Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty

Gorgeous cover. I love it.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love. (Goodreads)

I’m a HUGE sucker for any fairy tale retelling, so I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book. In any case, I started reading it and could not put it down until I was finished (except for sleep. Damn that sleep).

The Story:

Because of a deal struck before her birth, Nyx ( I know. I can’t decide if I loathe or love that name. Still up in the air there) is destined to marry the Gentle Lord. Despite his moniker, he is the evil demon who rules over the land. Everyone there is his captive, held at bay by the constant threat that he’ll unleash his demons–over whom he also rules–to spread terror. While Nyx hates her betrothed, and despises the father whose traded her life away, she wants to fulfill her destiny and kill the Gentle Lord in the name or her people, finally freeing them from his reign.

But, surprise, surprise, the Gentle Lord, otherwise known as Ignifex,  is not quite what she expects. He’s frightening, yes, but charming and funny. And his house, while terrifying, is an enigma, a labyrinth of changing rooms and mysteries. Nyx longs to save her land, especially her dear twin sister, but she also begins to feel something for Ignifex–an odd mix of lust and hate. She wonders if maybe his plight has been misunderstood and if perhaps he isn’t the one pulling the strings.

My Thoughts:

This is not your typical, Disney-fied Beauty and the Beast.

Disney B&B

As much as I love this…nope.

From the moment Ignifex, enters the picture, I was hooked. Pull up a chair and charm my socks off why don’t you, you evil demon?  That may sound shallow, I know, but I really love characters who aren’t what they’re supposed to be (even when you know it’s Beauty and the Beast and the Beast isn’t so ghastly). I mean, yes, he has red, cat-like eyes (creepers!), and he is very naughty what with this Rumplestiltskin-ish way he loves to bargain with desperate people (Nyx’s father among them). But there is something there, something kind. He’s evil, no question, because that’s his job, but he’s more like someone who has merely accepted his fate than someone who overtly does bad things.

Like this, only hot and not super-evil to the core. More like a slave.

Like this, only hot and not super-evil to the core. More like a slave (So, outside of the bargains, not like this at all).

I liked Nyx because she’s sassy and flawed beyond measure. It’s obvious to Ignifex from day one that she, like his eight wives before, will try to kill him (and this amuses him), but she’s not even shy about it. Maybe it’s not the best strategy, but I think that’s what he likes about her. In a way, there are very much alike. Nyx doesn’t want her fate. She hates that her father sentenced her to it, but she accepts it. She accepts that not only must she destroy the Gentle Lord, but she must, more than likely, die in the process. Neither Nyx nor Ignifex is dishonest about the darkness in their hearts, and while it’s what could ultimately pull them apart, I think it brings them together too.

Now, I definitely had some issues. First, can we just stop putting things like “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast” in book blurbs (it was on this book’s online blurb and I removed it because REALLY?)? This book is nothing like Graceling. Nothing. Second, Nyx lived in an interesting land (one I can’t recall the name of, sorry), but we didn’t learn a ton about it or the people. There was a lot of Greek mythology thrown in, which is always fun, but sometimes it felt confusing as to how it all fit into society and their ways. I would have liked more there. My biggest issue, however,  was with the ending, which felt sort of rushed and jumbled together. It was not at all the way I expected things to happen (and that’s fine) but it felt forced a bit. I wish the pacing had slowed, maybe having less happen, but with more meaning. The love story also came on pretty fast, but I think the author shows us their connection in most of their encounters, so I bought it.

Also, did I mention that I LOVED Ignifex? Not sure if that was clear. Maybe it’s because I pictured him sort of like this:

Yeah. That works.

You are SO welcome.

Despite my few complaints, this was a good book. It was fun. If you are a fantasy or fairy tale fan I think you’ll enjoy it.

Crush Intensity– 4.0/5

Where’d I Get It: Why, the library, of course, just like Belle would.

Ignite Me (please)

Ignite MeIgnite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi


With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her. (Goodreads)


Ignite Me. Finally. Even though I read it the week it came out (and fanned myself frequently), I’m finally reviewing it.

Fair warning, if you have not read Shatter Me, Destroy Me, Unravel Me, Fracture Me–first of all, why are you reading this when you clearly have books to read?–there will be spoilers here.  Go. Go read them now because Warner. You’re welcome.

Little Bit of a Recap

Ignite Me is the final book in the Shatter Me series, a trilogy (plus novellas. I don’t know what you’d call that) I have loved every step of the way. Juliette is a fabulous protagonist, one we watched grow from timid to courageous, one who has found her strength in what she originally thought was a flaw. She has a gift so powerful no one can touch her except…wait for it…Warner (I know. Lucky duck). In Unravel Me we discovered that while Adam was at one time able to freely touch her, it comes at great cost and he has to work hard to safely have physical contact with her. This is a struggle because Adam believes he loves Juliette. It’s in Unravel Me that we also discover a shocking truth: not only is Warner able to touch Juliette, he can “borrow” powers from other people. Also he can touch Juliette. Did I already say that BECAUSE IT’S WORTH REPEATING, especially because in Unravel Me we also see how desperately Warner wants to get all up on that.

The Final Book

The big challenge for Juliette this time around is getting her team from Omega Point, one that includes Adam and Kenji, to trust the guy who was enemy numero uno, Warner. They have to join forces, move into Warner’s facility, train together, and build an alliance against Adam and Warner’s father.

In this book we learn more about Warner. We delve further into his past, learn about his mother and his childhood, and begin to understand just where his fascination with Juliette began.

In this part of the story, the love triangle fizzles a bit. One guy turns into a giant jerkhead (completely crazy bananapants) and Juliette, even before that point, makes her heart pretty clear. While I won’t spoil it or say whether or not my choice was the one, I will say that Mafi makes it abundantly clear that there is a guy who wants to help Juliette control herself (while in some ways, be controlled by him) and there is another guy who wants her to unleash herself and fly free. Either way, Juliette taking steps toward one guy over another opens up the romance in a serious way. I’m talking SERIOUS STEAM.

Final Thoughts

Ignite Me is good. I thought it was a pretty epic close to a thoroughly awesome series. The final sequence is particularly good. And leading up to it all are many tingly scenes, so there’s that. Also, Juliette’s relationship with Kenji blossoms and I have to tell you, I could read an entire book about that man. He is hilarious and he’s loyal to Juliette to the very end. I felt as though at the close of the book, I could have kept reading. It feels like there is so much story left to tell because the characters are now on the verge of something huge, but alas, it’s over.  We just have to trust that this ending is a good beginning for them all.

My biggest complaint is one brought to my attention by my dear friend Sandie. In order to resolve the love triangle, Mafi chose to have us more fully see two characters we may have once misunderstood. In one case it was a breath of fresh air to learn that this person was not quite what we thought he was. In the other case, it was sad to realize that the guy was not at all what we thought he was. We see hints of this in the novellas written from each guy’s perspective, Destroy Me (Warner) and Fracture Me (Adam). In the case of one guy, he took such a dramatic turn that it felt like a character assassination.

But you should be the judge. Either way, I really liked this book.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 WARNER OMG

Where’d I Get It: Bought it for my Nook so I could highlight and bookmark to my heart’s content.


Top Ten Tuesday- No, Thanks

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week we are discussing fictional worlds we’d never want to live in (or characters we’d never want to trade places with). Look out: I think you’re in for a load of dystopic settings here…

The Places

Katniss Panem1. Panem, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins–When I read a book I usually try to momentarily put myself –me as me, not as Katniss or anyone remotely cool–in that story and I ask myself what I’d do, how I’d survive it. And yeah, Panem in particular is an utter nightmare. It’s horrifyingly inhumane and as a parent I cringe at any story where adults are unable to truly protect their children from imminent danger. In this series life seems so hopeless.

Divergent Chicago2. Divergent era Chicago, Veronica Roth– Ditto, especially to life in the Dauntless clan. I’d have stayed at home with my mom and dad living the quiet, simple life because I’m a giant scaredypants.


More Than This3. The World of More Than This by Patrick Ness– I don’t know the proper name for this place but I am certain I don’t ever, ever want to go there. If you haven’t read the book you’re just going to have to trust me there (and read it because it’s awesome).


Knife of Never Letting Go4. Life on the planet in The Chaos Walking series By Patrick Ness– These are some seriously jacked up folks, people. Seriously. There’s a disease where everyone can hear the thoughts of every man. EVERY THOUGHT. Do you want to live with that? I don’t. And then, in this one town, they killed every woman in sight. And they want to kill their youngest boy, Todd and a girl whose ship has just crash-landed on their planet. These kids are thirteen and an entire town is trying to hunt them down and kill them! It’s heartbreaking–and fantastic. One of my all-time favorite book  series ever.

THE-GIVER_612x4125. Anytown Anywhere in The Giver series by Lois Lowry–There are definitely moments of sweetness in this quartet, but there is darkness in each setting, though it’s not as obvious as it might be in real life. It’s a threat that sits quietly and simmers in the background until you don’t realize it’s boiling over.

Wither6. The World of The Chemical Garden trilogy By Lauren DeStefano– I cannot recall the name of the country/town in which these characters reside, but the premise of living in a world where women are kidnapped to become wives, prisoners and basically baby machines to help continue the human race (as everyone under a certain age is supposed to die by the age of twenty) due to a genetic disorder.  There’s just no ray of sunshine there, I’m sorry. But the books are very good.


The People

Dracoy and Bellatrix1. Draco Malfroy, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling– Yes, I know he’s an incredible poo throughout most of the series, but I actually felt bad for him when he’s told–when he’s bound–to kill Dumbledore. He’s been raised on the side of the bad guys his entire life and though I think it takes him far too long to see the light, I could see the struggle he was dealing with, being torn between loyalty to his family and realizing that the way he’d been thinking, the way he’d been raised, was actually wrong. I mean, I still thought he was a giant tool for most of the series, but really he was a pawn, a victim of the circumstances into which he was born.

If I Stay2. Mia, If I Stay, Where She Went by Gayle Forman–I love this story with every part of me. I love MIa’s romance with Adam, but she has suffered such intense loss, such tragedy, I can’t bear to think of how she was able to cope. Maybe that’s why WSW was such a healing, amazing book for me. I got to see where Mia was in life and know she was good. In fact, she was better than good; she was happy.

The Body FInder3. Violet, The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting— I love these books, but yeah, there’s pretty much no part of me that wants to hear echoes from the dead. Nope. I don’t care how hot her boyfriend is.

Delirium4. Lena, The Delirium series by Lauren Oliver– Oliver did such a beautiful job portraying the melancholy life of a world where love (in any form) is outlawed and treated as a disease. However far-fetched the idea may be, the themes of government-imposed controls, of fear regarding the vulnerability love gives you, all felt very real to me.


That’s all for now. Happy Tuesday!




Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

PawnFor Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Another dystopic? Yes. But hold on, this one is different.

Kitty Doe, a poor kid raised in a group home for orphans, has a distinct eye color. It’s not unlike Lila Hart’s, member of the all-powerful Hart family, niece to the Prime Minister.  It’s the Hart family that seeks Kitty out, making a deal to raise her from a Level III (trust me, it’s not a good life for Kitty down there on three) to a Level VII (which, basically only a member of the Harts can be). The catch? Why, she just has to do this one tiny thing they need of her (and, you know, it’s not like she really has a choice).  Fast forward. Kitty wakes up soap opera style to find that she has been surgically transformed to look identical to Lila Hart. Lila has been killed by…wait for it…her evil Prime Minister uncle, Daxton (the guy who called Kitty in to be her double). Now Kitty has to leave behind her old life, which wasn’t so great except for the fact that she had a boyfriend, Benji, who now thinks she’s dead, and a “mother” from the group home, both of whom she loves. Daxton and his creepy, evil mom want Kitty to play the part of Lila to a public who thinks she’s still very much alive.

And here’s where it gets quite sticky (in a good way). Apparently, Lila was killed because she was the leader of a rebellion. She went out and made all these speeches that went against the grain of everything her family and government stood for. Daxton wants Kitty to stop these silly rebellion shenanigans. And now Lila’s mother, Cecelia, and her fiance (yes, the one Kitty now has to marry), Knox, want to help Kitty continue Lila’s work. All Kitty wants to do is escape to a place far, far away. And she wants to do it without jeopardizing the safety of Benji, who, despite his unfortunate moniker, is just trying to go on with his life now that he believes Kitty to be dead.   He doesn’t know that Daxton and his mother are already watching him, threatening his very life if Kitty makes one false move.

My Thoughts:

I was totally sucked into this one. I thought the premise was fun and Kitty, as a heroine, is pretty kick ass. Even though she’s really not in the position to bargain, she finds a way to outsmart those around her. She’s very strong and bright and even though she has so much to lose–you know, her life, Benji’s life–she says what she thinks and she goes for what she believes. I loved her from the start.

Now, lets the discuss the Harts. They are one sick, dysfunctional family. Cecelia is someone Kitty isn’t sure she can trust. She is distraught over losing Lila and immediately seems to dislike Kitty. But on the other hand, she needs Kitty’s help. Sometimes she’s cold and other times she acts human, almost nurturing to Kitty. Either way, you get the feeling that she’d kill Kitty herself if necessary. And Daxton and his mother (whose name escapes me, I’m sorry), they’re pretty psycho, Daxton especially. I mean, to kill your own niece/granddaughter? That takes a set.

But then there’s Lennox Creed, otherwise known as Knox. Doesn’t his name just roll off the tongue (It’s better than Benji, I’m sorry)? I loved this character. He’s Lila’s fiance, but he’s pretty upfront about the fact that Lila didn’t want to marry him. Right away he seems like the most trustworthy guy in a house full of totally crazy, power-hungry people. I’m not saying he’s perfect, but I am saying he’s a good guy. And that Kitty should probably makeout with him sometime in the near future.

As far as Benji is concerned, I wasn’t a fan. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just lackluster, especially in comparison to Knox. He and Kitty already have an established relationship when the book begins, so we don’t get to watch her fall in love with him or see what makes them tick, but I think as a character, I just needed more from him. I wasn’t really on his team.

This story has good twists and turns and fun surprises. I really enjoyed it. In fact, I had a hard time putting it down!

Crush Intensity: 4.25/5 Read it!

Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Net Galley for sharing and e-galley of Pawn with me. I can’t wait for book 2!


Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm ( The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and StormHunted 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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 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. (Goodreads)

Let Me Explain:

You know, sometimes there are certain books where you just can’t find the words. This seems odd, especially for someone who feels the need to blog, someone who must e-mail and text her friends about kissing scenes and swoony moments and the WHAT THE EFF things that make me want to pull out my hair sometimes. I mean, I’m someone who hunts people down in bookstores just to talk to them about the novels they’re picking up.  But you guys, I read this book in May and I haven’t been able  to form a coherent string of sentences about it. And I’m thinking it’s not going to happen now.  Just warning you.

Suffice it to say, it you have not read the first book in this series, Shadow and Bone…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? Get on it! Otherwise, consider yourself warned.

The Gist:

Alina and Mal have escaped that sexy, sexy Darkling after outsmarting him and crossing the True Sea. They take great pains to hide her identity as the Sun Summoner, but no amount of hiding can keep the Darkling from her. He exhibits this strange new trick, an ability to communicate with Alina no matter where she may be. It’s frightening and striking, this power he still has over her. And she realizes she can’t ever truly escape him or who she is. She and Mal return to Ravka with some new allies, hoping to finally defeat him. Instead it serves to suck Alina deeper into a world that Mal isn’t a part of. It drives a wedge between them and Alina is left with a painful choice: her destiny or her love (and yes, lust) for Mal.

My Thoughts:

I read this almost six months ago and it was fabulous. In fact, I’d read it again if I had it…but I keep loaning my copy out because it’s that good. Siege and Storm does not suffer from any sort of sophomore slump, which is good news considering the first book was so well-done and seemed to be hard to match. The world of Ravka is still vivid and unique and we have an opportunity to get to know certain characters better this time around. I especially enjoyed the conflict between Mal and Alina, which hurt, but man, I could really understand where each of them was coming from. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more of the Darkling. I know it’s wrong of me to hope that he and Alina will meet in the corner of a darkened room and have a serious makeout session–but that doesn’t keep me from longing for it.  And I feel guilty saying that since I really love Mal, but the Darkling just has that quality about him that makes him so appealing. I can’t even explain it.

Crush Intensity: 4.75/5  Leigh Bardugo has created such an insanely beautiful, mysterious world in this great series. I can’t wait for the next book.

Special thanks to Macmillan for sending me a copy of Siege and Storm in exchange for an honest review.

Book Club Pick: Gone Girl

Some of you may know that I am in a fantastic book club with some of my lovely, wine-lovin, bookworm friends.  As with most books clubs, we take turns choosing books and hosting. Sometimes we spend tons of time dissecting the book and other times we spend five minutes talking about it and the rest eating/drinking/having girl time.  I love these ladies for a plethora of reasons–for going to see City of Bones with me so we can cringe at JCB’s hair, for loving the LA Times Festival of Books as much as me, for sharing that intense need to talk about a book immediately after–but one of the things I most appreciate is that they help me expand my horizons. I’m a YA girl by nature (no, really) and I rarely read an Adult fiction unless it’s one I know I’ll love or unless I need to see the movie. But my book club has YA and Adult Fiction fans.  And they have fabulous taste in books.

Over the past couple of years we’ve read books like Nefertiti, The Middle Place, Defending Jacob, The Sky Is Everywhere (guess who picked that), and Unravel Me (um, chapter 62. You know you were thinking the same thing), to name a few.  These have been fabulous books, and while this is normally a YA blog, it seems such a waste not to share the great books I’m discovering because of these awesome ladies.  So each month–unless it’s a book I’ve already reviewed–I’ll share our latest pick and my thoughts with you.

And this month, holy crap, it’s a doozy.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (Goodreads)

The Story:

Nick is that guy. He’s handsome, has a gorgeous wife–the works. And he and Amy, his charming wife, are totally in love until gradually, piece by piece, they lose their grip on their marriage. Nick loses his job as a writer in NY, Amy’s job and most of her trust fund soon follow. The two relocate from their brownstone to a cookie cutter mini mansion in Missouri, where Nick grew up. His mother is dying of cancer and his horrendous, verbally abusive father is now in an adult care facility. Nick borrows the last of Amy’s money to open up a bar with his twin sister, Go, to try to start a new life after dragging her to that town, away from her beloved family, friends and city life.

When we meet Nick, he and Amy are preparing the celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. She’s planned a treasure hunt for him–something she does every year–and he doesn’t have the heart to tell her he doesn’t love her anymore. He goes to work as usual, only to come home hours later to find that the house is in shambles and Amy has gone missing, most likely abducted by an intruder. As the story unravels, more and more clues point to Nick as the perpetrator, and the series of lies he keeps telling the police aren’t helping his case. Meanwhile, we get to know Amy through the diary entries she’s made over the course of her relationship with Nick. It paints a dark picture of their marriage.

And then the second portion of the book comes and you, along with me, go, um, excuse me but WHAT THE HELL????

But that’s all I can tell you because I don’t want to ruin anything.

My Thoughts:

This book was excellent. It was crazy, which I’d heard, but crazy in a different way than I expected. I was waiting for a big DUM DA DUM DUM crazy, a Bruce Willis Has Been Dead The Whole Time And You Never Saw The Signs kind of shocker.  That’s not what happened at all. Part of the craziness is revealed quite early on (at the end of the first third of the book). The rest is just an absolutely brilliantly masterminded story of total insanity. Before that, I was completely sucked into the book. I mean the first pages are of Nick describing his wife’s skull and the contents of her brain. Hello, creepytown, right? And Amy hasn’t even disappeared at that point.  The first portion is all about describing the undoing of this couple, a normal, happy, blissfully in love twosome, whose relationship begins to crumble. If you’re like me, you’ll get enveloped in some of these sweet moments they have and sadly, you’ll enjoy watching it fall apart. And then some serious sh*t goes down.

Amy’s disappearance is a mystery and there are so many moments I wanted to absolutely punch Nick. He makes such bad decisions, he lies, he does stupidly inappropriate things, but I found myself wanting to believe in his innocence, wanting to find that person out there just crazy enough to kidnap his poor, sweet wife and exonerate the anti-hero I found in Nick. And Amy, well, there just aren’t words for her and her sad little diary.

Warning: There are lots of people who love the book but hate the ending. I will admit that I was stumbling, wondering if my Nook was acting up, when I realized there were no more pages. For a little while that ruined it for me. Then, hours later, I had this revelation and I decided the ending was sort of brilliant.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5 You should read this book. I’m so glad I did. If my book club hadn’t chosen it, I would never have picked it up. It was a great read.

Source: I bought this for my Nook for $4.99. Score!

Top Ten Tuesday- Best Sequels Evah!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


ZOMG, I love this week’s topic, Top Ten Best Sequels Ever. I will try my hardest not to squeal.

Siege and Storm1. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha series)- Oh, Shadow and Bone was phenomenal and it was hard to imagine that any sequel could live up to that…but this was a pretty stellar book. I should probably review it. It’s just that I loved it so much I’ve actually had a difficult time putting into words. All I’m coming up with is OMG OMG OMG OMG, so you know, that’s cool but not really well crafted. I’ll get there though.


Forever Princess2. Any of The Princess Diaries sequels by Meg Cabot- I especially love Princess in Love (because you guys,  he made her a computer program) and Forever Princess (seriously a perfect ending to the series). Have you read this series because if not you are missing out on some awesomely funny, witty, Michael Moscovitz-y perfection.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince3. Any of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling- I love them all, but I especially adored The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Half Blood Price, But seriously, they’re all pretty freaking awesome and they all build upon each other.


Unravel Me4. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (The Shatter Me series)- Chapter 62. That’s all I’m sayin. Read it and have a ciggy.


Catching Fire5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Trilogy)- For all the griping there is about Mockingjay, WOW was Catching Fire amazing. It was my favorite in the series.

Monsters of Men6. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking Trilogy)- What an amazing ending to a stellar series. These books rocked me, made me fist pump and cry like a baby. Read them, read them, read them.

Where She Went7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman- I loved the first book, If I Stay, but I think I actually love book two even more. Hearing the story from Adam’s POV made me love him–and Mia– all the more. This is easily one of my all-time favorite books.

We'll Always Have Summer8. The Summer Books by Jenny Han- I loved both sequels to The Summer I Turned Pretty, but the last one, We’ll Always Have Summer, especially got to me. Again, reading portions from Conrad’s POV absolutely slayed me (but in the best way possible).

Insurgent9. Insurgent by Veronica Roth- By the time I read this I’d heard there were some people who felt let down here. Perhaps this lowered my expectations. Either way, I was so into this book. I really loved the opportunity to fully see Tris as Divergent–seeing her strengths in all areas, even when she seemed stupidly self sacrificial– and I loved watching the struggles she and Four faced as a couple. And okay, they had some super-hot kissing scenes.

The Elite10. The Elite by Kiera Cass- Maxon, America and Aspen all annoyed the crud out of me here, but man I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. And that’s all I need really, to love a book so much I can’t stand to close the cover.


ruby oliver11. The Ruby Oliver books- Love them because they make me laugh. End of story.


The Lightning Thief12. All of the Percy Jackson sequels- These are the cutest stinking books ever. The concepts, the problems, the mythology never got old to me. I loved Percy and I wanted him to be my son.

Happy Tuesday!

The Elite

The Elite (The Selection, Book 2) by Kiera Cass

The EliteThirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending. (Goodreads)

This is book two in The Selection series. If you’ve not read book one, what are you doing? Get on it!

The Story:

America is still living in the castle as part of The Bachelor the Selection.  And Maxon? He’s still freaking adorbs ( I love him). Then there’s Aspen. Oh, he’s still lurking in the hallways, just hoping to make out with America at random intervals (and this makes me hate him a little).

America makes a decision. Finally, finally, she believes Maxon is her man. Yes! And he wants her. We already knew that, but in a very un-Maxon like moment he explains to her how he must send the others home slowly so that the two of them can become properly engaged. Swoon, swoon, swoon over his absolutely awkward, sweet, cuteness.

Except, Houston, we have a problem. This happens fairly early in the book. We know this isn’t going to go smoothly. (I simultaneously love and hate this truth).

And yes, something goes horribly awry. I’m sorry, I can’t say what because it would be quite spoilery. Suffice it to say that this incident makes America question who Maxon is. And worse, it makes her question her desire and ability to fill the Queen’s shoes one day (and they’re probably gorgeous shoes!). Even when Maxon tries to explain and ask for some time (let’s face it: he’s cute, but communication isn’t his strong suit), she wavers. And so begins the high school drama.

Maxon thinks America has lost interest. America thinks Maxon has probably moved on too because he’s really beginning to enjoy being fawned over by all these ladies (the horror!). It’s a big fat mess. But don’t worry. Aspen’s waiting in the wings, ready to confirm that indeed, Maxon is probably not as great as America thought. If he happens to kiss her and tell her he loves her, that’s purely beside the point. He just wants the ex-girlfriend he still desperately pines for to be happy.

Grrrr. He bugs me.

My Thoughts:

Am I making you think I didn’t like this book because oh no, I freaking loved it! I could not put that business down. I love books like that.

Yes, there is some frustrating drama between Maxon and America, but honestly, Maxon is able to explain all his issues. America, on the other hand, just does so many incredibly stupid things.  Stupid stupid. I mean, stoooooooopid. But she’s also ballsy, so I still like her. I think her intentions are good; she’s just confused. The one I struggled the most with was Aspen. Creepy, lurking in the hallways, sticking pennies in the jar, Aspen. I get that he’s all “don’t know what you got ’till it’s gone” and all that, but he needs to leave the girl alone. Constantly encouraging her to go back to him, asking her to meet him for secret rendezvous, well it’s just ridiculous, especially in light of certain events that take place.

All things considered, I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. These books are fun, with the right amount of romance, the right amount of intrigue, and good characters who are flawed and human in every way, but who live in a strange world we can only imagine.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5

Thank you to my lovely friend Mackenzie for loaning me her copy of The Elite! I thought it was awesome. 🙂

Days of Blood and Starlight

Day of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 2) by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and StarlightOnce upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream? (Goodreads)

Oh, it’s so hard to compare anything to Daughter of Smoke and Bone because it was that uh-mazing. But we shall try. If you have not read the first book in this series there are some epic spoilers ahead, so please, please look away.

The Story:

Days of Blood and Starlight picks up just after the first book leaves off. Karou has disappeared after discovering that Akiva murdered her family, and after finding out her true identity. Although she is a world away, humans still have sightings of the mysterious blue-haired girl who could fly, leaving her best friend, Zuzana, to pick up the pieces, to put together the puzzle and try to find where Karou has gone. Akiva has been scouring the Earth and beyond–like, literally–to find her. He’s destroyed at how he’s hurt her, at how the dreams he and Karou (really he and Madrigal) once shared can seem so far away. It’s heartbreaking, this war between the Chimaera and the Seraphim, taking innocent lives and leaving power in the hands of the greedy and malicious. And Karou and Akiva are on opposite sides of it all.

But there’s always a sliver of hope. Remember? Karou means hope. In the wake of Brimstone’s death, she’s continued his legacy. Putting together the knowledge she gained from years as his helper, she’s become a resurrectionist, lifting up her people to build an army against the Seraphim. She lives at the palace with none other than the white wolf (but not lives with him lives with him), whose smooth ways continue to put her on edge. Karou remembers what he’s capable of and while she wants to help the Chimaera, with whom she readily identifies as her own, she doesn’t trust him fully.

Akiva is tortured–absolutely broken in every way possible–torn apart by memories of Madrigal, memories of Karou, of what he did to her family, of things he’s done as a soldier of the seraphim. He can’t change the past but he wants to be different . He wants to realize the dream he and Madrigal once shared. Karou, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with him. She wants to erase him or better yet, rise up against him.

My Thoughts:

This is a good story. It’s less poetic, less romantic than we saw the first time around because of the circumstances. Karou is in battle now. We see her strength (as if we hadn’t already) and yet we see this heartbroken longing she has to see her family again. Karou can resurrect so many soldiers; she can bring back people she once knew–but she must have the key ingredients. So, she has all of this power and yet she’s powerless to bring back Brimstone. She begins to see her life–both lives–more clearly and she starts to identify herself more with the Chimaera people, something Brimstone had originally protected her from. Now she has a purpose, but it’s not without physical pain and emotional scars. Akiva survives so much too. That’s basically what he’s doing, surviving. His heart is already changed, he just needs to find a way to show Karou and to make his brother and sister understand what needs to be done. There is intense emotion between them, love from Akiva and hurt, hurt, hurt from Karou.

One of the things I thought was so well-done was Karou’s relationship with Zuzana and her boyfriend, Mik. These two have some seriously sweet moments. I love their loyalty to one another and the lengths to which Zuzana will go to find Karou and help her in any way possible.

This book isn’t as amazing as the first, but I liked it. It’s still vivid and passionate, but its pace is slower and there isn’t a ton going on. I was prepared for this because I had a couple of friends who’d read it before me and weren’t pleased. That being said, I was totally into it. Yes, it’s definitely a second book. We’re somewhere in the middle and there isn’t that rush from discovering a new story or the incredible heights of a fabulous ending yet, but it’s all going in the right direction. Also, am I the only one amazed by Karou becoming a resurrectionist? That was a wonderful aspect of the story! Plus, the mystery and intrigue surrounding the white wolf and is he or isn’t he bad, oh and the painfully brooding way Akiva stares at Karou, le sigh. It’s all worth it.

Crush Intensity: 4.25/5 What can I say? I really love these characters and this lush story.

Where’d I Get It? The library, one of my favorite places ever. We won’t discuss the fact that I had an e-galley from the publisher way back when and my NetGalley decided to not like me until it had expired. Nope. Not talking about it.


Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Macbeth by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes


Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs? (Goodreads)

The Story:

Skye is a somewhat shy photog living in Alaska. Her once good friend (and ongoing crush) turned popular guy, Craig McKenzie, is dating the school’s reigning Queen Bee. Things take a tragic turn when Craig’s BFF, Duncan,  turns up dead at a party gone wrong (one Skye semi-crashed). The situation is compounded by the fact that Skye overheard Craig and his girlfriend, Beth, talking about incriminating details regarding Duncan’s death. It seems like Craig and Beth had something to do with it and they are slowly coming apart at the seams–not just their relationship, but as people. They’re losing it, Crazytown U.SA.-style. And Skye is struggling with the knowledge she has. Should she confront them? Should she push it all down and forget that anything happened? This is death we’re talking about, possibly murder,  and if Craig has any part in it, Skye doesn’t want to get him in trouble, but there are just some secrets that have a life of their own; they refuse to remain hidden.

My Thoughts:

I like the idea of modern retellings, especially Shakespeare, who wrote beautifully about every facet of human emotion and tragedy. Exposure does a great job at laying out the story of Macbeth. It was eerie and haunting and when I put myself in Skye’s shoes, her situation was a nightmare from which I was dying to wake. But honestly, I struggled with her continued fascination with Craig. Not only because he may or may not have been the reason Duncan is dead, but because he wasn’t a good friend. The moment he had a chance to be popular he left her (he later blames this on her, and while I see his point in some cases, there’s no denying he acted friendlier to Skye in private than when his popular pals were around). Her constant pining for him made me dislike her (excuse me Skye, you think he killed someone. Killed them dead. And you want to go to prom with him?) Still, overall, there was some great creepiness here and excellent foreshadowing. This series is a good gateway, a way to expose people to the depth and tragedy of classic tales.

Crush Intensity: 3/5

I actually liked book one in this series far more, but it isn’t a completely fair comparison. One is light-hearted and humorous and one is dramatic and full of darker themes. I am still looking forward to reading the next book in the Twisted Lit series, which I believe is Romeo & Juliet (le sigh!).

Thank you to Merit Press for sending me a copy of Exposure in exchange for an honest review.