Scarlet Book Review

scarletTitle: Scarlet
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction, Retellings
Pages: 452
Format: Purchased Paperback

Cinder is back and trying to break out of prison—even though she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive if she does—in this second installment from Marissa Meyer.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother, or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers.

Guys. This sequel. I was so enthralled with reading it, needing to turn the page to know what happened next, that I read it in under 12 hours. That’s right: I read it in one sitting. ME. A SLOW READER. HOW. I don’t know. But anyway, that’s not the point of this review. The point of this review is to inform you: I enjoyed this more than Cinder.

When I read the first book of the saga last year I didn’t get the hype. I don’t know what it was, but I ended up putting off this sequel for a long time as a result. And now I regret not picking it up sooner because this sequel was one that drew me in, kept me on the edge of my seat, made me laugh, go “WHAT THE HELL,” and so much more.

I knew that the fairytale retelling element in this book was all about Little Red Riding Hood. I wasn’t sure how the elements of the story were going to be incorporated into this world, but I think Marissa Meyer did a really great job of showing the elements without outright saying what it was! Scarlet (other than her name) had a favorite red hoodie that her Grandmother had given her, and then there was Wolf who had a lot of surprises and secrets of his own. I also loved seeing Cinder in there (she grew on me in this book) and seeing her work at being a mechanic and use her sass and wits in many situations. She wasn’t perfect, which I appreciated. And THORNE. I LOVE HIM.

So let’s talk about some of the things that happened, yeah?

When the book started out with Scarlet in an alleyway delivering produce from her Granny’s farm – and the fact that her Grandmother had been missing – was an instant hook for me. Scarlet had a fierce love and loyalty to her grandmother that I thought was so unseen in many YA novels, so I highly appreciated it. Scarlet has a temper which she tries to control, but sometimes it slips through her fingers and she unleashes her anger on the inanimate things around her (or people, depending on the situation). I thought it was endearing. Scarlet’s resolve to find her grandmother was inspiring, honestly. Her fierce determination was a constant in this book, even when she faced betrayal and imprisonment.

Wolf was a mystery from the start. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but something in me knew that something was going to happen for him to betray Scarlet. He wasn’t anything like the “Big Bad Wolf” that I was expecting – you know, strong, distant, cold, fearless. No, he was much more timid and wary, super cautious. But he was definitely strong, that’s for sure. When circumstances unfolded and it was revealed who and what he was, I was a) shocked, and b) in disbelief. There were so many questions running through my mind and I didn’t know how to place them.

Also, I’m forever shipping Scarlet and Wolf because they’re EFFING ADORABLE, OKAY?

Anywho, then we have Cinder who I don’t remember if I was impressed with or not in the last novel. But in this novel I felt much more attached to her, like what she was fighting for, what she was struggling with and what she wanted to do not only for herself, but for others, was purposeful and I wanted to see her achieve. I loved her sarcasm and wit, and I also liked the fact that she doesn’t have complete control over her powers, that they’re so underused that she doesn’t completely understand how to use them. And that she feels guilty when she does use them. I find that makes her realer than I was expecting. I also just love the mechanic aspect of hers because a) I love female mechanics in stories, and b) I find those scenes extremely fascinating given that she’s a cyborg and can use her own body to do so many things. It’s so cool!

And then we have Captain Carswell Thorne. I love him. That is all.

No, but seriously, he was so hilarious and charming, but he was also strong and smart in his own ways, even if he did act dumb a lot of the time. Does that make sense? Either way, I thought Thorne was kind of like the much needed comedy relief in this story? He had his uses, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of what came out of his mouth was really funny. I highly appreciated him and need more of him, thanks.

Kai was struggling so much in this novel and it makes me wonder what’s going to go down in the next two books now that he’s made a decision about something huge. I’m glad to see that he still cares about Cinder despite everything that happened and despite how much he tries to deny it, even to himself. I think that his role will become greater AND I have a theory about one of his advisors. Hmm.

I was surprised to see a chapter from Queen Levana’s point of view! It was interesting to see how observatory she is and how her mind works, even in that little snippet. I’m interested to see if we’ll see more from her point of view in the next books.

The plot of the book was centrally geared around Scarlet saving her grandmother and Cinder finding Scarlet’s mother for answers. It was fast paced and definitely upped the ante of the book. I thought that the plot of the book and the dangers within them were definitely heightened given that Cinder is now a fugitive, and that the story itself was well done. I did have some questions, though, at some points where I was like, “But why are you doing that?” that had me unsure of what I wanted to rate this. Also how things took place in only a matter of days and a few certain romantic things happened (which I’m totally fine with and was glad that even the characters acknowledged the short time span of things).

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it!


P.S. I Like You Book Review

psilikeyouTitle: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Received in August Uppercase Box

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

This book was adorable and it was nothing short of what I was looking for in a contemporary novel. I found the characters to be funny and real, the plot to be fun, realistic, and fast-paced.

The story started out with Lily being distracted in Chemistry class writing down lyrics in her notebook and her teacher telling her to pay more attention and turn in notes at the end of every class. When she starts to daydream and write lyrics on the table, the next day she sees those lyrics completed and she starts writing notes back and forth from there. For a large portion of the book the mystery of who was writing the notes was well hidden and she didn’t figure it out until about half way through who it was when she saw him while she was running errands for someone.

I thought that Lily was a great character. She was awkward and funny and kind, and she loves her family unconditionally, as well as her best friend Isabel. I love that she had some quirks that allowed her to be seen in a more realistic light, like how she has a nervous habit of chatting up a storm when she’s really nervous or put in an awkward situation, or how she’ll resort to humor – even if no one gets her humor sometimes. I loved that about her. (Probably because I do the same thing.)

Having her large family have such a big presence in the book was something I wasn’t expecting, and I thought that that was such a great part of the book. Of course she thought her family was difficult and everything to live with, but as an outsider I thought that her family was fun and very entertaining. With an older sister and two younger brothers, plus both parents, her house wasn’t short on fun. I also loved the way she talked to her siblings: like she cared and was patient with them. Of course there were moments of frustration, but she still really just showed how much she cared, and that they cared back, and I loved it.

Cade was interesting because when I thought he was being an arrogant dude, trying to make jokes and be humorous, it was his way of trying to make situations better for others. He has just as much of a big heart for people as Lily does, which makes my own heart warm. Not only that, but even during their fights I could tell that he wasn’t totally in it, and that there was something he wanted to say – especially as time went on. He was kind and funny just like Lily, a very great match for her.

Of course that’s not to say neither has their faults. Even when they fought and when their anger was explained, I still was kind of confused as to why they fought to begin with. Maybe it wasn’t explained, or it was and I missed it, but I thought that the hate-to-love romance that happened was gradual, realistic, and the cutest thing ever. *insert fangirl squeal*

I also appreciated the friendship between Lily and Isabel in here because I don’t often see YA friendships between characters stem out more than just a side role. But Isabel played a big role in Lily’s life and Lily often said that Isabel was much more important than some of the things that were going on, which was awesome.

And there was of course mini dramas here and there with the letters, another girl, and even with Isabel, but I like how things resolved themselves and how each character worked to fight for the important relationships to stay intact. It was mature of them all, and I was glad to see that.

I thought that this book was very adorable and that you should definitely check it out if you’re looking for a cute contemporary to read anytime soon.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

Illuminae Book Review

illuminaeTitle: Illuminae
Series: Illuminae Files #1
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 599
Format: Purchased Hardcover

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

This book was fantastic! From the formatting to the story, the characters, everything was just brilliant and it quickly became one of my top three favorite books I’ve read this year.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first when into the book because I knew the format was extremely different to any other book I’ve read before as it’s told in IMs, case files, video surveillance logs, fancy font designs, etc., but wow. I think the format of the book really helped to tell the story and enhance what was being told and happening to the characters as they tried to live another day.

The format was pretty seamless, going from one form to another in the next “chapter” and each time it would be a different voice or character and it made feel as though I was in that world and experiencing what the characters were. Bravo to the authors for coming up with the idea!

The plot itself was one we’ve probably heard a bunch of times when it comes to science fiction: a rogue AI (Artificial Intelligence) goes rogue and the people have to stop it from destroying everything. I think that the way in which it was delivered, though, was extremely effective and allowed immersion with the story. It went through heartbreak, survival, grief, bravery, and it talked about disease, making the right call, and belief in yourself. It was delivered really well and it kept me on my toes and needing to turn the page to know what happened next. (I literally read this in one sitting. A nine hour sitting, but one sitting nonetheless.)

Kady Grant is a seventeen year old computer hacker who plays off like she’s indifferent and cold, but she really is trying to push her feelings down so they don’t interfere with what she needs to get done. She doesn’t accept a lot of things that happen during this journey, but toward the end she comes to the realization of so many things and I think that her heartbreak really broke my own heart. But through it all she was brave, willing to try the next thing, to put a stop to whatever the people in charge aboard both the Alexander and Hypatia were trying to do. I thought that she went through a great arc of character growth and that she showed resilience when it was needed, fear, grief, determination. She was truly an inspiring character.

Ezra Mason is an eighteen year old guy who just wants to get his life back together and talk out things with Kady and make things up to her. But when everything goes to shit on their planet Kerenza IV, he gets enlisted as a flight pilot aboard the Alexander. I loved Ezra so, SO much. He was funny, sarcastic, always had a joke to tell. I was so heartbroken during some of the conversations that were had regarding him, but also laughing out loud during some of the conversations he had with others. He seriously made me so happy. He was willing to take risks, willing to help out wherever he could, and he was strong through a lot of it.

AIDAN, the AI system aboard the Alexander, was a character I didn’t think I would grow so attached to. He was essentially the main “villain” in this story, and as such, I was expecting to hate him. It. Whatever. It was always saying it was trying to protect the people when it killed them, or that it was being merciful, or that it made the decisions it made within the protocols that were set for it. And, well, I could see that it tried. It really, really did. I knew that the intentions it had weren’t inherently bad ones, just the execution of them was. It was a character that I wanted to yell at and shake and hurt, but then it became a character I cried over, a character I cared about so much that I felt sorry for it rather than angry. I found that these moments were so powerful and profound that I had to stop and absorb it all.

That’s not to say that what happened aboard all of the ships were good things. In fact, quite the opposite, especially in the last quarter of the book, but I found that I was still so invested in all of the characters, even the ones that had made shorter appearances than others throughout the book. It was so fun, so heartbreaking, but so beautiful all at the same time.

There were hints of romance, which I thought were super adorable because the flirting was just… Oh man, it was funny. There were friendships and those conversations had me laughing out loud! There was correspondence, conversations had over radios and letters that went south real fast.

All in all, the formatting, the story, the characters, the language, everything used was amazing and I feel like this really deserved all the hype that it got.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

Siege & Storm Book Review

siegeandstormTitle: Siege & Storm
Series: Shadow & Bone #2
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry, Holt, & Co.
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Purchased Paperback

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers.

This was a solid sequel filled with so much action, character development, romance, snarky responses, hope, creepiness, and darkness.

I wasn’t expecting a lot of the twists and turns that happened at the beginning of the book, as well as at the ending. I thought that the way the plot progressed I would’ve been able to see more foreshadowing, but a lot of it was a surprise to me, which I enjoyed. I thought that the action sequence at the beginning with the Darkling and Alina, Mal, and Sturmhond’s crew were all very tense, but at the same time curious because there was something about what was happening that had me questioning the motives of several people. Then it progressed into an escape, political calculations, angst, and more unhappy darkness in the end. Honestly, I enjoyed this book more than the first.

Alina, I felt, is starting to really grow more as a character and she’s really trying her best to hone her skills as the Sun Summoner, to not let her powers or her amplifiers control her. I find it interesting how she has those glimpses of darkness within her and only at the end does she realize that it’s because part of the Darkling became a part of her when he claimed her with Morozova’s stag antlers. I wished she had spoken her mind more, had made more mistakes, more slips when in the political settings because I felt she was becoming a very bland person in those situations. And outside of those situations, she still didn’t seem to know what to do, but I think she just had a better understanding of where she belonged in that moment.

Mal was kind of a little overprotective in this book, in my opinion, but I could understand and see where he was coming from in those situations. He was frustrated at the situations, frustrated that he doesn’t understand Alina and what she desires, but also he feels trapped like an animal. I have a feeling about him that maybe he has hidden Grisha powers (no spoilers, please!), but I’m not entirely sure. I didn’t appreciate when he pulled himself so far away from Alina and just went in a small downward spiral. He had a lot of control up to that point, and I understand that their relationship got complicated, but I don’t know why he didn’t try to talk it out with her (and vice versa).

Can we just talk about Nikolai because he’s my new favorite and I need him in my life and I’m adding him to my Book Boyfriend List. He has many masks that he wears, different personas for different moments of time, so you never really know if he’s being sincere or not, but every time he’d joke or say something snarky I couldn’t help but laugh aloud. I personally much preferred seeing him as a Privateer, but as a Prince he was also very much in control of the situations around him and I think that was definitely a strong point for him. I just need more of him, that’s all.

The Darkling… Oh man, he got all kinds of dark and creepy in this book. New powers unfolded from him and his obsession with Alina and power just keeps growing. I can’t tell if he actually cares for her or just wants her power, but dang. He’s kind of scary. There actually wasn’t as much of him in this novel as the last one, which was fine, but it does make me wonder just what he was doing to prepare himself for when he’d return for Alina.

The romance in this book was much more apparent and actually I wished it had developed a different way, but that’s only because I was upset that years of friendship and trust could be so easily broken because of misplaced words and hurt feelings and egos. But the small bits of it that were in there were well placed and I think that we’ll see a bit more in the next book.

The action sequences and the descriptions of the creatures in the book were amazing. I think these were some of the strongest points of the novel because they were all very vivid and fast paced. I loved thinking up the world in my mind, about Sturmhond’s flying ship, about the lands and everything in between. I think that there’s some sort of dark secret behind the creatures that live in the Fold and I hope to learn more about it in the final book.

I definitely enjoyed this book more than the first and I feel that the plot is only going to thicken more now that Alina and the others are in the situation that they’re in now.

I rated this book 4/5 stars and I highly recommend it if you’ve read the first book in this trilogy.

A Torch Against the Night Book Review

atorchagainstthenightTitle: A Torch Against the Night
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 452
Format: Purchased Hardcover

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

As this is a sequel there may be spoilers in this review.

This sequel to An Ember in the Ashes was nothing short of a roller coaster of a ride, and it was such a phenomenal way to continue the story.

Remember when we weren’t getting a sequel? Oh, how those days were dark and unfair. But now that we have it, and we’re getting two more books after this one, I have to say that the publisher made the right decision because Sabaa SLAYED this book.

The plot picked up right where the first book left off with Elias and Laia running for their lives from the Empire and Blackcliff. It was a few intense first chapters, including with Helene being interrogated for answers, and I thought that it was a strong beginning for the book. As the book continued, the plot began to grow and twist and there were so many hints that I tried to pick up as I went along to figure out if someone was who they were, or if a certain action was going to happen, or if there was something that foreshadowed something later in the book.

It was a roller coaster ride and I think I fell in love with the characters even more in this book, though there were a few bumps along the way that had me wanting to yell at them to pick a different choice.

Laia was just as strong in this book as the last and I felt that she definitely grew as a character. Her mysterious power was revealed more and she didn’t even realize she was doing it until an event later on in the book. I thought that her own surprise was a good thing to incorporate, but I also wish her powers were explained a little more. I do love her, though, because despite everything she’s gone through she still has a very kind and caring heart, and she has a fire in her that doesn’t burn out. Though there was misplaced trust and uncertain feelings, I thought that she was just an exceptional character.

Elias was going through a lot in this book mentally and physically, and I think that coupled with what he had been told about himself being, essentially, a curse kind of took a lot out of him. He held himself back a lot and wanted to do a lot of things on his own when he would have benefited from having someone help him, which was very frustrating to me. But, I understood, at the same time, where he was coming from given his past and everything that went along with it. I did think he was extremely brave, though, and that he made a lot of good and bad decisions. He’s only human, after all.

Helene was probably the most conflicted of all of the characters because her heart and her duty were at war with one another the entire book, and I felt so sad for her because of it. She tries to be the Blood Shrike everyone expects her to be, and she’s extremely smart and capable of her new job, but almost everyone looks down on her because she’s a young woman. I like that she never let that get to her, though, and instead showed everyone just how strong and capable she actually was. I want her to find her own happiness because she deserves it, damn it.

There were so many secrets throughout this novel, so many questions that I have, and I need to know what they are. Why does Marcus talk to himself? What is the Commandant actually doing? What will happen with Elias and Laia? I need to know!

The action sequences were also stellar because they were fast paced and I could imagine every single slice or hit with clarity; I felt like I was watching an action movie. Everything felt like it belonged in that world seamlessly, and I think that the way it was delivered made it beautiful.

There was some romance in the book, and when a certain thing happened I was like, “But why?” And then more things were revealed and I was like, “Oh hell no.” I think that the tension between Laia and Elias was so thick you could have cut it with a knife, even though both of them tried to deny it multiple times. It was cute, really.

I’m just reeling from this book. My mind doesn’t know what to think, where to go, or how to really comprehend everything that went on because there was SO much that happened. I’m satisfied with how it ended the way it did and I’m definitely excited to read the next book.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the first book.