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This Song Will Save Your Life
Leila Sales
Shadows (The Rephaim, #1)
Paula Weston
The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon This book is hard to review, because I recognize that a big chunk of how I feel is based on my level of expectation going into it. It's one of the most hyped books of the year, the author has been compared to J.K. Rowling, and film rights have already been optioned. You can't really go into a book knowing that and expect it to win and impress you. So let me put that aside, and try to break it down a bit.This world takes place in a future society called Scion, where clairvoyant people known as "voyants" are condemned. Paige, our heroine, is a dreamwalker and has a very rare talent of being able to break into people's minds. She works in underground London in a secret "voyant" crew called the Seven Seals, but gets captured whisked off to Oxford, a hidden area controlled by another race call the Rephaim.This book's greatest "strength" is probably in its world building. You can argue that the world building is sophisticated and complex. However, it was a bit confusing for me. I often felt bored, and inundated by a bunch of words that "told" me more than "showed" me. The author used a ton of made-up words that I grasped to understand the meaning of, even in context. Thankfully, I found a glossary at the end of the book which I referenced very often. But I felt that everything was a bit overdone. When you strip it down to the basic elements of character and plot, the story is actually quite formulaic and unoriginal.One big aspect that was missing for me was characterization. When characters are flat, I tend to feel emotionally disconnected with them . Paige was probably the most developed, and I did appreciate Paige for her boldness and strength. Yet her care for a young boy she meets by the name of Seb felt very forced, as if he were there only to show you she has a soft side for a kid and to make you like her. I've seen this trick before! I need a little more than that to make me feel a character. Also, I couldn't see Warden as much more (at this point) than a very beautiful looking robotic being with compelling eyes. Of course there is mystery and much more to uncover as we progress through the series, since this is only book 1 out of 7. Sometimes books need to build, but I would definitely like to see more complexity, growth, and some depth in a variety of characters that I can know and love (versus a focus on only one or two mains.)I did find small douses of amazingness sprinkled in. I was interested enough to get through the very long book, in a very short amount of time. So it did keep my attention. I will continue reading the next in the series to see where it goes.

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys - The premise of this book really intrigued me. A girl who comes from a clairvoyant family…a group of four privileged "Aglionby Academy" boys as close as brothers…an old legend…and plenty of magic and mystery! I think this series has great potential, and to be honest this book has caught my eye for awhile, but I only picked it up only because the 2nd book is about to come out and has been getting great reviews. I also thought this series would be geared toward the romantic side but I was pleasantly surprised that there was a lot more going on, and that romance was not the main focus.All in all, this introduction to the series pulled me in enough, and really the biggest problem with it is the slow pacing. I get that the author is trying to set up the atmosphere, the characters, and the legend, but I think the lack of action could potentially lose readers half-way through. I'm still in for the 2nd!
All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill 3.5 starsI always love reading stories on time travel because it is interesting how authors choose to explain the phenomenon. And while I really enjoyed the action-packed story which kept me at the edge of my seat, I felt that the science fiction element was a bit lacking. I still don't particularly know how time travel "paradoxes" work, nor do I completely understand how altering the past doesn't completely change the future. However, that wasn't the point of this story, and the author used time travel as a means of illustrating other concepts. If you could go back in time, how would you view yourself? If you could look into the future, how would you feel about who you become? What if "fixing" what is wrong with the now involved going back to kill the one person you loved? Could you do it?
Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas I read Throne of Glass and gave it a 3.5, mostly cuz I wasn't sure if it was going in a good or bad direction. I read the prequels which just sucked me in. Then I re-read Throne of Glass again and re-rated it with a 4.5. I just read Crown of Midnight and gosh darn it, it deserves a 5.This story and this world just became that much bigger. If you thought after reading the first book that this series is just a light fantasy, read this and reconsider. I am completely in love with this world, and completely in love with its characters. It has expanded into such a wonderful cast, good AND bad (I appreciate them all)…. and none of them are wasted space. I love how Sarah J. Maas' world slowly creeps up on you. She introduces everything with such craftiness and, unlike George R.R. Martin, doesn't spring a hundred characters on you at once and expect you to keep up and keep track of who is who. Because when that happens, I find that I don't really care. (Ok the HBO series I admit is addicting but I could not get into the books. Sorry.) However, Ms. Maas takes her time building up who these people are, and really takes her time in showing you different facets of who they are and who they may become…. Archer, Dorian, Chaol, Nehemia, and even our superstar Caelena. Wow. I am so impressed and so happy that this series has not only gone in a good direction, but an amazing one. It's packed with adventure, surprises, magic, badassery, and just plain awesomeness. Even if fantasy ain't your genre, the brilliant storytelling and its wonderful cast will grab you.
Shooting Scars - Karina Halle I don't really know what's gotten into me - I think Karina Halle has possessed me as I can't seem to give this series anything less than 5 stars. Well, what can I say, I'm hooked, and this is so pleasantly surprising to me cuz I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.
On Every Street  - Karina Halle This novella is a must-read after Sins & Needles. It is an integral part of the story, as it gives you an insight into Ellie's past which makes her who she is today. It is about the time she shared with her first love Javier, who was a complete villain in the first book, and maybe still is. But damn,... characterization is this author's greatest talent, and I'm not sure how she makes one of the worst guys you can possibly imagine, just have layers and layers of personality. The author somehow makes a story about drug lords and con artists completely relatable to the reader. She crafts Hollywood-style action-packed craziness and boils it down to very simple human concepts that everyone can understand. Looking back at first loves sometimes makes you think how the hell was I ever with this person?! What the hell was I thinking?! Yet such defining points in your life stay with you...they always have a piece of you and hold a special place in your heart. Novellas don't normally carry this much "story" but this one did.
Sins & Needles - Karina Halle I gotta give it a 5. Because while this book wasn't perfect, it was a whole new level of "unputdownable." It was 2:00am last night and I HAD to get to sleep. I close the book, lie in bed for a few minutes, toss, turn, sigh in defeat, and pick it up again for just "one more chapter." Rinse. Repeat.It's dark, it's suspenseful, it's raw, and it's sexy as all hell. I'm afraid to throw out the name "50 Shades" because it was everything that book was NOT. This was actually good - not the guilty pleasure kind of good, but really downright good. This was a romance with an actual plot (wow!) and an actual message (wow-wow!) It features a set of characters, Ellie and Camden, that are as broken as they come. However, it has none of that overly-done cliche misogynistic, dysfunctional stuff you see out there. Sure these kids are messed up, but you somehow don't feel that way. And that is my other reason for the 5 stars. This author has managed to create some of the best characterization I have ever seen. Like ever. Camden. That's all.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke 4.5 stars"The world was full of mystery and magic and horror and love." And so is this book. I'm fairly new to the Gothic Horror genre, but I absolutely love it! Or maybe I'm just lucky to have come across this book . This novel is so beautifully written. Sometimes when books are filled with descriptions of sights and smells and such details, my eyes kind of glaze over and my mind kind of wanders until the next "action" scene brings me back. However, with this one, I just savored every poetic word, enraptured in the tiny town of Echo, the lonely estate of Citizen Kane, and the cold blue, salty sea. I found myself reading sentences over again because it was such brilliant prose.This novel is about Violet and her twin brother Luke, whose parents are artists that moved to Paris in pursuit of the artist lifestyle, leaving the kids to themselves in this old manor, full of family history and secrets. To help make ends mean, Violet rents the guesthouse out, and a guy of the name River West shows up at her door to rent it. He is gorgeous, enticing and mysterious, and she knows something's off but can't stay away. Strange things start happening, and the story just progresses from there with a pace that keeps you on your toes in anticipation. We end up seeing a very "lovable" and eclectic cast of characters. The brilliance of this novel comes from the author's ability to create a perfect atmosphere of creepiness, history, romanticism, beauty, and magic. What a unique book.
Where She Went - Gayle Forman 4.5 starsThis was more of a literary piece of work than its predecessor, in my opinion. It was a much more poetic and lyrical. It was an engaging read, and I liked having Adam as narrator, who has more personality and spunk than Mia did as narrator. Overall, a very satisfying and entertaining 2 books.
If I Stay - Gayle Forman 3.5 starsThis was a very simple, yet poignant novel. You didn't get long, complex sentences, or a very complicated, hard-to-follow plot line. Its focus was on character and relationships and the simple things in life that make it worth living.
The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken The premise was promising but I just kept getting bored. I'm not sure if the pacing was too slow or if the story was really heading nowhere. But I tried to read this twice and failed twice.
Dragoon (War of the Princes, #2) - A.R. Ivanovich 4.5 starsBecause this author is self-pub, I had no idea when and if the 2nd book would ever come out, but I would check back often. I was so surprised when I saw it up on GoodReads, and was extremely excited to read it. This one was just as wonderful as the first. It is such an imaginative story that it just sucked me in. This is one of those series that gives me the giddy feelings and I look forward the next. Please don't wait too long A.R.!
Keturah And Lord Death - Martine Leavitt 4.5 starsI loved fairy tales as a kid, and fairy tales are normally written for, well, kids. So it is extremely refreshing to read a fairy tale that is meant for a more mature audience…with a touch of romance, and a hint of magic. It is so beautifully told. I loved it.
Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3) - Melina Marchetta What a wonderful end to a brilliant series. Although this book was probably the weakest of the series as it was slow-moving during the middle, the ending remains strong. What really stands out to me is the way the author has a way of weaving the depth of humanity and its struggles into her fantasy, making it such an emotional ride. Her words are beautiful and poetic, and the characters are real. Lumetere and Charyn have become places that I feel I've seen in person and have been to before….that's how real her storytelling is. I will miss Isaboe, Finnikin, Froi, Quintana, Phaedra, Lucien, Gargarin, Arjuro, Lirah,… the list is long and there are no wasted characters in this book. I have much respect for the author, Melina Marchetta…bravo!
Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo This fell a little short of my high expectations, but was still an enjoyable and fun book. The first book contained so much intrigue, mystery, sexiness, and excitement, most of which can be attributed to the Darkling, who unfortunately was away for a large part of this book. The introduction of Sturmhond almost (but not quite) made up for it. His character at least added some complexity and color among plain Alina and boring Mal who both fell flatter in this book. It felt as if they became whiny, shallow, insecure teenagers, who somehow got stuck in a fantasy Russia with super powers that might save the entire world. Gripes with the characters aside, I still want to know how it ends; I still have hopes that the finale will come through with a bang!
The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey 4.5 starsI'm always so wary of post-apocalyptic stories because they are a dime a dozen and if you find something good, it's like a needle in a haystack. But, I have been on a kick lately. This one was really the needle. Addicting, and wonderful. The content isn't necessarily anything that different,...ok alien apocalypse, been there, done that. But I think what really shined was the delivery and the writing style. Cassie is a great narrator, full of personality and wry humor. Zombie, the Silencer, Nugget and Ringer… each character and their relationships with one another were something heartfelt, yet awkward at the same time. Relationships just cannot be what they used to be when the world you're in has gone to shit, aliens look like humans, everyone you love has died, and you don't know who to trust. This book is much more about humanity and its psyche, than about battling a bunch of ugly, drooly, one-eyed aliens. Although this book wasn't perfect, it was totally entertaining and I couldn't put it down. I expect this book to be quite a phenomenon, and probably will be sold for movie rights, if it hasn't been already.