I've been getting a lot of questions lately about when the heck am I going to do another round of book reviews. Well here you go.
Under the Never Sky (book 1) and Through the Ever Night (book 2) by Veronica Rossi: Just when I felt like I was all dystopiaed out, this series came along. I couldn't put these books down. A note: please do not judge this series by the book covers. I hate the covers. Not remotely representative of the rocking story inside.
Shadow and Bone (book 1) and Siege and Storm (book 2) by Leigh Bardugo: Probably my favorites series lately. Awesome world building (Russia meets magic!), witty dialogue (Nikolai!), and engrossing adventure (Darkling shenanigans!). A lot of fun for anyone who likes fantasy, or who just likes to imagine. I'd recommend waiting until book three is released before reading the series, though, otherwise you'll have a very miserable several months waiting for closure. (Side note: Unlike Rossi's books, these covers rock.)
Matched by Ally Condie: Another distopia. First of a trilogy. There was a lot to like, but on the whole there was way too much teenage angst. I would have preferred a better balance between romance and action. I didn't continue the series. It just wasn't my taste. Sorry Condie fans.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Not a part of a series! It can be nice to read a stand-alone amid all these trilogies. Whenever I recommend this book, people ask me what it's about, and I tell them: it's a fictional story about a teenage girl with cancer. At that point their eyes glaze over and I can tell they have no interest. At that point I start jumping up and down and flapping my hands, insisting that it's so much more than a 'cancer book,' it's not emotionally manipulative, and it really is worth their time. They then make some excuse about leaving their curling iron on and quickly retreat, while casting nervous glances at me over their shoulders. Their loss. Seriously, you HAVE to read this book. It's won all sorts of awards, and it certainly deserves them. It's smart, funny, and really quite touching, all while tacking some pretty serious subjects. This is the first book that has made me cry in a long, long time.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson: A kingdom seeping with corruption, revolutionaries with questionable tactics, dark magic threatening everyone, forbidden love, and a reluctant hero all make this a really entertaining series. I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns last summer and loved it. I read Crown of Embers some months later and had a little difficulty remembering the details of the first book, which threw me for a while. I kept reading, though, and eventually that jogged my memory enough to keep me engaged during the second book. I wish I had re-read TGoFaT first, though. I think I would have liked CoE more if I had. Still, I am excited for book three.
Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore: Katsa is definitely the most kick-butt heroine since Katniss Everdeen. This trilogy is more like Grave Mercy, in that it tells different characters' stories in each of the novels, and those stories, while overlapping, aren't dependent on each other. It's a fantasy land with certain magical elements, but it felt more realistic than many other fantasy novels. No dragons, witches, hobbits, or elves here. That could be a plus or a minus, depending on your point of view. I enjoyed it, personally.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: This book is bizarre in all the best ways. It's nothing like I expected. I don't even know what genre it is: paranormal? sci-fi? romance? Who knows. This series has quite the following, and I totally understand why, but for some reason the book just didn't do it for me. I finished book one because I always finish books after I start them (with very few exceptions) but I don't think I'll continue the series.
Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth: This is another dystopia series. Divergent came out a while ago, and I read it last year, but I didn't get around to reading Insurgent until recently. Insurgent was just as fast paced and action packed as I remember Divergent was. This series definitely packs a punch. I would like it more, personally, if there was more humor infused throughout - it just seems so serious all the time - but it's still a fun ride. Lots of adrenaline, lots of excitement, and lots of late hours finishing these books.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: This book tells the story of a Cyborg Cinderella. And it's as awesome as it sounds. I totally called one major plot twist, but it was still worth the read. I haven't read the next in this sci-fi/dystopia series, but I hear the next one tells Little Red Riding Hood's story. No, I don't know why I haven't read it yet. I'll get on that.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: What? Not a YA book? Shocking, I know. I think I'm the only person I know who liked The Casual Vacancy. And still, I don't think 'liked' is the right word. Maybe 'appreciated,' or 'valued' would be better. It's a grim, unhappy story, and it's difficult to read. It's one of those stories that has stayed with me months after reading it, though. Conclusion: I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'll be picking it up again any time soon.
Uglies, Pretties, and Specials by Scott Westerfeld: I think I got my expectations up too high for this series. I wanted to like it. Really, I did. That's why I read three of the four books in the series. But in the end I was just too bored to continue. On the upside, this series made me really want to learn how to ride a hoverboard. So there's that.
Side bar: has anyone else noticed how YA book-to-movie crazy the entertainment business has been lately? Seriously. There's Ender's Game, Divergent, The Maze Runner, The Fault In Our Stars, The Mortal Instruments, The Host, and of course Catching Fire (Hunger Games book 2). And probably more that I don't know about. Cray-cray. I'm not sure how to react to all these movies. It makes me nervous. I'll probably have to drown my anxiety in copious amounts of chocolate chip cookies. That sounds like a good idea.
Lastly, here is Her Cuteness on her first half birthday: