Monday, July 29, 2013

TTT: Favorite Beginnings/Endings

Favorite Beginnings/Endings

This is my first time doing a Top Ten Tuesday, but I definitely want to do more in the future. This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Basically there is a challenge every week that you can answer and post on your blog and it's all just good fun.

This week is about your favorite beginnings and endings of books. Yes, I know this is a list of twelve, but I just couldn't narrow it down (which is probably how most of these are going to go...) Some of mine are quotes and some are just about the overall feel of the beginning or ending.


1.) Pride and Prejudice
by: Jane Austen
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
2.) The Serpent's Shadow
by: Rick Riordan

"Sadie Kane here. If you're listening to this, congratulations! You survived Doomsday."
3.) The Lightning Thief
by: Rick Riordan

"Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood. If you're reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life."

4.) Finnikin of the Rock
by: Melina Marchetta

No specific line for this one, just the whole prologue. It sucks you into the world of Lumatere from the very beginning with the beautiful prose.

5.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
by: J.K. Rowling

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

The beginning of an era, that one. I mean, every time I read it I basically want to re-read the whole series for the bazillionth time.

6.) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by: J.K. Rowling

Okay, so I've never heard anyone talk about this first scene, but it's always been one of my favorites. That's a bit weird, but let me explain. I always thought it was cool seeing how the wizarding world fit into the normal world. So seeing the Minister of Magic interact with the British Prime Minister always felt really cool to me.

7.) Clockwork Princess
by: Cassandra Clare

So it isn't the very end, but the part in the epilogue describing Will and Tessa's life together was just wonderful and it made me cry and just yes.

8.) Anna and the French Kiss
by: Stephanie Perkins

"Because I was right. For the two of us, home isn't a place. It's a person. And we're finally home."

9.) Delirium
by: Lauren Oliver

"You have to understand. I am no one special. I am just a single girl. I am five feet two inches tall and I am in-between in every way. But I have a secret. You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist. And there are many of us out there, more than you think. People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth. People who love in a world without walls, people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope and without fear. I love you. Remember. They cannot take it."
10.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by: J.K. Rowling

"The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well."

11) The Fault in our Stars
by: John Green

I mean, the whole last chapter is brilliant and heart-breaking. But the last lines are amazing, too.

"I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.
I do, Augustus.
I do."

12.) Mark of Athena
by: Rick Riordan
"Yeah." He took one last look at the cityscape of Rome, turning bloodred in the sunset. "Festus, raise the sails. We've got some friends to save."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Froi of the Exiles

Froi of the Exiles
By: Melina Marchetta
Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)
Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...
Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

Okay, so WOW! I just finished this book and I seriously have no words to explain...or articulate...or speak about...or think about the complete and total brilliance of this book and this series. The connections you make with all the characters and that they make with each other are just beautiful. Even (or maybe I should say especially) the characters who, by all accounts, should be considered unlikeable. The complexity level just skyrockets in this book. It's not just Lumatere that you care about or know about anymore. Nearly right away in this book the reader is plunged into the even more complex political situation in Charyn. At least the Lumaterans were mostly united through their curse. The Charynites are falling apart at the seams and have been for eighteen years. That's why this story was darker, grittier, and more complicated.

Instead of just throwing rambly and gushing words at you (as I am in danger of doing), I'm going to list all the things this book did right (namely, everything):

You want to know what blew my freaking mind about this book? That a cast of characters who are almost all unlikeable were able to make you care about them so deeply. You hurt when they hurt, even when you were in the middle of hating them. You don't love them because they did the right things, you loved them because they made the wrong choices and a lot of times that's easier for us to relate to. We aspire to be the brave characters, but we are the characters who screw up when it matters most.

Characters in Charyn:
Froi: Let's just talk about my baby for a second. Basically, he's such a great character. You caught a hint of it in the first book, but his underlying complexities really shone in this book. His relationships with Gargarin, Arjuro, Lirah, and Quintana were enough to shatter your heart and mend it all at the same time. I loved that his feelings (and the feelings of all of the characters) were never clear cut. Yes, Froi loved them all, but sometimes he hated them despite his love for them and sometimes he was hurt by them and sometimes he hurt them. We don't always do right by those we love most and sometimes we say things we wish we could take back. But their little family protected each other even when they didn't necessarily want to.
and Froi has the habit of befriending the most important people (both in Lumatere and in Charyn).
Also, he delivered some of the most heart-breaking lines in the whole book,

"Oh, you fool, Froi. You've always wanted to be someone's son."

"Weak boy. Stupid, useless boy. Froi wanted to kill that boy he had been."

I loved Froi's dynamic with Trevanion and Perri toward the beginning of the book. They got REALLY frustrated at each other, but only because they loved each other fiercely.
Quintana: A wonderful addition to the series. She's every bit as strong as Isaboe and Beatriss, she just doesn't have the luxury of being as stable. She's been treated like crap since the beginning of her life and the beginning of the curse. She was feared and tossed around like she was mad. And against all odds, she survived. Her connection with Froi had the reader confused and entranced and hopeful from the very beginning. Everything that has been brought out in Froi in the three years since meeting Isaboe and Finnikin has made him the kind of man who can support and care for Quintana.  I both loved and hated their dynamic. By that mean, it was brilliantly written and perfectly executed, it just hurt my heart a lot of the time.
Arjuro:  He definitely wasn't a light character or anything, but he did add some relief into tougher situations with his sarcasm (particularly when he and Froi went back and forth with retorts).

"When you're both finished trying to frighten each other away with the sordidness of your pasts, can you help me, please?"

"Arjuro shrugged. "There's nothing like a bit of patricide and regicide to convince me of someone's worth."

Gargarin: He was so smart and clever, but he was also coward. I know that we see a fair amount of him in Froi of the Exiles, but I am still not sure I've completely figured him out. He's a good guy (or at least, tries his best to be), but I just simply don't understand his relationship with Froi. But I do know that Isaboe's declaration at the end of the book was enough to scare me. I guess he's the kind of character that sneaks up on you, and before you know it you're invested in that. You want that character to survive.
Lirah: Another sneaky one. You don't see her softer side until a good half-way through the book. That's not to say she wasn't a fantastic character before that, because she definitely was. Her relationship with Froi hurt me, too. Because they both just weren't saying the right words to each other and so they kept missing their chances to relate to each other. Until the scene where they rode horses together, which was brilliant and it made my heart smile despite the horridness of what was going on.
Lirah and Gargarin was also an interesting dynamic. They were good for each other and they weren't. It was confusing and weird and occasionally sweet.
Grijio, Olivier and the firstborns: I loved Grijio's bromance with Froi. Just heartwarming. goodness knows he could use a friend or two.. I also loved Tippideaux's relationship with Quintana. The De Lancey children were so funny and sweet to Froi and Quintana and I want to see more of them.
Now Olivier is a totally different matter. I just...I just don't want to talk about him. at all.
Hamlyn and Arna: Oh goodness. I think they had a total of about ten pages, but I want more of them. So much more. They had such hope and hurt and their back-story broke my heart.
Especially lines like this just solidified what the citizens of Charyn were going through,

"A horse handler with no horses and a midwife in a barren kingdom"

Characters in Lumatere or the Valley:
Finnikin and Isaboe: I absolutely loved seeing them again all married and cute and what-not. I still can't get over how lovely their relationship is. They respect each other, but that doesn't mean they can't disagree with each other or have fights. We're seeing that their happily ever after isn't perfect, but that it's perfect for them. They had problems to deal with, but they did it together.
Lucian and Phaedra: I felt for Lucian, I really did. He's had to deal with losing his father and taking over ruling the Mont people. He didn't handle any of it extremely well at first, but by the end of this book he'd gotten the hang of it (with a bit of help). I loved that Phaedra was the catalyst for him. That when he finally let her in and let himself care, he started learning how to lead.
and Phaedra. Add her to the list of brave and genuine women in this series. She has quickly become one of my favorite characters in these books. She proved herself to be wise and kind, but she had a tough side. She felt like an outsider, but she was brave and kind and wise anyway. There was a solid period of time when I was so terrified and sad for them both. I actually teared up for Phaedra (and I hardly ever cry in books).
Trevanion and Beatriss: finally. FINALLY. It took a lot of healing and helping to get here, but in the end they figured things out. I still love Beatriss so much. She is still so strong in everything. Even in her regressions she shows her strength in weakness.
Trevanion, Beatriss, and Vestie all together are just so cute I could die.

What I'm trying to say is that the thing making this book and this series great is the realistic relationships. Not everyone had the right words for the right time in their relationships. Sometimes the words came out too late or too awkwardly or in the wrong way. That was the horrible and wonderful part of this book. The relationships felt real.

The expansion of Skuldenore in this book was magnificent. The craziness happening in Charyn just served to complicate and deepen everything about this beautiful world. I can't wait to see where this series goes in the last book, but I don't want to leave Lumatere.
The emphasis on different languages and prejudices and suspicions across the different countries was really really REALLY well done.

Heart-Break: CHECK
I won't be able to adequately describe the amount of sentences in this book that tore my heart to shreds. So I am just going to list some for you.

"It would help if this kingdom didn't see us as a family of savages." There was silence after that. It was too strange a word for Gargarin to use. Family."

"When you laugh, you look like your boy, Lirah."

"They camped that night under a full moon and a sky crowded with stars that made Froi forget that there was an old man waiting to die and remember that there was a kingdom dying to live."

""These gifts are curses," Arjuro cried. "Curses."

"That his broken spirit and hers had created rather than destroyed something for the first time in their wretched lives."

"He wanted to say the words, "I would not have gone through with it." But he'd never know, and that was his punishment. That, and being in love with a girl whose spirit had been broken by men like Froi."

All of these quotes are just to say that the writing in this is wonderful. brilliant. fantastic. breath-taking. awe-inspiring. Melina Marchetta was born to write beautiful things.


"I can do this, he read in her eyes.
You can do anything, he was saying in return. But I wish you didn't have to."

"If we forget who we lost...then we forget who we once were, and if we forget who we once were, we lose sight of who we are now."

"How can you fight the world with a quiver in your voice..."

"Some of us weren't born for rewards, Froi. We were born for sacrifices."

"In a kinder world, one I promise you I've seen, men and women flirt and dance and love with only the fear of what it would mean to live without the other in their lives."

"It's the same with her. Imagine who she would be if we unleashed her onto the world. I think she would rip the breath from all of us."

"Because matters of the heart are not there to be understood, brave girl."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock
by: Melina Marchetta
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)
Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive. Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself.

WOW. wowwowwowwowwowwow. But really, wow. I don't think I will ever be able to put into words how COMPLETELY FREAKING BRILLIANT this book is. This is fantasy at its finest, my friends. Its absolute, complete, and utter finest. Everything about this book was perfect, down to the tiniest details. The world completely sucks you in and you feel like you are living in it with all of these characters that you now care about so much it hurts.
Strong and Compassionate Heroine: CHECK
Evanjalin: YESYESYESYES annnnd YES. I wish all authors could read this book and see that this is the kind of strong females that deserve more stories told about them. She mourned, she felt, she loved deeply. She wasn't a robot or invincible, but she was still strong. Strong in a way that you rarely see in books. Strong in the way that everyone should strive to be. She was passionate and compassionate and strong and brave and scared and a leader and occasionally sarcastic. I loved the hope that she stood for in everything. She inspired her people and nearly everyone who saw her. Even when she was the novice. Even when she wasn't supposed to be anything special or vital, she made herself special and vital by her endless hope. Then you learn that she has felt the anguish of every single person in the ten horrible years that Lumatere is separated and she is still alive. She is still hopeful. She is still strong.
Evanjalin is one of the characters who will stay with you. Who will even inspire you, the reader, to be stronger and more hopeful. Who will inspire you to have the strength to do what needs to be done.
Courageous and Kind Hero: CHECK
Finnikin: Oh Finnikin. He reminded me a bit of Eragon from the Inheritance Cycle. Honor bound and respectable but someone you would not want to cross. Finnikin is a whole lot darker than Eragon and easier to anger. I fell in love with Finnikin's character and with his love for Evanjalin. I loved his relationship with his dad and with Froi and the soldiers in the guard and particularly with Sir Topher. That isn't to say that Finnikin wasn't frustrating sometimes, but he always had a great reason. I can't wait to see even more development from him in the next books.
Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
I think the place where this book shone was in its relationships and in the community it built in the people of Lumatere. They all interact with each other and the world in wonderful and unique ways. These are the characters that you hurt with and feel for as horrible thing after horrible thing happens to them and you watch them try to piece together any kind of life in their ravaged land.
Trevanion: Even the characters who easily could have been left as two-dimensional stock characters were completely fleshed out and given complexity to add depth. Trevanion is an example of this. He wasn't the typical guard-type of character. He was strong and risky, but he loved deeply and nearly openly. He was so proud of Finnikin for who he had become and his relationship with Lady Beatriss was truly heart-warming. He did what he had to in battle and didn't regret it, but he knew enough to want to sustain Finnikin's innocence when it came to battle.
Froi: I'm so interested in seeing how his story is the focus of the next book, mostly because Froi is a character that I still haven't quite figured out. I know that he is much more than he appeared to be at first and that he has a good heart somewhere. The world has made him hard, but that doesn't mean he'll stay that way.
Lady Beatriss: Yeah, as if there was any doubt after meeting Evanjalin, Beatriss just affirms that the women in this book run the show. They constantly shock the men with their bravery and risk-taking and wisdom, but it was brilliant to watch. If anyone in this book had strength to rival Evanjalin's it would be Beatriss.
Tresadora: And the most frightening character was definitely Tresadora. Yet I want to see more of her and I want to learn more from her about Seranonna and the other Forest Dwellers. Although I loved the scene where Topher put her in her place about Trevanion's efforts to get Beatriss out of Lumatere.

Brilliant Dialogue: CHECK
I mean, there were just full pages of wonderful dialogue. I've come to the conclusion that Melina Marchetta is a DIALOGUE GENIUS. The way she used it to let the reader in on things without directly telling them. I loved that sometimes it took a few lines to figure out where the conversation was headed and even then there was no way to be sure. Also the times when the conversations were just so breathtakingly beautiful that I had to take a breather and just think about what had just been said and everything that it meant.

Here are examples of my favorite passages:

“This hand says you spend the rest of your life with me," he said, holding out his left hand, "and this one says I spend the rest of my life with you. Choose."
She bit her lip, tears welling in her eyes. She took both of his hands in hers and he shuddered. "I will die protecting you," he says.

There was a look of dismay on her face. "Just like a man of this kingdom, Finnikin. Talking of death, yours or mine, is not a good way to begin a-"
Isaboe gave a small gasp when he leaned forward, his lips an inch away from hers. "I will die for you," he whispered.

She cupped his face in her hands. "But promise me you'll live first. Because nothing we are about to do is going to be easy and I need you by my side.”  

“All right, silent dark bear with angry frown, tell me more about your land.”
He settled back down, picturing it. “I would tend to our land from the moment the sun rose to when it set and then you ...she would tend to me.” He laughed at her expression again. The world of exile camps and the Valley felt very far away, and he wanted to lie there forever.

“Let me tell you about your bride,” she said, propping herself up on her elbows.“Both of you would cultivate the land. You would hold the plow, and she would walk alongside you with the ox, coaxing and singing it forward. A stick in her hand, of course, for she would need to keep both the ox and you in line.”
“What would we...that is, my bride and I, grow?”

“Wheat and barley.”“And marigolds.”
Her nose crinkled questioningly.
“I would pick them when they bloomed,” he said. “And when she called me home for supper, I’d place them in her hair and the contrast would take my breath away.”

“How would she call you? From your cottage? Would she bellow, ‘Finnikin!’?”
“I’d teach her the whistle. One for day and one for night.”

“Ah, the whistle, of course. I’d forgotten the whistle.”  

Fantastic World-Building and Great Plot: CHECK
What a beautiful, terrible, wonderful, and heart-breaking world. From the prologue the wonderful mood and tone of the world pulls you in. You feel the urgency of it all and it sends shivers up your spine. You realize that this bleak world is where these characters have to live and that for a time you are going to be witness to it.
I thought the plot was great because, while you didn't know where exactly you were headed, you always felt that you were headed somewhere important. You felt just as relieved to come home to Lumatere as all the characters were. 

This is the section where I apologize because my words didn't and couldn't give this book the review it deserves. I wish I could do it justice, but just know that this is one of the best books I have ever experienced and very possibly ever will experience. All this to say, whoever and wherever and whatever you are, you need this book in your life.

"Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?"

"You list the dead. You tell the stories of the past. You write about the catastrophes and the massacres. What about the living, Finnikin? Who honors them?"

"Oh, the way that word is thrown around...Everything is evil that humans can't control or conquer."

"It's against the rules of humanity to believe there is nothing we can do..."

"Then I choose to drown...In hope. Rather than float into nothing."

"There are worse things than a lie and there are better things than the truth."

"He could not believe anyone who heard such stories of wickedness would allow it to happen again."

"It should humble you to have anyone serve you..."

"Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best."

"But at such times, gentlemen, you grab at any sign of hope. You grab it with both hands and breathe life into it, day after day. You do anything to keep it alive."

"That somehow, even in the worst of times, the tiniest fragments of good survive. It was the grip in which one held those fragments that counted."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Going Vintage

Going Vintage
By: Lindsey Leavitt
Going Vintage
Sixteen-year-old Mallory loves her boyfriend, Jeremy. Or at least likes him more than she's ever liked any other boy. She's sure he feels the same way. Until she happens upon his online Authentic Life game and discovers he's cheating on her Mallory's life is falling apart and technology is the cause. And then she finds a list, written by her grandma when she was Mallory's age. All her grandma had to worry about was sewing dresses and planning dinner parties. Things were so much simpler in the 1960s. And there's nothing on the list that Mallory couldn't do herself. Maybe it's time for Mallory to go vintage and find the answers to her modern-day problems.
Well, if this wasn't adorable I don't know what is. I normally don't like contemporary romance books, but this was less of a romance and more of a sort of self-discovery book (I mean, don't get me wrong, there was a fair amount of relationship stuff. But in the end it was more about Mallory learning about herself). This is quite a wonderful little contemporary piece with enjoyable and developed characters and a kind of quirky and entertaining plot.
I'm just going to list the things I liked for this book because I don't know if I have enough thoughts to write a typical review.
Things I Liked:
She was realistically funny for a teenage girl. And her humor always fit in with the situation she was in. She was quirky and down-to-earth (even when she had her freak-out moments). I think she's the type of person you'd want as a friend in real life because she normally acknowledged her faults and was a generally great friend. I loved her dynamic with Oliver and their banter kept me smiling through the book. I will say that I lovelovelovelove where the book ends. How it wasn't the typical happily-ever-after. Mallory was smart enough to ask for some time to just be single and Oliver was gentlemanly enough to give it to her (not because he had to, but because he truly cared about her). I loved that it wasn't this huge deal in their friendship (or relationship) that they would wait. The knew that they had to for their relationship to start correctly and so they did it. It was wonderful.
She was so sweet and funny and I want a little sister just like her. I thought her and Mallory's relationship was very true to what a sister dynamic is and should be (even though I don't have a sister, I am a sister). Even their fights were realistic and not blown out of proportion (like YA books sometimes have a tendency of doing to even the smallest of arguments).
-The real parents with their real relationship:
Breaking another YA habit, the parents weren't just absentee sort of characters. They were genuine parents who made mistakes in parenting, but that also made great choices. I liked their relationship because they did fight and they did make up and that was okay.
Talk about adorable! This boy was just fantastic (and yet not perfect. Which is really important). He made mistakes and was charming and funny and sweet (oh, and peppy). Again, I loved the banter and the jokes Oliver and Mallory had with each other. One of my favorite scenes was easily their car ride together and then when Oliver called about the song. There was just so much to love about him and about them together. And I loved when he called Jeremy out for being a total tool.
-The Internet Fast
I think the idea of cutting out all modern technology to clear your head was really cool. I also loved the (for lack of a better word) moral of the story being that teenage problems have existed for as long as teenagers have and the unspoken idea that that is what can connects us to our parents and our grandparents.
-The Lists
Each chapter started out with a different list from Mallory's life. This was really cool because we learned that Mallory is a "lister" and that let us in on a bit more of her personality. And as an added bonus, the lists were usually really funny and relevant to what was coming up in the chapter.
"People laugh because they're nervous, or to cover up tension, or to flirt, or because there's some instant applause meter in their head telling them that it's the socially acceptable thing to do. Genuine laughter, I don't even think that happens daily."
"The memory stays. The agony fades."
"He's jealous of my breeziness; I envy his ambition."
"And, right now, that might feels more honest than the sure thing."
"Adolescence is the same tragedy being performed again and again. The only things that change are the stage props."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Fifth Wave

The Fifth Wave
by: Rick Yancey
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I have been SO looking forward to this book since the very first reviews started rolling in. It sounded hardcore and action-packed but with a more introspective side to it. Since reading it I've decided that this book is kind of in the same vein as Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Which is totally fine with me because I freaking love that book. The reason I've decided this is because The Fifth Wave is, yes, about aliens and invasions and fighting back, but a majority of the book is also about how humans react to the invasion. It's about what being human means and how things affect us. Oh, and paranoia. There's a lot of paranoia (in the characters and in you, or at least in me).

Kick-Butt and Clever Characters: CHECK
Cass: YES. Cassie for Cassiopeia is so AWESOME! She's tough and determined, but not unbelievably so. That is to say that she still felt like a normal teenager and a normal girl despite the circumstances. I loved reading from her perspective because she had such a way with words and such a cool thought process. Her relationship with her dad and Sams were both really great to read and interesting.
As I heard another reviewer say, everyone has a Ben Parrish (or what a Ben Parrish is to Cassie). They just do. There is that one person that you have things to say to them (often about feelings and stufffff... ;) ) and you don't tell them. I think one of the most bittersweet things in this book was how Cassie had to think about Ben being dead and the fact that she'd never talked to him about anything despite him being a big part of her life (even if it wasn't the other way around). Then when she did have the chance again, she said something. She made a point of saying something because, "Nothing isn't important anymore."
Which brings us to,
Ben Parrish: oh goodness. He might have been my favorite character in the book. I knew going in that a lot of people didn't like or weren't ready for the switch in perspective. And as much as I loved reading Cassie, I couldn't get enough of reading Ben (or Zombie for that matter). I hated Vosch for getting inside his head and making him think he was weak. His willingness to protect and help Nugget was truly heart-warming.
Evan Walker: Okay, so he was kind of creepy for a good portion of the part of the book that he's in. That might just be me and a lot of it probably had to do with the major levels of paranoia going on inside my brain. ("He's gotta be an alien." "HE'S THE SILENCER." "pshhhh. no he's not shut up." "He's just a farm boy." "But SOFT HANDS." "Waitwhat."). But by the time we got to the part right after they passed by Camp Ashpit on their way to Camp Haven, I trusted him. I think I like his dynamic with Cassie, I think. Maybe. I want to see more of their interactions in the next book so I can judge past the paranoia.
Sams: So cute and sad. I think the thing about him that hit me the hardest was when he was on he bus headed away from Cassie, his dad, and Bear. When he described himself as Bearless and that he thought a lot of other people probably felt Bear-less too. So heartbreakingly sweet.
Ringer: The whole time since she showed up I just wanted to know where she came from. I kept thinking, "but can I know more about Ringer." or "...yeah, that's great. But when can I learn more about Ringer." She seems so interesting and messed-up in a good way. She surely has a tragic past (just like everyone else left on the planet).

Plotting and Pacing: CHECK
It was brilliant how all of the characters and the stories ended up in one place at one time at the end of this book. The different pasts all came together into one present and that was really cool to watch happen. I also didn't have a single complaint with the pacing of this book. It started out with so many things happening! There were flashbacks from a written perspective and passages that were actually incredibly beautiful. There were 4 waves described in the first few pages. But it didn't slow down from there. Things kept happening and the loyalties kept changing. There was this underlying sense of paranoia and panic that really upped the tone of the book from creepy to adrenaline-fueled (which worked really well in this story).

I just can't even fully describe how incredible I thought this book was. Its brilliant in the way it pinpointed the essence of what we are and what scares us, what makes us lose hope and what the lack of hope does to us.


"How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity."

"It's hard to plan for what comes next when what comes next is not something you planned for."

"That's what life was. It was the sea we swam in. The constant sound of all the things we built to make life easy and a little less boring. The mechanical song. The electronic symphony."

"Those few seconds when you're awake but empty. You forget where you are. What you are now, what you were before. It's all breath and heartbeat and blood moving. Like being in your mother's womb again. The peace of the void."

"But I think he knew in the end it wouldn't be the lucky ones left standing. It would be the hardcore. The ones who tell Lady Luck to go screw herself. The ones with hearts of stone. The ones who could let a hundred die so one might live. The ones who see the wisdom in torching a village in order to save it."

"Still, you tend to believe what you always believed, think what you always thought, expect what you always expected..."

"Sometimes you say things to your fear - things like, it doesn't matter, the words acting like pats on the head of a hyper dog."

"If I had faced it then, I wouldn't be facing it now, but sooner or later you have to choose between running and facing the thing you thought you could not face."

"It isn't about destroying our capability to fight so much as crushing our will to fight."

"Cruelty isn't a personality trait. Cruelty is a habit."

"A moment comes in war when the last line must be crossed. The line that separates what you hold dear from what total war demands."

"Before I found you, I thought the only way to hold on was to find something to live for. It isn't. To hold on, you have to find something you're willing to die for."

"Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you."

"I thought I knew what loneliness was before he found me, but I had no clue. You don't know what real loneliness is until you've known the opposite."

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Diviners

The Diviners
by: Libba Bray
The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

I was a bit intimidated by this book before reading it. I mean, it's fat and supposedly creepy and I reallyreallyreally wanted to like it. It was also the first book I've read of Libba Bray's stuff and I knew that she has a lot of fans. But attempt it I did, and I am SO glad I worked up the courage. This book was fantastic and dark and creepy and fascinating.

Fantastic Characters: CHECK
There are so many intriguing and well-developed characters in this book. The whole cast was just brilliant. I think an important part of a book that switches perspectives (particularly when it switches between as many perspectives as this book) is that each one has to be exciting in its own right. You can't leave the reader wishing that he/she was still reading the other person's perspective. To accomplish this it is necessary that each new perspective and character stay interesting. This book really achieved that. I never found myself wishing to be reading any other part of the book or any other perspective because I was intrigued by what was going on in the here-and-now.

Evie: Yes, sometimes it's hard to appreciate a character who's fatal flaw is so obvious to the world, but I didn't find that the case with Evie. She's often incredibly selfish and a bit silly, but she was other things besides that. She's brave and spunky and clever. She kept me laughing at her quick quips and sarcastic bouts. She's the type of character you'd want to meet in real life because despite her faults and the fact that she'd most likely be annoying and frustrating to meet you still want to be friends with her. She's a character who seems very alive.
Theta: YES. I love Theta so much. She's hilarious and real. She struck me as very genuine in her own strange way. I'm a GIANT FAN of her romantic storyline. I need it to happen. like soon. (and by soon I mean 2014. when the next book comes out). I really want to learn more about her power and what exactly it does. It was just kind of mentioned and then never mentioned again.
Memphis: Poor baby. He's gone through so much crap in his life and I have a feeling it's just going to get worse for him. To me he kind of seems like the Leo Valdez of this series (sorrynotsorry. I'll never not make Percy Jackson references). He's vital and clever and you love him with all you've got, but BOY does he go through a ton of crappy situations.
and speaking of crappy situations,
Jericho: I wasn't sure about him in the beginning. He seemed a bit snobbish and I figured his storyline would be one of the less important ones. I figured he was just going to be a sort of side-kick. BUT NO. I was totally wrong. His was one of the most interesting and probably going to be one of the most important backstories (well, okay, so all of the storylines are going to come together and be very important, but his seems especially weird and special).
Will: Good ole' Unc. I think we're definitely going to be seeing more about his past, too. I mean, he's actually very kind-hearted, even when others don't see it. He took in Jericho. He took in Evie. He even took in Sam (I mean, Sam is a thief who was in the process of trying to rob him and he still said, "well, okay. How about instead I just give you an awesome job.") If Memphis is the Leo then I can only compare Uncle Will to Uncle Iroh (yeah, I'm always going to make Avatar: The Last Airbender references, too. You're welcome.) 
Sam: One of the characters that we know the least about. We know something went down with his mom and whatnot, but that's about it. And we know that he's out for revenge. I'm excited to see where his story goes. He made me laugh as much as Evie did (especially in his conversations with Evie).
Blind Bill: WHAT EVEN? I don't know what is happening here, but I'm scared.

Horrifyingly Creepy Villain: CHECK
Because having a cult-following-long-dead-ghost-serial-killer as a villain wasn't creepy enough, Libba Bray had to add in the creepiest song I've ever heard.

"Naughty John, Naughty John,
does his work with his apron on.
Cuts your throat and takes your bones,
sells 'em off for a coupla stones."

And what was worse is that I listened to the audio-book and they actually sang the song and DANG IT, IT WAS CATCHY. It got stuck in my head and stayed there all day. I caught myself singing it out loud, sometimes in was horrible.

Other than the horrifying song, the book was brilliantly creepy. It had all the suspense and terror that it needed and the plot wielded it well. The creepiness led the story along and kept the pages turning. All of the cult-y things were completely terrible and I found myself shivering at the perversion of it all.

Plot and Foreshadow: CHECK
While reading this book you can tell that this plot and whatever Libba is leading up to is incredibly complex. You can see hints of things here and there and you can tell that there is great importance in some of the things you learn, but it is impossible to know what this is the beginning of and where it's all headed. This book stood on its own quite well, it didn't have a giant cliff-hanger and the villain was mostly wrapped up (although I have a feeling not for good or for long). So I'm so looking forward to the next book to continue in this world that the reader now knows both so much about and so little about.
One small problem I had with this book was that in the beginning it got a little repetitive. Things happened and then stalled and it took some pressing on and nose-to-the-grindstone reading to get by. Then in the end a lot of it felt rushed into the last 50-or-so pages.

Fantastic World-Building: CHECK
The tone of this book definitely fits into the roaring 20's. There are flappers and bobbed hair, scandal and suspicion everywhere. Prohibition is up and running and the secret alcohol is flowing. There was corruption and underhanded dealings. Everything seemed different and yet so familiar. Although I would say that while The Great Gatsby is a story about the rich in the 20's, this book focuses more on the middle class and poor of the 20's. That made it all the more fascinating.

"Some mornings, she’d wake and vow, Today, I will get it right. I won’t be such an awful mess of a girl. I won’t lose my temper or make unkind remarks. I won’t go too far with a joke and feel the room go quiet with disapproval. I’ll be good and kind and sensible and patient. The sort everyone loves. But by evening, her good intentions would have unraveled. She’d say the wrong thing or talk a little too loudly. She’d take a dare she shouldn’t, just to be noticed. Perhaps Mabel was right, and she was selfish. But what was the point of living so quietly you made no noise at all? “Oh, Evie, you’re too much,” people said, and it wasn’t complimentary. Yes, she was too much. She felt like too much inside all the time. So why wasn’t she ever enough?"

"There is no greater power on this earth than story.” Will paced the length of the room. “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense—words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions—words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.”

"There is a dualism inherent in democracy. Opposing forces pushing against each other always. Culture clashes, different belief systems all coming together to create this country."

"People tend to think that hate ias the most dangerous emotion, but love is equally dangerous."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph
By: Robin LaFevers
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)
Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad.
Much darker. Originally I gave Grave Mercy a five out of five stars on Goodreads, but after reading this I had to move it down to a four, because this, THIS, my friends, is a five star book. It had heart and darkness and twisted men and good men and twisted women and good women. All the characters moved through this story with purpose and motive. It talked of forgiveness and abuse and love and justice. It had action and plot twists and secrets kept hidden too long and secrets kept not long enough. It had drama and humor and messed up love and real love. 

Kick-Butt and Spectacular Heroine: CHECK
Sybella: I think I like her more than Ismae. She has a darker (and indeed more horrible) past and yet she is still compassionate and loyal while being hardened and brave and frightened and haunted and just all at once. She always protected the innocent and I loved that. In Grave Mercy she seemed sort of haughty but in this book I realized that that's just simply not true at all. She's genuine and tough and kind. I loved seeing her struggle with her view of herself through the lense of her family's horrible wrongs. After living for so long surrounded by so much evil she had to begun to suspect that some part of it had rubbed off on her. She did bad things, but she didn't know any better and she did the best she could to survive in her family's house. I didn't just love her character, I respected her. She allowed herself to grow and change and progress. She found ways to forgive others and (with the help of Beast) forgive herself.

Fantastic and Charming Hero: CHECK
Beast: oh goodness... He was FANTASTIC! I cant even put into words how much I love him. His whole perspective on life was so interesting and wonderful. And his sister. And his going back for her. And his lovely soul. And. And. Annnnd. :'( I love his and Sybella's dynamic. They save each other again and again. They protect each other. Sybella's needed a gentle giant and Beast needed someone who appreciated gentle giants. He was funny and charming and totally atypical (in the best possible way). I loved that Robin LaFevers didn't make him some gorgeous "prince charming" and yet it wasn't that big of a deal. Like, him and Sybella openly recognized that he was mostly pretty ugly and yet it didn't impact their relationship at all. Like, they had more important issues than attractiveness (as it should be). 

Excellent Side Characters: CHECK
Ismae and Duval: I really liked seeing them from someone else's point of view. It was also really cool seeing Ismae's change from Sybella's perspective, especially because It was from the perspective of someone who approved of Ismae's change, who was proud of her for it. 
Julian: He was one of the characters that I found scariest in this book. He managed to justify all of the horrible things he did to himself. Characters with twisted senses of morality can be more frightening than ones with no sense of morality, twisted or otherwise. It's an example of how messed humans can get. So while Julian might not have known any better he was still in the wrong. And in the end he realized that and made amends for it. That was the difference between him and D'Albret and Pierre. He tried to do what he thought was right when he figured out what that was. 
D'Albret: If you think that you see the full extent of his complete horribleness in Grave Mercy, as I did, then you would most definitely be wrong. Because OH MY GOODNESS! He's so completely disgusting. The scene where Sybella was describing what D'Albret had actually done had me sobbing. 

Excellent Plot and Progression: CHECK
I was wondering how the progress of the overall story would work with the switching narrators. But I think LaFevers has kept the reader in the exact right place for that part of the story so far. I feel like she's leading us all somewhere very important and when we get there it is going to low all of our freaking minds. Also the switching of narrators has kept the politics fresh because you're set in a new place with new characters and new motives in each book. That definitely works in this series' favor. 

Gorgeous Writing: CHECK
As much as I loved the writing in Grave Mercy, I think LaFevers hit something really special with this book. It moved, it flowed, it hurt, and it impacted. I can say that the tone of the book completely matched the tone of the writing. Robin LaFevers can write LIKE CRAZY. I am completely jealous of her mad skills and whatnot. 


"But I have to say I have just grown adept at snatching providence from the jaws of disaster."

"And do not even bright things cast a shadow?"

"Men of power are unwilling to believe anything ill of their own kind."

"Jewels can be replaced, my cousin, independence, once lost, cannot."

"She accepts not only the power and privilege of ruling, but also the painful responsibility."

"Every death I have witnesses, every horror I have endured has forged me to be who I am. Death's justice. If I had not experienced these things firsthand then the desire to protect the innocent would not burn so brightly within me."

"Hate cannot be fought with hate. Evil cannot be conquered by darkness. Only love has the power to conquer them both."