Tuesday, 31 December 2013

December Monthly Wrap Up 2013

Since school has been eating up most of my time, I've been only able to read three to four books a month. But since I'm off for Christmas break, I managed to read fifteen books, including a whole series.

Books read:

1. The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard - (3 stars) - Sci-fi with a not so good romance.  
2. The Iron Queen (The Iron Fey #3)  by Julie Kagawa - (5 stars) - I love this series so much! Excellent. I swear they get better each time.
3. Fireblood (Fireblood #1) by Trisha Wolfe - (3 stars) - Some compared this to The Selection, but to be quite honest, I don't really see any sort of similarities. This book wasn't awful, but it sort of reminded me of Throne of Glass. 
4. United We Spy (Gallagher Girls #6) by Ally Carter - (3 stars) - I'm so sad to see this series end because my friends and I fangirl over this series all the time. We're always talking about Zach and Cammie. This book wasn't my favourite, but I still enjoyed it. 
5. How to Love by Katie Cotugno - ( 4 stars) - This debut was just amazing! I love Katie's writing. She's an author to watch! 
6. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales - ( 4 stars) - Just beautifully honest and raw, I can't help but sympathize for Elise.  
7. Countdown by Michelle Rowen - (3 stars) - It had fast pacing, but it lacked world building. 
8. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - (1 star) - Awful, just plain awful. I wasn't impressed with Divergent or Insurgent; I don't even know why I decided to read the last book. 
9. The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey #4) by Julie Kagawa - (4.5 stars) - It was a bit hard to read it in Ash's POV, but after a few chapters, it starts to get good. Ash is complex and layered that you can never be bored of him. 
10. Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols - (2 stars) - I didn't like the main character at all. So disappointed. 
11.Forget You by Jennifer Echols - (1 star) - After reading and disliking Such A Rush, I thought this one would be a least better. Oh boy, was I wong. I rarely give one stars, but this one is worth chucking against the wall.
12. The Body Finder (The Body Finder #1) by Kimberly Derting - (3.5 stars) - The mystery in this novel was decent, but the romance totally captured me.
13. Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting - (3 stars) - The mystery was too obvious in this one. 
14. The Last Echo (The Body Finder #3) by Kimberly Derting - (4 stars) - Okay, the mystery was obvious as well, but the killer was one to sympathize  for. 
15. Dead Silence (The Body Finder #4) by Kimberly Derting - (2 stars) - I can't believe this is the last book. It wasn't bad, but the ending! You can't just end it off like that. There's so many questions that need to be answered. Please, please let it have a sequel. 

Book I didn't finish: 

Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3) by Katie McGarry (44% finished) - I don't think I'll be finishing this book any time soon. I love, love, love Isaiah, but for some reason I can't bring myself to read his story. 

2014 Reading Challenges

Hey guys! 2014 is coming up soon and I thought it would be a great idea to sign up for a few challenges. After browsing around, these are the ones that I found:

. I have to admit I was quite hesitant whether or not to join it, but I thought why the heck not? Instead of reading just Young Adult, why not read middle grade? Or better yet adult? I think it's time for me to branch out into different genre/categories. 

Below is the schedule for the whole year. Can't wait to start this!

January - Young Adult
February- Contemporary
March - Urban Fantasy
April - Middle Grade
May - Dystopian
June - High Fantasy
July - Adult
August - Paranormal
September - Romance
October - Sci-Fi
November - Historical Fiction
December - New Adult

This is actually the perfect challenge for me. I have stacks upon stacks of books, waiting to be read. Not only that I still have plenty of ebooks that I still need to read. 

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - First Kiss
31-40 - Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 - Could this be love?
50+ - Married With Children

Hopefully, I will be able to at least knock off twenty books off of my TBR list.

Level 1Recruit (1 to 6 books)
Level 2Rebel (7 to 12 books)
Level 3Revolutionist (13 to 18 books)
Level 4Leader (19+ books)

Dystopian novels are books that I can easily pick up and read, so I don't think I will have a problem completing this challenge. Let's hope I could read past 12 dystopian books!

What challenges have  you signed up for? 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Top Fourteen Anticipated Books of 2014

This was a tad bit easier than my top thirteen books of 2013, but it was so hard to choose fourteen when there's still a lot more that I'm anticipating. Hope you all enjoy! Don't forget to mention in the comments what 2014 release you are anticipating!

1. Oblivion (Nevermore #3) by Kelly Creagh

If you read the epilogue of Enshadowed, you will know why I must need this book. I WANT MORE VAREN.

2. The Treatment (The Program #2) by Suzanne Young

Okay, maybe the cover wasn't impressive as The Program, but I really want to know the ending of this book. Thank goodness this is only a duology. 

3. Fates (Fates #1) by Lanie Bross

Isn't the cover just gorgeous? I can't wait for this to come out. Mythology books ftw!

4. Erased (Altered #2) by Jennifer Rush

ASDFHSDKJF. I'm so excited for this. I find it quite funny that they did a cover change. Orginally, the model on the cover had his abs on full display, now they covered it with the title. LOL. 

5. Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

I just love the cover of this book. The typography is just stunning. I'm a sucker for anything yellow. I've heard fantastic things about this book. Can't wait!

I'm not a huge fan of historical novels, but this series is just fantastic! I need to know who Cass ends up with. Luca or Falco? 

7. The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

Ever since I read Deb Caletti's Stay, I've been wanting to read all of her books. She writes so poetic and raw that it's easy to pick out your favourite quotes.

8. Evertrue (Everneath #3) by Brodi Ashton

The last book left at such a cliffhanger. I'm dying to have this in my hands. What team are you in? Cole or Jack? I can't choose for myself.

9. Magnolia by Kristi Cook

IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE SYNOPSIS OF THIS BOOK, YOU NEED TO NOW. I haven't read a single book by this author, but that synopsis reels me in so badly that I kind of want to pre-order it. 

10. Earthquake (Earthbound #2)  by Aprilynne Pike

Okay, the first book was awful, but the last page (literally!)  leaves you a total cliffhanger, making you want more.

Awesome cover. Intriguing synopsis. Let's hope that this book has the whole package. 

12. Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols

Jennifer Echols impressed me with Going Too Far so much that I feel the need to read all of her books. This book looks cute and fun!

13. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson is one of my favourite contemporary authors! I adored both of her novels Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer. Let's hope she'll impress me with this one.

14. The Winner's Curse by Marie Ruthkoski

There are so many five-star reviews to this book that I had to put this on the list. Also, isn't the cover just beautiful? 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Top 13 Books of 2013

 Out of the 150 books I've read this year, these are my top thirteen picks of this year. It was a challenge to choose thirteen since I loved so much other books. But these were the books that struck out to me the most. I hope you all enjoy! Btw, some of these weren't published this year.

Altered by Jennifer Rush

This book reminds me of my all-time favourite tv show, Prison Break. I swear as I was reading this, I felt like I was being brought back to that show. I devoured every single page of this book.

I can't describe how awesome this book was. The main reason why I picked up this book was because of the cover. The yellow clothing that the models wear definitely stands out. Aside it from being a pretty cover, this book was fantastic.

I'm so glad that this book was even better than the first one. I wasn't a fan of the first one, but this one has me so hooked on the series that I keep debating whether to pre-order the third and final book, Evertrue.

I'm kind of embarrassed to say this, but this book had me crying a river. I had to switch my blankets and pillowcases because they were soaked in tears. I just kept crying and crying over Gem's POV. I've never read such a raw, emotional male POV. I just love this book and I would highly recommend it.

Okay, this may not be the prettiest cover, but this book was just amazing. Fantastic characters. Beautiful descriptive writing. After completing Nevermore and its sequel, Enshadowed, I will definitely be pre-ordering the next book. (fyi, I never pre-order books.)

Have you read a book that was just perfect? This book was just outstandingly perfect. Time Between Us is not just a contemporary book, but it was a hint of time travel. Not only loving the plot, but I adored the love interest, Bennett. Just thinking about him makes me want to sigh.

This book was hilarious. I loved the characters and especially Office After. It may seem like a fluffy romance, but actually, it's much deeper than that. I was highly impressed by this book, causing me to buy several of Jennifer Echol's other books.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I read, but you guys, this book was just fantastic. Writing was incredible. The characters were loveable. And the plot was so intriguing. 

I love second chance romances. Seeing former couples rekindle just warms my heart. The love that Reena and Sawyer was messy, but what they had was definitely a strong one. One of the best debuts I've read this year.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

One of my friends who ever rarely reads recommended this book, so I decided to give a try. Oh boy, this book was just amazing! Angel books are a hit or miss for me, but this book definitely hit bulls eye. I just love the love interest, Tucker <3.

The main reason I read this was because this was a freebie on Amazon. I can't tell how much of a gem this was. Fight of Flight was an extremely surprising read for me. I still re-read my favourite scenes from time to time. I love it too much!

 The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Julie has become one of my all-time faovurite authors. I've read all of her books except for her spinoff series of the Iron Fey. The Iron Queen is my favorite of the series. If I wasn't in a public place, I would have been crying my eyes out. This book was just amazing. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Pages: 288
Publisher: Farrar, Stratus, and Giroux
Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

Before the book was released, I've read a load of five-star reviews, claiming that this book was their favourite contemporary of this year. I tried my best not to have high expectations for this, but it's sort of hard to when a lot of people claim to really love this. I'm ecstatic to say that I fall into the category of those who loves this book.

Elise Dembowski was a character who spoke out to me.  Her efforts to change were slowly breaking me apart. In the beginning, she mentioned a flashback where she moved to the middle of the bus, hoping that by doing that she would be "cooler." - not in a sense of wanting to popular, but in a sense where she no longer wanted to be labeled as a "loner." - however, it stirred up trouble. One of the boys stole her iPod, her bus driver complained that it was her fault and Elise vowed not to sit there ever again. I would describe her as probably one of the strongest female characters I've ever read.

Music is an impact in Elise's life, not only changing her, but also, I felt like that it helped Elise express herself. Music spoke to her when she couldn't. I truly believe that music can change you. The lyrics, the words, they make you feel in a whole other world. Most of the songs that were included in the book weren't songs that I had recognized, but due to the playlist located at the back of the book, I will surely check it out.

If I could call out the best thing about this book, it would have to be the ending. Leila Sales took on a rather open ending. We may never know what may happen in Elise's love life or to Elise's previous love interest, Char, but the fact that the author ended it off with Elise asking Henry to the dance was just perfect. That ending was the beginning to something great.

This Song Will Save Your Life tackles the subject of self-harm, but with the author's heartfelt writing and music references, you will find yourself going along with the beat. 


Sunday, 22 December 2013

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Pages: 389
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

Anything about second chance romances I will completely devour. When How to Love first made its release, I made sure to quickly request a hold from the library. Originally, I was going to buy myself my own copy, but I wasn't quite sure if I was going to like it. Personally, I only like to buy books that I thoroughly loved and enjoyed. But after reading this, How to Love will definitely have spot on my shelf.

Switching between "Before" and "After", I wasn't really sure if I was going to enjoy it. Lauren Oliver's Pandemonium was written the same way; only though I wasn't too keen on it. Beautiful writing, of course, but I was quite irritated because I never really cared for the flashbacks. With this one, I had no problems with either one of them. I really think that they complimented each other well. 

Knowing each other since they were kids, Reena Montero has always loved Sawyer LeGrande. Reena and her best friend, Allie watched Sawyer from the sidelines. They would constantly talk about him and giggle over him. But everything changed between Allie and Reena. Allie became Sawyer's girlfriend and everything shifted. 

Our main character, Reena, was ambitious and exceptionally smart. With a chance to leave high school early, she was ready to explore the world, but one night with Sawyer ruined it. Despite her mistakes, I really enjoyed Reena. Yeah, she was naive, but she definitely grew as a character. Being a teen mom isn't easy especially without the Father around. Reena struggles a lot in this novel: the death of her best friend, a Father who looks down on her and her ex-boyfriend returning to town. But seeing Reena overcome these obstacles were simply moving and gut-wrenching.

 Moving onto Sawyer, our love interest, I hate to admit he was a jerk. Leaving her alone at parties, quickly getting drugs before their date, showing up drunk at her house, Sawyer was a complete disaster. But I really liked him. Yeah, he left when Reena needed him most, but I think it was the best choice for both of them. Sawyer came back, determined to be a Father for their child and to win Reena's heart once again. Most importantly, Sawyer was clean - no longer living in his old ways.

Messy love. Second chances. Katie Cotugno, you are the only author that managed to hook me in by the first chapter. 

4.5/ 5 stars

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Winter Challenge Plans!

Stephanie from Cover2Cover set up a challenge that included knocking books off your TBR before the year 2014 ends and I thought that it would be fun to participate. I've wanted to do a challenge for awhile, so once I saw this, I immediately signed up. Since I'm off  for Christmas Break, here are the books I plan to read: 

Need To Finish Reading:

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Even though I don't like this series too much, I really want to see how this ends even if I know I may be disappointed. 

2. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
I'm finally reaching the end of this series :(. But at least, this one is in Ash's POV. I can't wait to see how this series end. 

3. Countdown by Michelle Rowen
I'm about seven chapters in and so far, so good! I'm quite surprised to find this novel to be a sci-fi/dystopian standalone - it's rare to find one nowadays. 
Need To Start:

4. Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols
In the summer, I read her novel, Going Too Far and I loved it! I've heard some amazing things about this one. 

5. Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
I can't tell you how excited I am to read this. After having my heart shattered in Dare You To, I'm so glad Isaiah has his own story. Hopefully this won't disappoint!

6. Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Another book by Jennifer Echols? Yes. She impressed me so much that I must read all of her books. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Mini Reviews: Rush by Eve Silver & A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davis

Rush (The Game #1)
Author: Eve Silver
Pages: 361
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

It's rare for me to ever dislike an author's writing. Eve Silver's writing came off as too choppy for me. Whenever I read a book, I don't look for poetic writing (though they are my favourite), I look for flow. Does the words flow well together? Or does it come off as inconsistent? Silver's writing isn't bad. I assure you that plenty of others might have adored her writing, but for me, it wasn't my cup of tea. Apart from the writing, I found that her world building fell short. Rush didn't provide enough background story regarding the video game-like world. Though, I have the feeling that the next book, Push will provide the answer that I'm looking for. As for the characters, they were just decent. They didn't stand out nor were they memorable. If it weren't for the notes that I had taken, I wouldn't have remembered any of the characters.

Author: Jocelyn Davies
Pages: 390
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

You know what's worse than a love triangle? A love s-q-u-a-r-e. Love triangle are awful as it is; there is no need to add another poor guy into it. You have Skye, your generic good girl with all the perfect grades and such. And then comes walking in, the love interests. Ian, who has always been there for Skye, but unfortunately, Skye does not feel the same way. Adding to list of Skye's lovers you have Devin. He's kind, nice and thoughtful. But before, you think he's some sort of angel, he's a creep. Next in line,we have Asher, who is also a creepy stalker. But unlike Devin, Asher is a bad boy. To be quite honest, none of the boys that Davis presented to me did not gain any of my attention. In fact, they are completely one-sided and cliche. If I had to  choose one, it would have to be Ian since he was the only one who didn't come off as a creep. Overall, I would not recommend this to anyone. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Mini Reviews: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E.Smith & Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 236
Publication Date: January 2, 2012
Publisher: Poppy/Little Brown
Rating: 1/5 stars

With a span of twenty-four hours, I think that the author did a unique take that isn't really common nowadays. I have to admit that it was refreshing to find something new, but the whole concept was too fast for me. There were certain scenes where I thought the author should have slowed things down a bit like for instance with Allie forgiving her father. Forgiveness burst out of nowhere. I mean, it was a joyful moment that she did, but it seemed unrealistic for her to do so since what her father did was quite awful. On goodreads, I rated this four stars, but after a few months of letting this book sink in, I realized what Allie's father did was inexcusable. His excuse for cheating and leaving his family was that he fell in love with someone else. I can't tolerate this at all. As I'm writing this, I could feel my dislike for Allie's father rise up. Sorry, but I'm dropping this to a one star.

Author: Lisa Schroeder
Pages: 412
Publication Date: December 14, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 3/5 stars

It's rare for me to pick up a novel that is written in verse, but after being impressed with Schroeder's The Day Before, I decided to pick this one up. Brooklyn lost her boyfriend a year ago. Constantly writing letters to Lucca, she struggled with moving on. Her life had instantly become dull the moment he left. I think the author did a splendid job in displaying the character's emotions. The emotions struck me deep as if I were going through the same situations she was going through. Surprisingly, this book may be a bit haunting, but it was truly a great read. If you were interested in trying out books that are written in verse, Lisa Scroeder's books are the way to go.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Pages: 443
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

 To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for…again.

Enter Julie Kagawa's dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.

After reading and loving Twilight at such a young age, I find it extremely hard to find a vampire novel that could ever exceed my expectations. A few months ago, I tried to read Marked, but the protagonist came off as whiny, immature brat that I couldn't bring myself to finish the book. I've also read the extremely well known, The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, which I liked, but still had a few problems with the protagonist, Rose. Even after reading the sequel, I didn't see any character development. The common issue I have with vampire novels are the protagonists. Usually, it was their decisions or the way their voice projects through the pages that bother me. However, with The Immortal Rules, none of the issues stated above were not presented in the book.

Our main character, Allie is given a choice, either to be turned into a dangerous rabid or to become a vampire. Wanting to live, Allie allows Kanin to transform her. But with becoming a vampire, comes great challenges. In the book, Allie's biggest struggle was to hold in her thirst. There were times where she wanted to slowly take a quick drink from the children while they were sleeping, but somehow Allie convinced herself not to. This to me shows a strong character. Yeah, Allie can fight and defend herself, but her boldness came out when she held in her thirst for the people she loved.

With an excellent main character, I didn't want the love interest to have bad boy vibes. Don't get me wrong, I love my good-hearted bad boys, but after reading countless of them, I wanted something different. Zeke, our love interest, gave me exactly what I was looking for. Independent. Strong. And most certainly, kind. His duty was to take care of the people and make sure that they were protected and fed. But one of the downsides to his personality was that he was one of those guys who you can easily walk over. He gave out his trust too willingly.

Not only were her characters fantastic, but her writing was, too. Her dark, descriptive writing held me captive in the story, making me breeze through the book so easily. The Fringe, the hideout, all the places where Allie traveled to reminded bits and scenes of The Walking Dead. Though, I don't like The Walking Dead, it was very comparable to Allie's chance at survival.

A true vampire novel with dystopian elements, The Immortal Rules is surely not to be missed.

 4/5 STARS

Friday, 8 November 2013

Mini Reviews: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell & Belladonna by Fiona Paul

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 433
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 4/5 stars

With the success of Rowell's Eleanor & Park, I knew that Fangirl was going to be extremely hyped throughout the book blogging community. And of course, I was right. But the question is, was it worth the hype? I say, heck yes! It wasn't as deep and dark as Eleanor & Park, but it still had meaning to it. Our main protagonist, Cath is shy and scared to try new things. She's holed up in her dorm, writing her fan-fiction stories rather than drinking or partying. Even though she's shy, Cath has a huge heart for her family. With frequent visits back and forth between home and her dorm, she always makes sure that her dad is being watched over, fed properly and getting enough sleep. Not to mention, she looks out for her twin sister, Wren, who always seems to get in trouble. After finishing the novel, I didn't like how the relationship between Cath and her mom wasn't resolved. I was expecting Cath to forgive her mom, but she didn't. And because of that, it brings Fangirl to a four star novel.

Author: Fiona Paul
Pages: 336
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Philomel
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The previous novel to this series, Venom, had a slightly better plot than Belladonna. Venom had more thrill and mystery to it while Belladonna had a slow, excruciating start. By the time, it picks up, you're 40% into the book. If I wasn't anxiously waiting for Falco to appear, I would have DNF'ed it within eighty pages. But after waiting for Falco, he turned out to be a jerk and some other words I prefer not to say. I understand that he wants Cass, but how dare he say that he wishes Luca be dead so that he could have her back! Sorry Falco, but I'm no longer on your side. But, I wouldn't say I'm on Luca's team either because I don't feel connected to his character at all. Though he's sweet and responsible, he's quite dull. I'm hoping that the final book, Starling will show a side of Luca that will eventually win me over.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh

Enshadowed (Nevermore #2)
Author: Kelly Creagh
Pages: 429
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Atheneum Books

 Varen Nethers is trapped in a perilous dream world -- a treacherous and desolate realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel Lanley, plagued by strange visions and haunted by the nightmares of Varen's creation, is the only one who can save him.

Isobel knows that her only hope lies within a Baltimore cemetery. There, in the early morning hours of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the "Poe Toaster" will make his annual homage at the legendary poet's grave.

Only the Poe Tosater holds the key to the way between worlds. But even greater dangers lie ahead for Isobel. An ancient evil, draped in veils of white, is watching, challenging her for Varen's affections. When Isobel finally finds Varen, he is no longer the quiet and brooding boy who once captivated her, but a dark force, powerful and malevolent.

As much as I enjoyed the first book, Enshadowed fell flat to me. I really don't want to say this, but this book suffered the "middle book" syndrome. Filled with descriptive and well-written scenes, there was nothing pushing the plot forward. It starts to pick once you reach the last quarter of the book. If it wasn't for Kelly's writing, I would have probably never reached the 75% mark.

Ever since Isobel left Varen in the dreamworld, she hasn't been the same since. Her parents think she needs help. But what Isobel really wants is to save Varen from the world that he has created. Isobel convinces her parents to bring her to Baltimore where a mysterious stranger (The Poe Toaster) makes an appearance at Poe's graveyard. She believes that the mysterious stranger is the only link between the two worlds.

If you thought Nevermore's ending was a cliff-hanger, you're in for a disappointment because Enshadowed leaves you at a bigger cliff-hanger. Especially with it being in Varen's POV. You literally get the feels. Though this book was a bit boring at some parts, Varen's POV made up for it. That epilogue tore my heart into two. I read that epilogue five times because I couldn't believe what was happening to Varen! Usually I would feel so emotionally invested to characters written in first person, but Varen's point of view made me feel twice amount of heartache I felt for any first person book. It crushes me my heart, knowing that I have to wait until August 2014 to read the final installment.

Enshadowed wasn't impressive as Nevermore, but that will not stop me from pre-ordering the next book. August 2014, please come quickly!


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Nevermore (Nevermore #1)
Author: Kelly Creagh
Pages: 543
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 31, 2010

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

I have to admit, the cover isn't appealing. Come on, a goth and cheerleader on the cover? Talk about cheesy!  But apart from the cover, Nevermore has one of the best writings I've ever read. Kelly Creagh's writing skills is outstanding. If I wanted to be become a writer, I would definitely want a writing style similar to hers. The way she describes Varen's dreamworld reminds me of Halloween movies that I've watched when I was younger. Dark. Creepy. I was literally spooked. And it takes a lot to freak me out. 

Our main character, Isobel Lanley is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project. Their assignment is to write a ten page essay on any American author. They choose Edgar Allan Poe. Before I read this book, I had no clue who Edgar Allan Poe was. Yeah, his name sounded a bit familiar, but I didn't know what he was known for. Finishing this book made me go on some sort Edgar Allan Poe kick. Literally. I'm so fascinated with his poems especially his most popular one, "The Raven." 

The characters, Isobel and Varen may seem a bit cliche. The loner goth and the popular cheerleader? But, Kelly takes that cliche and creates such well-developed characters like Varen. The one scene with his father in the book was heart-breaking to read. From that scene, you could tell exactly why Varen is the way he is. As for Isobel, she came off as a brave character when she stood against her friends when they bullied Varen at the ice-cream shop. 

This book has one of the things that I strive to look for in every YA book. That is a slowly developed relationship. When I first began reading, insta-love wasn't an issue for me, but with so many YA novels involving insta-love, it becomes dull and completely unoringinal. The one thing I liked about Isobel and Varen was that they didn't get along at first. They've had their fair share of arguments, but when they eventually get along in the end, it makes their relationship seem so realistic and swoony. It's so rewarding to see characters to shift from dislike to like.

 Great romance. Well-developed characters. Spooky writing. Perfect for Halloween. What more could you ask for?