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Pandora's Books

A YA book blog

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VIcious
Victoria Schwab, V. E. Schwab
The Chaos of Stars - Kiersten White When I first heard about this book, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I love Greek Mythology, but while I find Egyptian Mythology interesting, I wasn’t sure if it was completely my kind of thing.But then I read it. And it really exceeded expectations. Also? The cover is really gorgeous!The first half of the book was a little slow, and I had some trouble getting into it. Isadora was a fascinating MC in the beginning, though a little immature. At times, she rebelled against her parents, while at other times, she just acted like a brat towards them. Her character really matures throughout the book, though, and she experiences one of the greatest transitions/character arcs I’ve seen in YA in a long time.I really enjoyed Isadora’s interior design skills. That aspect of her character made for fascinating reading. Instead of DESCRIBING a room, which gets boring since every book does it, Isadora told us how she would CHANGE the room, what she would remove and what she would bring in. It made it much more interesting to read!The Egyptian Mythology in this book was so fascinating! Like I said, I’m more into Greek Mythology, but learning about the various Egyptian Gods and Goddesses was so awesome. It made me realize I love Egyptian Mythology just as much as Greek Mythology. Although there were a lot of Gods and Goddesses mentioned, and sometimes it was really hard to keep track of who was who. I kind of wish there had been a character guide in the back of the book to help me keep track.I loved Ry. He was such a great love interest, for so many reasons. I REALLY WISH I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything. But he was pretty much the PERFECT love interest.Other characters I loved: Sirus and Tyler were great. I loved their personalities, who they were in Isadora’s life and how they helped her throughout the story.The second half of the book, as well as the ending, absolutely blew my mind and I just fell in love with the book. I was shocked, I was thrown for a loop and I did NOT expect certain things AT ALL. It was great! Sometimes, I can predict certain things in a book, and it was awesome to be surprised for once!Overall, a great read. Slow in the beginning and you need to give Isadora a chance to grow on you (and she does!), but it really picks up halfway through and becomes an amazing, awesome read! I would DEFINITELY recommend it.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
Eternal - Kristi Cook Eternal was the most satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that I have read… ever. Period. End of discussion. It was so good, I don’t even know if I can put it into words – minus spoilers – but I’m going to try!(I’m also going to apologize right now for babbling and fangirling, because it might happen… I can’t promise that it won’t).I picked up Haven (the first book in the Winterhaven trilogy – although I didn’t know at the time it was a trilogy) when it first came out and I devoured it. It was an interesting, original, and refreshing read. The characters, the plot, and the twists at the end of Haven made it one of the most original young adult novels I had read in a long time. Next came book two, Mirage, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Again, in a market saturated with, at the time, vampire novels and “she goes away to boarding school and discovers she’s not alone!” stories, Mirage proved, once again, why this was one of the most original YA series I’d read in a long time. I could tell right away that the end of Mirage set up for a third book, and I was really excited for it!And then I read Eternal… And first of all, I was honored to be selected as one of only two or three bloggers who got an eARC from Kristi Cook herself. I’ve loved this series and these characters from the beginning, so I was just.. completely fangirling!Eternal picks up right where Mirage left off and it jumps right into the important stuff, the action scenes. Almost immediately, something major is revealed to Violet and it set me on edge – I had a bad feeling that I couldn’t shake the entire time I was reading the book.I absolutely love Matthew. He’s an amazing character and he takes his Megved duties seriously. He has more of a brotherly/protector relationship with Violet and though I can’t see them together – Because, duh, Aidan!!! – I still sort of want them to end up together because of their shared destiny. Something about it just always felt right. Matthew kind of reminds me of Alaric from The Vampire Diaries (the show, not the books). He’s that authority figure, the big brother, the protector.Tyler was really annoying in Mirage. Like, I really wanted to slap him a few times. But I liked him a lot more in Eternal. He was.. tolerable, I’ll say. And a few times, I actually felt really bad for him!We learn about several betrayals in Eternal and who was behind these betrayals. It’s a big shock, and despite the reasoning behind the betrayals, I didn’t trust the characters involved for the rest of the book. My heart was just in my throat the whole time I was reading and I kept waiting for more betrayals from these characters.There were about three scenes that absolutely killed me – I mean, the whole book killed me, but three scenes stand out in particular. Like, I was just a complete mess!!! I still haven’t gotten over them and I’m DYING to talk to someone about them! (So… if/when you read Eternal, CONTACT ME SO WE CAN FANGIRL OVER THIS!!!!!). I’m just… I kind of had a bad feeling about one scene. I sensed it pretty much from the very beginning, but I still wasn’t prepared for it. At all. And I really, really wanted to be wrong… But, I was right *sobs.* There was another scene, as well, that I had hunch about. I felt like it just wasn’t what it seemed. And again, I was right. But it was still startling and incredible to read – I kept wondering if my hunch was wrong, what was going to happen, etc. Bottom line, this book just had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.Finally, just gotta put it out there, I love that this series is set in the Hudson Valley. Hometown love for the win! Now, I’m not from the EXACT area the book is set in, but close enough and I know a lot of the places and landmarks mentioned. I’ve even been to/on some of them!All in all, I loved this book so, so much. I can’t wait till it releases so everyone can join me in my fangirling and so I can hug and pet the hardcover and read it again!You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
Ultraviolet Catastrophe - Jamie Grey Before I read Ultraviolet Catastrophe, I was in such a reading slump.. I used to finish books in 1-3 days, 4 if I was having an off week. Then I started blogging and taking notes to help me with reviews, and I started to slow down. It was taking me 4-7 days to finish a book, sometimes longer.And then I read Ultraviolet Catastrophe. I finished this book in about 2 days. I just couldn’t put it down! It was action-packed, interesting, unique and incredible. The characters were likable and relatable. The plot was… Okay, I normally don’t like comparing books to other books because it can really throw people off, depending on whether or not they liked the book you’re using to compare. But I definitely saw certain elements from Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires. Both are series I love and this is definitely, 100% a compliment! Also, the science and technology felt authentic, yet it was relatively easy to follow. I only got confused a few times.I loved the MC, Lexie. She was fun and relatable. As a genius who’s parents drugged her to make her “average,” she has a little more trouble fitting in at her new school than most new students do. She struggles to keep up with her coursework, constantly fighting the drug in her system that’s suppressing her outstanding IQ.I actually really like when the parents know or are involved. I know a lot of the time, the MC has to hide her abilities or her secret vampire boyfriend, but sometimes it’s nice knowing the parents can swoop in and save the day. Even if they can’t, it’s reassuring to know they can at least try. Although, I must admit, I was a little suspicious of Lexie’s parents for much of the book.Asher was an interesting character. He was smart and sexy, and sometimes a little over-confident. He and Lexie worked well together, though, and I loved them as a couple. It was also a refreshing change, having Lexie hesitant to start a relationship. Asher pursued her, but she refused to bite for the longest time. I really don’t believe in love at first sight, and so many YA novels have that now. Yes, you can be ATTRACTED to someone and think they’re hot/sexy whatever. But you can’t fall head-over-heels in love with one look. It doesn’t happen. So I really loved how Lexie made Asher fight for it.I loved Max and Zella. Max was adorable, and I kept waiting for him to be the third part of the love triangle. Actually, it was refreshing – again – when the love triangle ended up being two girls fighting for the same guy, rather than two guys fighting for the same girl. Honestly, everything about this book was refreshing. Except for the stereotypical “mean girl” Amy. I’m a little tired of the mean girl character, but in general, not specifically in this book. Amy was, actually, a complex character with a lot to lose and it was nice seeing that for once, as well, instead of just a shallow, vain mean girl trying to “steal” the popular boy out from under the sweet girl-next-door’s nose.There was one character – I can’t name names or I’ll give something big away – that I wasn’t suspicious of in the beginning and then as time went on, I grew more and more suspicious of this character. In the end, my suspicions were confirmed! I also didn’t expect what happened to this character in the end. It was just… a complete shock! Pretty much the entire end of the book was a huge shock, honestly. It was incredible and it blew my mind!I have my fingers crossed that this is a series, because I’m loving these characters and this plot, and I’m anxious to see what kind of trouble Lexie, Asher, Max and Zella get themselves into next!You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
A Matter of Heart - Heather Lyons A Matter of Heart by Heather Lyons was so, so amazing. Heather did a fabulous job with this sequel. Sometimes, the second book in a series isn’t as good as the first book; it just can’t live up to the hype of the first book. But that is ABSOLUTELY NOT the case with A Matter of Heart – it stands on its own and is an overall amazing read!As with A Matter of Fate, this book sucks you in from the very first page and takes you on a wild ride. There’s an action scene almost immediately, followed by a scene that holds some incredible insight and has some great moments between Chloe and Kellan (Kellan! Swoons!)I absolutely love Chloe. Honestly, I’m pretty sure she’s one of my favorite MC’s ever. Her destiny as a Creator carries so much weight and responsibility. Yes, she complains sometimes and she does go through some mini-meltdowns in this book, but she still holds her head high and tries to think of others before herself. We also get to see Drunk Chloe again, and let me tell you, she’s hilarious. It’s so wrong, but I love Drunk Chloe!If you read my review for A Matter of Fate, then you know I’m 100% Team Kellan. So it’s no surprise when I say: Jonah makes me soooo mad! He’s so quick to assume the worst, and I hate his temper. He needs to trust Chloe already! I mean, I get why he doesn’t and I guess at certain times (I admit reluctantly) he would be an idiot to trust her, what with her and Kellan’s history, but still. It’s irrational, but it irritates me! I think part of the problem was that I was just sick of the fighting, in general. I know no relationship is perfect, but how can they be soulmates with THIS much fighting? Didn’t they learn their lesson in A Matter of Fate? Clearly not. But it’s okay, because I want Chloe and Kellan to end up together, so she and Jonah can fight all they want! *Grins.*There’s a LOT of tension between Chloe and Kellan in A Matter of Heart, especially in the beginning. There’s a funny scene where they trade insults, and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. And I even agreed with Kellan a few times!I seriously love Callie. I know I said this in my review of A Matter of Fate, but it still holds true. I love her friendship with Chloe. She’s honest and blunt, and she tells it like it is, even when Chloe doesn’t want to hear it. Honestly, as far as friends go, I prefer Callie over Cora. There’s something about Cora that.. I can’t explain it. She’s a great character, but I just love Callie. Maybe it’s the WAY their friendship developed, but I feel like Chloe and Callie were MEANT to be friends. They just fit so well together.The ending absolutely blew my mind. I didn’t see it coming, and I was shocked, to say the least. It was so sad, for everyone involved, and I’m really anxious to see how things are resolved in the third and final book, A Matter of Truth (out in November). Honestly, waiting for November is going to be so tough! I need to know what happens next! I need to see who she ends up with!All in all, loved this book. I did get irritated with the characters – a lot – but in a good way, if that makes sense – I was so invested in this story line and these characters, I couldn’t help but yell at them when I thought they were being stupid, or cry with them when they were hurt and upset. It’s a great thing to read a book and be that invested in it – It means it’s well written and amazing. I hope that makes sense! And I highly, highly recommend this book, as well! You’ll swoon over Jonah and Kellan, trust me!You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
The Rebel - Melinda Metz *This review is a guest review I did for the blog Mel Erin & Regina Read-A-Lot. To read the original review, check it out here*Much like Vanished, The Rebel surprised me. It was better than I expected, though some parts left much to be desired.I still can’t get over the physical appearances of the characters in the books versus the show. Every time Max is described with blonde hair and blue eyes, I just want to cringe. Also, my mind was messing with me – I would imagine Jason Behr (the actor who played Max) with blonde hair and blue eyes… And then I kept picturing Brendan Fehr (Michael) with black hair and Colin Hanks (Alex) with red hair. Needless to say, it was kind of strange picturing these actors I knew and loved as the characters, but not looking like themselves. It shouldn’t be a big deal – Actors and appearances change all the time in book-to-movie adaptions. But for some reason, it really threw me off.The physical appearances aside, the thing that upsets me the most, still, is the differences between television Sheriff Valenti and Kyle versus book Sheriff Valenti and Kyle. I really want to cry whenever I read about them in the books. We learned to love these characters for three years on the show, and to see the different relationship in the books… I feel dramatic saying this, but it really broke my heart.The Collective Conscious officially freaked me out in this book. There were moments when they just took Max over, even without his permission, and during really awkward, uncomfortable moments – especially for Liz. I don’t necessarily believe they are evil, but I don’t fully trust them, either.Adam is such a useless character. At least, he feels that way to me. He is bland and doesn’t say or do much to warrant anything. I can see the places where his character was divided into the Tess storyline and the Isabel storyline for the show. And I can absolutely see why his character was not included in the television show. His crush on Liz is unsettling, as Liz was pretty much 100% focused on Max in the show, so to have her affections stray is just… I don’t like it. Same goes with Maria and the mysterious Trevor. Maria had such a puppy-dog crush on Michael, I can’t see her straying like that.I didn’t like or trust Trevor from the very beginning. I even thought he might have been DuPris in disguise, at first. I didn’t like him threatening Alex – who is finally home, after roughly two weeks – and I didn’t like the way he so easily swayed Michael away from his group. Michael, in the show, does not easily trust. He’s suspicious of everyone. So why didn’t he question Trevor more? Why did he so easily accept what he said as truth? His desire for family is understandable, but to the point that he would let his guard down so fully? It just wasn’t believable.The Rosa storyline was definitely unnecessary, and I can absolutely see why it didn’t make it to the television show. Liz needs to sneak around, sneak out, and lie so much in the show to help Max, Isabel and Michael. If she had been under the kind of scrutiny her parents – her father, especially – put her under in the books, she never would have gotten away with the things she did in the show. I also just can’t picture Liz with a sibling, just as I can’t picture Maria with a sibling – it was just too much to visualize, too many differences from the show.The two main focuses in The Rebel are: Who is Trevor, and what does he want? And who kidnapped Kevin (Maria’s little brother) and why? Both of these questions are answered at the end of the book. The ending was so mind-blowing, and it leaves so many questions unanswered. I almost couldn’t wrap my mind around what happened, or how. Melinda Metz is amazing with cliffhanger endings, and she truly does leave you eager to pick up the next book.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
The Vanished - Melinda Metz *This review is a guest review I did for the blog Mel Erin & Regina Read-A-Lot. To read the original review, check it out here*As a fan of the Roswell television series, I was a little reluctant to read the books, especially when I found out the books actually preceded the television show. I had fallen in love the with actors who played the characters, and so many things get changed in the process of creating a show or movie based on a book.I was pleasantly surprised by Vanished. There are a lot of differences in the character descriptions, and several differences in the powers each character has. But the similarities were heart-warming. Isabel is just as snarky. Liz is just as logical. Michael seems a little nicer in the books, although I’ve only read the one, so who knows? I absolutely love that Maria is just as New Age-y and scatterbrained in the books. I don’t think I could have pictured her any other way. I’m still torn with Max. He doesn’t feel like he’s as strong a leader in the books as he is in the show, but maybe I just need to keep reading to see.We learn a lot about the collective consciousness in this book. I loved this. In the television show, Max, Michael and Isabel have virtually no contact with their home planet, and I found this to be a really awesome thing that the books did, but that was not included in the show.I adore Alex and Isabel. So much. I wish more could have come from their relationship in the show, and I was giddy when I read that they had a relationship in the book. But then I read what happened to Alex, and I was really upset. This was probably one of my least favorite parts of the book. Poor Alex just can’t catch a break!One of the coolest powers mentioned is Michael’s ability to sense and smell auras. I was a little confused as to whether or not Max and Isabel could do this, as well. I understand why it wasn’t included in the television show – it would have been impossible to depict it visually. That, or really annoying. I also thought it was interesting that Liz and Maria could add their auras/energies to the aliens to strengthen them. That, if I remember correctly, wasn’t in the books and while I don’t understand how it works, it was very awesome to read and visualize.Now for the bad... Well, not bad, really. These are just the things that I didn’t enjoy about this book. I didn’t like Adam. He felt like a useless character. Maybe there’s more to him Maybe I need to keep reading and I’ll end up liking him. I hated the differences between Sheriff Valenti and Kyle in the television show versus the books. It made me so sad! Also, this book in general just kind of felt like filler. I don’t feel like a lot was accomplished; mostly, it just moved the storyline forward. The last chapter was... Whoa! While the book as a whole felt like filler, the last chapter had an epic cliffhanger. I have so many questions, and I’m so glad I can read book 8 (The Rebel) next to see what happens!You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
A Matter of Fate - Heather Lyons A Matter of Fate by Heather Lyons was amazing – plain and simple. It was unique and original, the world-building was incredible and I loved Chloe’s voice and the tone of the story. I don’t think I can put it into words in a way that will make sense, but I just loved it.The main character, Chloe, is a Magical. Magicals are the “cause of an event. The effect is what society and the people within choose to do with it once it’s begun.” Everything about being a Magical is set in stone, and Chloe just wants to be able to make her own choices.Chloe’s relatable and likable. As a Creator – someone who can build up and destroy civilizations at will (or, as per the Council), she has many responsibilities. Creators are especially important to the Council because they are rare. As such, Chloe’s life is even more set in stone than most Magicals. She doesn’t like having her entire life mapped out for her, but she still manages to hold her head high.Near the middle/end, Chloe really starts to get obnoxious and hypocritical. But oddly enough, this felt like it matched her personality. I don’t even know if that makes sense. She was whiny, hypocritical and ridiculous, but she had her reasons for it, so it didn’t annoy me as much as it normally would. I understood where she was coming from, and I understood why she had to whine and pout for awhile.Early on in the book, we are introduced to Jonah and Kellan Whitecomb. In the beginning, Jonah comes off as a loner, keeping to himself and ignoring Chloe almost completely. It takes way too long for Chloe and Jonah to talk, honestly, and Jonah’s constant avoidance of Chloe gets frustrating. As the story progresses, we learn why he avoided her, but it’s still really upsetting. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jonah well enough, but he wasn’t my favorite match for Chloe.Kellan, though, is swoon-worthy almost from the minute he and Chloe start talking, and I instantly loved him and wanted Chloe to be with him. Some of my favorite Kellan moments? When he calls himself an attention whore, I laughed out loud! Also, when he used the term “Ankle Biters” he reminded me of Uncle Jessie from Full House. This definitely earned him some brownie points!I loved Karl, so much. He was protective and fatherly, like a big brother for Chloe. He tried so hard to act tough, yet deep down, he was just such a softie. His guidance was exactly what Chloe needed. He was trustworthy, both to Chloe as a character and to myself as a reader. His protectiveness brought happy tears to my eyes.Another character I loved is Astrid. As much as Karl is like a fatherly figure to Chloe, Astrid is like a motherly type to her. She’s kind, understanding and, above all else, honest. She doesn’t belittle Chloe, the way her parents do. She confirms so many things for Chloe, putting Chloe at ease – to a certain extent. It’s more than Chloe’s parent’s have ever done and, for that, I love Astrid.Cora was a frustrating character. She was the stereotypical best friend, both there for Chloe and also completely oblivious. It was obvious from the beginning she was flirting with Raul; Chloe was so surprised when she finally found out, but I thought what was going on was crystal clear. Cora meddled too much, especially in things that were not her business and things that concerned Chloe, Kellan and Jonah. This, too, was frustrating. Yet, at one point, something happens and Cora lectures Chloe about it (well, it’s more like an all-out, explosive yelling match) – and even though her methods were wrong, I absolutely agreed with Cora!Finally, I LOVED Callie. I know, I know – Jonah fans will hate me. Maybe? But Callie was great. She was funny and sarcastic, she spoke her mind, and I never saw her as a threat to anything or anyone. Honestly, since I want Chloe to end up with Kellan, I didn’t see Callie as a threat to anything at all.The ending was explosive and amazing, and it set things up nicely for the second book. I can’t wait to see what happens next! I’m still rooting for Kellan, though!Also, I just want it on record: I totally called the whole “voice in her head” thing! I can’t go into details, because it’s too spoilery. But it’s epic and I totally called it, right from the beginning!You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
The Survivors - Amanda Havard I enjoyed this book so much! Right off the bat, the prologue and first chapter had me hooked. The writing was amazing – smooth, descriptive and vivid. The memoir sections were so intriguing. It was a great way to reveal background information, without overwhelming the reader. These sections were interesting and insightful.Sadie was a fascinating character. The way she viewed herself, the way she viewed the world. She’s mysterious and aloof in the beginning, but as her story unfolds, we learn more about her and the reasoning behind her beliefs. I was so swept up in the formal tone of Sadie’s voice, I jumped a little every time something “modern” like Bergdorf’s or Taylor Swift were mentioned, because they seemed like they didn’t belong, in Sadie’s world. Sadie’s constantly searching for answers: Who are we, really? How can we be killed? It’s fascinating to see how this all unravels.I loved Cole right away. He was just awesome: sweet, reassuring, funny and charming, as well as non-threatening and respectful (In Sadie’s words). I was rooting for Cole throughout the whole story. I wanted Sadie to fall in love with him, wanted them to be together. At one point, later in the story, Cole and Sadie meet up, and Cole’s thoughts are hysterical, especially since he was so proper and traditional in the beginning. Also hysterical? An angry Cole – he gets so indignant, it’s kind of adorable.Mark Winters is a complicated character, especially when we are first introduced to him. I truly expected him to be the third part of the love triangle, and I was surprised when he wasn’t. He tries so hard to act tough and dangerous, and I couldn’t help but laugh along with Sadie at his failed attempts to appear menacing.I really didn’t like John. We only get some of his background in this book, but the way he treats Sadie is so terrible. Perhaps he has his reasons, but I still wanted to strangle him for the most part. He was a little too zealous for my taste, and I felt so bad for Sadie during the scenes with John. Catherine, too, is another character that treats Sadie terribly.Everett Winters is just… Swoon Worthy. I didn’t want to like him at first, because… Well… Cole! But Everett quickly won my heart, and I constantly found myself going back and forth between these two amazing guys. Everett is so understanding and encouraging, and his love for Sadie is obvious and sincere. Also, the couple times Sadie reads Everett’s mind? Everett’s thoughts are so hysterical! I was laughing out loud.Finally, I absolutely adored Ginny. She was sweet and down to earth, and her power is probably the coolest out of all the powers we are introduced to. She’s almost like a sister to Sadie, and her intentions always seem good and honest.The encounter between the Survivors and the Winters’ had me nervous the whole time. I had a terrible feeling something bad was going to happen. I especially didn’t trust John and some of the Survivors, although I did have moments where I thought the Winters’ were going to attack. It was an incredibly tense scene.The second half of the book was especially intriguing, as we finally get some answers. Going into this book, I assumed it was 100% about witches and the Salem Witch trials, and discovering all these other mythical and supernatural creatures exist was fascinating. I don’t want to say too much about this, because I don’t want to be too spoiler-ish, but some of the revelations here were truly shocking. The epilogue has some surprising twists, and the cliffhanger ending will leave you both satisfied and desperate for more.Favorite Quotes:“I hated having to try so hard to act human when stupid human emotions came to me so easily, without my permission or acceptance.” Sadie (Pg 41).“I wasn’t afraid of dying. I was afraid for my life.” Sadie (Page 113)“I need you to love me more than death. Can you do that?” Everett (Page 263)**Page numbers may vary, depending on book format**You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
A Tale of Two Centuries - Rachel  Harris Rachel Harris has written a touching and heartwarming love story with this sequel to My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century. It is beautifully written, both vivid and descriptive. Alessandra's voice feels authentic, making the reader feel as if they truly have time-traveled to the sixteenth century. Alessandra is everything you can possibly want in a main character. She is a proper young lady who yearns for more, but feels trapped in her own time. She wants "passion, equality and freedom," all the things women in her time period cannot have. All she has to look forward to is a loveless marriage and a life of propriety and society rules. Until fate intervenes and sends her to the twenty-first century, where her distant cousin, Cat, lives.There's definitely an adjustment period for Alessandra. Her exploits in the twenty-first century were hilarious. My favorite moment was when she identified a Hooters as an owl shop. It's amusing seeing how Alessandra's sixteenth century mind views the twenty-first century technology, dress and ideals. She's adorably clueless, and so fascinated by simple things - it makes her seem humble and lovable.So... Austin. Ahhh, Austin. Normally, male characters as cocky as Austin would turn me off. He's just so full of himself in the beginning, thinking he's some kind of bad-boy rebel. But, he's so adorable while teasing Alessandra and her absolute cluelessness makes it that much funnier. So, despite my reservations, Austin won my heart almost immediately. Alessandra's outrage over Austin (she call's him the "embodiment of evil" and likens time with him to the symptoms of an illness) only make you root for Austin even more. He takes the prim and proper lady and turns her into a typical outraged teenager.The whole time I was reading, I pretty much alternated between laughing hysterically and crying (Sometimes just a few tears, and sometimes lip-trembling sniffles). Honestly, I wish I could go into greater detail here, but I don't want to accidentally go into spoiler territory. Just trust me and make sure you have tissues by your side at all times!The other couple to take note of in this book is Cat and Lucas. I know you Cat and Lorenzo fans are probably ready to egg my blog for this, but trust me, you'll love how it all turns out for Cat!The ending was absolutely perfect. My heart was in my throat for most of it, and I was pretty much close to tears the whole time, as well. But it was awesome, amazing, and perfect. Overall (if you couldn't tell from my gushing review), I loved this book so much and I would highly recommend it.Honestly, before I began reading Rachel Harris' books, I wasn't a huge romance fan. It kinda bugged me... It was too mushy and rainbows and kittens for me - I prefer science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, etc. I liked romance that had vampires in it... Does that count at all? Anyway, I won an advanced eBook of Taste the Heat, Harris' adult romance (published July 8, 2013) from Foreward Lit. Not only is she an amazing and talented writer, but she really pulls you into a world with characters you care about, who feel real and relatable. The romances are always genuine, and the plots are well thought-out. For those reasons, among others, I would recommend Rachel Harris to anyone and everyone - especially to those who want to read romance, but aren't sure where to start.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
45 Pounds (More or Less) - K.A. Barson I was only on page two when I decided I liked Ann. Right off the bat, she was realistic and relatable. Pretty much the entire time I was reading, I was going "Yup!" "Yes!!" "Mmhmm!" "Been there, thought that." I mean, I could go on and on. I literally took eight pages of notes, and over half of them are just me agreeing with things Ann thinks, says and does.Buying incentive clothing. Finding something cute in your size, but walking away because you're ashamed to try it on. Wanting to try on an item of clothing, despite knowing it won't fit. Wondering, just for a second, if that infomercial is for real. Knowing you're fat, hating it, but wanting to eat when stressed. Again, I could go on and on. I absolutely hated Regina and Courtney, more so since there are really people in this world who act like them and think like them. This includes the guy in the pretzel line. And I instantly loved Aunt Jackie, Chris, Jon and Raynee. People like them make people like Regina and Courtney easier to tune out. Throughout most of the story, I hated Ann's mom. It was impossible not to. Her double standards were frustrating beyond words. She was like one big contradiction. Of course, we eventually get her side of the story, and the insight makes you reconsider everything you know about her and everything you thought about her.The most heartbreaking part of 45 Pounds (More or Less) was the storyline involving Libby. I can't say too much without going into spoiler territory, but it really makes you stop and consider the consequences of your actions in regards to the people around you.The end was amazing and incredible. Overall, 45 Pounds (More or Less) is the kind of book I would recommend to anyone and everyone. It's one giant life lesson, without being in your face. It's not preachy or judgmental - It's life, plain and simple. Ann was realistic and likable, from every single thought that goes through her head, to every triumph and stumble she experiences along the way. You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
Splintered - A.G. Howard This book was so amazing in so many ways, I don't even know where to begin. The writing was beautiful, vivid and descriptive, the characters came alive, and the plot intrigued me from the very beginning. I've always loved Alice and Wonderland, and this was a captivating tale, set in the world of Wonderland, with a dark twist on the beloved children's story. The references to The Crow and Labyrinth won my heart.My favorite part of the story was Morpheus. I can't help it - I'm totally fangirling over him! Basically, he's Brandon Lee as The Crow + Jareth from Labyrinth + a Dark Angel + Captain Jack Sparrow + The Phantom of The Opera. So... any more questions? I pretty much swooned over him the entire book, so I'm not going to say anything else, or my review will be 100% Morpheus-focused.While I'm sort of on the subject, I really loved the character names in this book. Persephone, Morpheus, Aphrodite, Adonis. I'm a big fan of Greek Mythology - well, mythology in general, to be honest - so I loved this. Howard did a great job twisting the names of the Wonderland characters, as well, to make them fit this darker, scarier version of a place only a child could have dreamed up. Rabid White? Herman Hattington? Chessie? All great twists on classic characters, and the logic behind the Lewis Carroll version vs what Alyssa sees (as explained on page 104) is great.As for Jeb... I know a lot of people loved him, and don't get me wrong, I do, too. But there were a few instances when he kind of annoyed me, like when he took Taelor's word over Alyssa's and when he demanded she not trust Morpheus, but he trusted Gossamer. These things just rubbed me the wrong way, and kind of reminded me of Jay from The Body Finder series, and I wasn't his biggest fan. But Jeb had some redeeming qualities. First of all, he's worthy of some swooning, too! And he really put his life on the line for Alyssa several times throughout the book. I nearly cried a few times. There were some great twists and revelations in the last 100 pages or so, some things I had started to figure out, and some that came as a complete shock. There was a lot of screaming and crying, to be honest... And the last paragraph was just.. sweet and romantic and tear-inducing.Overall, if you couldn't tell already, I adored this book so, so much. I have no clue how I'm going to make it January for the next book!This is a random thought, but did anyone else think the bickering between Jeb and Morpheus was reminiscent of Xander and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Was it just me?Favorite Quotes:"What happens in Wonderland stays in Wonderland" = New Favorite saying. (Pg 140)"Thirty sprites touched your naked body?" = Dying of laughter. (Pg 187)"I am a man in every way that counts!" = Dying of laughter again. (Pg 250)"...Tranquility amid the madness..." (Pg 211)"I'm beginning to enjoy the Madness." (Pg 212) You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
Another Little Piece - Kate Karyus Quinn As I sat down to write this, I kind of felt like I had a brick sitting in my stomach. I dreaded writing this review. But what it came down to was: this book fell way below my expectations. Maybe because I had heard so many wonderful things about it, or maybe because everyone was giving it 4 and 5 stars - or maybe both. I thought to myself, "What's wrong with me? Why I don't I like this book, when everyone else seems to?"The book is described as "spine-tingling horror" and an "eerie mystery." I didn't think it was either of those. If anything, it was choppy and confusing. The poems were annoying. I've never been good at interpreting poetry, so they just felt like a distraction and like I was missing something by not understanding them. The memories, too, were confusing; they came out of nowhere, sometimes with no warning, and it was hard to distinguish present-day vs. past life memory. I wish these sections had been better distinguished from the present-day parts of the story.The memories also felt so scattered. They happen often, yet are too vague to piece together. I feel like the memories are the places where we should learn a lot and, maybe collectively, we do. But taking each individual memory, they're just confusing interruptions into the story.Dex was my favorite part, and I actually did really enjoy his role in the story. His relationship with Anna is grim and twisted, yet oddly perfect. For some reason, I feel the urge to compare Dex and Anna to Romeo and Juliet. I don't know if that fits, but it is what comes to mind for me. However, as much as I love Dex, his part in the story was not enough to make up for the confusing story as a whole.The ending was so confusing (Notice a pattern?). I have way too many questions - Even if there was going to be a sequel (which, I have no clue...), and the ending was purposely left open-ended for said sequel, I still feel it's just too scattered and has too many loose ends.Overall, I was really disappointed. I went into this book, excited to read it and excited to see what so many people were gushing about. Maybe my expectations were too high, and that's why I feel so let down? Either way, I struggled to get through this book, almost from page one. I didn't enjoy it and I don't agree with the description. There were so many other little things that bugged me, but I feel bad enough that I had to write such a negative review. So I'll just leave it at that.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
Second Chance (The Slayer Chronicles, #2) - Heather Brewer Once again, Heather Brewer has written an amazing and entertaining book. I've grown to really care about Joss as a character and as a person. You really don't get to know him in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod - All we know if he's trying to kill Vlad, and we hate him for this. But seeing his backstory has really changed my opinion of him.The first chapter was a great introduction. It recapped the first book without being boring and without info-dumping. Brewer jumps right into the story; it's fast-paced and full of action, right from page one. Sometimes, it takes at least 50-100 pages before the story really gets going, which can make it feel like it's dragging. But with Second Chance, the action is immediate.I feel really bad for Joss and his non-relationship with his family. Worse still, his fractured relationship with Henry is heart-breaking. And as much as I hate how Abraham treats Joss, I hate Joss's father even more. I hate that Joss blames himself for his family's fractured state.Joss's dreams about Cecile are getting so creepy. They seem very realistic, and sometimes I had to turn back a page or two, just to find the spot where it said Joss blacked out or fell asleep, to make sure it really was just a dream. The torment Joss feels over his sister's death is obvious, the guilt laying a heavy burden on him.Joss takes on a lot of responsibility in Second Chance, though much of that responsibility is forced on him by the Slayer Society and Abraham. Joss has grown to be wise and confident, though he doesn't always feel this way. His growth from book one to book two is very obvious. He doubts himself much too much, though he still does a great job of accepting his role in Second Chance. He throws himself into his duties, and manages to do more, learn more, and fight more than his older and wiser team members. At the same time, he struggles with finding his place as a slayer, as well as with his resignation to kill vampires, to see them all as evil.Morgan quickly became one of my favorite characters. He was always loyal to Joss, helping him and teaching him in any way he could. He treats Joss as an equal, like a brother. He doesn't dumb things down for him. My fingers are crossed that he continues to play a significant role in the series, mostly for Joss's sake. I don't think Joss can handle another betrayal.We get a lot of insight into what Joss was thinking the night he staked Vlad. Seeing his guilt, his confusion, gives the reader the opportunity to understand Joss's feelings regarding Vlad and how he feels about being a slayer. I also loved seeing Otis, and the exchange between Otis and Joss was intriguing.I still want to punch Abraham for how he treats Joss, and some of my favorite scenes are when Joss stands up to Abraham. It shows character and determination; Joss refuses to let Abraham step all over him, refuses to let Abraham treat him like a child.Overall, I really loved this book. I mean, it's Heather Brewer. What's not to like? The end was epic and Joss really - in my opinion - proved himself. The end was a bit ominous and chilling, though, and there are a few characters I don't fully trust. Second Chance definitely sets things up for an incredible ending in Third Strike. I'm excited to read it and see what happens!Also, as a side note, I loved the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference!You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
First Kill - Heather Brewer I've been a Minion (term for fans of Heather Brewer and the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series) since Eighth Grade Bites (Vladimir Tod #1) came out in 2007. So, forever, basically. I'm ashamed of myself for not reading this awesome spin-off sooner! The prologue caught me right away and I knew this book would refuse to let me go until the very last page.I already knew some of the back-story from reading The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod - we don't learn a lot about Joss, but enough to know why he was driven to become a part of the Slayer Society. Seeing the whole story, from the beginning, from Joss's point of view, definitely makes me feel more sympathetic towards him and the things he did in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.My heart breaks for Joss throughout much of the story. He's a dutiful big brother, yet he feels like "the invisible boy," both at school and at home. He's a loner with no friends, for no reason other than the fact that he's a little bit stronger, a little bit faster.I really liked Malek. He's calm and funny, yet serious and dedicated. He treated Joss like a son. At one point, he called Joss a kid, but it felt affectionate, not condescending as it did when Abraham said it. Honestly, I thought his fate was a trick at first - a test Abraham had concocted for Joss. My heart grew heavy when I realized this wasn't the case. In his absence, I quickly became fond of Sirus, but of course, that didn't end well, either.Another great character, in my opinion, is Kat. Unfortunately, I can't describe why I like her without getting too spoiler-ish, so I'll just leave it at that. I liked her a lot, though, all the way to the end.About halfway through the book, even though I still hated Abraham, I could kind of see the method in his madness. Near the end, there's a scene between Abraham and Joss that has a lot of shocking revelations, and it provides a lot of insight for the reader.Two of my favorite moments were when Joss stood up to Abraham and when he kicked Abraham's butt. Loved it! Absolute favorite scene? At one point, Kat slaps Abraham. I died laughing.Joss goes through so much during training - mentally, physically, and emotionally. He breaks a few times, but he always picks himself up. His growth as a character is obvious; he's wise beyond his years - wise beyond even that of his fellow, more well-trained Slayers.The ending was insane. I don't know how else to put it. There are so many twists, turns, and shocking revelations, one after another. There are a lot of character revelations, especially, that had me on the edge of my seat. And we are introduced to two characters, as well, who will be familiar to anyone who has read the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. With one character, we are shown the events that led up to Joss's appearance in Bathory.In all, I absolutely loved First Kill. It's Heather Brewer - what's not to love?? I finished this book, and was eager to get right into the second book. Also? Reading Joss's story really makes me want to re-read the Vlad books, if for no other reason than to re-read the parts with Joss.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
Dead Silence - Kimberly Derting I don't even know where to start with this one. Dead Silence had its moments where I loved it and I was like, "This is absolutely my favorite book!" But then there were moments where I hated it, and had trouble getting through it. Unfortunately, the bad moments really dragged the book down and overshadowed the good moments.The prologue was intense. It foretold of something terrible happening - something that would have really ruined the books for me, to be honest. So I wasn't sure how to feel about reading on. I was more than a little apprehensive.There were a lot of major character-related revelations that shocked me. I can't say who or what or I'll spoil it, but I was - for the most part - pleased with the things we learn in Dead Silence. Derting shows us a different side to many of the characters and we also get to learn more about characters that might not have been front and center in previous books.Violet learns a lot about her ability in Dead Silence, and we get to know more about Violet's grandmother, who also had the ability to sense echoes. This was a nice glimpse into the past, and we learn some fascinating - yet creepy - things about the ability.The "killer" in Dead Silence was a little more complex than in some of the other books. I guess the best way to describe the killer is by comparing the killer to the one in The Last Echo, as far as their motives, inner thoughts, and family life. I felt sad for this killer, sympathetic. And then, as with the killer in The Last Echo, I felt dirty and slimy for sympathizing with a killer. I definitely feel Derting does an incredible job with these little sections of the books. Getting a glimpse inside the killer's head really makes you think.I've been up and down with how I feel about Jay throughout this entire series. And I feel really bad about this, but I just don't like him. He was better in The Last Echo, kinder and less possessive. And he gave Violet the chance to explain and tell her side of the story. But in Dead Silence, he was back to being this angry, jealous, over-protective... butt-head. And as if Jay's attitude wasn't bad enough, Violet takes the things he says as gospel - like she was completely in the wrong and needs to beg for forgiveness. It almost felt like an abusive relationship. Personally, I'm still Team Rafe.The ending was... interesting. Honestly, this is the part where I feel the most conflicted. On the one hand, the ending felt incomplete, like there were a lot of loose ends to tie up. And on the other hand, everything really was wrapped up nicely. Kimberly Derting actually did a blog post explaining why the book ended the way it did. FAIR WARNING: That post contains MASSIVE spoilers, so don't read it unless you've read the entire series.After reading the post, I honestly felt more confused. I finished the book, and right away I thought, "Man, that ending was NOT satisfying and it left a lot of loose ends." And then I read the blog post and was like, "Oh... Well, when Kimberly Derting puts it that way, everything really WAS tied up nicely."So, in closing, all I can say is I honestly did enjoy Dead Silence. I'd rank it as my second favorite in the series. But I also feel like there should be one more book; I don't feel like I was satisfied by this ending. I feel like some of the revelations in this book only lead to more questions, and I want those questions answered.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books
The Last Echo - Kimberly Derting *Review may contain spoilers.*The Last Echo was, by far, the best book in The Body Finder series. It had a little bit of a darker feel to it. I could tell almost right away that it had a more ominous tone, and I knew something terrible was going to happen. Also, I *may* have read the jacket for Dead Silence, and accidentally read something I probably shouldn't have seen... Oops!Another thing I noticed almost immediately was the writing. Derting's writing has definitely improved from the first two books. I'm not saying the writing in the first two books was bad - absolutely not saying that! Her writing has always been good, but it felt like it flowed better in The Last Echo.On to the book itself, the opening scene kind of gave me chills. I was honestly a little creeped out (like I said, this book definitely had a darker, more ominous tone to it). I loved seeing Violet interacting with "The Team." It was a far cry from the first two books, where she had to hide her abilities. It was especially in contrast to The Body Finder (book one), where her Uncle Stephen did everything in his power to keep her name off all the police reports.The sections told in the killer's POV were amazingly haunting. I felt like I was balancing on a tight rope; sometimes, I leaned towards hating and despising this cruel, twisted human being. And then sometimes I felt bad for this person. The writing in these sections was incredible, and Derting really did a great job of putting the reader into the mind of the killer.Okay... So... This part is hard for me to write, because I feel so bad. But it needs to be said:I am Team Rafe.Jay was so much better in this book. I really didn't like his character in The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead. I found him to be overbearing, overprotective (borderline possessive), and just down right mean. But he really changed from Desires of the Dead to The Last Echo. He calmed down a lot. His over-protectiveness didn't feel overwhelming this time; it felt like he honestly just cared for Violet and wanted her to be safe. He also backed down from his insane jealousy over Rafe. But the thing is... Even though I liked Jay way, way more this time around, I still just can't picture him as more than Violet's best friend. I just can't, no matter how hard I try. I absolutely love Rafe, and I want Violet to end up with Rafe. Sorry, Jay!On the topic of Rafe: whoa to the mind-blowing revelations and backstory. I loved it so much! I really enjoyed getting to know Rafe better and it made me like him even more.The consequences Violet faced due to the work she was doing with The Team were heartbreaking, yet inevitable. I actually cried at the end. And the epilogue.. Don't even get me started. I wanted to kick someone... I can't say any more, or I'll get into spoiler territory, and I'm trying to keep the spoilers minimal.Overall, I really enjoyed The Last Echo. It was a creepy, fun read with some amazing writing. There are several things that happened that have me wondering what Violet will do next, and how she will deal with the consequences of those things.You can also find more from me on my blog: Pandora's Books