the very creepy hands pulling her through the floor boards. Makes me want to check all the loose floorboards in my house for monsters. 
Which is your favourite? Vote now!


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Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Author: Anne Blankman
Publication Date: April 22 2014
Pages: 401
Source: Library ebook

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

I've been on a fantasy kick recently, and felt like, as there is a limited supply of fantasy reads in the world, I needed to wean myself off this genre. I thought Prisoner of Night and Fog, a book heavily recommended by the co-blogger, Mari, could be the book for me.

I have a terrible confession: I was not particularly interested in this novel. I can't exactly say why-- maybe I wanted some more superpowers?-- and this is not Blankman's fault. I was simply not very invested in the story. This makes this tough to review, so I'll try to focus on smaller aspects of the novel and my impressions of those rather than the whole.

First of all, I was surprised at the kind of investigation Gretchen conducts. It was not what I was expecting, and to be very honest, it's not something I have much interest in. It was something new during Gretchen's time period, and it's something I have studied in perhaps one of the most boring classes I have ever taken (which, incidentally, could have affected my appreciation of the story). This investigation leads to a twist that I was a little surprised was the twist, because I didn't think this merited this kind of response. The actions felt disproportionate. Similarly, I liked the way Gretchen developed as she investigated. The fact that she was interested in certain subjects like healing others made her a well-fleshed out character. I could understand her investigation.

I think in general, I really liked Gretchen. She was an extremely well-written character with a past, a life outside of the story, and hopes and fears. I could picture Gretchen clearly as a friend, and she had a very specific voice and personality. Regardless of my apathy towards the story, I truly did root for Gretchen and I loved watching the ways she developed. She's different from many YA characters in the sense that she's soft. She's genuinely caring and sweet, and no one realizes just how brave she is, except for Daniel.

Blankman's description of Daniel and Gretchen gets better as the story progresses. Reading about Daniel's gorgeous eyes and his intensity, his desire to seek out the truth and his kindness, was adorable. Daniel also has a story and it's fun reading about him from Gretchen's perspective. I would like to know more about Daniel and I think perhaps there will be more about him in the sequel. In any case, I really liked him and thought he was a great match for Gretchen.

The most intriguing aspects of the story were the historical bits. Some events like the putsch were written about in detail. The setting is the in-between era as the National Socialists are gaining power. Gretchen, in the story, has access to Hitler and their relationship was obviously fascinating. I thought Gretchen, as the National Socialist golden girl, was interesting to follow because Blankman tried to show  how someone could be enthralled by Hitler, despite the horrible things he was saying. She explored this through making Gretchen a sort of niece to Hitler, one he enjoyed immensely. They interacted and I thought these scenes were very well done.

Mari told me that she liked Prisoner of Night and Fog because of its historical accuracy. I can't say much about that because I have not researched this period extensively, but based on reading the acknowledgements and author's note, I am impressed with the level of detail put into Prisoner of Night and Fog. The way the story was weaved into real history, with most of the characters being real people, is impressive. I don't feel like either the historical aspects or the story suffered from this intertwining, and credit goes to Blankman for this.

The last really interesting bit for me was the subtle feminism of Gretchen's story. Women have had it tough, and a strong substory was Gretchen, and the other girls' treatment in Germany in general, and within the Nationalist Socialist ideology. Gretchen faced a lot of injustice due to her sex, and she reacted against it. There were some scenes that were tough to read about because of lack of support Gretchen received. It's a tough life for Gretchen and I'm glad she had Daniel, someone that truly saw her strength. I'm also really happy that Blankman explored this in such detail.

In general, I thought Prisoner of Night and Fog was very well-written with a lot of excellent themes and development. A lot of thought was clearly put into the story, and that translated into some very compelling scenes. This wasn't the engrossing read I may have come looking for, but I would say it's among the better historicals and a series I probably will continue.



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Review: The Decaying Empire

Author: Laura Thalassa
Date of Publication: April 21,2015
Pages: 329
Series: Book 2  of The Vanishing Girl 
Source: Net Galley - Thank you!
When eighteen-year-old teleporter Ember Pierce wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, she remembers only the basics: she’s been trained by the government as a spy, she’s sent on dangerous missions, and her last assignment—the one that landed her in the hospital—was a setup.
Caden Hawthorne has spent the past ten months of his life grieving Ember’s death. So when she shows up in his room like an apparition, he can’t believe his eyes. But this Ember is different. Her hair is longer, her skin is paler, her gaze is haunted. She tells him what he’s already begun to suspect: someone he trusted betrayed her.
Now, uncertain who is friend and who is foe, Ember and Caden face the toughest mission of their lives—to stay together and survive, as they run from danger toward an unknown future. 

I read this one before exams as a stress reliever and as a method of procrastination. It definitely helped with the latter, but the former’s results are inconclusive. 

Fast paced thrillers like this are beginning to reveal themselves as my guilty pleasure reads. They are just so riveting. Like a rollercoster ride.You hold on tight because you know the accelerator isn’t being released any time soon. 

Set 10 months after the events of the previous book, Laura Thalassa wastes no time with raising the stakes. Weak, drugged and angry, Ember is set to GTFO. Excuse my language. 

I really appreciated the active planning and executing of said plans by the protagonists in this book. Ember and Caden received a real lesson in the consequences of waiting too long to react in the previous instalment. This time they were more proactive and Caden was also more involved. 

Despite having learned some lessons, one lesson that Ember and Caden seemed to have missed, again, was open communication. It is so infuriating as a reader to watch characters withhold information from each other, which then screws them over in the long run. Still, I couldn’t fault them fully for doing so, especially as honesty might not have gotten much done. I do look forward to a different method of conflict building in the next book.

Still, the story has me on the edge of my seat as Ember and Caden ran or tried to run for their lives. My heart kind of broke for them as I watched them struggle. I honestly couldn’t think of a better plan to help with their situation so I enjoyed reading them trying to execute their flawed plan and face trouble when it came at them instead of twiddling their thumbs and waiting.

Once again, Thalassa managed to build up to another striking ending. I feel sorry for Ember and Caden but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the struggle. 



What do you think?

Review: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern
Pages: 387
Publication Date: September 13 2011
Source: Library ebook

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

The Night Circus is an indulgent read. It enjoys lengthy descriptions of all sorts of magical, glamorous things, and the writing is imbibed with a heavy sense of destiny. In other words, it's one of those kinds of books, where the writing and the atmosphere take precedence over the plot and characters; where it's hard to 'get' the story, and perhaps that is the point.

I knew, coming in, that this would be a bit of a challenge for me just because these kind of slower reads always are. One has to focus on every word and feel the details, not just the general contours of the story which is what I usually prefer. I was expecting a Maggie Stiefvater-ish or Carnival of Souls Melissa Marr-ish story. What I read was early Maggie Stiefvater. For those that don't live inside my mind nor understand all my preferences, Maggie Stiefvater and I's relationship has improved with every book she has written, especially after The Scorpio Races. She writes similar atmospheric stories, and they truly clicked for me once I started to fall for the characters too. This book, sadly, reminds me of early Stiefvater because I was always enchanted by how 'cool' everything was, except that in terms of enjoyment, I thought it was slow and wished something would happen.

The writing is multiple POV and it's particularly interesting because it jumps time and there's even a POV that is written in second person so the reader can be involved in marvelling over the circus too. In fact, regardless of the interesting use of POVs and time, it's extremely clear that the whole point of The Night Circus is the Night Circus and the plot and characters are extraneous. It's almost sad for me that so little detail was put into the characters compared to the circus. The reader only knows of the characters through their ties to the circus, except for the supposed main characters and even then, they only get some development because that development is key to the origins of the circus. There is a particular character that I suppose was supposed to make the story haunting and gorgeous, but felt so utterly contrived that I was disappointed.

Considering the meticulous detail put into describing the circus, I felt like there could have been a better story. There is a mysterious, beautiful setting and what happens inside it is dull. It is too much about destiny, and not epic enough to warrant destiny. And when I say destiny, I mean that poetic way authors sometimes write when their characters feel right and follow these random feelings that come out of nowhere. If it's done right, it adds mystery and makes the story a lot more about feelings, and brings in the universe to truly make the story epic. Done poorly, it's a bunch of deus ex machinas. I wouldn't go as far as to say the latter is The Night Circus, except I think the book is incredibly close to that line and that is its biggest flaw. The ending does not make a lot of sense, which could be forgiven in these sort of stories, but it's not even satisfying. It feels convenient, and that's definitely not the haunting, beautiful ambiance the author was attempting to convey.

The Night Circus was fascinating. I tried to visualize it and in a way, it reminded me of Cirque du Soleil (and it made me want to go watch that so badly!)  in the sense that this was a blue ocean circus. I'm almost a little sad that I'll never get to visit it. The colour scheme is black and white, it's open only at night, it has the most amazing shows and food. It's such a delightful image and it is the basis of The Night Circus. It is a lovely basis and I wish there was more to the book than this, but, and I don't know if I can say this with any degree of certainty because I forget a lot, I will remember this lovely concept every time I go to a circus. The Night Circus is about beauty and dreams, and although there may never be a Night Circus, life does sprinkle in beauty and dreams, just to keep things interesting. The Night Circus (the book) is like an ode to that, and it celebrates the pursuit of such magic.

It is because of this last point that my thoughts are muddled. I like what The Night Circus sets out to do and it is imaginative and luxurious. Similarly, it feels long, somewhat dull, and the plot is weak. I recommend The Night Circus to readers that appreciate destiny, beauty, and extremely poetic writing with little action and character development. There is a reason The Night Circus is rated so highly on Goodreads and that is because it is capable of luring the reader into its spell. The writing is gorgeous and depending on the reader, that could be enough to make this book a favourite.



What do you think?

Review: Arclight

Author: Josin L. McQueen
Pages: 403
Publication date: April 23 2013
Source: Library ebook

No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be. 

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

Arclight's saving grace was that it was a quick read. Otherwise, Arclight was a decent book, but not one I think I particularly enjoyed.

I always wonder, why do I continue to read books like this? This time, it was because it was so short and required very little effort. I've barely read any books this year, so even reading an okay book is worth something. And I hate to act like this was a terrible story because by all means, it was certainly not terrible. It had its fascinating scenes, and an interesting concept. It just wasn't exciting enough for me. I'm a little confused that this is part of a series because it could have easily been a standalone. I thought the story was resolved, and I liked that the story didn't take more time than it needed. 

I sometimes complain that some books start at the wrong places. This was one that started right in the middle of the action. This made Arclight more about the constant thrill, with very little rising action. The first scene was literally during a break-in by the Fade, and it was a really important plot event. It was a long action-ish scene that had very little reflection, and it was stylistically a little different from most books that try to introduce the world first, then get to the plot. Perhaps I continued reading Arclight because I was impressed with this creativity. 

I do think the characters fell extremely flat. It was hard to tell how old they were, and it was hard to really care too much about them. I don't know why, but maybe it was because I never had time to learn to love Marina and the rest. Marina had, what felt to me, like a very cold narrative perspective. She was curious and acted so detached, which made sense because she couldn't remember anything from her past after she was pulled out of the Dark, but I thought there could have been a little more profound focus put on what it means to live without a history. The author mentioned it, but it was more like a brief skim. Maybe such descriptions just don't work in a story that was all about action?

While the plot was reasonably fascinating, I guess I wasn't blown away with the eventual premise. I think it brings up some cool philosophical questions that were softly touched upon, but I think this kind of book just touches on stuff without really exploring it. That will appeal to some readers, especially those that don't like as much detail in their books, but it will make other readers like me feel somewhat dissatisfied. 

One thing I must note about Arclight is that it was actually a story in which adults existed. Often, in YA, the teens are going off and doing things to save the world and it seems like the adults are utterly clueless, incompetent fools. In Arclight, the youth was taken care of and guided by the adults. That just felt like such a surprising difference. I don't remember if the particular age of Marina was mentioned, but she and her friends are quite young, and so I'm glad they did have adults there that looked after them. 

Overall, I think there wasn't too much to the story and it was reasonably simple. This is a lighter dystopia that is novel because it is written a little differently from typical dystopias, and it is ideal for people that might not desire too much detail in their books. It's a very quick read, and okay, apparently Goodreads says it has 400 pages, which in fairness is quite short when you compare it to The Bone Season and Heir of Fire, which I had read before this. But it feels quick. Promise. 



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Review: Heir of Fire

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Date of Publication: September 2 2014
Pages: 562
Source: Library ebook

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

This review will be written as a letter to Sarah J. Maas.

Dear Sarah J. Maas,

I'm sorry that we got off on the wrong foot. I truly am. You see, I was not a fan of Throne of Glass. I did not like Celaena, I thought Chaol was dull (maybe that hasn't changed), and I thought the story was not all that original. It could have also been that I was in a terrible mood, because I am a mood reader. I was completely ready to give up on this series, and I would have, had not literally everyone, including my co-blogger told me to continue.

When the positive reviews for Crown of Midnight rolled on, one major theme I saw was that people said this was better than Throne of Glass. Still, I was skeptical. I had, at that time, made it a goal of mine to be much more selective about the books I read and I'm sorry that I didn't have much faith. It's not even like I hated Throne of Glass-- I just didn't seem to connect to any part of the story. With the urge of the blogging community and Mari, I gave it a try.

I think I approached Crown of Midnight in a "show me what you got" kind of way, and I was really happy when it started to click for me. I mean, look at the shining enthusiasm of my review!
Crown of Midnight is an entertaining novel. It has an interesting plot and mythology that, I admit, I was suspicious of, up to a certain point where it completely won me over. 
But there was hope. I was soooooo happy with a certain plot twist that was just brilliant because it raised the level of the whole series. I was so hopeful that the next book would be good.

Sarah J. Maas, I was so freaking wrong. I was soooooooo wrong about this series because it is special, thrilling, and fun. Celaena is a phenomenal character, and the world is fascinating. I'm so happy that I've enjoyed every book you wrote even more. Case in point: I read Heir of Fire in two sittings-- when I went to bed yesterday, and it was the first thing I did when I woke up today (#summervacation!!). And it was engrossing, and fun, and thrilling, and superlative superlative superlative

You converted me into a major fan. I am so happy I continued with your books and I am so sorry I doubted your brilliance. I mean, this is me right now.

I am now a total fan of Celaena and her world, and am so totally dying for the next book. Also, there's a good chance I'm going to devour A Court of Thorn and Roses too.

Now let's get to what I love about Heir of Fire.

ZOMG new characters! They were brilliant! I loved the new characters so much. I loved how you developed them, and I loved that they were complicated and fascinating and strong. There are obviously some I loved more than others (I'll keep it spoiler free and not mention who) but I'm still squealing and swooning over one character so yayy.

I mean, these characters were so fierce and they had their own back stories. I loved that there was a (don't kill me for this comparison) but Game of Throne-esque situation in which different characters and actors from all across this lovely world were doing their own thing and building their own storylines and it felt like watching Dani train her dragons while Robb was learning to be king and you just know that these story lines will converge one day and it shall be spectacular. So, this part, the split perspectives and managing to make each story engaging in its own way, was wonderful.

Perhaps the biggest turnaround is my new love for Celaena. I just never connected with her and felt there was something off until the twist of the last book, and in this book, I began to truly love her. This poor girl and I finally built a relationship and I thought she was so strong and charming. I could connect with her and I even shed a few tears! I thought the character development in Heir of Fire for Celaena was extremely strong because her character was at a point where she could refresh herself and build herself up to be stronger. I thought that learning about what made Celaena tick, learning about her past and her regrets and fears truly made me sympathize with her and I finally started to connect to her. I think this sort of character development, most pronounced in Celaena's plot but subtly in all the characters' POVs is an essential part of what makes Heir of Fire good. I loved that they were all learning about life and sometimes it was uncomfortable for them, but I loved moral ambiguities and characters having to make tough decisions. I'm evil in that way.

And the magic and mythology! It was so much fun. I was happy dancing at some points because I thought the story was so much fun. I loved the triumphs of some of the characters and there were a lot of OMG YESSS but there was also one character who got a super tough deal and seeing as they are a favourite of mine, I hope they're okay. The magic was exhilarating. We all got past ice-breakers and introductions and finally we're getting to the core of the story, and I love that you, lovely author, are still doing new things and introducing major surprises. So thanks for keeping it fresh!

Now, if there is one more request I have, seeing as I'm a picky reader and seeing as how you have delivered in everything I wanted in my last review, it's to make sure this story stays dark. There are some lovely moments of triumph, and I relish them. However, these moments are made all the more impactful by the hard times. I thought Heir of Fire was great because it was the darkest story so far and the characters had to go through tough shit. Sometimes, the lure of destiny is a little too strong and although this story could easily go in the way of a black vs white, good vs evil conflict, I think it's stronger when the heroes are tragic. The characters have made certain choices and I'm really hoping that we see them have to consider the impact of their choices, and live with some of the negative consequences too. Of course, this is a personal preference of mine and Sarah J. Maas, you can do whatever the hell you want to do.

Also, why did you leave with that ending? Why? Is it because you hate your readers? You want us to suffer in agony as we desperately crave the rest of Celaena's story? Authors are really cruel sometimes.

I love you all anyway.

In any case, I was wrong, I'm so happy with this series, I'm eagerly anticipating the next book, and omg leave a comment so we can fangirl about some of the stuff that happened! Thank you Sarah J. Maas and I'm so excited for the sequel!

Thanks again and I'm sorry for doubting you,



What do you think?

Review: Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth
Date of Publication: October 22, 2013
Pages: 526
Source: Personal Copy

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered - fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningliess. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend to complexities of human nature - and of herself - while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

I'm heartbroken. I loved this book, but I also felt like there was something integrally wrong with it.

Many of the reviews I've read and comments from friends said that the book was boring, hard to read and not entertaining. Personally, Allegiant was an easy and interesting read for me. I was absorbed and interested the whole way through. As a book, it was a good one, I think its problem was living up to the standard set by the previous two books.

I really enjoyed finally getting some answers to my questions albeit not liking these answers. (Really Veronica Roth?) The familial relationships like Tris and Caleb, Tobias and his parents, Zeke and Uriah, were the real story. The book explored central themes introduced in the previous instalments like family, belonging and sacrifice.

"I don't belong to Abnegation, or Dauntless, or even the Divergent... I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me- they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could." (Tris, 455) There were many such lines. Inspirational and heart warming but also borderline preachy. It sometimes felt like the rising action and climax had occurred in books 1 & 2. Allegiant was falling action from start to finish.

Allegiant incorporates Tobias' point of view, which I had previously read in Four, the companion novel, and thoroughly enjoyed. I can't say the same about this narration. Tobias felt different, his actions weren't the kind I'd come to expect from him. While this book explores his faults and insecurities, I felt like it ignored his strengths often.

I've always loved the partnership between Tris and Tobias. I thought of them as two people who, when they come together, things exploded, then rekindled and everything was just better. Their relationship was so strained in this book. I never got a chance to love them together. Instead, both were busy colliding for all the wrong reasons. Also, Tris took over the story. She was the righteous one, the one Four should follow. Nothing like the partnership I loved.

As for the ending, I was numb to what happened. I predicted it and when it finally happened I only felt mild surprise that my guess was right on. Looking back, I can't say I appreciated it much.

Divergent was my favourite of this series. And while I managed to enjoy Allegiant whilst reading it, the aftermath of finishing it has left me with a sting of disappointment. The relationship I loved did not get any of the limelight and the explanations given were insufficient.



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Review: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon
Date of Publication: August 20 2013
Pages: 452
Source: Library ebook

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

The Bone Season was appealing. Something about the cover, the title, and the synopsis compelled me to desire this book for a very long time. Two years after it was published, I finally read it, and I feel vindication because this strange compulsion managed, yet again, to push me to read a phenomenal book that I enormously enjoyed.

From other reviews of The Bone Season, it appeared to me that this book would be full of lengthy, tedious descriptions. People said the world was incredibly well-developed; almost too much thought was put into the setting and there would be miles of extraneous information. Strangely, this is something I can very much enjoy. I like complete stories with fleshed-out worlds. I like for the characters to have a background and I love little details, even if they don’t contribute to the plot because if every detail contributes to the plot, I've read enough stories to read in between the lines. The Bone Season was gloriously detailed, but I never thought it was tedious. I thought it was extremely important to have a solid foundation because the author’s world is complex, and deserves it.

If there is one criticism of The Bone Season, it is that it ends a bit abruptly. I understand this is just the first in a very long series, but please Samantha, you cannot leave me like that! Flipping the next page of my ebook only to find that the book is done. As endings go, it is logical and somewhat circular, but, okay, this isn't even a real criticism: I just want more. I want more about Paige, and Nick, and Jaxon, and Warden, and more more more more.

I was entranced from the first page of The Bone Season. I hadn’t read a book in months, and reading about this character who was hunted in her society, Scion, because of something she could not control, her ‘unnaturalness’, which had driven her to the underground where she was in a gang… well, how is this not fascinating? Especially when you find out the part where there’s this thing called aether which is like a spiritual world thingy, and clairvoyants are being hunted because the public fears them. Plus, you have the super cool clairvoyant powers and the complexity brought in by Paige’s judgements of certain gifts. It is all imaginative and I enjoyed discovering this rich new world.

I almost feel like The Bone Season has a Red Rising-ish quality to it in that it’s a very complete, well rounded book, and the characters almost matter less. When I think of some books, the first thing that comes to mind is a particular character or relationship. The storyline is almost irrelevant (see: Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries). The Bone Season is a story that has so much going on for it that my thoughts flicker between the coolness of clairvoyance, the intrigue in some of the characters’ relationships, and the world. It’s the complete package.

Paige is the main character and I loved her. I loved that we got to know her through her history, and she is a character that is strong and vulnerable. I loved that she doesn't entirely know herself yet and is still searching for who she is. Her relationship with some characters was fascinating because Paige is a lone wolf in the sense that she is capable of doing things herself. There is no one character she is anchored to. She is compassionate and cares about the people in her life, but she also has a fierce sense of survival. Paige’s exploration and training was incredibly fascinating, as was her iron will. She refuses to submit, and this is both a strength and a flaw. I'm curious to see where this tenacity takes her in future novels.

An underratedly fun aspect of The Bone Season would be the exhilarating action scenes. There are a lot of fights and when you have the psychic magic and the physical struggle, you get some pretty intense battle scenes. Our main character is a trained fighter, and I had a lot of fun reading about her, um, encounters.

Now, for a legit request. Near the end of The Bone Season, there was some added complexity to Paige and her inner self. I would like Paige to be a little less righteous. Thus far, Paige is extremely pure because she sticks a lot to what is right, but I think for The Bone Season to be truly excellent, it needs to have some moral ambiguity so the lines aren't so cleanly black and white. I feel like this is something the author is already leading on to, based on some bits of the ending, but it’s something I'm going to look out for because I think it’s what could bring this whole series to another level.
In any case, I am extremely excited about this series. It seems like it will be phenomenal, but the next book, The Mime Lord, is going to be extremely pivotal for the shape of the series. I always say that the first book sets up a series, and the second book differentiates it, and I'm curious to see how big this story will be. I obviously hope for an epic, but for now I'm stuck with a terrible book hangover. The Bone Season is a series I’ll be watching out for, and has the potential to be an all-time favourite!



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