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Book Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Dance of Shadows cover

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Vanessa Alder has been haunted since her older sister Margaret’s disappearance. Three years later she finds herself in Margaret’s place as a standout freshman at the New York Ballet Academy. As the handsome Zeppelin Grey catches her eye and head choreographer Josef hints Vanessa could be up for the lead in the winter ballet, she’s easily caught up in the movements.

However, Vanessa isn’t there to dance. Her main goal is to find her sister. Reported as a runaway, Vanessa is positive that Margaret is lurking somewhere in New York. Yet as the pressures of dance begin to overwhelm her, Vanessa wonders if she is starting to hear and see things. There are secrets hidden within the NYBA and Vanessa will do whatever it takes to discover what happened to her sister.

This book was a real letdown. The cover? Fantastic! The blurb on the back? I need to read this now! The verdict? BOOOOOOO.

Let’s go over the reasons why. 1. The romance not only doesn’t make sense, but it makes the plot clunky and derails from a possible interesting plot. Zeppelin Grey? The name annoyed me so much I hated every scene he was in. 2. It wasn’t executed well. 3. The ending is blurry, and there are bits and characters that are completely forgotten about. This is a first in the series, but there was no alluding to ‘there’s more that lies ahead’ until the last page. 4. Vanessa as a whole is one-dimensional and her heart and soul for finding her sister isn’t followed throughout the book. It’s a mistake that could have changed the outcome of the book.  

I really wanted to like this book; it had such promise. I was excited from the prologue and cover, but this was not carried through with each chapter. I loved the idea of a dark mystery surrounding an elite dance school in New York. The beauty and grace of ballet flitting through the pages. Perhaps someone else can give it a go. I won’t be continuing the series. There isn’t enough intrigue for me to want to know what happens, but kudos to the Bloomsbury marketing team! They did a standout job! I just wish someone had held the author to the same standard as the cover design. It really could have been a perfect match. 

Book Review: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Please note: This is the fourth book in the Hush, Hush series and does contain spoilers.

Check out my review for Hush, Hush (1), Crescendo (2) and Silence (3).

Nora Grey is not your average seventeen year old. In the past six months she’s had her life threatened, almost died multiple times and fallen in and out and back in love with her destined to be fallen angel Patch.

Now Nora is the leader of the Nephilim army, but there are darker sources at work. The battle is coming to a head and Nora’s wish for peace is a million miles away. To claim her destiny, her life and her love, she’s going to have to fight for a side. But when Patch is on the opposite end, is choosing a side truly the answer?

UGH………..WHAT A LETDOWN………..GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

I am obviously not a fan of this book. TERRIBLE. HORRIBLE. Make it stop it hurts my eyes!

I really, really, really hated the ending. One of the worst endings I have read in a long time. A waste of my time and for a series that had a promising beginning, I had no idea it would go so far astray.  I’m sure romance lovers will love this finale, but for me I hated it because it was only about the superficial love aspect.

The plot that had so many different directions got lost, into the ether. The romance took dominance and everything else just closed into an easy box. Nora dissolves into a whiny little brat that can’t, and won’t do anything without her man. This is not ok! As a leader of an army, Nora needs courage and bravery, but instead she became a hunk of mouldy cheese.

It’s such a shame, the marketing team truly have done a fantastic job on the series book cover and I just the writing matched. 

Book Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo cover

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Please note: This is the second book in the Hush, Hush series and does contain spoilers.

Check out my review for Hush, Hush (1).

A few weeks ago Nora Grey almost died. When her life was in danger, the smoky hot mysterious Patch did the unthinkable and saved her life. If she died Patch could have taken her life and become human, but instead he saved her and became her guardian angel.

Yet the angels above are keeping an eye on Patch, Making his relationship with Nora…complicated. When an old childhood friend of Nora’s comes back to town, suddenly there are questions involving her father’s death. In this small town of Maine there are a lot more secrets than Nora could ever imagine. If Patch isn’t by her side to sort them out, will she be able to handle the truth?

I can’t say that this sequel was as good as the first. The habits that Nora had established in the first book were completely absent and she reverted to an unimaginative one-dimensional character obsessed with her love interest.

However, I kept going because the plot was intriguing. What lacked in character development/progression can be slightly overlooked due to the thrilling mystery the story created. Fitzpatrick did a brilliant job of giving the reader just enough hints of information to keep me turning the pages.

Plus, the ending is even more explosive than the first book. I’m going to keep reading the series but I was disappointed that the second seemed to forget everything good it had established in the first. 

Book Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

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Pande Info

Please note this is the second book in the Delirium Series.

Find my review for the first Delirium.

THEN: Lena has escaped her life. Over the fence she has crawled, leaving Alex behind to trek through the Wilds into the unknown. Now Lena has been born anew. As apart of a group of those that wander the Wilds fighting for survival, Lena tries to move forward, grieving for Alex. The ways of her old life are long forgotten. Her body and mind shift to withstand the harsh reality of living beyond the wall.

NOW: Together with her group Lena tries to gather more information as she lives undetected within society. When she gets caught up in the kidnapping of Julian Fineman, the son of the Mayor and symbol of a Deliria Free America. She’s going to have to use everything she learned out in the Wilds to insure their existence.

Throughout everything, the struggle, tears death and hunger, Lena pushes more. Alex died to give her a real chance at life. But in a world where feeling love is outlawed, what’s the point in living when that love is gone?

I really liked the format of this book. Switching between THEN and NOW, as readers we learn how Lena has evolved as a character and she does not disappoint! Multi layered and tough, I have loved to see how Lena has grown into a strong female character. Her heartbreak is also all too real and relatable. The grief within this book is harsh but realistic. I praise Oliver for taking her world to the limits and not backing down from anything uncomfortable.

I was also pleased to read how much more complex this world became. There are more adult themes present. The more I think about it, it’s a standout sequel that does a 180 from its debut. Lena has woken up from the false reality that her government has been controlling and as it’s weaknesses become more apparent the future for everyone looks bleak. It’s a terrifying reality.

Yet throughout Lena never losses hope nor determination. It made me feel as if this world environment was the starting catalyst for The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Humans always want power and control, but a small group will never win over the population thus chaos is inevitable. This is book has hints on that power and it was a pleasure to read something that speaks lightly about the world around us now. Gritty and well paced this second book is a great revelation. 

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden – February Vintage YA

AnnieThis month’s Vintage YA is very on theme for February! Sadly, I haven’t read this title myself, and my local library doesn’t have it available for check out. (It’s on special reserve or something) I do plan on reading the book eventually, but with a pending move in the works I’m trying not to increase my amount ‘stuff’. Regardless, I feel that this book needs special mention. Here’s the summary provided by Goodreads:

“This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. This book is so truthful and honest; it has been banned from many school libraries and even publicly burned in Kansas City.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.”

I would also like to mention that this book is on my YA Banned Books Bracelet, which I wrote about for last month’s Literary Inspired Item.

I loved the idea of this book. A teenage lesbian story filled with love and heartache. It’s a coming of age story that there are rarely others to compare it too. Everyone experiences love for a first time and it isn’t always with the hottest guy at school, or an undead vampire. This is an example of power to women, in this case, young women on the right to freely express whom they want to love.

This Valentines Day should be celebrated by all of those in love, and with the progression of more states in the US making gay marriage legal, I can only hope that one-day people all over the world can love freely. Thank you Nancy Garden for writing this book and paving the way for girls who love girls to read about others that feel the same way they do.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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Warm Bodies Info

R is a zombie. It’s hard to tell how long he’s been dead or how long the zombies have been around. What R does know is that there is a hunger inside him that must be fed or he’ll die. What starts as a routine feeding session with his best friend M changes the moment he sets his cold grey dead eyes on Julia.

In that moment something alters. Something inside him stops. He protects Julia but does savour her boyfriend’s brain. R stumbles upon a beautiful love story through ingesting one’s memories.

R doesn’t understand why Julia is so special; there is just a feeling deep in inside that has been still until now. It’s as if Julia somehow has breathed new life into R’s decaying corpse and he’ll do anything to keep her safe from his kind.

What a TREAT this book is! I was turned on to this story by seeing the movie trailer, and by luck my friend had been given this book for Christmas! (I read it in two days to make sure I got my share) I was also ecstatic to learn that Marion is from Washington State himself! It’s rare to read about a male focused romance YA, but this book is done cleverly with humour and insight out of the ‘normal’ zombie genre.

I found this book to be a delightful read. It’s also short, and I loved how the chapters are separated by old school drawings of body parts. In a time where the zombie genre has arisen to its height, this book has the goods to keep it around for a long time. I hope the movie lives up to the book, and I also hope that the series continues in this strange ‘love conquers’ all track. It’s a simple story of hope and that message makes it essentially timeless.

Many thanks to my dear friend Rachael for letting me read her book and to her friend Michael for being awesome and winning it for her. 

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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Before I Fall Details

February 12th, also known as ‘Cupid Day’ for senior Samantha Kingston at Thomas Jefferson High School. Every American High School has a day like this. Students buy flowers, write a message and send them to whomever throughout the day. It’s a race for popularity to see who receives the most. Sam’s one of the most popular girls in school along with her best friends Lindsay, Ally and Elody. Her boyfriend Rob is the hottest guy in school and tonight she’s going to lose her virginity to him.

With popularity comes a way to act and for Sam this is no different. Cruel and cold to all the other students in her class, she doesn’t bat an eye to painful pranks pulled by Lindsay against her enemy Juliet Sykes. When the group attend a party by geeky guy Kent in school, Sam watches as her life pools at her feet. Tired and drunk from the festivities, Sam sits in the front of the car as Lindsay gets behind the wheel. They were supposed to make it home, Sam is too young to die, but the car hits something and suddenly she’s falling.

However, that isn’t the end of Sam’s story as she wakes up to a brand new February 12th. Stuck in the ‘in between’, Sam must figure why she’s reliving her last day on Earth. A journey of self-discovery that comes too late, Samantha Kingston, this was your life.

This is the kind of book that you might not originally like whilst reading, but it’s after you finish that it creeps into your heart. Sam Kingston is your typical mean girl and I really struggled with her character throughout most of the book. Her redeeming qualities took forever to come about and I felt as if most of the novel was just an excuse for her to piss all over everyone simply because she could.

Yet, the ending gives me what I want and as each day begins anew there’s a little bit more of Sam that is less snobbish and more genuine. This isn’t a story of the Mean Girls; it’s a story behind every insecure teenager trying to get through High School in one piece. Sam does evolve and I grew to like her for learning to stand up for herself. This is the kind of book that does take you back to those four years when everyone though they were invincible, that the future was bright and open. You’ll anxiously await turning the pages, wondering what Sam is going to do or learn next.

Many thanks to Stacey of PrettyBooks for this book!