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Allegiant  - Veronica Roth
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Allegiant - Veronica Roth I just finished this book so I may have to come back and amend this review later, but I feel robbed and horrible enough to share it with others who are still reading this book for the first time. I heard that this ending was going to be "shocking" and so have been avoiding GoodReads, Pinterest, and my other reader Facebook friends all week so nothing would be ruined for me and it wasn't. Maybe expecting "shocking" enough was enough to ruin things for me though, because I did predict what would happen, I just really hoped I would be wrong.

I feel robbed. This book was not anything what I had been expecting and anticipating. Compared to the exhilaration of just sitting down reading Divergent and Insurgent, this book was boring. Tris and Four find themselves out of one rebellion and into another. There is a lot of explanation for all the plot holes in the first two books, so many that parts of the book begin to feel like a lecture. It's not until the last segment of the book that the pacing picks up and begins to even approach the intensity levels of the previous books. Not only was the book boring, but I also felt like all of the things I liked about the first two books were taken away from me. Understanding that the books were originally designed to be written from Tobias's point of view makes it a little easier to understand why she ended it the way it did but I still don't get it. I don't get why the shock effect was more important than the messages that were so strongly promoted in Insurgent.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the series and can't wait to re-read them. I love Tris, Four, Uriah, Christina, and all the rest of the characters and the complexity of their relationships. I love the grittiness and dark-side of the story. None of the characters in this series have it easy. They survive and then they deal with things- there's no glossing over the violence or pain just because it's a popular young adult book. Most of all, I love how these books investigate the flaws in our own society and leave readers mind's reeling.

But this last installment...I just don't get it. I think fans of this series in general are going to be disappointed for all of the reasons I listed above. And also because the ending is plain nonsensical. This is not a review out of bitterness but definitely out of disappointment. I am often a huge fan of non-"happily ever after" endings (I'll be honest, part of me was hoping back when I read Divergent that one of them would die eventually, and after Insurgent, I hoped it would be Four)...but only if they make sense, and this one doesn't! There is nothing that makes me grind my teeth more than a book riddled with conflict that works out perfectly and everyone ends up HEA. Because when the world is written as a dystopia, it reflects the real world where things aren't perfect and people don't get happily ever afters. But Veronica Roth isn't George R.R. Martin who writes anti-HEA on purpose, this series was written to send the message of survival, staying true to yourself when the world around you falls apart, moving on with your life when shitty things happen, finding a love that will outlast all the crappiness...at least, that's what I got out of Insurgent...maybe I'm just wrong? Maybe I liked this series for all the wrong reasons? Maybe I didn't get anything the author was trying to say in Divergent #1 and #2?

It would have been one thing if Tris had died from the death serum saving her brother for it...but she didn't. She over came that, like she has overcome every other challenge in the series and is shot. Why? She sacrifices herself to get to the weapon that will erase people's memories...I agreed with Tobias that the plan was stupid and hypocritical. I kept waiting for Tris to come up with something better and was disappointed. And then she died for the dumb plan...I just didn't get it. I think her and Four leaving the compound and the city and making a life on their own would have shown more sacrifice.

Sales for the book, however, will probably spike once the ending starts to leak and people who didn't really get into the series want to see how it ends, since it hasn't really been done before in any of the popular literature (for a reason, Veronica Roth- although George R.R. Martin seems to be doing well for himself). Still, I think the author showed a lot of potential for being so young (I had no idea until today she was my age!) and I will definitely keep an eye on her future works.
The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa 1. It really bothers me that the woman on the cover isn't Asian. Did the publishers think they'd make more sales with a Caucasian woman on the front? I just don't like it.

2. Besides the cover, this book is awesome! I know that this book is just another in the long line of young adult vampire books that stemmed from Twilight, but I really wish I had the capability to somehow go back in time, rip all of the Twilight copies off the shelves of young impressionable girls (including seventeen-year-old me) and replace them all with this book. This is the vampire book people should be reading.

This book portrays vampires as they should be- monsters. They're not pretty, romantic, or sparkly- they're cruel, vicious, and murderous. Thank you Julie Kagawa, putting the mythical creatures back where they belong. There's nothing romantic about falling in love with something that wants to kill you and it's not the message girls should be getting.

The story starts off from the first person point of view of Allison, a sixteen-year-old Unregistered living among gangs of poor kids on the outskirts of a Vampire City. The Unregistered are basically homeless and starving as they are not protected and fed by the vampires who rule the city and treat the humans basically like cattle. Allison refers to the other people in the city as human cattle multiple times and the concept is so intriguing, especially when you look at it from the agriculture side. Unlike beef cows, Allison doesn't have a herd mentality- she wants to rebel, find a way out, and bring back humanity to a world that has none. But, unfortunately, she dies.

But she didn't die alone and a vampire was there to give her another option. With a desperate desire to live, she makes the conscious decision to survive by becoming what she hates most in the world. Her struggle to let go of her past, embrace her new strengths, and retain some part of her human soul puts this book miles ahead of any other young adult vampire book out there. Yes, there's a romance, but no, it's not a perfect "insta-love," it's sad and almost heartbreaking- like a love story between a monster and a human should be. Even as a monster Allison fights for what she believes in and does not let anything get in the way. She is the role model I wish would kick Bella Swan's ass.

You should read this book if you like books about vampires and are sick of the Twilight fanatics. I truly hope all of the Twilight fans read this book and realize there's better vampire literature out there.

Sandman Slim - Richard Kadrey This book was alright. It is excellently well written, very entertaining, and quite intense...it just wasn't for me. Sandman Slim is the story of James Stark (The Sandman Slim) who is a practicing magician, or was, until his circle betrayed him and sent him to Hell. 11 years later, after somehow surviving the trip, he's back and ready for revenge. This book fits every definition of "gritty urban fantasy," so much so that it was too dark and stressful for me to really enjoy it.
Death and the Girl Next Door - Darynda Jones This book was a lot better than I expected. I was very impressed by the writing style and especially the witty banter between the three main characters. There were lines that had me laughing hysterically. But there were two big reasons why I didn't like it and are keeping me from giving this book more stars.

Death and the Girl Next Door is the story of fifteen-year-old Lorelei who's life is basically normal and boring until she meets the new kid in school, Jared, who is beautiful and manly and mysterious and has Lorelei falling in love at first sight. Then she finds out he's not really what he seems and has a dark supernatural past….sound familiar? Reason #1 is that there wasn't anything new or all that creative in the story line. Jared's an angel, not a vampire, and he's an angel of death not your typical heavenly guardian angel…but still…The writing is exceptional with an average plot that did not impress me. There were some surprises and plot twists, especially at the end (which I assume is to keep readers following the series) but even those didn't grip me.

Reason #2 is that I found it almost too "teen-ish" which is super unfair of me since this book is clearly labelled as Young Adult. It's not the author's fault that I'm 24 years old and still reading books for high schoolers. Whatever. But…it's not like people put down Harry Potter and say, "Oh, I didn't like it because it was about kids." My point is, there are amazing Young Adult books out there for readers of all ages and this is not one of them. Leave this one for the high schoolers. Unless you want to read about 50 pages worth of Lorelei and her best friend Brooklyn describing how perfect Jared is and shape of his muscles.

On the other hand, I think high school girls everywhere who have only ever read Twilight and Harry Potter will think this book is brilliant and I will be sure to recommend it to them!
Secrets of a Mayan Moon - Paty Jager The first half of this book is definitely worthy of a better rating than 2/5 stars but the ending was so disappointing that it ruined my opinion of the entire book.

To begin, Secrets of a Mayan Moon is a romance/mystery taking place in the Guatemalan jungle when anthropologist Dr. Isabella Mumphrey is offered an irresistible opportunity to interpret ancient Mayan artifacts and earn cash to fund her floundering department. Once there she meets Tino Kosta, a spy for the Guatemalan government working to take down the drug traffickers and avenge his family's murder. Tino pretends to be Isabella's guide in order to find a way into the archeological dig where Isabella will be working, which also happens to be near a "narco" nest. Despite their differences and backgrounds, Tino and Isabella form a friendship which VERY quickly becomes a romance, and discover their goals are not entirely different, especially once scandals in the archeologist's community are unearthed and they realize the scientists and the narcos might not be mutually exclusive.

At the beginning, the book is very intriguing. There is excitement, action, romance, sexual tension, and enough mystery to keep readers turning pages. In the middle, however, the book starts to take a downhill turn. I think it's about the point that Isabella starts getting emotional over the ceremony chamber, when her "Mayan ancestry" starts making her hear voices and feel like crying whenever she enters the room.

After that, the book straddles the fence between non-magic and ancestral magic weirdness without really picking a side or giving an explanation. This is also the point where the clear plot structure starts to muddle with lots of repetitiveness, running through caves with penlights, and people obsessing over whether or not Isabella is still a virgin…Also, I should add that I really struggled to connect with Isabella. She's described as amazingly intelligent, beautiful, skinny with a high metabolism so she can eat anything she wants, which is really enough reason to hate her lol, but she's also annoyingly lacking in the common sense department.

In summary, this book was ok. I will not be reading the sequel and likely not to recommend this book to anyone.

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2)

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2) - Kresley Cole The first thing I have to say about this book is, if you haven't read [b:Poison Princess|13450339|Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)|Kresley Cole|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1356422925s/13450339.jpg|18972016] yet- stop what you're doing right now and go read it. Second, if you have read it, read it again before starting this one.

The story picks up immediately where it left off with very little recap. Evie has just come into her powers, revealed herself as a major target to Selene and other Major Arcana nearby, and not to mention her relationship with Jackson is about to get super complicated. To sum it all up briefly without giving anything away- Evie Greene is a sixteen-year-old cheerleader bimbo with no major concerns in her life other than when to give up her V-card to her boyfriend when "The Flash," an apocalyptic event that destroys all water and plant life on Earth, occurs. Evie doesn't die because she hears voices in her head and had visions of what was going to happen so she could prepare herself. The world building was shady, but the plot holes were filled with romance and sexual tension provided in the form of Jackson Deveaux, Evie's old Cajun school mate, who shows up at her mansion AF (After the Flash) and, luckily agrees to help her find her Grandmother, which worked out for Evie because she had zero survival skills without him and their AF world is anything but survivable.

It sounds kind of ridiculous and it really is, but I loved Poison Princess. Once Evie meets up with Matthew, the psychic boy who was responsible for all of her visions, Evie realizes that there's a reason she sees and hears things no one else can- she's a Major Arcana. Basically, she's a tarot card superhero forced to fight against the other cards for immortality.

In Endless Knight, Evie is fully aware of her powers, how she can use them, and does quite often. You would think this would make things easier in a post-apocalyptic society for her, but it doesn't. She and her small "alliance" are hunted by zombies, slavers, an army run by the evil pair of Lovers cards, cannibals led by the evil Heirophant card, and, to top it all off, Death is personally out to kill Evie to get revenge for her actions in a previous Tarot game. That's all I'll say about the plot since there are lots of surprises in this book, and hopefully, more to come in the next!

Why I didn't give this book 5 stars when I love the plot and characters- the writing style really wore me down at the beginning. It reads almost like a sixteen-year-old's diary and I'm not exactly sure why...I suppose this book was supposed to be young adult (?), but I would not recommend this book to younger readers at all. There is are a lot of sexual themes, acts, innuendos, you name it, it's here. Anyway, just because a book is for young adults, doesn't mean it has to be written in slang terms. But if you can get past that, it's a fun, action filled read that will not disappoint! And I never thought I'd ever say I love Death...Team Death?
Free Four - 'Veronica Roth' Woo! I <3 Four. This is just a short story so don't get your hopes up. It's a chapter from Divergent that Veronica Roth has re-written from Four's perspective. It just made me love him even more. If you love him and this series don't skip this chapter! It's short but worth it!
Insurgent - Veronica Roth So it's taken me a few days since I finished reading this book to clear my head and get all my feelings in order so that I can even begin to explain what this book did to me and why. The best thing that describes it is this gif:

The first cat on the left is how I felt about Divergent. I had moderately high expectations but I wasn't expecting to be thrilled…and I wasn't. My thought process while reading it went something like this: This book is pretty cool. Dauntless are crazy. Tris is awesome. I love Four. That ending was intense and weird and I have no idea where this series is headed...Maybe I'm not usually so monotonous but you get the idea.

And then I downloaded Insurgent. I had no expectations or high hopes and WHAM. It hit me like a crazy cat from the middle of nowhere. Seriously, for the last few days I have been in such a major book hangover that not only have I not been able to start another book but I can't even really focus too intently on anything because my mind is still spinning from everything that happened in this book. In my opinion, that alone makes it worth the 5 star rating I gave it.

To me, what makes a book good (besides head spinning side effects and mind blowing awesomeness) is good, strong characters and this series is full of them. We learn so much about Tris in Divergent and watch her grow from the meek, struggling, lost Abnegation girl to a strong, Dauntless woman who finds out that not only is she brave as well as selfless but that she has the power to fight for what she believes in and what she feels is right. And this was why Divergent became one of my favorite books. In Insurgent, we see a whole new growth spurt and a much different side of Tris.

At the end of Divergent (spoiler if you haven't read the first one yet) Tris goes through some major crap. She watches members of her old faction die in front of her eyes, both her mother and father are murdered while trying to help her, she shoots one of her best friends in the head, and her boyfriend almost kills her. None of these issues is brushed aside in Insurgent, much to my delight. I had no interest in reading a book where a character could live through all that and walk away unscathed because even though this is a futuristic dystopian society that's not reality. There is no about-face and the characters become superheros with no emotions, they are still teenagers and they deal with their issues like teenagers. Tris struggles pretty intensely for most of this book in handling her post traumatic stress disorder, which had me so completely captivated because it was so realistic and heart breaking. I can't claim to have been through anything like the violence in this series but I have lost someone close to me that I cared about so I found Tris's pain quite easy to relate to, which left me literally clinging to my Kindle. Even more fascinating was that even while Tris suffers, she manages to still do the right thing and fight for her beliefs, just like the Tris we met in Divergent.

As to her relationship with Four: since I am a fan of the romance genre this was obviously one of the parts I loved most in Divergent, but, still, I was hoping for a little more conflict and, boy, did I get it. In Divergent they're in the "honeymoon phase" of their relationship, all la-ti-da and falling in love and happy fuzzy bunnies. Honestly, I could not have handled it if this book was filled with more cute fuzzy ducklings and their relationship is perfect despite all the other s**t going down…you know, like the war that's about to take place between the factions. This book has much more to it than the romance, which was hot and heavy in Divergent. Still, romance lovers like me will not be disappointed. While we start to see that their relationship is far from perfect, both Tris and Tobias are pushed to their limits and we see the dark sides to their characters. They are tried and tested over and over again and the fact that they keep coming back to each other makes their romance one I want to keep reading about.

These were the two biggest things that made this book amazing for me, with my character-loving, but there were a zillion other small things that only added to its greatness. If I tried to list them they would be (not in any logical order):

-The pacing. This is a book that never quits. Every chapter is action packed and drama filled, making this book a page turner you won't be able to put down.
-The insights into other factions. In Divergent we really only see life for the Abnegation and Dauntless, besides snippets of the other three. In Insurgent Tris spends quite a bit of time with both Amity and Candor and also with the factionless.
-Christina, Uriah, Lynne and all of the other supporting minor characters. I love the depth we get into each of them, how none of them are listed just to be listed. They are all real characters with real feelings, not "fillers" or extra paragraphs which is something many young adult books lack.
-The plot twists. Ok, I'll admit, some of them are predictable but there were a few that surprised me. Caleb, why???? :(
-The world building. Things are somewhat more explained in this book, or at least start to be explained. I think Allegiant will have a lot more answers but at least I am confident that Veronica Roth will not leave us hanging on that aspect!

I withdraw my previous statement that Divergent should be recommended for fans of The Hunger Games because I wish we could just look at this series without comparing it to anything else. I would recommend this series to anyone and everyone, whether or not you liked The Hunger Games, whether or not you've ever heard of The Hunger Games, or whether or not you've ever read an entire book before. Veronica Roth has created something amazing here and it should not be held in any other book's shadow.
Divergent - Veronica Roth I do this really stupid thing whenever a book I haven't read gets really popular and trendy and all my friends tell me I should read it- I just don't want to. I never believe it can really be that good and I worry that I'll just be disappointed, which is why this book has been sitting on my bookshelf for the last 10 months collecting dust. Now, I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the bandwagon sooner! This book is awesome! I had some doubts about the writing style in the first few chapters, but after that I just couldn't put it down.

If you're a fan of The Hunger Games, you should read this book! It has similar themes with its dark dystopian society, a main character who is kick-ass, and even a romance (thankfully without a love triangle). Also, you should read this book now because there's a movie coming out soon! Don't wait like I did!
Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris Eh...these books just haven't been cutting it for me. I thought the first book was just okay and wouldn't have kept reading if I hadn't been told by numerous people that "the books are sooo much better than the show" and I need to just keep reading...Maybe it's just me. I really love True Blood and I think that's why I'm so disappointed by the books. The things that I love about the show are what's missing from the books, for example, the complexity of the inter-weaving multiple story lines, Jason's hot bod, and Lafayette's antics. What I don't like about the show seems to be amplified in the books, such as Sookie's whining and Bill's "love" for Sookie that borderlines weird creepy obsession. I'm also not too impressed with the writing style, I guess I just expected more from such a well known and respected author. I think I'll stick with the show unless I get a few more recommendations to keep going...We'll see.

The Year of the Great Seventh

The Year of the Great Seventh - Teresa Orts I received this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

When I was little I used to love the Olsen twin movie, "It Takes Two," and my favorite part of that movie was when the evil future step-mom, Clarisse, would describe something as "aaaabsoluuuutely adoooorable." Every time the word absolutely was used in this book, which was often (like every page), I kept reading it like that and it made the book so much more entertaining, although annoying.

The Year of the Great Seventh isn't a bad book, by any means. Indeed, it reads much better than many other independently published books I've read through the Goodreads First Reads program. It tells the story of Hollywood teen Sophie who falls in love with the school's popular bad boy Nate and discovers something weird is starting to happen to them. Through Sophie's love of history and Egyptian mythology, she discovers their lives are tangled in a prophecy related all the way back to Cleopatra and Marc Anthony and they set off to solve the riddle and save his life. While the end of the book picks up speed immensely, the beginning was brutal. Page after page after page descriptions of high school parties, pointless chats with friends, and full life stories of minor characters that have no impact on the plot whatsoever. Then there were the random tangents…like Sophie's college tour of NYU where she meets several more unnecessary characters that have no other purpose than making her question her feelings for Nate…which pretty much goes against the theme since the whole book was about how much Sophie loved Nate.

And on that note, I just can't stand when authors of the Young Adult genre don't take a minute to step back and look at what they've written from the point of view of their reader. This book's target audience is definitely teenage girls who want to read about high school drama, romance, and mystery, but here's the unfortunate underlying theme, described perfectly in a quote from page 227:

"Professor Silverman's words, my future, my parents, my friends, my grades, and my life were swirling out of control, but there was only one person able to keep it all together: Nate."

Yeah, we get it, they're in love and all, but seriously? Is that the message we want young girls to get? Geez, at least Bella Swan cared about her family and school. So, in conclusion, I have higher standards for my Young Adult heroines and, therefore, I will not be recommending this book.

Forever Fae - L.P. Dover I'm very surprised by how many 4 and 5 star reviews this book has, since, in my opinion, it shouldn't even deserve 1. The description of this book sounds interesting for fans of fantasy and romance, which was why I purchased it when it was free on Amazon. What a mistake.

The story is about Calista, a fairy princess of the Summer Court, who is caught in a love triangle between her best friend and guardian, the warrior fae, Merrick, and the prince of the Winter Court, who is also her "destined true love," Ryder. There's also an evil sorcerer who wants to rape Calista and steal her magic powers and a bunch of minor characters that have absolutely no impact on the story whatsoever. Add that to poor editing and an immature writing style and this book is basically a disaster with a pretty cover.

To be more specific, my problems with this book were as follows:

1. The setting of this story in the Summer Court faerie realm and magical forests has so much potential to be fantastical and rich, but there was basically no magic. Calista uses her powers occasionally and there is mention of other creatures, but the fae were not anything like how I prefer to imagine them, instead they were white trash. They dialogue between them includes discussions of picking up chicks, getting laid, and more annoying things I don't even want to hear in real life, let alone read about in a book.

2. This book is not a romance. In some places it is erotica, particularly in the sorcerer's graphic descriptions of how he is going to rape Calista. If that's not disturbing enough, the "love" between Ryder and Calista is a classic "insta-love" with no development or foundation. They see each other from across the room and that's it, they're in love, although it was really more like in lust. It was especially disappointing since the author clearly put a lot of thought into Calista's character and in making her a strong female protagonist so I would hope that a character like her would have some choice and reasoning in whom she falls in love with. And because Ryder was a jerk. He attacks Merrick for no reason, gets insanely jealous for no reason, and acts like a tool for most of the book.

3. Not only was the author's writing juvenile, but she also told the story in first person point of view from alternating view points. This might have worked had it been nicely done, but it was not. There was major and unnecessary repetition of scenes from the different character's points of views, which is just plain annoying.

There's probably much more about this book that bothered me, but these were the highlights. I will not be recommending this book for anyone except to recommend they don't read it. I can only think the people that loved this book have never read anything else- and to them I say, please go visit your local library, if you thought this was a good book you'll be amazed by what you find there.
The Distant Hours - Kate Morton I'm not sure I can explain how much I truly enjoyed reading this book without selling it short. It took me a very long time to read, not only because school started and I've been busy working, but also because Kate Morton's prose is so beautiful and extravagant that I treated every sentence like a bite of hot fudge sundae, spending extra time savoring and digesting. The story starts off rather slowly, with the entrance of Edie, the narrator, divulging into her relationship with her mother, Meredith, and setting the stage of the Blythe sisters, who undoubtedly steal the show. Set half in flashbacks and half in present tense, the life stories of Juniper, Saffie, Percy, Edie, Meredith, and even the castle itself are captivating and intriguing. The mystery of Edie trying to unveil the sisters' closely guarded secrets of their famous father's past and their own loves and losses kept me at the edge of my seat to see how she used what she learned of the sisters to understand her own mother's upbringing as a London evacuee at Milderhurst Castle during WWII. This beautiful tale is one that I know I will be reading over and over again!.
Yellow Crocus - Laila Ibrahim I would have given this book 3 stars if it weren't for all of the graphic descriptions of breast feeding. Unless that's your thing I wouldn't recommend this book. The story is interesting but poorly written so it was very hard to get invested in the characters.

The storyline is split between Mattie, a slave at a Virginia plantation in the nineteenth century, and Elizabeth, the daughter of the plantation owner. Mattie is Elizabeth's wet nurse and they develop a bond over breast feeding. The story follows both of them through their lives, and although there are some interesting parts, most of it is pretty boring. If you enjoy historical fiction about this period, there are more interesting and better written books.
A Hidden Fire - Elizabeth   Hunter How to write a vampire love story:

1. Take a man who is perfect in every imaginable way and make him a vampire.
2. Add sociopathic, obsessive, and possessive traits to said perfect man.
3. Add a girl who is boring, plain, over emotional, and kinda stupid, and have vampire "fall in love" with her for apparently no reason.
4. Vampire stalks and obsesses over her, but it's okay because he's a vampire not a person.
5. Call it love.

This story was just another version of Twilight or A Discovery of Witches in which there's a vampire, a dumb girl, and a long line of useless extra characters that do nothing for the plot, because there really is no plot- it's a vampire love story. This book tries to be a little different with the mystery of finding old books...oh wait, that was the storyline to A Discovery of Witches.

Gah, I'm just so sick of all these paranormal romances with such weak heroines. Why does a girl have to be stupid and useless for someone to love her?

In addition, the writing style did nothing to add to my opinion of this book. I almost put it down after the first 30 or so pages because I knew immediately it was not for me. I don't understand why there are so many flashbacks, and some that take you back to just hours before. It's like moving two steps forward and one step back each chapter, which is incredibly frustrating.

If you hated A Discovery of Witches don't read this book. If you loved it then go ahead and enjoy another book that's exactly the same. If you're expecting hot vampire sex, don't read this book, the naked guy on the cover is a lie. This is apparently the first book in a series, so maybe the next book gets better...I won't be finding out.