Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
"The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for."- summary from Amazon

This trilogy is one of my absolute favorites and Bardugo ended it so well, and in a way I never would've expected, but I feel like it makes the most sense. I had such trouble putting this book down; Alina's journey in this final book is extremely compelling and fairly crazy as she tries to finally put the Darkling to rest for good.

Of course, the romance between her and Mal is a great aspect of the trilogy and there's some good heart-to-hearts between them amid all the adventures going on. And I love how Bardugo left them at the end of this story.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book and trilogy enough. If you love high fantasy, this is the trilogy for you.

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig

Coin Heist by Elisa Ludwig
"The last place you'd expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint - which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes - an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore. United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies - the nerd, the slacker, the athlete, and the perfect student - band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. This diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Ludwig's debut Pretty Crooked and was excited to read this stand-alone title from her. I'm always amazed at authors who can write about spy missions or heists so effectively. They're some of my favorite books to read because it just seems so cool. This story was even more intriguing because it puts us into the minds of four very different teens as they begin to work together to pull this whole thing off. The climax is amazing and throws in a crazy curveball that I didn't see coming. The characters too are so well-written; in the summary and in the book, they have their roles to fill but they are all much more than what the public perceives them to be.

Overall, a quick, compelling read from Ludwig. I can't wait to read more from her (and actually have the sequel to Pretty Crooked, called Pretty Sly, on my TBR shelf already) and I definitely recommend this book if you love spy/heist novels like I do.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans
"It’s been four months since Felicia saved Level 2 from the Morati, the corrupted angels who trapped her and her boyfriend, Neil, in the afterlife. Now, she and Neil are finally ready to move on to the mysterious Level 3, an afterlife training facility where humans pick a career to pursue until they supposedly retire to the next level.

Shortly after arriving, Felicia learns some shocking truths about her life that make her question everything. Neil wants to focus on the future, but Felicia insists on looking for answers about her past. Just when Felicia thinks things can’t get any more complicated, deadly explosions begin to rock Level 3, and Julian—her charming former love who might still be aligned with the Morati—reappears.

Felicia has a choice: Will she do everything in her power to expose the Morati and end the destruction of Level 3, even if it means never knowing who she really is? Or will she chase after the desires of her heart and risk losing her past humanity, her present afterlife, and a future with Neil?"- summary from Amazon

The Memory of After (aka Level 2) was a wonderful debut and pretty much after reading the final page, I was so excited to read the sequel. It did not disappoint. There's a lot to love here- the new afterlife setting and rules, the suspense of figuring out what's going on with the Morati infiltration, the continued relationship between Felicia and Neil, as well as getting to know new characters Megan (aka Felicia's best friend from Earth) and Brady (introduced in his own fantastic story in The Best Things in Death anthology). I did wish we could see a little more of Brady but perhaps I will just pester Appelhans to write more memories from him.

There's definitely conclusion to this newest installment so fans don't need to worry about a cliffhanger ending, but it does give the impression that it could go on, which I kind of hope it does. I love being in this world and with these characters. Regardless, I will follow Appelhans wherever she goes with her follow-up novels. If you've not read this duology yet, do so now; it's such a breath of fresh air in the YA market with an intriguing concept and compelling characters.

FTC: Received signed ARC from the author (thanks Lenore!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Art of Secrets by James Klise

The Art of Secrets by James Klise
"When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba’s Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Should Saba’s family have all that money? Or should it go to the students who found the art? Or to the school? And just what caused that fire?

Greed, jealousy, and suspicion create an increasingly tangled web as students and teachers alike debate who should get the money and begin to point fingers and make accusations. The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents."- summary from Amazon

I loved Klise's debut (Love Drugged) and was so excited to see that my library had a copy of his follow-up novel. It's a different type of story from him; this book has many different perspectives and, like the summary says, it's told through a variety of ways- journal entries, interviews, articles, etc. It's an extremely interesting and compelling read that propelled me through the book very quickly. Klise inhabits each of these characters with ease and writes realistically for each of them, though everyone is of different backgrounds, ages, etc.

Overall, a fantastic second novel from Klise, and I'm excited to see what he does next. If you haven't read either of his books yet, do so now!

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
"found.

Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get back Isabel Culpeper. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her.

lost.

Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes. But what's the point? What is there to win?

sinner.

Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to love each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored this new book featuring Cole and Isabel from the Shiver trilogy. I loved getting back into their world and seeing them in a new setting- Los Angeles. There's a lot keeping them apart, and Stiefvater does a wonderful job illustrating that; there's a lot of realistic issues between them (not just the whole werewolf thing, though that is a big part too). They both have been hurt in the past by other lovers, each other, and their own families; it becomes hard to overcome those things and be vulnerable with someone else. Stiefvater writes their relationship so well, which makes the reader really root for them. And for fans of the series, the reader is given a glimpse into what's been going on with Sam and Grace as well, which is nice to see.

Overall, a fantastic new entry and ending to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I highly recommend it, and you can also read it without really having read the previous three books.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.