A Sequel that is Better than the First: Through the Ever Night

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throughtheevernight
Through The Ever Night
Under the Never Sky #2
Veronica Rossi

4stars


 It’s been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don’t take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe’s precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, can their love survive through the ever night?

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It’s not often that the second book is better than the first, but I’m glad to say that this is one of those times.

I enjoyed Under the Never Sky.  After initially being annoyed by Aria, I really liked the characters and the romance. I don’t think I mentioned it in my review, but I really enjoyed that the romance never overwhelmed the actual plot of the book and what these two characters had set out to do.

And Through the Ever Night continues this.  While there was a bit more focus on romance, both Perry and Aria continue to do what needs to be done even if it means they have to be away from each other.

And I LOVED Aria in this book.  Gone is the naive dweller who didn’t understand that sometimes you need to kill the people who are trying to eat you.  She is totally kickass in the sequel. She recognizes the hardships of living outside of a protected pod and she does what she needs to do to survive.

And while Perry did get a teensy bit whiny for a few chapters, I really stood behind him and what he was trying to do for his tribe.  It annoyed me a bit that his people couldn’t recognize what he was doing for them, but eventually they understood.  I think it was actually a pretty good depiction of a young man thrust into power.
And I really, really fell in love with Roar this book.  Such a great secondary character and I’m glad we got to see a lot more of him.

A minor issue I had with the first book is that the pacing was pretty slow.  Yeah it was a survival story with some adventure and romance, but it was pretty slow going until the last 100 pages.  Not so with this book.  I thought the pacing was right on point and I sped through with my reading because I had to find out how it ended.

We also learn a bit more about the catastrophic events that led to the Unity and how certain people came to live in pods while others remained outside.  It’s not particularly groundbreaking or in depth, but it did help satisfy my curiosity about the backstory of this world.

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WoW: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

WOW

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

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The Leaving

Tara Altebrando

June 7, 2016

Eleven years ago, six kindergartners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

This unforgettable novel brims with rich characters, tense storytelling, and high stakes.

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I’ve added a lot of mystery/thrillers to my TBR recently, especially books with plots like this.  I think what really draws me in is the cover.  It’s just so creepy with the fog and the broken swing.  Totally demands my attention in a subtle way.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven Cycle # 3

Maggie Stiefvater

4.5stars


 

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

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Before I get into the review, I just need to say that there is no way I can accept that that is Blue on the cover.  That is Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands and no one can tell me otherwise.

Again, another fabulous addition to this wonderful series.

As soon as I finished The Dream Thieves I jumped right into Blue Lily, Lily Blue and I finished the next day. I went so long without being able to read a single book and now I’ve read 3 in 3 days.

This one was a bit different than the other two. The pacing wasn’t as quick and there wasn’t as much action, but I loved it all the same. That is, for sure, a sign of a very talented author. Also, I am super confused about 75% of the events that occurred and the plot arc in general, but I think that’s intentional. I don’t think it’s a sign of weak writing or my inability to comprehend. I think we are purposefully being left in the dark in certain situations, and while usually I hate that, I am totally fine with it in regards to this series.

Now I just have to wait a month for the final book to come out. Is it too soon to reread? I just don’t know what else I could possibly read that would even come close to the magic I felt while reading the first 3 books. I’ve been considering giving her Wolves of Mercy Falls series another try to bide the time. I got pretty far into Shiver and was a bit bored so I put it down for a bit, and now 3 years later I still haven’t finished.

Ten Of The Best Books I’ve Read Recently

TTT

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s been so long since I’ve participated in TTT.

It isn’t often that I rate a book 5 stars.  5 Stars are reserved for my all time favorite books or books that make me cry hysterically without even really trying.  So there aren’t that many of those.  But I have read some really great books recently.

The first 3 books of The Raven Cycle.  If I was one to give out 5 stars, these would definitely get them.  All 3 books got 4.5 stars, so it’s basically the highest honor a book can get (Unless it’s Harry Potter).

This is a series I’m currently reading, and I’ve really, really enjoyed the first 2 books.   Through the Ever Night was a rare instance where I think the sequel was better than the original.

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I only recently started reading Historical Romance so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I really enjoyed this one.

vampireacademy

This one was actually on my “nope” shelf on Goodreads and I am so glad I gave it a chance.  One of the better vampire books I’ve read in a long time.

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for time travel.

badgirlsdontdie

Another shockingly wonderful book.  This was hilarious and scary and I never expected to like it as much as I did.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky #1

Veronica Rossi

3.5stars


 

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland–known as The Death Shop–are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild–a savage–and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile–everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

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This was another reread for me, but it was one of the series I set out to finish in 2016. I remember really liking this book the first time, and while my opinion didn’t really change, there were a few things that made me lower the rating from a 4 to a 3.5

Pacing is pretty slow. It didn’t ruin the story, but not much really happens. Within the last 100 pages the story really picks up, which I guess is pretty normal. There isn’t a whole lot of backstory but in this case I don’t think it really ruins the book. Sometime around 300 years ago the “Unity” occurred, which I think involved some sort of catastrophic weather shift that forced people into domes. And after living outside for 300 years, the outsiders also developed genetic mutations, which allow some people’s senses to be extra strong. Although I personally would have enjoyed way more backstory, I think this was pretty sufficient. I do still hope we will learn more in the next two books.

I liked Perry a lot, but Aria annoyed me for 50% of the book. She was just so…I don’t really know. Not immature. Maybe naïve. She is really rude to Perry and continuously calls him a monster and savage even though he keeps saving her life. She is so upset that he killed three men who were going to EAT HER. Come on. Sometimes murder (especially in a wild land where there are no rules and people are going to EAT YOU) is totally and completely justified. I won’t go so far as to say that everything with happens with the Croven’s is totally her fault, but if she had just listened to Perry it probably would have turned out differently.

She gets better about halfway through the book though and by the end I actually really like her so yay for character development.

And I really enjoyed the romance. Once Aria stopped being an asshole I can see why Perry falls for her. Sure it’s bordering on instalove (it’s been less than 2 weeks) I am always a bit quicker to forgive the trope when the couple is involved in a fight for survival. Like, when it’s just the two of you working together, it makes some sense that you would seek comfort with the other one.

Other pluses include an actual mention of Aria’s period (and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it barbaric, I totally agree that it is bullshit that it has to happen every month) and sex in YA! Yeah it happens off page but they very clearly have sex.  I’m totally for incorporating more sex into YA lit.  I don’t even care if it happens off page.  I just want more sex, especially when the characters do not hold their virginity up on a pedestal as the be all and end all of their worth as women.

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Another Win: Review of The Dream Thieves

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The Dream Thieves

The Raven Cycle # 2

Maggie Stiefvater

4.5stars


If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.

And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys—a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface—changing everything in its wake.

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This is not a proper review.  I don’t really have much to say about this book. Words fail me.  If books 3 & 4 stay on the same level this will probably go down as one of my all time favorite series.

The writing was just as beautiful, the plot just as gripping, the characters just as wonderful (although I might dislike Adam a little more now).  Again, my love for Ronan is way above my love for the others, but what can I say? Mickey goddamn Milkovich in book form.  I am totally here for that.

I only have 2 minor issues with this fantastic second book:

  1. Within the first few chapters, The Gray Man beats up Declan and tells him to find the Greywaren.  Declan agrees and then  I don’t think we see him again until the last few chapters of the book. I feel like Declan has a much larger roll to play in this series (I might be wrong), but I just kept wondering where Declan was throughout this entire book.  Also, why was he still living in the dorm during the summer when he had already graduated?
  2. The Gray Man and everyone’s reaction to him.  Ok so within the realm of this world I find it totally plausible that the characters do not blink at the supernatural elements of their world.  There is a magical Welsh king that has been asleep for six centuries in the mountains of Virginia? Ok cool, that’s fine.  But for the characters to barely blink an eye at a self confessed hit man?  And it’s not like they think he’s joking either.  They know he is telling the truth. Do better, favorite characters.  Do Better.

These are really the only minor annoyances I had.  This is such a wonderful series and I am so glad I am finally reading it.

It’s Finally Over! Review of The Iron Knight

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Some spoilers.  This turned it a bit of a rant.  Sorry in advance.

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The Iron Knight

The Iron Fey #4

Julie Kagawa

2.5stars


My name – my True Name – is Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase – a half human, half fey slip of a girl – smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end – a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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A lot of people LOVE this series.  I am not one of them.  While I actually really enjoy the plot line of the first 3 books and was totally invested in figuring out what happens, I found them all relatively slow and boring and I hate, Hate, HATE Meghan Chase.  She beats Bella Swan for my least favorite female character of all time (as of now).  I don’t know what it is about her that makes me want to bang my head against the wall for hours on end, but she does.  I probably would have been able to share some more concrete reasons for my hate if I hadn’t  completely forgotten to write a review after I finished The Iron Queen back in the beginning of February.

And let’s just say I was extremely happy to finally be done with the first three books and Meghan’s narration.  I’m not sure if I would have really continued with the series if I hadn’t stupidly bought the audiobooks awhile back.  But I did, so I had to get my moneys worth.  And that’s what led us here today.  I have finally finished all four books of The Iron Fey series.

Right off the bat I have to say that this book was 1000% times better simply because Meghan is not in it for like 95% of the book. I thank all the gods of the world for this fact.  The story, instead, is told from Ash’s POV, which when it comes down to it, isn’t all that better.

But really, why I couldn’t find it in myself to give this book more than 2.5 stars is that it’s BORING.  Ash is on an epic quest to find a soul because for some reason I will NEVER understand, he wants to spend the rest of his life with Meghan.  Excuse me while I go throw up.

I’m back.  So epic quest.  Fun times.  NOT.  This entire book is just Ash whining, with a few dull fight scenes.  The only redemption is Puck.  And that just makes me angry because it reminds me how these books royally fucked over Puck.

And then, there are, of course, the last few chapters which basically live out Ash’s life and Meghan is there in all her annoyingness and….

Also, Ariella (I think that’s her name.  I don’t really care.) is somehow back and then we have Ash contemplating ignoring his promise to be Meghan so he can be with Ariella, but he can’t because he’s a fairy and then I felt bad for Meghan.  And I HATE feeling bad for characters I don’t like.  But Ash wasn’t winning any points with me when he made it seem like he was just going back to Meghan because of the promise.   “I’m only here because I’m a dumbass and I make a lot of unbreakable oaths in the heat of the moment, but I really wish I could be back with my ex who I thought was dead.”   Way to make a girl feel special, Winter Prince.  He sorts that out eventually, but still.

And I’m done ranting.  There is a spin off series featuring Meghan’s little brother Ethan, but as that seems to mean I will have more Meghan to deal with, I will probably not be reading that.  We’ll see.  I might feel masochistic one day.

 

My Slump is Over! Reivew of The Raven Boys

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The Raven Boys

The Raven Cycle #1

Maggie Stiefvater

4.5stars


 

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.Divider

This was a reread for me, although the original read dates have disappeared from Goodreads. I know I read it while I was living in Michigan so I think it was Summer 2014. But anyway.

I read it, and really enjoyed it. And then I waited a few weeks before picking up the second book and I had basically forgotten a lot of what happened in the first book. Sometimes I can blame this on the book just not being memorable, but I think this time it was me. So I put off finishing the series because I don’t think the 3rd book had even been released yet.

But now with the 4th and final book’s (I think) publication about a month away I decided to reread it. Plus it helps that I finally got the 2nd and 3rd books (a very late Christmas present).

So, even though I have been in a pretty massive reading slump, I picked this up yesterday and I blew through it. I loved almost everything about it. In fact, I don’t think there is one thing that I didn’t like, except I still can’t bring myself to give it 5 stars. Maybe if Ronan had had a POV chapter here and there it would have been a 5.

The writing was beautiful; not too over the top that I roll my eyes. There were lots of times I wish I had been near a computer so I could have jotted a few sentences down but I couldn’t tear myself away from the book to even do that. I think the pacing was just right for me. Maybe it was because I had already read it, but I was racing through it. I knew the general plot but there was a lot I forgot. I was extremely interested in the quest for Glendower and learning about the ley lines and everything.

And to top it all off, we get to know a great group of characters and there is barely any romance! I don’t know what it is, but sometimes it is just so refreshing to have a book that does not focus on the romance. (Of course there is major foreshadowing to future romances/love triangles, but whatevs.  As long as it doesn’t overpower the character development and the quest plot, I’m fine with it).

And I love all of the characters. Of course, as I always prefer a misunderstood bad boy, Ronan is my absolute favorite. He just reminds me so much of Mickey Milkovich from the US Shameless, and that is extremely high praise because Mickey Milkovich the love of my life. The only character I’m kind of meh about is Adam. I don’t know why because I feel like it should be Gansey that I’m not particularly fond of, but I love him.  Even Blue, who very easily could have been another cliche female character, was great.

I’m currently almost half way through the 2nd book, and I really, really hope that I’m heading up out of the slump!

Just Have to Say

Hamilton was AMAZING.  I mean, I’ve been hearing it for months now, but honestly, I was blown away.  I am so happy that a) I was able to see it with the original Broadway cast and b) I didn’t listen to the soundtrack beforehand.

Before we went the boyfriend kept mentioning how he didn’t like Alexander Hamilton (he’s currently taking a constitutional law history class so had to read a lot of the Federalist papers and stuff) and I kept telling him “well, at least he dies in the end”.  But I’m happy to report that both the BF and my dad loved it as well.  BF and I had last seen Book of Mormon together and Hamilton has definitely replaced that as my favorite musical.

Just so amazing.  Everyone in it was so amazing, but I think my personal favorite has to be Daveed Diggs as Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. And while I loved all of the songs (really, I don’t think there was a single mediocre song in the show) I LOVED Jonathan Groff’s King George III songs. I’ve had them stuck in my head since we left the theater.  Such a catchy melody.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about Hamilton as a person (honestly the only thing I ever really remember learning about him was that he died in a duel with Aaron Burr) but I really, really want to read not only his biography, but other founding father’s as well.

I might read a book sometime soon.  Until then,  please excuse me while I go listen to the soundtrack on repeat.

Planning a Trip to Walt Disney World

I don’t know where it came from but one day within the past 2 years I just became obsessed with Disney World. I don’t know why but every few months the desire to plan a vacation comes over me and I spend a few days obsessively reading Disney blogs, listening to podcasts and watching vlogs. Especially after spending a day at Universal (which I my opinion is all you really need.  It is totally possible to do everything in one day) my desire to be in Disney World has come back in full force.

So I’m currently planning a Disney vacation that will take place either in May or September of 2017.  Far away, but when you need to book your dining reservations 180 days in advance, the more time for planning the better.

And Disney is not cheap. The ticket prices just went up again, so by the time my trip comes around my budget might be a bit out of date, but for now I think I need to save up at least $4,000, but probably closer to $5,000 just to make sure that I have everything covered.

I’m planning this trip for me and my boyfriend after he graduates law school. It’s taken a few months but he’s finally resigned to the fact that we are going and he doesn’t really have a choice.  (He gets a free trip to the most magical place on Earth, so he shouldn’t really be complaining anyway.)

Flight: $500

Hopefully I will be able to find tickets from the DC area to Orlando that are close to $500 round trip. I live closest to BWI but I would gladly head over to Reagan or Dulles for a cheaper flight (even if it does mean heading into the dreaded state of Virginia).

Hotel: $1,000

Obviously this could totally change, but right now I am planning on saving $1,000 for our hotel. Right now I am thinking 7 nights and 6 days at Disney (this could also change, hence the extra $1000) at Pop Century Resort.  We could stay offsite for cheaper but I want to be completely immersed in the Disney bubble for our first trip together.  Pop Century is a value resort on Disney property.  I’ve done quite a bit of research and while of course I would rather stay at one of the Deluxe, paying $300+ per night just isn’t feasible right now.  One day.

Tickets: $1000

So as of right now, 6 days with the park hopper option comes in at around $900 for 2 people. I don’t actually plan on buying my tickets through Disney, but through a legit ticket seller that offers a small discount, but still, it would probably be close to $900.  I could save money by not having the park hopper option but I definitely want to be able to leave a park and head to another at the spur of the moment if we feel like it.  I’m also getting 6 day tickets even if we decide to spend most of the day outside of the park.  I want to be able to go see the fireworks or something if we feel like it.

Dining: $1000

The boyfriend and I like to eat. We enjoy good food, and thankfully Disney has a lot of great options.  So while I don’t plan on buying the Disney dining plan (and probably won’t end up going during a time when free dining is available) I’m budgeting around $1000 for food.  To be honest this is probably where we will end up going over the budget the most.  I don’t plan on eating at many fine dining selections, but the ones I want to go to are of course, some of the most expensive.  Mostly we plan to eat at counter service or quick service options.

Misc/Souvenirs: $500

I definitely don’t plan on buying $500 worth of souvenirs, but this is basically where the original $4000 budget called for some wiggle room. If we went over in dining we would take from this or if we wanted to do a tour or do a little shopping.

 

So as of right now, the budget is still $4,000. Of course as we get closer to our actual trip I will have to adjust.  I currently already have $3,000 saved so getting to $5,000 shouldn’t be that hard with over a year to go. There are lots of things I want to do on this vacation, so I might create a Disney Bucket list in my spare time as I still don’t seem to be in the mood to read.