Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: The Vault of Dreamers

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien 
Release: September 16, 2014 
Source: ARC provided by publisher 

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Rosie Sinclair has managed to make it into the prestigious Forge School for the Arts. It's not just any school, though. Forge School televises the lives of their daily students, and enforces a strict sleeping schedule from 6 pm to 6 am. When Rosie stops taking her sleeping pill, she discovers that sinister things are happening at night. And she's torn between keeping her mouth shut and staying in the program, or speaking out an risking ridicule and expulsion.

It's an intriguing premise, no doubt. A mix between a mystery, a boarding school book, and a bit fantastical elements. I say fantastical, only because I don't believe it could ever happen in real life. I found it hard to image that this is OUR world, and that science could explain what was happening at night. It just doesn't make sense to me, and maybe that's partly why I didn't love this book.

I enjoyed the read, and I kept eagerly turning pages, but I wasn't FULLY invested. I kept reading, because O'Brien does managed to perfectly pace the mystery of Forge school. And I have to hand it to O'Brien for coming up with such a unique concept. Forge school was probably the most interesting "character" of the book. The school took a life of its own.

Unfortunately, I never connected to to the main character, Rosie. There's a particular moment, when Rosie is caught, that I wanted to scream at her to not be stupid. Her actions frustrated me, and I kept wondering what her authorities saw in her. Why she was so special? The romance also  felt like insta-love, placed in the book just because it's a YA book and it needs romance. I just didn't believe it, and I didn't feel that connection between them.

I really wanted to love this book, because my friend raved about it. It certainly had a promising beginning. Soon, though, the cracks begin to show themselves and I can't ignore the issues I had with The Vault of Dreamers. Would I continue on with the series? Maybe. The book left off on a cliff-hanger. My curiosity may lead me to pick up the sequel, but it's not a priority.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Mortal Danger

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre 
Release: August 5, 2014
Source: Print ARC from publisher 

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind..

When Edie (Edith) Kramer decides to take her own life, she's offered a second chance from a mysterious boy. This boy, Kian, offers Edie three wishes. So what does she wish for? Beauty. She wants to return to school to exact revenge on every person that made fun of her. What she finds out, though, is that she's a part of a larger game involving the immortal and the supernatural. It's a book with so much promise, but it failed to deliver.

The world was intriguing, if a bit confusing. There are still questions that were left unanswered. However, the plotting and pacing were spot-on, and I was not bored for a single moment. I was eager to turn the pages.

My biggest issue, though, had to do with the characters and the romance.

Edie's voice didn't always match her supposed intelligence, and I never really felt the emotional impact of the prank that pushed to her commit suicide. I also thought Kian was rather flat, making the main romance feel like insta-love. The side characters weren't fully developed, either, which is a shame. Some of the deaths would have had more impact, if I actually cared for them.

And that's the issue: I was intrigued, but I didn't care.

The best characters, in my opinion, were Edie's parents. They were such a pleasant surprise, because parents are often ignored in YA novels. While her parents aren't perfect, I know they loved their daughter. So props to Ann Aguirre for doing what so few YA authors have done!

I did enjoy Mortal Danger for what it was, but I had hoped for more. If have the time, I will definitely pick up the second book.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Guest Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

BOOK REVIEW BROUGHT TO YOU BY: 


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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins 
Release: September 29, 2011 



Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door



Lola and the Boy Next Door is the companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss and while it is not necessary to read one book before the other, I chose to read them in order, simply so that I could understand and know any previously mentioned characters. I was lured into the series by a friend, the owner of this fabulous blog, who absolutely adored Anna and the French Kiss - she even got me a pretty signed edition - so how could I not read it? I got around to it the summer of last year and I really enjoyed it. It was a sweet story and the setting was exotic and exciting but Anna ... well, she was a little less than exciting. I just couldn't relate to her very much. 

Now, I'm largely in the minority when it comes to that opinion. Most people I know praise Anna as one of the best contemporary novels around and I can see why - like I said, the book was fun with an exotic locale and a cute and sweet boy interest. But Lola? Lola and the Boy Next Door - now that was a book I could get excited about. Let me explain...

Lola thinks she has it all - a great family, a nice job, the perfect boyfriend. The only thing she wants more than anything at the moment is to go to the Homecoming Dance dressed as Marie Antoinette, with the huge gown, makeup, wig and everything. What girl wouldn't? To be fair, Lola is a bit ... eccentric. She's an aspiring designer and seamstress who had created an identity for herself by, well, giving herself plenty of identities. She hates to wear clothes - or at least one outfit - more than once and one day, she might dress up like a picnic while going on a picnic (with a red and white checkered dress) or dress up like her best friend on Halloween. Lola is a surprise, each and every day and that, in and of itself, made Lola so interesting and likable. Add to that a set of two Dads - yep, count' em, two! - San Francisco, and a Rocker-I'm-Immediately-Suspicous-Of-You Boyfriend and you have an interesting set up. 

Despite her overbearing Dads, life is pretty idyllic for Lola, at least until a moving truck pulls up next door carrying the dreaded Bell family, who lived next door to Lola several years ago. When she sets eyes on twins Calliope and Cricket, she knows she's in trouble. Cricket, who broke her heart years before, can only be bad news. The problem? He's even more gorgeous and adorable than before and not even her supposed boyfriend can keep Lola's mind from wandering about the boy next door.

For those of you who have read a Stephanie Perkins novel, you know plenty of teenage hijinks ensue. The book is full of humor and heart and, before you know it, you'll have turned to the last page. I absolutely devoured Lola and the Boy Next Door and while I'm in the minority about Lola being better than Anna, I feel I have valid reasons.

First and foremost, as I mentioned earlier, I find Lola a more compelling character than Anna. Lola is relatable, particularly to young women and teenage girls who are truly trying to find themselves and their own identity - something that Lola struggles with throughout the entire novel. I sensed a camaraderie between myself and Lola that I know other readers who have ever doubted themselves will feel, too. Yes, the book is largely a romance book - and we'll get to that in a minute - but it was something more than that, too. But I felt it was a coming of age for Lola, too, and I certainly felt her grow through the whole book. Despite her confusion and indecision about how she wants to be defined, she makes her own decisions and doesn't let life choose them for her. And that's something that is becoming incredibly rare in teen literature nowadays. 

Now, the romance. Ah, I love me a good romance and boy this was one! I liked Anna and Etienne well enough - they were charming and cute - but I definitely felt the chemistry between Lola and Cricket in this one. From the time he was introduced, I was crying for Lola to dump rocker-boy already and get with the program. Lola and Cricket's romance isn't a fiery whirlwind like many other teen romances portrayed in YA today, but sweet, awkward and altogether complete. Perkins definitely knows her stuff. 

Did I like Anna? Yes. A Whole lot? Yes. But is Lola better? YES! If you've never read a Stephanie Perkins book yet, do yourself a favor and head to the nearest bookstore and get yourself a copy of either one. You won't be disappointed!



Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire



Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Release: September 2, 2014
Source: eARC from publisher


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

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

Heir of Fire is the third (but not the final) book in the Throne of Glass series.

And to be perfectly honest, Sarah had HUGE shoes to fill, after writing Crown of Midnight. That book was perfection. Despite not being my favorite book in the series, Heir of Fire is still a worthy addition. These books will always have a special place in my heart.

For those who haven't read Throne of Glass, this series revolves around an Assassin. After serving a year in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothian is released to compete in a competition to become the King's personal Assassin. That's all you need to know.

In Heir of Fire, we travel away from Adarlan into uncharted territory. And Celaena is on a mission.

I know that I say this with every Sarah J. Maas book, but I LOVE her world building. It's so rich, so detailed, and I am so excited that there are more books in this series. This book was a little slower paced, and it lacked the romantic aspects that made me love the first two books. Don't fret, though, dear readers: we still get to see Chaol and Dorian in action. And there's a new male character that appears: Rowan. He's not a love interest, but I have to say that he stole my heart. I loved him in the original Fictionpress draft (probably even more than Chaol or Dorian, if that can be imagined).

Anyone who has read my reviews, or discussed this series with me, know I am team Chaol. I wasn't Team Chaol in the fiction press draft, but I am now. Even so, I was frustrated with Chaol in Heir of Fire,  and I think Dorian really hit the nail on the head. Celaena shouldn't have to change who she is.  He needs to stop worrying, and let Celaena be herself. I definitely think book four will show more growth from my favorite Captain of the Guard. And I think future books will show Chaol's growth and him coming to accept Celaena for who she is.

I have to say, I really appreciated Dorian in Heir of Fire. He's grown of a lot since book one. I still am holding out on Chaol and Celaena, but I think I love Dorian--more than ever.  He really stepped up his game in this book, and he managed to show some backbone.  I think his relationship with Celaena is important, but he's a more interesting character without her as a romantic interest. He was stronger, and more of a leader in Heir of Fire, because he stopped moping and thinking about Celaena all the time.

I'm still team Chaol. I'm just not as opposed to Dorian as I was in the first two books.

And what about our leading lady, Celaena? She's in a foreign country, sent by Chaol and the King on a mission. Celaena, however, has other plans. And as she "befriends" Rowan, and begins to hone her new skills, readers will get more insight into her past. I think it's interesting to see Celaena humbled and struggling. It makes her more human and relatable. If there's one thing that that Heir of Fire does right, it's character development. This book is rich with character development--for characters both old and new.

Speaking of new characters, I have to give a shoutout to a very special new character: Manon Blackbeak. She's a witch, and the heir of a very well-to-do clan. It takes a number of pages to see how her story will eventually intertwine with Celaena's, but it will. And I cannot wait to see Celaena and Manon meet. It's going to be epic. These two ladies are absolutely fierce, strong, and independent women. Also: I want a wvyren! Now!

Heir of Fire is not a perfect book. In fact, I found the first half of Heir of Fire a bit slow and tedious, but Maas ramps up the drama and intrigue at the end. And I think most fans will be satisfied and aching for book four! I know I am after those CRAZY last few chapters!

Thank you, Sarah, for writing this amazing series! I cannot wait to see what's in store for Celaena in the next book.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review Kiss of Deception

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Release: July 8, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher


In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.


On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

The Kiss of Deception is the first book in a new Young Adult fantasy series. And while I can think of a few other fantasy books that I enjoyed more, I am glad that gave this book a try.

There's nothing unique about the plot. Princesses often run away and resist arranged marriages. The main character is often "special" or the "chosen one". Love triangles are a staple in Young Adult series. These are cliches that Pearson uses, and in her skilled hands, she's crafted a story that I genuinely cared about.

Lia is the first daughter, born with the belief that she'd inherit powers. Lia knows she doesn't have the power, though. And she knows that her marriage of convenience to a neighboring country's princes is a sham. So she runs away, and settles for a new life in a small little village. While there, she meets two men. Unknown to her, one man is the jilted prince and the other is an assassin sent to kill her.

Yes, this book has a love triangle. But I think that it is handled well. Lia isn't wishy-washy, as she clearly has a preference.

My favorite aspects of this book, though, are the characters and the world. I found Lia very relatable, and I loved her faithful companion Pauline. It goes without saying that I also found the two men swoon worthy. The world, too, is incredibly rich. I have a feeling that Pearson only barely scratched the surface, and I look forward to reading more about this world.

I also have to admit that Pearson really managed to mess with my head. For the first half of the book, the identity of each of the two men are kept a secret. I had my suspicions of who was the prince and who was the assassin. And I was wrong. Now that I think about it, though, I recall hints carefully placed that identified each man. The fact that Pearson was able to trick me was impressive, and it added a bit of mystery that had me turning page after page.

If you are looking for a fun YA fantasy, this just might do the trick. It's not a perfect book, but I very much enjoyed the read.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend

Release: May 13, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher


Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long? 

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is? 

Most people judge a book by their cover. I know I do this many times. But what drew me to this book was the title.

While long, the title is cute, charming, and creative.

At the Nashville Fierce Reads tour stop, Katie actually said that her idea for this book came from the titles. So there's something to be said about a good title. 

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend is all about broken heart and mending bonds. Gemma did something awful to her friend, years ago. After a terrible break up with her boyfriend, Gemma returns to the Hamptons and runs in to her ex-best friend, Hallie. From then on, she determines to win back Hallie's friendship. Things don't go as planed, though. 

Overall, this book was a fun, quick, and entertaining read. Perfect for Summertime. I think Gemma is a very relatable character. While she is not perfect, I understand her motivation. What frustrated me, though, how many times Gemma had to "cover up" her mistakes. Unfortunately, I felt that the side-characters were rather bland. I wanted more from them, and from the Hampton setting. There was a lot of potential, and the book fell short. 

Still, that ending? So twisty! I guessed part of that twist, halfway through the book, but there was another aspect of the twist that had my mouth opened in confusion. With that cliffhanger ending, I definitely plan to get my hands on the next installment. I didn't take this book seriously, and I didn't have high expectations. Perhaps that's why I managed to enjoy the book.

ALSO,  Katie is also Morgan Matson. How did I not know this? I didn't know this until the Fierce Reads tour stop, which is embarrassing for someone like me. I don't know if this is on par with her "Morgan Matson" works, but I'm excited to read more of her work. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

by: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Grahm
Release: March 25, 2014
Source: Audiobook/Purchased

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

I only started watching Veronica Mars last year, in the midst of the kickstarted frenzy. I thought, a TV show that can garner so much love and support from fans must be good. And the fans were right. I loved the TV show, even if the third season wasn't exactly a satisfying conclusion.

But that didn't matter anymore, because the movie was going to come out and tie up all the loose strings.

Like most "marshmallows", I loved the movie and was thrilled to discover that a book series would be released. These books follow the events of the movie, so if you haven't seen the movie, then you probably shouldn't read this book. And if you haven't watched the TV show, what have you been doing with your life? Go now and watch! I promise that it will make reading this book so much more entertaining.

As for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line--it was a great book. A fun, quick, and entertaining read. I picked up the audiobook, mainly because Kristen Bell was narrated. I was not disappointed. Kristen does an amazing job with tone infection, and voicing other characters. Some were done better than others, of course, but never once was I turned off by her narrative style.

In this book, Veronica is just as strong, and determined, as ever. Support cast--Mac, Wallace, Weavil, and Dick--all return. If I had any complaints, it's that I wished to see more Weevil and Dick. Both of them could have certainly played a big part in the investigation, but each character has only one scene and that's not enough. I wanted more. I also missed Logan, even if he had good reason to not have a physical presence. Overall, the movie and this book confirmed how much love I have for Veronica, and the other characters. I was pleasantly surprised by a return of one character, and I hope she shows up in future installments. I won't say who this character is, though, because I think it's best to be surprised.

As for the plot, it definitely took some unexpected twists and turns.  There were a couple of CRAZY twists at the end, when it appeared that the case was solved. And I enjoyed every minute of listening to it unfold.  Trust me, you don't want to be spoiled.

So as a fan of Veronica Mars, I love this book. And I think most Veronica Mars fans will love it to. If you choose to read the book, without having watched TV show or film, I don't think you'll be as blown away. I don't think you'll enjoy it to it's fullest potential. After all, this book is for the fans (as it should be).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: The One

The One by Kiera Cass
May 6, 2014
Source: Purchased 


The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of IllĂ©a, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

There are some books that have deep meaning and emotional impact. Then there are other books that serve as pure entertainment. The One is definitely the latter.

With The One Kiera Cass has completes a trilogy that is considered a mash-up of The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. The trilogy revolves mainly around one young America Singer, chosen to be brought to the palace to compete in a competition for the Prince's hand in marriage. She leaves behind her former lover, Aspen, and finds herself actually falling for the young Prince. The question of who America ends up with is answered in this final installment, and I am overall happy with the way things turned out.

This world, set in the distant future, has fallen back into a monarchy and a very rigid "caste" system that segregates families into a line of work. For example, America's family is part of the fifth caste that makes up the artistic contribution to society.

To be honest, I had a hard time believing that this system could be in place for so many years without rebellion. To be fair, there are rebels attacking the palace, but I never got a sense that they were a real threat. There were two groups of rebels--Southern and Northern--both with different objectives. I did not find the rebellion to be as big of a threat, and I felt as if there should have been more objection and protests for change.

It is the lack of world building that makes this series seem diluted and watered down. This series is obviously more focused on the romantic aspect, rather than dystopian. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it makes the series feel superficial.

Of course, I have to admit that these books are addicting. They are easy to read, and I actually find America to be a strong protagonist. Sure, she makes stupid mistakes, but I feel as if her actions in The One were more calculated and more mature. She wasn't as rash or reckless as in The Elite. She proved herself as a worthy candidate for Prince Maxon's hand. I also appreciated that the remaining girls got to actually bond. Cat-fights aren't as common in this book, and instead, we see friendships begin to blossom and we get a better idea of what the other girls are like. This was probably my favorite part of the book.

If you haven't read the first book, I do suggest to you give it a chance. Keep in mind, though, that is a far cry from typical dystopians. It reads more like a contemporary romance, but it's what makes the book unique. And addictive. I can see why so many have fallen in love with this series, even if I am not head-over-heels in love with it. The issues previously mentioned became glaringly obvious once I closed the book, but I can still appreciate The One (and The Selection trilogy as a whole) for entertaining me.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Release: April 8, 2014 
Source: Published 




By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.
Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.


And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.


But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 


At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?


Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the conclusion to a fantasy series, and penned by the incredibly talented Laini Taylor.

I have already voiced my disappointment with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Despite the issues, I decided to give the sequel a chance based on three huge factors:

Laini Taylor's writing is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. And addicting. 

The world is fascinating. 

 Karou is a strong and an amazing character (when she isn't mourning/??? Akiva) 

I read the sequel, loved it, and began to eagerly anticipate this final installment. It did not disappoint.

For those who have not read the first book, this series revolves around two star crossed lovers, and a war brewing between Chimera and Seraphim. Karou, a blue haired girl, has been raised by the Chimera Brimstone. He specializes in wishes, and his currency of choice is teeth. Karou helps by traveling through portal doors, until one day, these doors cease working, with only an ominous handprint left behind.

To give any more of the plot would be to spoil parts of the trilogy, so I will just say read the book. And if you did not like it, perhaps give the sequel a chance.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters opens up by introducing readers to a new character named Eliza. She has been haunted by dreams of the apocalypse and the arrival of monsters. In this book, while war is a central plot point, romance does take a more central role. Karou and Avika, the star crossed lovers of this trilogy, are trying to work together to establish a brighter future. A future where they might be together, where there is no prejudice and animosity between Chimera and Seraphim. A brighter future for all of Erez.

There's a battle, most definitely. There's a sort-of show-down between the main antagonist, and Karou and Akiva. However, this show-down felt somewhat anticlimactic and the ending felt too drawn out. Some will feel that the ending lacks finality, but in a way, the ending does open up to spin-off tales. I would be surprised if Laini didn't write more stories centered in Eretz. I appreciate that Taylor chose to address some of the issues in the aftermath of this show-down. Too many writers like to leave their story at "happily ever after", only to leave me with even more questions.

While this book isn't perfect, there's a magic to Laini Taylor's words. Dreams of Gods and Monsters was intense, beautiful,  and ethereal. Fans of the first two books, I believe, will be happy with this final installment. And if you haven't read this trilogy yet, I believe it is worth reading, if only for it's gorgeous writing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Discussion: On Endings

Last year was met with a few disappointing endings to well-loved trilogies--specifically the Delirium and the Divergent trilogies. Both were met with disappointed responses from fans, and it got me thinking about what makes a ending "satisfying"? And is it right to hate a series you once loved, simply because the final book was disappointing?

To the second question, I think your opinion of the series can most certainly be shaped by the ending. Books, individually, can be ruined within the last 20 or so pages. I don't think that I will ever reread Divergent with the same mind-set, knowing what happens in Allegiant. In fact, I don't know if I will ever reread the trilogy. 

As a solitary book, I think Allegiant is weak and nowhere near as good as Divergent. As a series, though, I respect Roth's decision. In fact, I find the ending fitting. My issue with Allegiant is that the writing felt sloppy, I did not enjoy reading from Four's perspective, and the explanations given were weak and underdeveloped. The spoiler that has readers so upset? It doesn't upset me as much as I would imagine.

Requiem is another conclusion that was met with disappointment. Many people griped that it wasn't "enough". That there was more story to tell. I agree, but I can also see why Lauren Oliver chose to leave it open. 

Neither book, I noticed, has a "happily ever after" ending. I also noticed that both books were dystopians. The world of dystopian tales are bleak, and far from perfect. I would not want to live in the world of any dystopian book, and we aren't meant to. We're meant to fear those worlds, and to look at the world around us. I think this is why most dystopians (including The Hunger Games) have bittersweet endings. And I'm okay with that. In fact, I think that a happy ending would be a disservice to the genre. I also think it's why I was disappointed with Ignite Me (and most recently, The One).

It's also why I think so many other people loved it. 

We all want our main character to survive and be happy. We want everything loose end to be tied. We want to feel satisfied. Do you think, though, that dystopians should have happy endings? Do you prefer happily ever after endings, or bittersweet ones? We're all entitled to opinions, and I wanted to see if anyone else out there felt the same way. I feel like, regardless of how things turn out for characters in a series, there needs to be that ray of hope. People gripe about Mockingjay, and while its the weakest of the trilogy, I still love it and I am satisfied with how things ended. Bittersweet with a ray of hope.

People will disagree, I'm sure. I just wanted to voice my appreciation for books that don't always have satisfying endings, and the brave authors that listen to the voice of their characters instead of their readers. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Demand Our Stars: #TFIOSTN #TFIOSTOUR Recap

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending The Fault in Our Stars tour stop in Nashville. Stars of the film adaptation, and the author John Green, were expected to be in attendance. While I know there are many out there who haven't read the book, plenty have heard about it and acknowledge that it's been receiving massive hype. It's "the next big thing".

The impact of this book, and the excitement or young adult readers everywhere was on full display Thursday night.  When I arrived at the War Memorial courtyard, there were already tons of people already lined up, hoping for a chance to see the stars and hoping for a chance to sit in on the Q&A. Some had been camping out since midnight--that's commitment!

I think it's safe to say that I probably wouldn't have gotten inside that auditorium without my media pass. By pure chance, and by knowing certain people, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to greet the stars as they walked down the red carpet.

Here I am in front of the red carpet:




In the media pen, I met up with two blogger friends: Lauren and Shalena. We talked about the movie, and books in general (i.e. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn), while we waited for the red carpet show to start.

John Green, Shailene Woodley, and Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolfe were expected to arrive at 6:30pm. My two friends, who were inside and waiting for the show to start, let me know that Nat was inside performing with his brother. Not going to lie--I kind of wish I had been there! And then finally, screams erupted around 7pm, signaling the arrival of John Green and the actors (they were late). John took the longest coming down the red carpet, as books and posters were being held out to be signed. He signed almost every thing set in front of him.

Then when John cam in front of the press pin, he stood in front of the backdrop and posed. How close was I? Very close!

Courtesy of Lauren, I have a picture of John Green and I:


I am still in shock that I met John Green. I didn't say anything to him, as everything was happening so fast, and he was trying to move things along. Still, it was thrilling, and I was amazed at the crowd's enthusiasm and excitement. Few authors would have received the fan fair that John Green experienced, and I couldn't help but think of how amazing it is that one author could bring so many people together. Even if Shailene, Ansel, and Nat weren't a part of the event, the turnout would still have been huge for John.


Next to come down the red carpet was Ansel Elgort. He was tall, and as charming as ever.


I just had to take a "selfie". My inner fangirl couldn't be denied, even if I tried to remain composed. Because I was part of the "Media" and I had to be "professional".  


Shailene Woodly followed, taking time to sign posters as she made her way down the carpet. She didn't pose for long, but I did get some pictures of her being interviewed.


Lastly (but not least), Nat Wolfe arrived to pose and be interviewed.

Now that all the stars were here, they proceeded to pose together for group photos.

Afterwards, John Green proceeded to sign more posters and books, while the other stars continued to be interviewed.






And as quickly as it started, the stars headed inside and the red carpet show was over. Dazed, but still excited, I headed up to the auditorium while a 10 minute clip played. It was a complication of scenes from the film. Scenes included the "egging" scene, the "okay" scene (which got a huge response front he crowd), and Gus chastising Hazel for wasting her "wish".  It made me that much more excited to see the film in its entirety.

Clint Redwine (DJ for local radio station and husband of author CJ Redwine) announced the stars of the night, and the Q&A began. I honestly do not remember many of the questions asked, but one of the highlights of the Q&A was when Ansel was asked if he had any hidden talents. And just like that, Ansel started to breakdance. Don't believe me?

Here's a pic (albeit blurry):


And a video that someone captured of the entire dance:



His dancing was accompanied by Nat's beatboxing. The stars also spent a great deal of time, showing their love and appreciation for John Green. "You are unprecedented" Shailene said. The crowd was so loud, that I almost worried my eardrums would pop. We learned about Trazel (a combination of Tris and Hazel) and we also learned about Jansel. And when someone asked John, "Who the F is Hank?" people in the crowd began making the nerd fighter sign. I don't know if the question was genuine, or intended to bring up VlogBrothers, DFTBA, and Nerdfighteria, but it was still awesome. And we learned that Shailene, Ansel, and Nat are now proud Nerd Fighters.

The stars talked about their favorite scenes, and what it was like to film in Amsterdam. As I watched these four answer questions, though, it was clear that these four had formed a rather unique and special bond. They hugged, they laughed, and they teased.

By 8pm, the Q&A was finished and the four heartily thanked everyone for coming. And while it the night was short-lived, it was spectacular, and I am every so grateful that I was a part of it.

As cliched as it sounds, it will be a night to remember.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Love Letters to the Dead

LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD BY AVA DELLAIRA
RELEASE: APRIL 1, 2014
SOURCE: ARC (FROM PUBLISHER) 



It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path


There is no doubt comparisons will be made between Love Letters to the Dead and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both tell stories through letters/journal entries. Both tackle tough subjects. Both are "coming of age" novels. In some instances, the similarities are too obvious, but the Love Letters to the Dead does have its shining moments of brilliance. If it has to be compared to Perks, I would say Love Letters is darker and more suspenseful.

Love Letters to the Dead starts out as an English assignment.  Laurel is told to write a letter to someone dead. She choses to write to Kurt Cobain because he died at a young age, but more importantly, because her sister May loved him. And May is dead. The details of how and why May passed away is clouded in mystery as Laurel pours her heart out to Kurt, Amelia Earnhart, Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, and Amy Winehouse. There are many beautiful moments, and I cannot deny that I was moved to tears by the end. Laurel's voice is strong, filled with hope and remorse. She's a character that's both strong and weak; she's both complex and flawed. And it's everything I could ever want in a  protagonist.

These letters depict Laurel as she meets new friends, experiences life, and comes to terms with what happened the night May died. These letters were cathartic for Laurel, and there's no doubting the emotional connection I had with every character. One thing that I was disappointed, in, though was the romance. It seemed to happen too fast, and I think that it could have been handled better. I don't think I ever really got a sense of the guy's character, so maybe that's why the romance didn't click.

I also had a hard time believing that Laurel's teacher was as lenient as she was, about returning this assignment. No teacher would have been that understanding, because grades have to be logged in and it would have been unfair to other students. I understand that these letters became a little to personal for Laurel, making it difficult to let someone else read those pages, but a teacher can only be so lenient.

All in all, this was a beautiful piece of literature that deserves the praise it receives.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Discussion: On Star-Ratings and Negative Reviews

You've probably noticed that I've stopped using star ratings on my blog. A part of it had to do with laziness, but I've also come to the conclusion that I'm not a good "rater". I tend to be far too forgiving of books and their flaws (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Over the years, I've become more critical of the books I read, but that doesn't change the fact that I still rate high. I give authors and their books the benefit of the doubt. And I rarely pick up a book that I hate.

Does this make me a bad book blogger? I don't think so. 

In the months since starting Citrus Reads, I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to spend time talking about why I hated a book. I'm much more happier writing about books I love, and sharing that love with fellow readers and book bloggers. I want to bring to light GOOD books, and not steer people away from books I didn't enjoy. 

Don't get me wrong--negative reviews are incredibly valuable. I read negative reviews of my favorite books, and it gives me new perspective. Those review allows me to see that book in a more critical light. I like reading all types of reviews, I just don't like writing negative reviews. I feel cruel and I afraid of my review steering a reader away from reading a book they could have loved.

What about you? Do you like writing negative reviews? Do you like reading negative reviews? And do you feel like you are a fair rater? Do you even use a star-rating system? Let me know in the comments below. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2 Year Blogoversary

So it's my 2nd year Blogovesary! It's been two years since I was sucked

Here's what has happened in the past two years:

  • I graduated with a Bachelor's in Nursing.
  • I got a job.
  • I started graduate school. 
  • I attended numerous book signings and met so many amazing authors. 
  • I met some great blogger, reader, and writer friends.
  • My love for writing was renewed, and I've been working on a WIP I feel passionate about. 
  • I had PLUNCH with fellow author and writer friends. 
  • I went to my first SCBWI conference. 
  • I discovered SHERLOCK, VERONICA MARS, and BREAKING BAD. All three shows now consume my life/my every thought. 
It may seem like a small list, but it's an important, life-changing list. And by this time next year, I'll have my Masters in Nursing and I'll hopefully have a Nurse Practitioner job lined up. 

There many be people out there who ask: why do you still blog? When do you have time to read if you work and go to school? 

I blog because I have a passion for books, and I want to share my love for books with fellow bloggers and readers. I blog because I want to read more critically. It's difficult, finding time to read and blog, but I make time because I love it. Victoria Schwab wrote a POST that articulates my exact feelings toward this second question. 

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY CITRUS READS! It's true that last year was filled with unexpected abcences, but my love for reading remained strong. And it's still strong now. And I hope to share my love for reading and for books with you for yet another year. Thank you for following me, and for sticking with me, even when my posting was incredibly sporadic. 

As a way to celebrate my 2nd year of blogging, I decided to do a giveaway. There will be two winners. The first winner (US resident only) will win a box of the following books:

PB copy of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 
SIGNED PB copy of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
ARC of Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
PB copy of Goddess by Josephine Angelini 

The second winner can receive (1) book of their choice from The Book Depository (so long as TBD ships to your country). I have one stipulation for this winner, though: the book they choose cannot exceed $15 (before tax). This winner can be international. 

NOTE: winner must be 13 years or older/have parent's permission to give out address. The winner must also be a blog follower. If the winner fails to respond to my email within 48 hours, I reserve the right to choose another winner. 

Enter using the Rafflecoper below. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Pentatonix and Music

On Saturday, I got to see Pentatonix in concert and it was an amazing experience. I love the performance aspect of concerts. You get to hear (and see) raw emotion on the stage and I connect with the music in a way that's difficult to achieve from a recorded track. It's just an all-around amazing experience, especially when a talented performer is headlining. And the members of Pentatonix are incredibly talented. If you don't know them, just check them out on youtube, and I guarantee that you'll be hooked.

Here are some pictures from the concert:








After the concert, I thought about music and its role in my life. I absolutely love music and love going to concerts. As much as I love music, though, I don't link books to music, I don't make playlists, and I definitely don't listen to music while reading or writing. I get too distracted, and end up singing along. I wanted to know if other music-loving book bloggers feel the same way, so I decided to ask you guys a few questions:

Do you go to concerts? Who are some of your favorite artists? How important is music to your reading/writing experiences? And do you tend to associate songs with some of your favorite books? Let me know about your experiences with music and going to concerts, and if you also tend to keep music, reading and/or writing separate.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Influential Books

I've seen many youtubers talk about their most influential books, and I thought I might discuss mine. To be honest, I don't recall many of the books I read as a child. That makes me sad, because I know I enjoyed reading books. I just can't think of a book that profoundly affected me. Some books I mentioned instilled in me a renewed love for reading. Some books introduced me to a whole new genre. Some books inspired me. Some books taught me important life lessons.

Here are the books (in no particular order).

  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares: My best friend and I bonded over these books. We wrote fan fiction together, and we had fun watching the film adaptation together. We are still best friends to this day. 
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: This was one of the first classics that I reading high school, and I remember screaming "NO WAY" in the cafeteria when a certain man proposes to a certain girl. This book opened the door for more classics that I love. 
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: This book, more than any other, introduced me to the Young Adult genre. I remember picking the book up in the store and starting it. The next thing I know, I've read 50 pages and I'm going to the check-out counter. I spent the rest of the day finishing the book. I was hooked. Then I soon discovered the book blogging community, and the rest is history. 
  • The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: This one deserves no explanation. I only finished this series last year, but even so, this book has had a profound impact on my love for literature. 
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I read this in high school, but I'll never forget how eye-opening this book was. It taught be important lessons on prejudice, acceptance, and bravely sticking up for what is right. 
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: This book made me cry my eyes out. It's such a beautiful story that taught me that it's okay to let go. 
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: This series is important to me for a few reasons. I read the Queen of Glass manuscript back in high school, when it was still on FictionPress. When she took it down, I was heartbroken, but I knew it meant Sarah would work hard to get it published. Then Sarah announced she was querying, and thens he had an agent, and then she had a book deal! Seeing Sarah's publishing journey from first draft to book deal and published book was inspiring. She's a huge reason why I haven't given up on writing.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Words cannot describe how much I love this book. While my romantic reader's heart loved Jane's blooming relationship with Mr. Rochester, Jane's time at the school with Helen had the most impact on me. Helen's strong faith, in the midst of difficulty, was inspiring to me as it was to Jane Eyre.
  • Love Comes Softly Series by Jeanette Oke: this series fueled my love for Christian Fiction and historical fiction. It's also another series my friend and I bonded over. And yes, we wrote fan fiction for it too. 
So what are some of your most influential books? What makes that book influential? Do you think that you should like a book that's influential? And do you remember books you read as a child? Maybe I wasn't as big of a reader as a child as I thought. It would explain why no particular book stands out. I also find it interesting that most of these books I discovered on my own--not through an English class curriculum. I don't know what that says about me, because I usually enjoyed books that were picked by my English teachers in high school. Those books just didn't impact me in a meaningful way. What about you? 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: Faking Normal

FAKING NORMAL by COURTNEY C. STEVENS 
RELEASE: FEBRUARY 25, 2014
SOURCE: PURCHASED

Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

Faking Normal is not an easy book to read. It's also not the type of book that you should read "for fun". It's an important book, though, and one I encourage every young adult to read at some point in their life. And this isn't because I know Courtney personally, and it isn't because I enjoyed reading Faking Normal. This book is important, because it has the potential to empower people all over the world to speak up. The words in this book paint a picture of Alexi's struggle, and how she manages to overcome it. And if Alexi can find her voice, so can you!

For those who don't know, Faking Normal is the story of Alexi Litrell, and her struggle to cope with a traumatic experience. Her life is measured in days since the incident, and she copes in the only way she knows how: inflicting physical damage to herself and keeping silent. It helps that she has someone who shares her love for music, someone who leaves lyrics for Alexi to complete and someone who completes her lyrics. This mysterious "Captain Lyric" is one of the only things that gets Alexi through the day without breaking down.

Then weeks after the incident, her life changes. Bodee's father kills his mother, and just like that, these two misfits are brought together. Bodee has his own struggles, but demonstrates a great deal of composure and strength. He knows Alexi is coping with something terrible, but never forces Alexi to talk about it. He takes time to get to know her, and more importantly, helps Alexi find her voice.

Courtney's writing is blunt and honest, filled with some beautiful moments. I thought the pacing was perfect, with a satisfactory ending. There may be some who feel that there ought to be more consequences for the perpetrator's crimes, but that's not the point of Faking Normal. This book is all about Alexi realizing that she's not at fault. It's about her finally admitting what happened to those closest to her. It's about Alexi finally standing up for herself.  Alexi's character growth is absolutely astounding, and I was so proud of her when I finished the book.

This is a book that was likely difficult to write, and it's a difficult book to read, but reading Faking Normal is worth it in the end. And I hope that girls (and even guys) all over the world realize that they don't ever have to victimize themselves. I hope that this book gives readers courage.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WoW: Dreams of Gods and Monsters


DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS by LAINI TAYLOR 
RELEASE: APRIL 8, 2014 


By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?
I did not like Daughter of Smoke and Bone for various reasons, but Days of Blood and Starlight was a completely different book. I gave it a chance because the writing was gorgeous, and the story and potential. Turns out that I adored Days with all my heart, and I am eagerly anticipating this final installment. What are you waiting on? 
----
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Book bloggers present upcoming books they can’t wait to read and share their enthusiasm about new releases.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: The Unbound

THE UNBOUND BY VICTORIA SCHWAB 
RELEASE: JANUARY 28, 2014
SOURCE: PURCHASED

Goodreads | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe. 

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?


With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

I honestly don't think I've ever read a book with a more intriguing premise. The Archived introduced me to a world where the dead are collected and shelved like books. Their life memories can be read librarians, but most of the time these "histories" are left alone. When a history escapes, it's up to Keepers like Mackenzie Bishop to return them to the Archive.

The sequel, The Unbound, reminded me of how much I loved the first book. And I dare say this book is even better. Now that the world is established, I feel like I could enjoy the story without having to understand the technicalities of Mackenzie's world.

The Unbound begins soon after The Archived ends. Mackenzie is being haunted by a certain history, and she's filled with doubt about whether or not her life would be better as a normal girl. The only thing that's keeping her going, is that normal means erasing any memory relating to The Archived. Mackenzie's struggle is palpable, real, and you can honestly feel her exhaustion seeping from the pages.

But there is no rest for a Keeper, especially when people around her turn up missing. And people begin to suspect she's behind their disappearances.

Victoria's writing is also addictive as ever. It's not overly detailed, or filled with unnecessary metaphors and similes. It's straightforward, but Schwab's writing still manages to be lyrical and filled with purpose.  The Unbound is also paced exceptionally well--I just couldn't put the book down.

Let's be honest, though: a huge reason why I loved this book is Wesley Ayers. I truly do not remember loving Wesley this much in The Archived, but this sequel has cemented my love. He's perfect. And makes guyliner cool. I also appreciate that Mackenzie and Wesley's relationship is not instalove, and that Schwab stayed away from developing a full-fledged love triangle. It's such a rare treasure in young adult literature. There's not doubt that Mackenzie likes Wesley, and that she's attracted to him. But their situation is complicated by the lives they lead. It takes two books for their relationship to develop, and even then, they still don't even categorize themselves as a boyfriend and girlfriend. This is both impressive AND frustrating (because these two just belong together).

If you haven't read any of Victoria's books, you honestly don't know what you're missing. Schwab is a smart and imaginative writer, and I look forward to reading any book she publishes in the future.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Discussion: Love Triangles

This may be a very cliched topic to write about, but I still think it's worth discussing: love triangles.

So what is a love triangle? I think that a love triangle requires one character, who has the affection of two other characters. Does this love have to be reciprocated by the protagonist? I think it does. I think that, in order to be a love triangle, both love interests have to be a possible outcome. No unrequited loved. This is not a "rule", but merely my opinion.

So many readers, these days, complain about love triangles in YA books. Have they lost their charm? Back when Twilight was published, I don't remember anyone complaining about love triangles. Then again, there weren't a lot of YA books, and those YA books didn't feature love triangles. Twilight's success made the triangle trope famous, and whether intentional or not, more love triangles followed.


Like many YA book bloggers, I am getting tired of love triangles; I am getting tired of being on a "team"; I get tired of defending my choice. Sometimes, it's impossible to choose. One of the biggest arguments against love triangles is that it's unrealistic. This plot device is thought to serve as the female fantasy of being pursued by two men. This doesn't happen in real life . As young adults, we date for days, weeks, or months. And the first person we date is almost never the person we marry.

I, for one, would like to read a book where a guy and girl go on an ordinary date.

When done right, love triangles can be engrossing and it can add tension to an already fantastic book. And we all read to escape reality, so what's the harm in writing about a little love triangle?

With these thoughts in mind, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite (and least favorite) triangles.  I will try to not "spoil" the books mentioned, but you have be warned.

FAVORITE:


Katniss, Peeta, and Gale from The Hunger Games. This one is obvious. And it's because the love triangle makes sense! While I don't know when Peeta really falls for Katniss, they go through too much together to not have a connection. Their experiences change them, not always for the better. But they understand each other. They have been through it all together. Gale, on the other hand, is the best friend we all root for. So many times, the best friend does turn into love. Each are very plausible choices, and in the end, I think she picks the right guy.

Celeana, Chaol, and Dorian from Throne of Glass. This is another love triangle that just works. Both Chaol and Dorian are great possible love interests, and each compliments Celeana in a unique way. Celeana also doesn't come off as "wishy washy", because she actually makes a choice by the end of book one. The story isn't over, though, and I honestly have no clue who she'll end up with. This is a love triangle done right.



LEAST FAVORITE:

Juliette, Adam, and Warner from Shatter Me: I will try not to "spoil" this series, but I do think Juliette ended up with the right guy. Even so, I felt manipulated. We are meant to feel one way about the two main love interests, only to have them make a 180 turn in the final book. This is not only confusing, but frustrating. And I don't think it's fair to the readers.

Nikki, Jack, and Cole from Everneath: This is not a love triangle, based on my definition. And maybe that's why I chose to use it as an example. My disappointment with this triangle had nothing to do with who Nikki ended up with, but how Brodi Ashton used a particular plot device to get to the end. One particular love interest becomes a completely different person, and I realized there was only one way this love triangle could end. Knowing this sucked the life out of the "love triangle", and I lost interest.



I appreciate how relationships grow and mold a character, but not every love triangle is good. And not every love triangle is bad. I try not to judge a book, based on whether or not it has a love triangle, but we all know that's easier said than done.

Now, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like it when love triangles feel forced. Or when authors seem to mold characters a certain way, and when they manipulate our feelings to root for one character over another. You can't change a character's personality, without sacrificing what made the love triangle a love triangle.

On the other hand, I tend to appreciate love triangles that really challenge me. I appreciate when the author present two love interests that are both good choices. I just don't want the choice to be obvious; I want to be surprised. Yes, this is a personal preference, but I wonder if anyone else out there feels the same way.

So what are your favorite love triangles? What are some of your least favorite love triangles? Are you turned off when you hear that a book has a love triangle? Do you still enjoy reading them? Let me know your thoughts below.