Nantucket Red by Leila Howland [quick thoughts]

Nantucket Red coverNantucket Red by Leila Howland
Goodreads | @ | www
Release Date: May 13th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Nantucket #2

Goodreads description: Cricket Thompson’s lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she’s headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn’t anticipated. It’s hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn’t just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she’s been trying to ignore-her own heart.

I wanted to read Nantucket Red since I learned about it. I really enjoyed Nantucket Blue and I was interested to see what else might happen.

In this book, Cricket makes more mistakes and I really like that. She isn’t perfect, but that makes her so much more real. I like Cricket so much. She learned more about herself and relationships with friends and guys. She learned about difficult situations. I really like that she learned that changing her mind and not having everything planned out is okay. It felt really fitting for her. I liked watching her brave life, make mistakes, and learn so much about listening to herself. I love that she explored and got to be a little carefree.

I did have some issues: sometimes her mistakes were very easily fixed, even kinda major ones. I would have liked to see her have to work a little bit more to make it work out. And there was one obstacle for her and a guy that felt off for me. It was a pretty serious one, but I think it should have been handled differently. That part kind of seemed easy in the end, too.

“What do you think?” I asked when I stepped out of the dressing room.

“Hot,” Jules said.”

“Red hot,” Jennie echoed.

“It’s actually kind of conservative,” I said, turning around in front of the three-way mirror, noting its full coverage of boobs and butt and the innocent boys at the hips.

“But that’s what makes it hot,” Jules said. “It leaves something to the imagination. It’s asking the world, Good girl or bad girl?” She stood behind me, took out my ponytail, and shook my hair over my shoulders.

“Girls can be both,” I said.

“Of course. We women are very complex.”

“Guys are, too,” I said, thinking of Zack, so sweet one day and so harsh the next.

“Yes, humankind is full of contradictions. We could write a thesis, but I’d rather go to the beach,” Jules said.

I really enjoyed Cricket and Nantucket Red. I think Leila Howland’s writing is so lovely, and I’ll be watching out for anything else she writes. If you like contemporary YA with mistakes and learning and great characters, I think you should check out this series!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski [thoughts]

The Winner's CurseThe Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
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Release Date:March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1

Goodreads description: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart

I didn’t really know what The Winner’s Curse was about, but it got a lot of buzz and I was interested.

The Winner’s Curse is about war! Kestrel (oh that name. It had a point but still.) is from a country/society that invaded another country and took it over. They live in their houses and use the people as slaves. Kestrel is a general’s daughter in a highly militaristic society. Arin, a slave she acquires, is…well, a slave. He doesn’t like the people that conquered his land, because really, who would? But they are interested in each other, of course.

Overall, I really liked this book. It was engaging and I was entertained. Kestrel isn’t amazingly skilled at every aspect of life, she’s actually bad at fighting and her father wants her to join the military. She’s good at strategy but she doesn’t want to join up and fight. She also doesn’t want to get married, but those are her only choices. She’s defiant, but she’s vulnerable too.

Arin is a slave and he’s understandably angry. His way of life has changed and now he’s a slave, along with his people. Every day he sees the remnants of his society under the power of violent conquerors. When he’s sold to Kestrel, he’s resistant, but his interest in her grows. I was kind of pleasantly surprised by Arin’s story, I loved that there was stuff going on I didn’t see coming, and it felt realistic.

Their romance was kind of weird for me. I couldn’t always understand why they were drawn together. I wasn’t completely against it, and I could like it at certain points, but I wasn’t completely sold.

I liked seeing the story from both sets of eyes. I liked the world and there were several things going on I didn’t expect. My major issue with it is something I could rant about but don’t want to spoil for anyone, and it might not be as huge for everyone else: towards the end a turn in the book kind of made everything fall apart for me. It kind of tore at some of the ideas the book had built up earlier. I couldn’t take the twist seriously and it bummed me out on the book,. and it’s something the next book will build on, so I’m not very sure about that. But I’m still interested in the world and characters and I want to see what else can happen.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Despite my big issue with part of the ending, I liked this book and this world! I want to read it again at some point and I will keep reading the series. It’s not a case of love but it is a lot of like and appreciation! I’ve actually read The Shadow Society by Rutkoski and I think I gave it 3 stars (before blogging), so I think she’s talented and I’m interested in her work. If you like war, especially if you’re interested in ancient Rome/Greece and strategy and difficult romances, I think you’d enjoy this one!


All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill [thoughts]

All Our Yesterdays coverAll Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: 
September 3rd 2013
Disney Hyperion
Series: Al Our Yesterdays #1

Goodreads description: What would you change?

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend, James, since they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it… at least, not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win. All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

I saw All Our Yesterdays getting a bit of buzz from bloggers, and I like time travel anything. For some reason, even with interest and positive reviews, I wasn’t really super excited about it. However, I was pleasantly surprised!

Em is the main character and she’s in a bad future where time travel is possible. Other versions of herself and a friend named Finn have gone back in time to try to correct/stop something big, but it never works out. She has managed to leave herself clues on what to try next. Along with Finn, she goes back in time to see if one thing she doesn’t want to do will save the future. I really enjoyed how the book was set up with alternating POVs from the same person in different times.

Sometimes I get weird about small details, but I felt like this story kept focus on what happened during the time travel and the story rather than time travel itself. There was some science and paradox talk, but I felt like it worked. There was nothing huge that bugged me, and I didn’t feel like it was too complicated. The situation of trying to change the world before it goes wrong and trying to decide what changes to make and if you can hurt someone you love  if you knew it would make the better place and prevent awful things from happening. It was thought provoking and very interesting.

I liked all of the characters, I was even intrigued by the “bad guy.” Em was determined and I enjoyed her so much. She went through some tough things, but she grew and I liked how the book handled her transition and how she dealt with her feelings for the past and her past self.  I also enjoyed Finn and would have liked even more of him! I think I would have liked a little more of their memories and time together, too. The romance was not the book’s focus, and I liked that, but I was curious about that some parts that were left out and would have liked to get to know them better. While I enjoyed them all, I didn’t really fall in love with any of them.

4 star rating

All Our Yesterdays hooked me early on, and I read most of it in one sitting. It was engrossing, and I kept thinking about it all day after I finished. I wanted more! This is a book I can see myself enjoying again. I would also love to read more of Cristin Terrill’s work and even though I have no idea what the rest of the series will involve, I’m excited about it! I recommend All Our Yesterdays, but especially if you like time travel.

Cristin Terrill‘s website and twitter!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth [thoughts]

Allegiant cover

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Release Date: October 22nd 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Divergent #3

To be honest, I wasn’t as excited about Allegiant as most people due to a lot of mixed feelings about Insurgent. I was hopeful that Veronica Roth could pull it together and wrap it up nicely, but like a lot of people, I was a bit disappointed with the last installment. I haven’t been reading any reviews, so I’m not sure if it’s for the same reasons, but I kind of think it might not be.

I feel like it’s been long enough since the book came out, and most people looking at reviews at this point have probably read it already or want to know what happens. So, I’m going to include spoilers. Reader beware: spoilers ahead!

Continue reading

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater [book review]

The Dream ThievesThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads | Book Depository| Amazon
Release Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: The Raven Cycle #2

Goodreads description: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

The first Maggie Stiefvater book I read was The Scorpio Races, and I really loved it. When The Raven Boys came out, it sounded like something I would love, and I already loved her writing, so I picked it up and devoured it (and rambled about it here). I had been waiting patiently (ha!) for The Dream Thieves to come out. It did not disappoint me. Probably small spoilers for The Raven Boys.

The Dream Thieves is insane, but in only the best way. It is packed with emotion, so much emotion that it’s hard to get the book shut. It made me giddy to read it, I actually did silent screams of joy when I read something really great. It took me a bit longer to read than it normally would have because I didn’t want to let go. And when I was finished, I still wasn’t ready to let go. I just wanted to start over again. I read it when it came out, then I read it again last week, and it’s my favorite read of 2013 so far, and I think it will take a lot to top it.

“Why is the tea so good here?” “I spit in it.”

The characters feel like real people. The relationships between the characters seem true. The friendship between four prep school boys from different backgrounds work so well. The arguments and the feelings all seem real. Blue’s interactions with all of them feel real, too. Her feelings and confusion feel real and lovely and painful. Things like Adam’s past with his family, how Ronan interacts with his brothers and thinks about his parents, Gansey’s family in general, and Blue’s extended family, especially talking to her mom about life stuff, really make this book stand out in YA. These kids still do their own thing, but they also have families that (mostly) care about them. I also really love that it’s not in first person, and you get to sample different characters’ thoughts and feelings. I think it might be uncommon for YA readers (from what I see people mention on blogs), but I don’t particularly like first person. I am greedy and want to know everything.

“There might be girls in Henrietta who’ll let you talk them like that, but I’m not one of them.”

And the romance, ahhh the romance. The romance isn’t the central focus of the story. Blue and the boys have other things to worry about. It is always in the background, and when it’s brought to the front, it’s slow and confusing. There’s a bit of a triangle, but I think it’s done well. There’s jealousy, heartbreak, yearning, and it all feels genuine. I don’t want to say too much, but I really loved everything that happened it in the romance department and I’m excited to see what else happens with it in the series! Plus, there’s a small added element of maybe for something else, and it makes me even more excited. So. Much. Excitement.

She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged to, Gansey clearly wished he had one.

The story is intense. They’re still looking for a lost king. Things go wrong. Ronan’s reveal at the end of the first book comes into key play. They find out that they’re not the only ones looking, and the search seems more complicated. They face new problems and enemies. They search, they sort of fight, they have psychic readings. It’s a good ride.

“Guys,” Matthew pleaded. “Be holy.”

I had small problems, but I love the book enough that things that bother me in other books don’t matter as much. Some of the Gray Man stuff was a little weird. Some of the dream stuff and Kavinsky was almost too much, but I think it the rest of everything made up for it. There was one part where Blue talks about college and I don’t feel like it would be as impossible for her as she thinks it would be.

 5 stars

I love The Dream Thieves, and I’m really excited for the rest of the series. This review probably doesn’t do it justice, but at least my love is stated! I will probably reread this at least once, but probably more, just in the time before the next one comes out. Some books are almost better on the reread, because you know what is coming, and you understand things better while you’re reading it. I’m not sure about the new Sinner book, but other than Shiver related things, I am pretty sure I’ll read almost anything Maggie Stiefvater writes. I’m trying to make my sister read these, and I will gladly recommend them to anyone that wants to talk books. I can’t imagine anyone actually not liking this book (although I’m sure there are some that don’t), but if you like snark, great friendships, realistic families, dreams, mysteries, magic type stuff, tarot, you might enjoy The Dream Thieves!

Check out Maggie Stiefvater‘s websitetwitter, and tumblr!

The Archived by Victoria Schwab [book review]

The Archived coverThe Archived by Victoria Schwab
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: The Archived #1, followed by The Unbound

Goodreads description: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption

I won my copy of The Archived from Liza Weimer at WhoRuBlog. She is really nice, so be sure to check her blog (and Twitter) out! I have been interested in The Archived for a while, but I wasn’t completely sure what it was about. I just knew it was paranormal-ish.

Mackenzie is a Keeper, which means she hunts Histories and puts them back in The Archive. She inherited the job from her grandfather. Histories are sort of like ghosts, but they’re technically a record or log of a person. When people die, they go to The Archive. The Archive is basically a library of the dead. Everyone is “recorded.” However, sometimes Histories get out into The Narrows, which is an in between world, and Keepers have to capture them and take them back.

I liked the world, but there was a lot I didn’t really understand. I wasn’t really sure why the dead were kept like logs. Do they just hang around, in case someone else that’s dead needs to see what happened? Like with any version of the afterlife, there are questions. I didn’t understand the why, but it didn’t bother me. This book was interesting and engaging, so while my brain was all “hold up, why are they doing this?” I was still able to enjoy the story!

I really liked Mackenzie. She has a really tough job, dealing with the dead isn’t exactly cheerful. She has to deal with disoriented Histories and try to calm them down and lead them to where they need to go. She also has to deal with the losses in her own life, the changes her family is going through, and just being a teenager. That is a lot to deal with! She doesn’t always have it all together, which makes her all the more interesting to me. She makes mistakes, and she does the wrong thing.

Mac and her family move to a new building. It’s an old building with a lot of character and a lot of stories. For some reason, there’s a lot of abnormal behavior with the Histories and she works with another keeper, Wes. She also discovers that there’s a story behind the building, and someone’s trying to keep it hidden. She has to take care of the extra histories and try to learn who is covering something up and why. The mystery kept me wanting more, and I was surprised when everything was revealed.

Mac seems to be on bad terms with the actual Archive. She does have a friend in Roland, a librarian there. I really liked Roland, he was entertaining. The Archive seems like a scary and interesting place. The end gives an idea of what Mac might deal with in the sequel, and shows that things aren’t neatly tied up.

4 star rating

I really enjoyed The Archived! I wasn’t completely sure what was going on all the time, it was unique, and I didn’t figure everything out! I think it’s a book I would like to read again at some point, and I definitely want to check out the sequel. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Near Witch, but I’ve heard so many great things about Vicious and I want to bump it higher on my TBR list! If you like a different take on ghosts and the afterlife, exciting writing, and

Check out Victoria Schwab‘s website (which is pretty cool) and twitter!

Pivot Point by Kasie West [book review]

Pivot Point coverPivot Point by Kasie West
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 12th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series:  Pivot Point #1

Goodreads description: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

I bought Pivot Point when it was on sale for $1.99 on Kindle. I kept hearing so many great things about it that I thought I should check it out!

Addie lives in a compound where everyone has paranormal abilities. Abilities such as Clairvoyance (close to what Addie has), Persuasion (her mom has this ability), and Telekinesis (a guy at school). Addie’s actual ability is a rare one called Divergence (that it was called this made sense but it also annoyed me slightly) where she can see what will happen with every possible future, if she chooses to Search it. If she comes to a choice, she can Search both options for possible outcomes. Addie’s parents are splitting up and her dad is moving off the compound which means she has to decide if she wants to stay with her mom or move with her dad and the only thing to do, instead of just making a decision, is to Search each option for possible outcomes.

I liked Addie, but she also annoyed me and I had to roll my eyes at her a bit. It’s lovely that she would rather read than party and her friend Leila has to try to pull her out of her shell. That’s pretty normal, people like to read. But Addie is also very set in her views about certain things and how people act, and I didn’t always think she was being very fair. She was also really extreme about her parents and she was banking on her reaction as a moody teenager and manipulating them in ways that were unfair. It was even a somewhat believable move for a whiny teenager, but I found it annoying. Her friendship with Leila is nice, but Leila could be extreme and reckless. Leila and Addie did have some funny conversations such as the following:

“So let me get this straight. If I didn’t have an ability, you wouldn’t like me?”
I sigh. “Of course I’d like you. But that’s because you’re outspoken, bossy, and don’t care what anyone else thinks.”
“You just made me sound like a total witch.”
“I know, but let’s not get sidetracked. This is my meltdown.”

The idea for the abilities and Addie’s Searching is really interesting, but the execution was frustrating. In the Searches, there were more decisions that would cause everything to go a different way. I mean, there are so many decisions in every day so why would every decision after one decision be exactly the same and lead to the exact same results? Plus some decisions have more than two choices! Just because she chose one or the other doesn’t mean the exact same things would happen, or it shouldn’t mean that. The book kind of discusses the limitations of her ability but I do feel like it was kind of ignored in general. Am I being too critical and nerdy about this? Maybe I am, but it bugged me!

The story alternates between the Search for Addie that stays and Addie that leaves. Some things are really interesting, what similarities happen and what ends up being really different. There’s a larger threat lurking in the back in both options and watching it play out in both options is interesting, but not perfect. I feel like a lot of the action at the end is contrived to force Addie’s decision and make it more difficult. I know a story needs conflict, but some of it was just weird and didn’t seem to fit the story.

After Searching both options, Addie has to make a decision, and I hated the decision. Maybe I didn’t actually hate the decision itself, but how it was handled. I thought the ending of the book was weak and disappointing. I wanted more. I wanted something proactive. I think the limitations of her ability were just sad and make the story about the ability almost pointless. There are just so many possibilities out there, and I think the science fiction/paranormal aspect of the book just fails to look at the scope of it all. 

2.5 stars

This book wasn’t bad, it was even enjoyable. It had nice romantic scenes and some funny moments that I enjoyed. I was a little letdown by the execution and Addie’s ability and attitude. I’m not sure if I want to read the next book, Split Second, but I’m interested in reading West’s contemporary, The Distance Between Us. It might not have been for me, but I know a lot of people did so if you think it sounds like something you would enjoy, I definitely think you should read it and not let my picky ways sway you! I would recommend Pivot Point if you enjoy mental abilities, indecision, two love interests but not exactly a triangle!

Check out Kasie West‘s website and twitter!

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce [Book Review]

Sisters Red coverSisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: June 7th 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Fairytale Retellings #1

Goodreads description: Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris–the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She’s determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls’ bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett’s only friend–but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they’ve worked for?

Sisters Red was also on my Summer TBR Top Ten. I’d been interested in it for a while because I love retellings and I liked Pearce’s Purity, which I read before I blogged. My mom picked it up for me at a “store” where teachers get free things ( books and school supplies) and I was excited.

Sisters Red is the story of Scarlett and Rosie March. They live in the country and their family hunts werewolves, also called Fenris. They lived with their grandma until “the big bad werewolf” came when Scarlett was eleven and Rosie was nine. Scarlett saved Rosie’s life while gaining some disfiguring scars and losing an eye in the process. Since that event, Scarlett has been obsessed with killing every possible Fenris. The sisters train to kill and kill werewolves and that is about it.

Scarlett’s woodsman best friend, Silas, helps them hunt but he’s been on a trip across the country for a year. Rosie wants to hunt on her own, but Scarlett is too protective. They dress up in red cloaks and pretend to be helpless to bait werewolves who prey on young girls. They find out that werewolf packs are congregating in nearby Atlanta because there’s a Potential (a potential werewolf, of course) in the area. They pack up and move to a crappy apartment in Atlanta to try to find and save the poor soul while killing as many Fenris as possible.

The sisters have a special bond. They feel like one person and they can share thoughts. Scarlett is older and focused on killing werewolves so they can’t kill or maim more people. She feels it is their responsibility because they know about the Fenris while others do not. Rosie also hates Fenris and wants to kill them, but that isn’t all she wants from life. She wants more normality, but she owes her life to Scarlett so she feels obligated to stick to hunting. Their bond is nice, but it’s also frustrating. They love each other a lot but they don’t talk things out very well.

When Silas returns, he and Rosie start seeing each other differently. The romance is a bit creepy, a little sad, and sickly sweet. She’s sixteen and he’s twenty-one. It doesn’t really go into creepy territory in the story, but Rosie also feels pretty young for sixteen. I think it has to do with how much time she spends with über focused Scarlett instead of other girls her own age. It gets a little too sweet for me, but Silas is always nice to her and encourages her to do what she what she is interested in, regardless of Scarlett’s demands. Rosie has hearts in her eyes like she’s never been around a guy before, but to be fair the only guys she has been around lately are werewolves that she’s aiming to kill. Silas and Rosie hide their romantic feelings from Scarlett because Scarlett is against anything that is Not Hunting. Her reasons are dumb, and if she was more worried about her little sister being with an older guy, it would be more understandable. Romance might distract from hunting, but you can still be a hunter if you’re romantically involved. Obviously, other hunters (her family) have had romances before or else she wouldn’t be alive.

Scarlett is selfish but she’s also caring. She loves her sister and she’s extremely protective. She doesn’t want Rosie to hunt alone, but she doesn’t want Rosie to do anything but hunt. She thinks it is their duty, but she also thrives on the hunt and relishes it. She thinks she needs to protect poor, helpless girls but she also despises them and judges them. She has to help them because she knows about werewolves, but she’s jealous of their freedom and their beauty. She and Silas are disturbing with their attitudes about young girls that end up being victims. Nobody is ever “asking” to be attacked and you’re not better than them because you expect bad things to happen. I think I would have liked Scarlett and Silas so much more and the book better if they weren’t so judgmental. Why even bother saving people you don’t seem to think are worthy of your protection? 

The lore with the Fenris/werewolves is different, interesting, and creepy. Not everyone that’s bitten becomes a werewolf, there is a certain aspect about a male (and only males) that enables them to be turned. Everyone else that gets bitten is injured or dies. The werewolves are vile and prey on young girls like twisted sexual predators and serial killers. I’m not sure the twist is even a twist, because it’s glaringly obvious. Figuring it out doesn’t really ruin anything in the story for you, though. 

There are some intense and exciting hunts and fights with werewolves in this book. Those scenes are also violent and can be gory. The fight scenes were fast-paced. I thought the climax of the story was exciting and thrilling.  There is a little bit of a side-eye at the last-minute, but I was willing to let it slide.

2.5 stars

Sisters Red had a lot of potential, but was a bit disappointing. The characters had likable moments but they were also frustrating and at times disturbing. The werewolf parts were exciting and I liked the writing. As a retelling, it isn’t that close to the Little Red Riding Hood story I’m familiar with, but using red cloaks to lure werewolves in was cool even if cloaks aren’t that modern. I’d recommend this book to someone who can handle some violence, victim-blaming and sisterly angst.

Check out Jackson Pearce‘s website and twitter!

Series Post: The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

The Abhorsen Trilogy

Sabriel coverLirael coverAbhorsen cover
note: I had this post scheduled with the intentions of finishing it last week and never got around to it. I forgot to re-save it as a draft so it published while very unfinished. If you saw the pre-ready version, my apologies! Trip exhaustion got the better of me. Hopefully this one is better, even if it takes a ramble-y turn.

Sabriel | September 30th 1996 | Harper Collins | goodreads | amazon | book depository

While at boarding school across the border in Ancelstierre, Sabriel inherits the title of Abhorsen when her father dies unexpectedly. She believes he died as a mistake and wants to try to rescue him. His death makes her the necromancer of the Old Kingdom, which means it is her duty to put the dead other necromancers raise to rest. With reluctant assistance from Mogget, a cat-like creature and prisoner of the Abhorsen, she sets out to save her father and restore his title. She learns that the Old Kingdom is in chaos. A dark, dead power called Kerrigor is using dead to take over the realm. On her journey, she finds and wakes Touchstone, a frozen-in-time-and-Death Charter Mage, who can’t seem to remember or at any rate speak about his life in the past. Touchstone is powerful and joins Sabriel and Mogget on their mission against Kerrigor.

Lirael | April 29th 2001 | Eos | goodreads | amazon | book depository

Lirael is a daughter of the Clayr, the Seers of the Old Kingdom. She expects to receive the Sight, but it never comes. She is depressed and isolated. She badly wants to be a part of the Clayr and wants to have family. She eventually gets to help in the library, learns all about magic, and meets the Disreputable Dog, who becomes her best and only friend. She discovers the Sight is not for her, but there is something else waiting.

Sameth is Abhorsen-in-waiting. He went to boarding school over the wall, in Ancelstierre. He faces Death bravely, but after that he wants no more to do with it. He isn’t interested in being the Abhorsen, he only wants to create and invent things. Instead of learning more about necromancy, he takes off to do what he wants. Meanwhile, his friend Nick from boarding school is being used to resurrect an ancient evil.

Along the way, Sam and Lirael meet and discover their interests are aligned and they need to work together, along with furry friends Disreputable Dog and Mogget, the angry, sleepy cat we already know. As one would expect, Dog and Mogget don’t get along.

Abhorsen | January 7th 2003 | HarperTeen | goodreads | amazon | book depository

Sameth and Lirael have to try to save the world. They learn that Nick is being used to raise an evil so serious, it will actually wipe out the world. They have to use their various skills and powers and every other resource they can find to put the evil to rest.


Not many. A few times I thought the story was going a little slower than I wanted it to, but it wasn’t ever too bad. I also didn’t know that the last book continued off the third, (since the first is a bit separate and contained) so I was confused by that and I was worried about so much setup and expected a quick wrap up. That’s probably more of a personal error.

The Abhorsen world is full of rich magic.

Free Magic is magic that has no rules, which often leads to unsavory things. Including people using the dead for nefarious purposes and trying to TAKE OVER THE WORLD (said in The Brain’s voice, from Pinky and the Brain).

Charter Magic was created to contain Free Magic. This added guidelines and rules instead of lawlessness. There are Charter marks which mages can use by writing, speaking, or thinking. There are Charter stones which 

Necromancers go into the realm of Death and raise the dead to do their bidding. The realm of Death is filled with a river and nine gates. Each gate takes a spirit where it needs to go, away from life. Necromancers take spirits out of this realm and into the realm of life. A few different kinds of dead used are: Hands are mindless reanimated corpses, Shadow Hands are raised spirits, and gore crows are a group of dead crows infused with the spirit of a human. There are many more, including scary Greater Dead. SO many dead things creeping around!

The Abhorsen is an “official” necromancer and uses Charter Magic to put the dead to rest and stop necromancers from using dead bodies and spirits. The Abhorsen also goes in the realm of Death. They use bells to “sing” the dead to sleep and bind their spirits. The bells are important and too complex for me to easily explain, but they are so awesome. I never knew I could be so excited about bells!

The Clayr have the Sight and can see possible futures. One thing I found really interesting about The Clayr is that each Clayr sees something of her death, but not the death itself. Creepy! They also live in a glacier! 

Nix also does a stellar job weaving the magical Old Kingdom with its less magical and more modern neighbor, Ancelstierre. These countries share a border with a guarded wall and they are so different. Not only is the world-building amazing, but the way the differing countries interact is incredible to me.

It’s filled with strong and enjoyable characters.

Sabriel is thrown into a completely unexpected responsibility. She knows about necromancy and she’s studied the Book of the Dead, but she’s unprepared for the weight of the title of Abhorsen. She misses her father and wants to save him so he can be Abhorsen and do what needs to be done. She’s scared and she would like to be able to go back across the wall and not worry about anything, but she really steps up. She is strong, determined and she has awesome bells and a kick ass sword. She’s a fun character to read about, and her relationship with her father was really touching.

Mogget is a Free Magic creature who is a prisoner and unwilling servant of the Abhorsen. He has a Charter Magic collar keeping him in line and under control. He’s snarky and can be rather unpleasant. He’s also hilarious, especially when exasperated. I could tell he’s just biding his time, and his anger is evident in vivid detail throughout the books. However, there is so much more to Mogget than I originally thought, in multiple ways. He is surprising and I’m not sure how anyone could resist liking him! Easily one of my favorite characters of the series, and probably somewhere on the list of all-time favorite characters.

Touchstone is a bit harder to talk about him without spoiling, because the mystery of his background is important, as is the revelation of said mystery. When he first shows up, he seems kind of slow to Sabriel (and to me!) but he’s been frozen in a non-conscious limbo for a really long time. Plus he’s under a spell that won’t let him speak about what happened to him. He shows his worth and his power soon enough, and he is not to be underestimated. He’s an important character and his help and friendship to Sabriel is paramount.

Lirael is a daughter of the Clayr and grows up as an outsider because she doesn’t have the Sight. She’s learns a lot about Charter Magic and becomes intensely skilled. She can even make animal skins with Charter marks and when she wears them she transforms into the animal. Awesome, right? She’s a really sad character who just wants to belong. I think anyone that’s been lonely can relate and sympathize with her. However, with the help of Dog, she sets out on a mission and gets to discover a whole world outside of the Clayr and what she is lacking. She’s meant for great things! She’s also very no nonsense and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

Dog or Disreputable Dog: It’s difficult to explain the origin of Dog out of context, but I will sum it up for you in a word: magic! Dog is Lirael’s friend and kind mentor. Like with most things, there’s more to Dog than anyone can imagine. She is kind and loyal, but she’s also really knowledgeable and helpful. Easy to love and a very important character.

Sam: He is the very reluctant heir. He likes creating toys and gadgets. He has a responsibility to the Kingdom and his parents, but he’d rather do his own thing. The thought of necromancy makes him scared. He’s kind of a mess, but he means well.

The characters go on journeys and use magic to fight evil, while learning and growing.

The first book is about Sabriel and her wish to save her father, which turns into a mission to save the kingdom. It’s also about her doubt, struggle, and self discovery. She learns so much about the world and herself. She’s unsure of herself, but she’s determined. I love watching her fumble and watching her find her way. I also love the romance that sparks between Sabriel and Touchstone.

The second two books are about Lirael and Sam finding their ways and saving the world. Sabriel and Touchstone make appearances in these books, too. Lirael is so easy to relate to because who hasn’t been lonely? She’s such an outsider and she’s longing to fit in. It’s exciting to see her leave the place that’s holding her down and discover there is so much more out there. She has an important task, but it’s also a time of discovery for her. Sam is so bogged down by expectations. He wants to slink them off and be free. He feels scared and helpless and he’s searching for something better.He’s immature and selfish, but his feelings are understandable. 

I knew I liked these books, but I guess I underestimated how much I enjoyed them. I had a lot of fun writing this and remembering all the things I loved about this world and these characters. If you like fantasy worlds with magic, the walking dead (not zombies but still gross), journeys, friendship, talking animals, swords and battles then you should definitely give these books a shot! My favorite of the series is probably Sabriel, but each book is incredible and the ending of the series is kind of everything, even if I wanted more (I am greedy like that). 

Bonus fun fact: The other day I was shoe shopping at Payless and there was a really cute little girl and I overheard her parents calling her Sabriel. I’m sure there’s a chance they found it somewhere else, but I choose to believe they named her after these books and I love it.

boxed set: book depository | amazon

The Abhorsen Chronicles (all three books in one, plus an extra story): book depository | amazon

Check out Garth Nix’s website and twitter!

Series Post: Heist Society by Ally Carter

The Heist Society

hs1 hs2hs3 

I’ve seen these books around a lot and didn’t want to read them because of the covers. I’m weird about faces on covers. I can’t actually remember who it was I saw talking about the Heist Society books the other day that made me think, “Oh, maybe they’re good,” but I’m glad I decided to give them a chance! AND Ally Carter is from Oklahoma, which I didn’t know until after I read the series and followed her on twitter, but I love finding out people are from Oklahoma!

Heist Society | February 9th 2010 | Disney-Hyperion | goodreads | amazon | book depository

A good thief is always a good liar.”

An Introduction to a family of criminals! A young girl at boarding school, framed for a terrible crime. Kat (short for Katarina) Bishop is attempting a normal life at the Colgan School. She has left a life – and family – of crime. However, the life and the family will not leave her.

Kat’s friend Hale retrieves her from boarding school because her father is in trouble. Her father, Bobby, is a con man but another con man, a dangerous one, believes he stole some very high-end paintings. However, while Bobby has stolen a lot of things, he did not steal the paintings in question. To save her father from certain violence for a crime he didn’t commit, she gathers a team of teens to steal the paintings back from an (almost) impenetrable museum.

Uncommon Criminals | June 21st 2011 | Disney-Hyperion | goodreads | amazon | book depository

After learning more about art that was stolen by Nazis from her experience in the Henley, Kat assumes a Robin Hood role of returning important stolen goods. She takes an interest in small, solo jobs. She gains a reputation for being a noble thief that will help retrieve lost or stolen valuables. When someone comes to her for help retrieving half of the supposedly cursed Cleopatra diamond, she can’t refuse.

Kat calls her team together again and they set out to steal a legendary piece. As they perform the con, they start to believe the curse might be real. They also realize they’re not the only ones running a con!

Perfect Scoundrels | February 5th 2013 | Hyperion Books for Children | goodreads | amazon | book depository

The con lies closer to home this time when Hale’s family is involved. After his grandmother Hazel dies, Hale is withdrawn. Kat can understand that he’s upset and she doesn’t know how to help. Shockingly to the rest of his family, Hale is named head of the family company. However Marcus, a loyal servant to the Hale family, and friend to the youngest Hale, believes the will that was read is a fake and asks Kat to locate and steal the grandmother’s real will. Kat is reluctant to do anything that might hurt Hale, but she knows how important the truth is.

While trying to steal the will, they discover it isn’t the only thing that’s wrong. Hazel’s lawyer is a liar and wants to bring the company down. The gang, this time including Uncle Eddie and other adult members of the family, runs a con to protect Hall’s family and company from demise.


Issues: It was a bit difficult to believe teens could run such elaborate cons. Kat is fifteen when the first book starts up and Hale is sixteen. It did made sense that they had a brilliant hacker and most of the them grew up learning the tricks and honing skills. There were also some “hmm” moments with bad guys and just, how did they not get caught moments. However,  it was not a big enough deal to diminish any enjoyment for me.

Heists: High tech museums, legendary emeralds, and the corporate world all require a lot of planning. Part of being a good thief is research but a lot of it is being able to roll with the punches. It also requires a few costumes, accents and charisma! Add in some hacking, surveillance, forgery and explosives and what more could you ask for? PLUS, every heist has a name and there are some good ones!

Family: I loved how the series focused on the family aspect. It’s a crime family and they deal with some serious stuff, but they all really care for each other. They hang out in Uncle Eddie’s kitchen and he tells them stories. They all go to Paraguay (or is it Uruguay?) for family heists. Kat thinks she wants to step away from the business, but she still loves her family. Hale is incredibly drawn to the family, he doesn’t need anything they might steal but the closeness is something he craves.

Romance: I also liked the romance! The first book doesn’t get too into the romance, but it’s obvious Kat and Hale like each other and have chemistry. The thing I really love about the romance is that, yes, they both find the other attractive but they both care about so much more than that. Hale wants to be part of Kat’s family and he wants to help her. He wants her to be safe. He’s protective of her, but not in an overbearing/douchey way. He just CARES! Kat is bashful about Hale even though she likes him and they’re close. She doesn’t know everything about him (like what his W’s represent!) but she knows he’s always there when she needs him and she wants to be there for him, too. They are just great, and it felt like more than a simple teenage romance.

Characters: There were so many great characters that made the series! From Uncle Eddie, the mastermind of the family, to Simon, the computer whiz, and Angus and Hamish, the brothers that like to blow things up, this series is full of characters to connect with! The main characters are the ones I fell in love with:

Kat: She loves her family and wants what’s best for them. She wants a life outside of the family business, but she’ll do anything to help them. She’s a thief but she definitely has a strong sense of morality. 

Hale: “Kat sometimes wondered if that kind of self-assurance was something only very old money could buy.”  He’s suave but he’s also genuine and vulnerable. His family is rich and absent, leaving little Hale all alone. He does have an awesome butler, Marcus, who is actually more like family. Hale and Kat met on a heist gone wrong and she “stole” him. He adores Kat and there’s some great friendship and flirtation between the two. There’s also the mystery of his name: W. W. Hale the Fifth goes only by Hale and Kat has no idea what the W’s stand for! And after 3 books, I don’t either!

Gabrielle: I love characters that change your mind! I was annoyed with her when she was introduced. I thought she was an air head, but she proved me wrong, wrong, wrong.  She is smart and beautiful and she will not let you forget it. She is an asset to every heist. She’s also a great cousin and friend to Kat, she listens and gives advice Kat needs to hear, even if she doesn’t want to listen!

These books were fun! I can see myself rereading them and telling anyone that needs a happy, quick series to sink into to get this series! I’m interested in reading the Gallagher Girls series now, too!

Check out Ally Carter’s website and twitter!