Book Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Thursday, September 18, 2014

As you are all aware, i swim for oceans always has been and always will be a young adult book blog. However, I was recently approached by Paper Lantern Lit to share veteran YA author, Lauren Oliver's, new adult novel, Rooms. I'm all about expanding my reading horizons, and I've been a fan of Ms. Oliver's work for some time, so it wasn't a stretch for me to read this one. And, my friends, if you read all genres, you certainly won't be disappointed! 

Buy Rooms. Find Rooms on Goodreads. Follow Lauren on Twitter. Visit Lauren's Website

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
The beauty of Ms. Oliver's novels is that she has an intricate ability to weave together the living and the dead into a mesmerizing tale that transcends your average ghost story. In a typical ghost story, we have the worlds of the living and the dead painted very clearly in black and white. Rooms, however, presents readers with a unique sort of story that intertwines the two into a bleak, twisted and alluring palette of grey areas. Not necessarily the fastest-paced, it's a bit of a slow-burning book that worms its way into your soul, slowly building tension and suspense along the way.

In terms of characterization, Rooms soars. Caroline is drowning her sorrows in copious amounts of alcohol and Minna does the same, filling the void with a temporary relief. Trenton is probably the largest of the characters with a multitude of layers slowly unfurling as the story progresses. He can see beyond the living, too, which makes him perhaps the most interesting, as well as the most broken. Through him, we see this richly bleak world come alive, spiral out of control and slowly but surely be forced into the light.

It must be said that even with our ghosts, Alice and Sandra, we're not reading your typical horror-filled ghost story. Rather, it's largely atmospheric and introspective, analyzing the depth of human emotions and that void that one feels when they are trapped in a place from which they can't find their way out. In this way, Rooms steps out of the familiar young adult feel that Ms. Oliver's novels have always had. By delving deeper into the backstories of each of our characters and how their lives intersect, the novel plays out beautifully, if a bit tediously.

In the end though, I can truly appreciate Ms. Oliver's take on adult fiction, and I have to say that it was extremely well done. Evocative and powerful, this 11-part story houses many rooms and many different and imaginative bits that all come together for a powerful end. While not wrapped up as neatly as some might hope, I appreciate the somewhat open end, and I look forward to her next take on adult fiction. I give it a very strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of Ms. Oliver's, as well as those who enjoy adult mysteries and ghost stories

The Good Sister by Jamie Kain Review

Monday, September 15, 2014

Title: The Good Sister
Author: Jamie Kain (Twitter)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher

The Kinsey sisters live in an unconventional world. Their parents are former flower-children who still don’t believe in rules. Their small, Northern California town is filled with free spirits and damaged souls seeking refuge from the real world. Without the anchor of authority, the three girls are adrift and have only each other to rely on.

Rachel is wild. Asha is lost. Sarah, the good sister, is the glue that holds them together. But the forces of a mysterious fate have taken Sarah’s life in a sudden and puzzling accident, sending her already fractured family into a tailspin of grief and confusion. Asha has questions. Rachel has secrets. And Sarah, waking up in the afterlife, must piece together how she got there.
What I love about a good contemporary novel is that it can often transcend the genre and really speak to fans of all genres. It's a tricky feat balancing those abilities and still managing to present a cohesive storyline though, so I'm always a bit wary when a novel surfaces and suggests that it might do just that. The Good Sister by Jamie Kain is a novel that took me by surprise in a few ways - not the least of which is the fact that it looked like an adult novel to me before I read the premise. I was also surprised to see a novel written in the vein of Jodi Picoult for the younger lot. Offering readers a true taste of contemporary - full of life, love, drama and family - it's the type of book that will linger with you.

Multiple points of view are often quite tricky for me, in large part because they offer a bunch of little tastes but never seem to fulfill me entirely. The Good Sister ups the ante, giving us three distinct points of view - one for each of the sisters. Naturally, I was concerned that this would make the story less cohesive and more jumbled. I was surprised, however, to find that it actually knit the seams of the story together very nicely, giving us a glimpse into the minds of Rachel, Asha and Sarah. We seem to work through the story in a less-than-chronological order at times, and we're able to see their cohesive family unit splinter and fragment apart, all the while understanding the ties that bind and those that separate them in the end. It's powerful, emotional and tragic in the most beautiful of ways. 

I think what kept me riveted throughout the novel though was just how dysfunctional the family was. At times, I wanted to shake their mother out of her flower-child demeanor to see just how broken her living daughters were. I wanted their absent father to understand how his cold veneer hardened their broken hearts and helped shatter their family unit. The Good Sister made me uncomfortable…plain and simple. It's like watching a train wreck before your eyes and feeling like you're simply a casual bystander. The reason it managed to captivate me though is the fact that these three girls - all so vastly different - longed for one thing. They wanted peace, and that peace is hard to come by.

There is a mystery element to The Good Sister that's sort of over-arching throughout the plot, and it's woven nicely through the drama and through each sister's perspective. I worried it might distract me, but it actually served to enhance the story in the end and, despite the fact that these Rachel and Asha broke my heart with their broken selves, I was invested from start to finish. The only flaw to the story that I found is that, while it has a conclusive ending, I think it could have been enhanced upon, and I still wanted more. In the end though, I give it a definitive 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda Review

Friday, September 12, 2014

Title: Learning Not to Drown
Author: Anna Shinoda (Twitter)
Publisher: Atheneum BYR
Publish Date: April 1, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

Family secrets cut to the bone in this mesmerizing debut novel about a teen whose drug-addicted brother is the prodigal son one time too many. There is a pecking order to every family. Seventeen-year old Clare is the overprotected baby; Peter is the typical, rebellious middle child; and Luke is the oldest, the can’t-do-wrong favorite. To their mother, they are a normal, happy family.

To Clare, they are a family on the verge of disaster. Clare: the ambitious striver; Peter: the angry ticking time bomb; and Luke: a drug-addicted convicted felon who has been in and out of jail for as long as Clare can remember—and who has always been bailed out by their parents.

Clare loves Luke, but life as his sister hasn’t been easy. And when he comes home (again), she wants to believe this time will be different (again). Yet when the truths behind his arrests begin to surface, everything Clare knows is shaken to its core. And then Luke is arrested. Again. Except this time is different, because Clare’s mom does the unthinkable on Luke’s behalf, and Clare has to decide whether turning her back on family is a selfish act…or the only way to keep from drowning along with them.
I'm amazed that this one flew so under the radar for so long for me because pretty much all readers of my blog can attest to the fact that I love gritty contemporary fiction. And, Learning Not to Drown, is pretty much that in a nutshell. Raw, evocative, emotional and real, it's the type of novel that sears deep into your soul, imprinting itself there long after you've finished it. By no means an easy read, it's the type of book that will cut you to the bone, but if you let it, it will also allow you to heal in ways you never thought possible. Anna Shinoda has created a nearly mesmerizing tale of family, friendships and navigating the harsh realities of life with this one - and it's amazing.

Learning Not to Drown got off to a bit of a rocky start for me. In books like these, it's often easy to find that one character you can empathize with, while everyone else seems to fall by the wayside, and this was no exception. I really struggled with Clare's parents at first. There was such a tenuous, frazzled reality to their existence, and it frustrated me to see that they weren't being what I believe the ideal parents to be - especially with all they were going through. As the book progressed though, we began to peel back those layers and understand why they were the way they were, and it made it easier to stomach their behavior - if not altogether accept it.

One thing that really stood out for me about Learning Not to Drown though was Skeleton. Throughout the novel, we're fully comprehending the fact that there are many, many skeletons in the Tovin's closets, but there is a near-visceral representation of these skeletons in Skeleton. It brings these shadows to light, and the beauty in the character of Skeleton is that he is so very, very real. Every aspect of his being is tangible - even if he is an intangible entity - and it serves to heighten the understanding and empathy that readers will have for Clare and her circumstance. And, for all intents and purposes, Clare is every bit the heroine. She, like Skeleton, goes through an immense journey from the shadows to the light, and it's a powerful one that you'll be pleasantly surprised reading.

Learning Not to Drown shifts back and forth between the past and present tense, which is a device that doesn't usually work for me. I find it to create a bit of a haphazard maze in most cases, and that frustrates me. In this case though, Ms. Shinoda carefully sets the stage through each flashback, offering us greater insight into how and why Clare and her family got to the place they are in today. It never felt jumpy or offbeat, instead offering us a glimmer of greater understand - however painful that might have been.

Overall, I can't believe I held off reading this one for so long. It's exactly the type of contemporary novel that I like to read because it truly investigates the depth of the human condition, familial relationships and survival. And, what's more, I don't think it's the type of book that is solely for one age group. It will work for the younger lot, but adults will also get a greater appreciation and understanding from the multitude of layers that Ms. Shinoda has created. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of contemporary fiction - both YA and adult.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: I'll Meet You There

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I remember when I read Something Real by Heather Demetrios, and I didn't really expect anything from it at all. The cover didn't speak to me, I thought it wouldn't be very deep, and yet it captivated me from the start,  and it catapulted its way to being one of my all-time favourite contemporary stories in the YA genre. So, I'm on the lookout for stories like that these days, and where better to look than at a new title from Ms. Demetrios herself?

Title: I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios (Twitter)
Publisher: Henry Holt BYR
Publish Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 400

If seventeen-year-old Skyler Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage-months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings them together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
I'm all about gritty novels that capture reality - and hey, if they pepper in a little romance, that can't hurt either, right? The beauty of Ms. Demetrios's writing is that she can make the most mundane of circumstances come to life, and she makes her characters just sing with reality, heart and honesty. That's why I'm completely and utterly sold on I'll Meet You There. Is the cover necessarily something to write home about? No, but I have a feeling that it suits the novel, and that the book will definitely be something to keep on my favourite shelf. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Science Fiction Novels

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

More than a few times now, I've professed my love for the science fiction genre on this blog. While I might have been slacking at posting lately, friends, I haven't slacked on reading, and I swear there are so many talented sci-fi writers out there that are basically unheard of. And, especially, in a world of YA fiction, it's easy to get lost in the crowd. Here are ten YA sci-fis books that are highly underrated…and should probably be read as soon as possible!

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker. Fair Coin by E.C. Myers. One by Leigh Ann Kopans.

Scan by Walter Jury & Sarah Fine. False Memory by Dan Krokos. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris.

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. The Well's End by Seth Fishman. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle.

All of these books surprised me in the best possible way, and yet all of them have lacked the hype I've seen some of my least favourite series receive. It's my true hope that, someday, all readers will give these gems a chance because they have a very, very special place in my heart. What sci-fi books have you read that you think are significantly underrated?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts Review

Monday, September 8, 2014

Title: The Bodies We Wear
Author: Jeyn Roberts (Twitter)
Publisher: Knopf BYR
Publish Date: September 23, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned story that involves revenge, love and death. Right? These three elements hold so much power that they're enough to ignite a plot from mere ashes and really get readers involved in a story. And, The Bodies We Wear, promises readers all that and more. With a subplot of revenge, a protagonist hell-bent on righting the wrongs done to her and her friend in the past and a sinister drug that seems harmless but creates havoc, it's the picture-perfect setup for a science-fiction novel. Author, Jeyn Roberts, reels us into a world that's dark and evocative, but eerie in its secrecy, luring us into the fold and leaving us wondering how we'll ever escape.

The Bodies We Wear, essentially, lays out the framework for a pretty powerful sci-fi novel that should, based on the synopsis, be action-packed and gripping. I found, however, that it felt a bit flat once I got into the story. Yes, that picture-perfect framework is there, and it's a pretty incredible setup for a plot, but in terms of execution, I felt that it lacked a little bit of the oomph that I'd really hoped for. From the beginning, we're shown a protagonist who has had pretty much every bad thing that could happen to her actually happen, and I really wanted to see Faye take the bull by the horns and seek out the revenge. And yes, essentially, she did. But the voice that we're given for Faye felt a bit hollow, and instead of feeling fervor and passion in her story, I just felt a bit humdrum about it all. I guess, in the end, it felt like I was being shown her story, rather than experiencing it through her eyes. 

In a novel like The Bodies We Wear, I also expect certain plot devices to be used to "throw us off the trail" so to speak. It's those elements that keep me turning page after page, hoping to uncover the true nature of the sinister secret within Faye's world. Unfortunately though, these little revelations felt predictable and inauthentic, which made the plot feel more disingenuous than powerful. And, then we have Chael, who is supposed to be this beacon of honesty in the story - the one that reveals those darker elements that we can't wait to find out. But Chael turns out to be someone that I didn't really expect him to be and, unfortunately, in a way that I felt somewhat threw off the sincerity of the novel. 

Overall, I loved the concept of Heam, the consequences of such a drug and the underlying religious implications of the drug, but it seemed as though the drug and the story played second fiddle to a dry and cloying narrative. Had I felt more invested in Faye's voice, The Bodies We Wear might have worked for me, but in the end, I felt more let down than anything else. I give it a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to to those who enjoy YA, especially those who like lighter science fiction stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien Review

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien (Twitter)
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publish Date: September 16, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Pages: 432
Source: 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.
I'm all about a good science fiction novel. There's something about an author being able to spin new and foreign worlds into a concept that's believable and almost tangible that makes the genre utterly appealing. So, naturally, The Vault of Dreamers was right up my alley. Offering a pretty original concept - one that really appealed to me, at that - I was thrilled to pick this one up, namely because it's by Caragh M. O'Brien, author of the popular Birthmarked series. Tense, original and gripping, it's the type of book that will captivate you to the very end, all the while making you question your sanity, as well.

I have to admit that I'm a little bit torn on my overall opinion of The Vault of Dreamers in the end though. It must be said that the plot really is incredibly original. The concept of dream seeding and mining is a unique one, but I almost felt as though the novel had too many elements going at once, so a bit of the focus was lost along the way. By adding in the element of a reality show, I felt a twinge of The Hunger Games, but it also didn't really feel like a fully-fleshed out concept. I had a lot of questions as the sci-fi elements developed as to how specific scenes didn't appear on the reality show, how viewers simply bought the Forge School vision and why, exactly, this school was the only place to send future students. Furthermore, we're presented with what seems like a bit of a destitute future world outside of the school, but it's hardly explored, so the novel feels very closed off and isolated.

Rosie, our main character, however, is what managed to keep me sold on The Vault of Dreamers throughout. She was feisty, hot-headed and stubborn, but she also had a fierce sense of devotion to her family at home and a rock-solid sense of self that really resonated. While there were elements of progression throughout the novel that threw me a little bit - talking to voices, etc. - Rosie, herself, never wavered, and I could really appreciate the fact that we had a strong, resilient protagonist. There is an element of romance to this novel that threw me a bit though because I'm not sure I ever really got to know our love interest, Linus. We get to see a fast-paced romance in a disordered plot with a female MC that heavily overshadows our love interest, and it just fell a bit flat.

In the end, I feel incredibly torn on how to actually rate The Vault of Dreamers. In terms of setting up a new series with a great cliffhanger, it did a great job reeling me in at the end, but it also left a lot open to assumptions and interpretations, as well. There's something to be said for a lack of info-dumping, but this was one of those novels that I feel needed a bit more of a streamlined focus to succeed. And, unfortunately, it didn't have that. In the end, I give it a 3 out of 5, and I hope to see more of it from future books. I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy science-fiction and dystopian novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson Review

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Title: Don't Touch
Author: Rachel M. Wilson (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
Books that tackle mental illness head-on tend to either really work well or fail miserably. Honestly, they're risky, if only because there are so many differing opinions, misconceptions and preconceived notions about what, exactly, these diseases entail. And so, when I began Don't Touch, I went in with an open mind and a very, very guarded heart. Tackling OCD and anxiety head-on, author Rachel M. Wilson takes a daring approach and gives readers what they really want - a no holds-barred look at the psychological ramifications and repercussions of such mental illnesses - all the while giving us characters whom we can love and respect.

Caddie was the perfect protagonist for this story. She offered us a refreshingly honest take on her condition, and her anxiety was played out perfectly on each and every page. As someone who has dealt with extreme anxiety in my life, I could understand the trepidation she felt, and each jarring, emotional moment rang increasingly true throughout the story. Moreover, Ms. Wilson makes certain that we're not just watching Caddie's journey from afar. We're put in Caddie's shoes, and we feel the enormity and sheer weight of this crippling disorder that plays out on her mind all the time. It's a powerful writing device, and I have to admit that it was done so well, that I actually had quite some anxiety reading the more intense moments of the novel. Heavily immersive, Don't Touch really worked for me on that level.

The plot of Don't Touch moved a little slower than I normally liked, but for the most part, it worked. This wasn't the type of story where I needed every little moment to build into some awe-inspiring crescendo. Rather, it was in those subtle moments and minute intricacies that we saw the depth of Caddie's desire to get better, the graciousness and heart of Oscar and the beauty of Peter's persona. I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to contemporary romance novels, but I have to say that Ms. Wilson balanced this one really well. A huge part of the teenage existence is that insane desire to feel a first love, and watching Caddie grapple with the desire to manifest her emotions was really powerful. In turn, Peter was the picture-perfect love interest, but he offered us depth and a real strength of character, to boot. Honestly, he's one of my new favourite YA love interests.

Don't Touch has flown relatively under the radar in many of the blog circles I've seen, but I do hope that this underrated novel finds its niche because it is really, really well done. Ms. Wilson should be commended for the sincerity of her novel, as well as the depth and understanding of both anxiety and OCD. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary and light romance novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Glass Arrow

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'll be the first one to admit that the dystopian genre seems a bit tired these days. I'll also be the first one to say that I can't resist a good dystopian synopsis though! There's something about totally broken worlds and characters seeking redemption that just speaks to my soul. I just can't help it. And so, yet again, I'm adding a dystopian to my TBR pile.

Title: The Glass Arrow
Author: Kristen Simmons (Twitter)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publish Date: February 10, 2015
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 336

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.
They had me at the first comparison, to be completely honest. Blood Red Road was a quick favourite of mine, and to see anything in that vein would be absolutely remarkable. I also have to say that Aya sounds like the type of heroine I could really root for. She seems scrappy, and isn't that the sort of empowering YA female we all need? Maybe, just maybe, this one will be able to avoid the love triangle/damsel in distress tropes and we'll get that new dystopian winner we've all be craving! Plus, hell, I'll read anything Ms. Simmons writes. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Cover Reveal: The Dark Water by Seth Fishman

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You might recall that earlier this year, I had the amazing opportunity to read and review The Well's End by Seth Fishman. It was one of those stories that was eerie, a little bit freaky and a whole lot suspenseful from start to finish. And, to be honest, when I closed the book on the last page, I felt a little bit cheated because, well, I had to know more. And, my friends, now we do! I'm so excited today to give you guys an exclusive first look at the (stunning) cover of The Dark Water

To escape Blake Sutton’s army at the end of the enthralling The Well’s End, Mia and her friends jump into the newly gurgling fountain of youth and swim to its very bottom. When they resurface, an astounding world awaits them—an entire underground civilization of humans, the Keepers of the Well.

But instead of finding a safe haven, Mia and her gang are quickly embroiled in a dangerous, high-stakes battle royale. If Mia wants to save everyone she loves and make it back home alive, she’s got to get to the water’s Source before Sutton and his troops, who are still hot on her trail.
The Dark Water by Seth Fishman. Publisher: Putnam Juvenile. Publish Date: March 3, 2015. Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Thriller.

And now, a giveaway! The generous folks over at Putnam Juvenile have offered up one free ARC of The Dark Water, so that you can get a glimpse of this awesome sequel in all its glory firsthand! The rules are simple. This giveaway will end promptly at midnight EST on 8/26/14. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win…good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters Review

Monday, August 18, 2014

Title: The Cure for Dreaming
Author: Cat Winters (Twitter)
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publish Date: October 14, 2014
Genre: YA, Historical Fantasy
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud.

These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.
Cat Winters is the type of author who, when she crafts a new novel, you can't help but stand up and take notice. After reading The Cure for Dreaming, I am completely certain of this. It's no secret that I'm a fan of paranormal novels, and I've always loved historical fiction, but there's something about this novel that creates such a rich, intoxicating blend of the two that just captures you wholeheartedly. This is the type of novel that whisks you back to another time and place, but it gives you the a rich added layer by adding that deceitful paranormal element that really makes you think twice. Done this beautifully though, you can't help but be mesmerized and under its spell, as well.

The Cure for Dreaming was such a multi-faceted novel that it's truly difficult to break it down into the story structure, but in terms of plot, it's one of the most original and fascinating I've read in a long while. We're given a young protagonist who dreams of a better life, a father who is so afraid of losing his only daughter that he'll manipulate her into staying quiet and a mysterious hypnotist who could change everything forever. I was completely enthralled by how vivid and real this time period seemed, and I was thoroughly impressed by the detail that Ms. Winters put into her story. We weren't simply offered a time period with no real backing. Rather, the time and place are as powerful as the characters themselves - oppressive, overbearing and the driving force of change in our characters' lives. By offering us this black and white backdrop with characters full of life and colour, we can see these stark contrasts in all their glory.

Olivia was the perfect heroine for this story. Rather than painting her simply as a rebellious teen with lofty dreams, we see her as this multi-faceted young lady with dreams of more than what she's privy to in her everyday life. In start contrast, we're given her father, rigid and uptight, who's both unwilling and unable to see the beauty of his daughter's dreams and instead hires a hypnotist to cure her of her dreams of grandeur. I wanted so badly to hate him throughout the entire novel, but there was a deep-seeded sadness within him that sort of spoke to me through it all. And, of course, The Cure for Dreaming gives us Henri, our hypnotist who sets the story in motion. There was something beautiful, dark and mysterious about his character, but as his relationship and the truth of his plan is unraveled, we can't help but be mesmerized.

The Cure for Dreaming is the type of story that will ultimately suck you in from start to finish. Ms. Winters does an incredible job, as usual, of painting the perfect setup for well-developed characters to bloom and flourish through the story. And, in the end, it really won me over from start to finish. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal and historical fiction stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book. 

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno Review

Friday, August 15, 2014

Title: The Half Life of Molly Pierce
Author: Katrina Leno (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch. You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes. You live and you remember. Me, I live and I forget. But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.
There's something about a good psychological mystery that keeps you thinking about the book long after you've closed the last page. And, in all honesty, coming by such novels in the young adult realm is quite the chance occurrence, so when I heard about The Half Life of Molly Pierce, I was decidedly intrigued. Author, Katrina Leno, gives us a character and a scenario that we've seen on the big screen before, but I've never seen accomplished well in novels. Giving us a fragmented past, a broken present and an uncertain future, we're asked to get onboard and follow the thrill ride that is Molly's life. I can honestly say it's hard not to comply.

Molly was possibly one of the most refreshing protagonists I've had the pleasure of following in a long time. The Half Life of Molly Pierce offers us a sort of stream of consciousness type of storyline, and it gives a delicious, if confusing, look into her life, her mind and her thoughts. Everything about Molly is so asymmetrical. Nothing seems to fit into the mold that is her life, and yet she has a strong will and a temperament about her that makes us want to solve the mystery with her. Perhaps the strongest element of her character, however, is her sense of self. Even though everything seemed to be consistently unraveling around her, or working against her, she knew that she had a mission, and she never lost sight of that, which was refreshing.

Perhaps the biggest strength of the novel, however, is Ms. Leno's ability to truly capture the heart of this mystery and what makes it so very psychological. From the start, I'd known that The Half Life of Molly Pierce was being loosely touted as the younger literary version of Memento, and that intrigued me. Being able to unravel a mystery about a layered character that may or may not be all there at all times is infuriatingly intriguing and puzzling. And, to be honest, I as worried that Ms. Leno would dumb it down for the younger viewers. I was pleased to be able to read between the lines and really understand how complex Molly was as a character. It's really quite remarkable to read a psychological mystery that is layered enough to keep me interested until the end.

If I could point out one flaw in the novel it was simply that I guessed the mystery in the end - possibly because I knew the concept of Memento. All that said though, I was really impressed by the depth that Ms. Leno managed to convey through The Half Life of Molly Pierce, as well as the characters she created, because they all shone in their own way. I give this novel a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy psychological mysteries and thrillers

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Stars Never Rise

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

If you're like me and you've been in a bit of a paranormal funk as of late, you're probably searching for the next gem that'll break you out of that mold. From what I can see, it looks like 2015 is going to have a bit of a resurgence of amazing young adult paranormal novels that, I truly hope, will break the previous mold that was set by the likes of Twilight, etcetera. Here's hoping!

Title: The Stars Never Rise
Author: Rachel Vincent (Twitter)
Publisher: Delacorte
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.
In all truth, I've read only a handful of urban fantasy novels. With a twist of paranormal activity and what seems like a pretty badass protagonist, you'd best believe that The Stars Never Rise is hot on my must-read list though. There's something awesomely different about this one - perhaps it's the exorcisms and demons that remind me a bit of Supernatural (still the world's best show, kids) - and I'm loving it. I must read this one. I must read it now. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It might just be me, but there are some books that I've had on my shelf that, for whatever reason, I just can't seem to bring myself to read them. More often than not, it's because I'm afraid I'll be the sole person that won't enjoy them. Or, alternatively, they're those series that you loved, but you're afraid maybe dragged on a little bit too long. Then, there's the ones that reviewers simply shot down and made me too wary to even start them. They're rare, but they're there, and like it or not…there are a bunch of books on my shelf that I've yet to read…here are just ten of them.

As an aside, I love this series. Is it the best written? No, but it sure is entertaining. Here's the thing though…I got closure with the third book. I'm not sure I can go any further.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater - I read the first two books, but I'm one of the few that didn't enjoy this series.
Elixir by Hilary Duff - I hear that she had a ghostwriter write the entire thing, and that ruined it for me.
Embers & Echoes by Karsten Knight - While I enjoyed the first book, I wasn't sold enough to continue on.

Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I loved Anna…what if this one doesn't live up?
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger - I'm one of the few that didn't like The Duff. I worry this might follow suit.
Hunger by Michael Grant - I enjoyed Gone, but I'm not sure I loved it enough to read on.
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout - With a fan following like this, what if I'm the only one that hates it?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

After the End by Amy Plum Review

Monday, August 11, 2014

Title: After the End
Author: Amy Plum (Twitter)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: May 6, 2014
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there. At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
It's taken me a long time to both read and review After the End, in large part because I feel like the dystopian genre, although downright entertaining at times, has been a bit overplayed in the past couple of years. I was, however, intrigued by the premise of the novel because it seems so very different from the dystopian novels I've read as of late. If anything, it offers us a faux dystopian, which is remarkable because, if done right, we'd have the chance to see just how powerful those behind it would have to be…and why they did it. With veteran author, Amy Plum, at the helm of this one, I knew that I would love the writing, so I just needed to see if I would actually love the story, as well.

In terms of characterization, I absolutely loved how Juneau and Miles were complete opposites. Juneau lived in a society that believed they lived after the destruction of World War III. Miles, on the other hand, lives a fairly average and boring existence in his normal, everyday life and when their paths collided I knew that we were in for a treat. There was a beautiful dichotomy to the fact that they both thought the other was nuts. While Juneau's point of view was confused, but articulate, we saw Miles' as bewildered and just going along for the ride. There are massive trust issues that course through their interactions, as well, which kept the tension alive throughout After the End - especially because these two worlds have collided in a way that seems entirely implausible and chaotic.

The plot's pacing, however, was a different ballgame for me. After the End starts with a bang, and sets off at a rapid pace, propelling us on this journey to discover the nature of Juneau's world vs. Miles' world. And, for the first third of the book, I found myself unable to stop reading. However, as the story begins to evolve into a bigger picture where Miles and Juneau's lives intersect, it becomes a bit of a roadtrip story that's much more introspective than action-filled. I wanted more from those chapters, simply because I felt that they lagged after such an impressive start. Luckily, however, the pace picks back up in the end, and we're propelled towards a grand conclusion that definitely sets the stage for future installments.

In the end though, I have very mixed feelings about After the End. On the one hand, I loved the utterly original take on the dystopian genre, and I enjoyed how vastly different our two main characters were. On the other hand though, I wanted a little more consistency throughout, and I felt a bit like this novel was setting us up for future drama. In the end, that's great, but it tends to throw off my interest in the meat of the story a bit. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dystopian and sci-fi novels. 

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre Review

Friday, August 8, 2014

Title: Mortal Danger
Author: Ann Aguirre (Twitter)
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: August 5, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher

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...
I've been pondering on how to review this one for several days now, mostly because we all know how much I enjoy the dark and twisty stories. Mortal Danger, however, presents a unique twist onto such stories adding a very intriguing, if a bit vague, paranormal element to the mix. Author, Ann Aguirre, gives readers a lot more than they necessarily have bargained for. Giving readers a heavy-handed dose of high school reality with a chance not to just get angry - but to get even - it's the type of story that you want to get on board for…but you want to be careful not to lose yourself in the vengeance, as well.

Edie was a fantastic character from the start for me. I felt that her pain, her despair and her inner turmoil were extremely real and tangible. It was so real, in fact, that I admired the fact that she was still able to think somewhat coherently because such smothering anger and distress can be all-consuming. Yet, underneath it all, we were still able to see how incredibly intelligent and logical she was, and that was by far her most redeeming character trait. Edie knows that Kian's offer can't be as simple as it sounds, and she understands that there are consequences. For a girl at the end of her rope to logically process and accept that definitely helped me become further invested in her plight, simply because she wasn't the oblivious and blind heroine.

Kian, on the other hand, remains a bit of an enigma to me long after closing the last page of the book. On the surface, I can tell you that he's handsome - dangerously so - and he has a sort of stoic power that resonates from the page. There's a sinister sort of power lurking in the background of his being that made it inherently difficult to trust him, though it's clear that he's allied with Edie. However, Mortal Danger is careful never to reveal too much, and we don't really understand the driving force(s) behind him, the deal and the actions that Edie is going to go through.

In terms of the plot, I'll be honest and say that I thought this was going to be a pretty straightforward revenge novel. The synopsis, as well as the title, imply that the underlying theme of Mortal Danger is the actual act of revenge that Edie will be seeking. I was surprised to find that there was a new sort of depth to the plot though, which offered us more than a cut-and-dried approach to one intelligent teen girl seeking to right the wrongs previously done to her. And, in the end, that really won me over. While, yes, we're privy to elements of revenge, we instead watch in awe as Edie manages to regain power and composure through the novel and, if anything, that's the best revenge I could have imagined for a first installment in a series like this.

Overall, despite the fact that I'd hoped to learn more about the driving powers behind Kian and Edie's pact, I have to say that this book thoroughly entertained and captivated me. It's the type of novel that offers us a surprising amount of depth when we don't necessarily expect it. I give it a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who like paranormal stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: Monstrous

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fantasy, my friends, is on the rise. While it's kind of a hit or miss sort of genre for me, when it's done really well, I tend to fawn over the book for years - much like I do for sci-fi novels. I honestly love worlds that abound with witches, wizards, magic, other realms and dark creatures bent on vengeance. So, naturally, when I find a book that piques my interest, you'd better believe it becomes a future favourite immediately!

Title: Monstrous
Author: MarcyKate Connolly (Twitter)
Publisher: Harper Children's
Publish Date: February 10, 2015
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Pages: 432

The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym’s life.
Monstrous is supposedly reminiscent by the tales of the Brothers Grimm, as well as Frankenstein, which has me positively salivating over it. There seems to be this beautiful blend of rich drama, fantastic creatures and an overarching story of good vs. evil - all of which speaks to my soul. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the cover is simply to die for. It says this one is good for the upper middle-grade crowd, as well, but so was Harry Potter, so I'm hardly concerned. Sign me up! What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Give First-Time Readers of Science Fiction

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's no secret that science fiction has long been a favorite genre of mine. There's something about these highly implausible, but eerily formidable worlds of technology, that make my heart skip a beat. I've long speculated that science fiction is the type of genre that's incredibly difficult to write, not always the easiest to read, but when done well, it's some of the best stuff out there. So, without further ado, here are the top ten books I'd recommend to someone who's never read a science fiction novel before.

Imposter by Susanne Winnacker. One by Leigh Ann Kopans. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang.

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. Fair Coin by E.C. Myers.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle. Minder by Kate Kaynak.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano Review

Monday, August 4, 2014

Title: Nearly Gone
Author: Elle Cosimano (Twitter)
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Publish Date: March 25, 2014
Genre: YA, Paranormal Mystery
Pages: 388
Source: Personal Copy

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance...on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.
Nearly Gone had me from the first touch of the synopsis - being touted as Bones meets Fringe. There's pretty much no combination in the entire world that could sound more enticing than that. So, naturally, I was hooked. And, in terms of follow-through, I must say that this is the type of novel that has fantastic potential in many regards. Elle Cosimano crafted a story with a remarkable heroine in whom we can all find bits and pieces of ourselves, a plot that's realistically thrilling and a storyline that will keep even the most avid of mystery fans guessing until the very end. 

Looking back at Nearly Gone, I find myself needing more time to sort of digest it - even weeks later - if only because of the many layers the novel encompasses. Much like an onion, it's the type of story that you have to peel back, layer by layer, if only to expense the meat and bones of the plot in a form which will actually make you fully understand the depth of the novel. At times though, I felt like the book had a ton of potential and almost reached that pinnacle of success, only to fall just a little bit short by resting on a more average approach to the actual plot. For example, there is a definitive paranormal aspect woven carefully throughout the novel. Unlike Fringe, however, this layer of paranormal activity didn't feel as though it actually enhanced or furthered the plot in the grand scheme of things. If anything, it was just an interesting, if mildly arbitrary element in the end.

In terms of characters though, Nearly Gone really stood out for me. Nearly, despite her different name, was every bit the heroine that I look for in a young adult novel like this one. While she comes off as a bit reckless and abrasive at times, she's also incredibly intelligent, which made her stand out from the crowd for me. I liked how hyper analytical she was about things - over-thinking them at times, even - simply because it felt very tangible and real to me. I also enjoyed that she was human and definitely had some character flaws. She looked down on a lot of people around her, and while it made her a bit heavy-handed at times, it also made her feel really real, and I could get onboard for that. Furthermore, she had a clear and distinct character arc throughout the novel, and there was definitive potential and growth there, which made me admire her even more.

Mysterious and alluring though, Nearly Gone lived up to its eerie title and cover in full. Ms. Cosimano has crafted a mystery that's layered, and multidimensional. I enjoyed the fact that the author took the time to expertly time each element and reveal, plus we got to see characters in new lights, as well as different sides to the mystery as the story unfolded. It was dramatic, tense and, despite feeling as though the paranormal element was excessive, intriguing. 

In the end, I really enjoyed Nearly Gone despite a few key elements being a little off for me. Ms. Cosimano is an excellent mystery writer, and I'll definitely be looking for more from her in the future because these are the types of stories that keep you reading on and guessing all the while. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy mysteries and light paranormal elements.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon Review

Friday, August 1, 2014

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon (Twitter)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date: August 20, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian Fantasy
Pages: 466
Source: Personal Copy

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
I'll admit that The Bone Season has been on my shelf for some time now, but I've simply put off reading it based on the vast and categorically un-streamlined reviews. From what I've seen, people seem to either love it or hate it, and I'm the type of person that hates being on one strict side or the other.  But, I was in the mood for a futuristic fantasy novel, and I knew that this was the one book that I'd eventually have to pick up because, for better or worse, it clearly elicits quite the emotion from its readers. First and foremost, I'll state that Samantha Shannon has written a masterpiece of a novel. Like it or not, the world within these pages is well-defined, beautifully paced and welcomes you into a world that's dark, alluring and mysterious.

Having such a backdrop demands that readers be given a fantastic heroine, as well, and I was pleased to see that Paige fit the bill in its entirety. Paige is a force to be reckoned with. At times quiet and pensive, but other times reckless with abandon, we get to see through this sort of dichotomy that she is a layered, complex sort of girl. Simple - she's the type of character (and person) that I'd want to get to know. Perhaps the best part of her character though was the fact that I could see a little bit of myself in her. She toys with Warden, testing the limits and bounds, but when she retreats, we see that she's caring, observant and kind, and that keeps her in our good graces.

Warden, on the other hand, stole the show for me. In theory, I should have hated him. As the enemy, I knew that this should have been in black and white for all to see, but Ms. Shannon makes it so that there is something so very enigmatic about him that we see him instead in shades of grey. Furthermore, he doesn't really fit into any specific mold or definition. He's a million things at once, but he's never quite any of them either. He's a quiet, dangerous, powerful and beautiful character that is so very rich that I have to say he might just be the highlight of the entire novel for me. Because, in the end, even though Paige is strong and resilient, Warden equally matches - and bests her - in terms of charisma.

The Bone Season was, at times, a bit overwhelming because it is so very complex, but Ms. Shannon does well in creating a scene that is memorable and vivid, capturing us and absorbing us completely. It's a task to take on though, I'll admit, and it was daunting at the start. However, it's the type of novel that has a quiet, brooding power that will overtake even the most stoic of readers if only they'll give it a chance. I give it a high 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA and upper YA, especially those who enjoy fantasy, urban fantasy and dystopian novels.


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