Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Pages: 389

Publisher: HarperCollins January 3, 2012

Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, especially those geared towards young adults. I chose this book on my Kindle because it kept popping up as a recommendation, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I was not disappointed.

Under the Never Sky takes place in a futuristic world much different than any others I've ever read about. Mankind's existence is under constant threat from electrical storms. To stand a fighting chance, a group of people have built a city called Reverie made up of tunnels that protect them from the elements. To cope with never seeing the light of day, the tunnels have virtual realms in which people can live out their fantasies. They can also explore different time periods and places, virtually speaking. Due to their limited exposure to the elements (and life in general), their life expectancies have greatly expanded.

Our main character, Aria, comes from this technologically advanced world. She has the voice of and angel, genetically engineered by her mother of course. Nothing is left to chance She wears a Smarteye which allows her to take part in virtual existence, as well as communicate with others and organize herself. Think of having your computer or laptop screen appear on your eye and all you would have to do is simply think of something, and it would obey your command! How cool would that be? The Science Fiction nerd in me really appreciated Rossi's invented world.

I also enjoyed reading about the world outside of Aria's: a world full of primitive and savage people, where nature and mankind were in constant battle. If the lightening doesn't kill you, the cannibals or bloodthirsty wolves likely will. This is the only world that Perry, the male protagonist, has ever known. Perry is in fact dreamy. He's gifted and strong, sexy and irresistible.

I loved the dynamic between Aria and Perry when their journey begins. Perry is annoyed by Aria's haughtiness and sense of superiority. Having lived in "the real world" his whole life, he cannot relate to Aria on any level. As their stories begin to unfold, the pair find out they have more in common than they realized. The plot became more and more interesting as Rossi introduced new revelations and mysteries to the story.

After reading this book, I immediately pre-ordered Through the Ever Night, which comes out January 8th. I can hardly wait to find out what happens next! I give this book 8 out of 10 on the page-turner scale. It started a little slow (it takes time to set up imaginary worlds!) but picked up and was an absolutely delicious read.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Looking Ahead: 2013

Fans of Young Adult Fiction have a lot to look forward to reading this upcoming year. I've compiled a list of some of my favorite series I'm following and the release dates for upcoming installments. Hope you enjoy, and Merry Christmas to all!


Through the Ever Night

Veronica Rossi

Release Date: January 8, 2013 (Got mine pre-ordered!)


Unravel Me (Shatter Me trilogy)

Tahereh Mafi

Release Date: February 5, 2013

Requiem (Delirium Series)

Lauren Oliver

Release Date: March 5, 2013



Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices Series)

Cassandra Clare

Release Date: March 19, 2013

Untitled Book #3 (Divergent Series)

Veronica Roth

Release Date: September 26, 2013



These are just to name a few! The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Mara Dyer Series) is also due out sometime this next year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

Dystopian novels have become one of my favorite genres of fiction. I think it takes so much imagination and creative energy to invent entire worlds with their own set of rules. This particular book reminded me of another favorite dystopian novel of mine, Lois Lowry's The Giver. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Lowry's work inspired some of the framework of Condie's dystopian world. Let me break the first book, Matched, down for you: A young girl named Cassia lives in a society (ironically called "the Society") where every part of her life is controlled and planned for her, including whom she will be matched with for life. Life in the Society seems pretty easy, if you enjoy being a mindless puppet with zero ambition. Food, activities, occupation, everything is decided for Cassia and her personal choices are limited. Most people have become complacent with this way of living. For most of them, it's the only way they've ever known. Everything seems pretty perfect, until there's a glitch in Cassia's results at her Match banquet and she becomes aware of an outcast named Ky. She doesn't understand the way she feels for this boy; a way she could never feel about her best friend Xander, who happens to be her match. Her grandfather also ignites her curiosity about what lies outside of the constrictions of the Society before he dies. She begins to question everything as the world she knows starts crumbling away. Rumors of an uprising against the Society and the existence of a mysterious hero start to emerge. The first book leaves you guessing and wanting more.

The second book, Crossed, covers the next part of Cassia's journey to becoming independent from the Society. Her character is much stronger and more aware in this book. I found her adventure through the Carving really exciting. However, the emphasis on Ky's past was a little over-the-top for me. I really started feeling like I was too old to be reading the series about half-way through this book. Everyone loves a sensitive guy, but Ky's character was so overly emotional about his past that it was hard to empathize with him anymore. The author really beats you over the head with his sob story. The journey ended on an exciting note, with a new society on the verge and the characters being a part of it. You are still left wondering who the mysterious hero known as "the Pilot", will be.

I recently finished the third book in the series, Reached. This book was written entirely different from the previous two in that it was told from the alternating perspectives of Cassia, Xander, and Ky. This was really interesting in that it gives you more insight into Xander and Ky's characters. I don't want to give too much away in case you planned on reading the series, but I will say that I really enjoyed how the author tied together so many loose ends from the previous books. I had forgotten many of the mysteries since the last book but she reintroduced them and connected everything together so that it ended really well. I think it would have been really awesome to have Cassia find out that her grandfather actually escaped to the "Otherlands" instead of dying, though!

In all, the trilogy began as very character driven and ended very plot driven. The second and third books were overly political and harder for me to get into. I stuck it out for the characters, in all honesty. It feels good to finish another trilogy and I'm satisfied with how it ended.

On a page-turner scale I would give this trilogy a 6 out of 10. If you can muddle through some of the melodrama and politics, there is a sweet and interesting story there.


Stay tuned, next I'll be reviewing Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: The Mara Dyer Trilogy

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer info:

Hardcover, 452 pages

Published September 27th 2011

by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

The Evolution of Mara Dyer info:

Hardcover, 544 pages

Published October 23rd 2012

by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


Good Reads Synapsis:

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.



My Review:

Over the past couple of weeks I've been immersed in a YA paranormal romance series by Michelle Hodkin known as The Mara Dyer Trilogy. The first book in the series is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and the second is The Evolution of Mara Dyer. I feel like it would be a little redundant to write a review for each book so I've decided to review the series as a whole and here it goes:

Both books were real page-turners. I thoroughly enjoyed main characters Mara and Noah and their heated romance, though some might find their slight resemblance to Twilight's Edward and Bella a little irritating. But come on, what is YA fiction without a little bit of forbidden romance? That, along with parts of the storyline and some of the supporting characters, are where the similarities end. Instead of a selfless, clumsy, vampire wannabe, Mara Dyer has true grit, and a body count. She has her share of clumsy accidents, but that's only due to the fact that she suffers from some major Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is haunted by the three friends she accidentally killed. Mara is a cold blood murderer, and doesn't even know it. I found her sharp wit and unsettling honesty a refreshing change from some of the other YA characters out there.

Noah, on the other hand, was your cliché bad boy who's actually a saint once you get to know him. Described as tall and thin, disheveled in appearance, and completely full of himself, I didn't find myself pining over his character. If I had to compare him to other leading men, I would say he's a combination of Edward (Twilight) and Jace (Infernal Devices Series) but with a British accent. And he smokes. Though it would seem like a winning personality combination, Noah's character seemed like he was trying too hard to be a stud. His relationship with Mara, however, became very interesting as it unfolded and I was completely absorbed in trying to figure out their strange connection.

What I really loved about this series was how it encompassed so many attributes of my favorite YA Paranormal books, yet the storyline and premise of the characters' struggles were completely unique at the same time. The plot was intriguing and moved along nicely so there was never a dull moment. There were some seriously creepy things going on within Mara and around her. New mysteries about her condition were constantly unfurling throughout both books. Sometimes you figure it out before she does and other times you are left completely in the dark with her. Though some of the mysteries were solved by the end of the second book, my mind was left reeling and wanting more. So much is still unanswered! I almost wish I would have waited to read the books until the third was released. I may just have to revisit them next fall when the third book, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, is due out.

If you are a fan of heart-pounding, mind-boggling, YA paranormal fiction then you should consider reading this series! On a page-turner scale of 1-10, I give both books a 9.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton

Book Description from Amazon:

Publication Date:March 31, 2012


Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance. When three good, Christian sisters from his beloved South show up stranded, alone, and offering to open a "nice" hotel, he is intrigued enough to let them stay...especially since he sees feisty middle sister Naomi as a possible conquest. But Naomi, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, "Why?" Does God really have a plan for each and every life?

Written with gritty, but not gratuitous, realism uncharacteristic of the historical Christian fiction genre, A Lady in Defiance gives a nod to both Pride and Prejudice and Redeeming Love. The story, based on true events, is an "ensemble" piece that deftly weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance.


I've been particularly drawn to Historical Romance novels as of lately, especially Christian Romances set in the late 1800s. Though there are possibly thousands of books available in this genre and time period for Amazon's Kindle, I've yet to find one that was as impactful and inspiring as my latest read. It's hard to believe that a story about prostitutes, gold mining and three Bible-toting sisters could be intertwined with a powerful message about God's mercy and unyielding love, but there's no mistake-this book has it all! Sometimes writers of this genre tend to paint an unrealistic, almost naïve picture of Christians in general, and that really bugs me. What I liked most about Blanton's novel was how each character is exposed to their very core, their faults laid out in the open for all to see. This made her characters seem real and relatable. The author reveals that Christians are flawed and imperfect just like everyone else. It's funny, as I was reading this book I kept comparing it to my favorite Christian Historical Romance, Redeeming Love. As you can see in the description by Amazon, the similarities have not gone unnoticed!

I thought that the premise of the story played out very well. When the three sisters set out to open up a business in the God-forsaken, prostitution laden, gold mining town of Defiance, you aren't sure whether they will make it or not. The main character, Naomi, isn't your typical Victorian "lady". I would describe her persona as a cross between Scarlett O'Hara and Calamity Jane. She's beautiful, headstrong, and feisty-to-a-fault. Her sisters Rebecca and Hannah are also richly developed characters and certainly have faults of their own. Rebecca, the oldest, was the less developed of the three. Hannah's character was the most interesting to me, as her predicament and how she handled it was the basis for the story. As the youngest of the three, Hannah has found herself pregnant at sixteen, and unmarried at that. Wait---WHAT? Did I just say that one of the main Christian characters was an unwed, pregnant teenager? It's true. Because guess what? Teenage pregnancy has happened for a long, long time. I really enjoyed the author's forward in the beginning of the book. She tells about her inspiration for writing the book and how Hannah's character is based on something that happened to her own sister. Yes, she had me crying before the book had even started- it.was.that.good!

McIntire was the character I loved to hate. From the beginning I didn't see how he could change and become likeable. Frankly I just wanted him to disappear throughout most of the book (which I suppose isn't a very Christian attitude). Awful as he is, it's amazing what Blanton did with his character throughout the course of the story. I love it when authors change your mind about someone entirely. It's a sure sign that they really know what they're doing. The author also manages to change your mindset about the gum-smacking, whiskey-guzzling, bosoms-a-popping-out-of-their-tops prostitutes who try to run the sisters out of town. Blanton provides a sobering, humbling glimpse of these sinners through God's eyes.

On a final note, I have to talk about how much I loved the literal and figurative meanings of the title. There were no "ladies" to speak of in Defiance before the sisters arrived, and it seemed throughout the book that their reputations as ladies were at stake. Figuratively, the association of Naomi defying God's will for her, and defying the citizens' opinion of her is also reflected in the title. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical Romance and Christian literature and to anyone who just wants a well put together, believable story. It is Book 1 of the Romance in the Rockies Series. I couldn't find information about other installments, but I will be sure to read the next one of Heather Blanton's books.

On a Page-Turner scale of 1-10, I would give this book a 7. It was slow-moving in some parts, but full of heart-pumping action near the end.