Reviewing the Sequel: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Untold

The Lynburn Legacy #2

Sarah Rees Brennan

2013

3.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


It’s time to choose sides….

On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

A darkly humorous take on Gothic romance, Sarah Rees Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy weaves together the tale of a heroine desperate to protect those she loves, two boys hoping to be saved, and the magical forces that will shape their destiny.


Some spoilers for the first book.

So since the last book, Kami and Jared have broken the link between them, Jared hates her and Kami has no power. Rob is raising a Sorcerer army, and Lillian wants nothing to do with Kami, Ash, or Jared.

This was another reread for me.

This was my original review:

not as good as the first one, but I have hope for the third. I don’t really consider Kami Jared Ash to be a love triangle because it’s obvious at this point that she really doesn’t care for Ash the way she does Jared. There is no competition at this point. Also, where the fuck is Kami’s mom and why does she suck so much?

It wasn’t as good as the first one, but I think I will change my original 3 star rating to 3.5. I still really enjoyed the book, it’s just not much really happened. It was kind of a filler book, with a weak battle scene at the end. There was a lot of relationship drama and SO MUCH could have been avoided if Kami and Jared had just had a conversation where neither jumped to conclusions about what the other one wanted/meant.

Again, the characters make this book, and again Kami comes out as the true winner.

She cried quietly, hands pressed to her eyes, and as she cried she was almost relieved. Here she was, lonely and miserable, and she was still going to go into the gym and do what needed to be done. She had wondered who she was without Jared, stripped of all her supports and forced to stand on her own. She had worried that she would break if her heart broke, but she wasn’t broken. She had lost everything, but she was not lost.

NOW THIS IS HOW YOU HANDLED A BREAK UP.   Honestly, I don’t think I can think of another book, especially a paranormal romance book where a character so maturely handles a break up. Honestly, for all it’s faults, this one paragraph alone makes up for a lot of the bullshit drama. Kami NEVER lets the fact that she is upset over a break up stand in her way. I mean, that is seriously bad ass. At her age, I would have taken a day or two off from trying to fight evil. But NOPE. Not Kami. And that is why she is possibly one of my favorite heroines ever.

Oh, and lets not forget about the fact that throughout this book, Kami is literally powerless. Yes she was a source in the first book, and was at some points able to control the magic, but she has lost that link. All she has is her brains and her mouth and she kicks serious ass. I mean, not exactly in the fight scene that comes at the end, but just in general. She doesn’t need special magic powers to be awesome. And I love that.

The other characters were just as awesome, with the exception of Jared. He was funny again, but way too melodramatic. And I really hate Kami’s mom. She is completely useless as a human being. Jon Glass for the win. Rusty Montgomery was another winner in this book. I just love him so much. I really want Kami to forget the Lynburns and be with him, but you know…platonic friendships are cool…I guess.

Ooh, just something else, the book actually mentions bisexuals!! An actual mention, which is almost unheard of in, ANY form of entertainment.

All in all, I enjoy these books mostly for the characters. Untold read almost a bit too much like a filler book and the drama was a bit much, but I would still totally recommend it.  I am super excited to FINALLY read the last book and find out once and for all how this all ends!

s2f

Just as Good the Second Time: Review of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Unspoken

The Lynburn Legacy #1

Sarah Rees Brennan

2012

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


 

I originally read Unspoken in March of 2015.  I read the second book in the series as well, but never made it to the final book.  That’s why I wanted to add it to my my Series to Finish challenge  for 2016.  It also works towards the Reread Challenge I am participating in, so that is always a plus!

Here is my original review from March of 2015:

I bought this book used a few months ago and it has been sitting on my shelf and I just never felt like reading it. So yesterday I finally decided to see what it was all about and I’m mad at myself for waiting so long. I loved this book.

I had some issues with the writing where sometimes I was completely lost as to what was going on and it sort of dragged for a minute there towards the end, and i’m not exactly sure how i feel about the love triangle/romance aspect…but still. I loved this book. Mainly because I loved the characters. I loved Kami, i loved Jared (most of the time) I loved Kami’s dad and most of all I loved Angela. Maybe it’s because my best friend’s name is Angela, or because she was basically me, but I loved her most of all. Honestly I could have read an entire book with just Kami and Angela, or Angela just shitting on people.

The mystery/supernatural aspect I feel could have been handled a bit better, but i was interested throughout and I have already ordered the second and third book off amazon. They won’t be here till Wednesday and I want to cry. I need them now!

After rereading, my original review still holds up pretty well.  The best part about this book are the characters.  Kami is so sassy and I LOVE sassy characters.  She has no problem speaking her mind and she rarely ever puts up with shit from other characters.  And she can take care of herself.

“You did an awesome job out there in the woods,” he said. “And with the article.”

Kami beamed.  “Thank you.”

“But I think you and Angela should leave this to the police from now on.”

“What an interesting thought,” Kami said.  “Thank you for sharing it with me.  Let me share a thought with you: Actually, I can walk myself to class. And I can also handle myself, so I’ll be doing what I want.”

Honestly, I could just copy every amazing thing she said and make that my review because she is freaking awesome.

And Angela and Rusty were also amazing.  Angela’s disdain for other humans spoke to me on a spiritual level and Rusty’s laziness is akin to my own.  They are by far my favorite secondary characters.

I even really enjoyed Jared and the connection that he and Kami shared, although they were bothy pretty back and forth on whether or not they enjoyed the link between them.

Again, the writing is what threw me a bit because I did have a hard time following along sometimes.  It was easier to understand with the second reading.  I no longer think the end dragged and I was actually very happy with this reread.  I’m glad I ended up liking it just as much as the first time.

I’m really glad that I decided to pick this for one of my first books of 2016.  It’s just such a fun book and I still can’t wait to continue, and hopefully finish, the series!

s2f

 

A Journey Through Time: Review of Timebound by Rysa Walker

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Timebound

The Chronos Files #1

Rysa Walker

2012/2014 (self-published/republished)

3.5stars

Source: Netgalley

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


 

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?


 

I have absolutely no idea how to write this review.  First, because it’s hard to review something you do not have a complete grasp on. Second, because I was annoyed for more than half the book.

Here is a screenshot of my Goodreads updates:

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So obviously, there is no real time traveling until 68% into the book. But everything did speed up after that.  It took me 6 hours to read the first half, because honestly, I was bored.  I took me like 3 hours to finish the book after that because I was so invested.

As I am writing this, I’m not sure if I have posted my review of Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger yet.*  But if I haven’t, I guess I’ll just say that  I LOVE time travel books.  75% of the time I have no idea what is going on.  I’m guessing time travel involves some sort of physics-ish type of science understanding and I dropped out of AP Physics on the 1st day of 11th grade and spent the year in the library writing horrible stories and love notes. I don’t do science.  So it takes awhile for my brain to catch up with the idea of timelines and alternate universes and a lot of times I just try to look past any lack of understanding and chalk it up to the fact that it could be in the plainest of English and I will not understand.  Any time travel experts out there willing to help a girl out?

( I do, however, remember reading somewhere that there are 2 schools of thought when it comes to time travel, and if I’m not mistaken–which i probably am–I like the one that says you can’t really fuck with time, because if you go back in time and do something, then it has already happened in the future.)

So suffice to say, I am completely and totally confused as to how the hell time travel works in this book, but I don’t even care. I will probably at sometime go back and reread the book, and hopefully gather a greater understanding.  If not, then maybe it was the author’s fault and not my own.

Back to the book.

No time traveling happens until 68% into the book, and while I was super annoyed while I was reading, I realize now that it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Obviously it might be to other people, but I’m glad I stuck with it.  There is a LOT of information given during the first 68%.  Sometimes it really did verge on info-dumping, but I thought it was pretty interesting either way.

I really liked Kate.  For as little action there is in the first half, it is still an plot driven book.  There isn’t a super large amount of character development, but I still connected with her.  She’s a girl, who has been thrown out of her own timeline, ripped away from everything she has ever known, and she handles it pretty well.  Of course, there is that instant acceptance that irks me, but what are you going to do?  You can’t have a book where the MC refuses to believe the truth for multiple chapters. That would really slow the plot down. But Kate does what she needs to do in order to restore her life, at least as normally as she can, given the constant shifting of the timeline.

There is a love triangle. Kind of.  It was actually probably one of the best love triangles I’ve ever seen because, first, there is solid reasoning behind it, and second, it doesn’t really exist.  That doesn’t really make much sense, but you’ll understand if you read it.

Trey was so sweet and kind.  There was a teensy-tiny bit of a instalove between the two of them, but honestly it just reminded me of falling in love for the first time at 16.  They weren’t obsessed with each other in a gross way, but they wanted to spend all the time together that they could.  I was 16 and in love once, so I understand.  It was a healthy relationship, and ugh.  Trey was pretty damn near close to perfect.

And Kiernan.  I had almost completely written him off but ugh.  There had to be that little twist and now my heart is battling back and forth between the two boys.

Kate makes her choice in this book.  I’m not sure what will happen in future books, but honestly, at this moment, I’d be happy either way.

Also A++ for an accurate description of DC.  And I loved the idea of intertwining the World Fair and HH Holmes into the story.

Even though I am still lost with the science-y aspect and I had to read more than half a book before any real time traveling occurred I’m still going to give this 3.5 stars.  Honestly, I would have given it a full 4, but I’m still a bit bitter.

So if you are going to give this a shot, it’s best you go in knowing that it is pretty information heavy, action light in the beginning, but it really speeds up.  I am really looking forward to starting the second book!

 

* I have already posted my review of Passenger.  I really suck at reviewing time travel books, but I hope you get the idea that I really do love them.

A Charmed Review: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

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Born At Midnight

Shadow Falls #1

C.C. Hunter

2011

2stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs.


Ok first, there is no reason for this book to be 400 pages. NOTHING happens. The first half is basically just her meeting the campers and falling in instalove with 2 dudes.  Also, shitty love triangle.  Derek seems like the “nice” guy.  You know, the guy who is totally fine with waiting until you’re ready for a relationship and then one day snaps.  That’s just how he seems to me.  And Lucas. Well he wasn’t too bad.  I actually liked him a bit.

There is the presence friendship between Kylie and two other supernatural girls, whose names I forget. Positive representations of female friendship are always good,  but we don’t really get to see the development. We are told that all of a sudden they are all best friends. And they didn’t exactly stand out that much if I can’t remember their names without going back to check.  One was a vampire and the other was a witch.

The “mystery” isn’t introduced until like more than halfway and what a shitty mystery it is.  Who’s eating the wild animals (wait is that it? I don’t even really know).  And then it’s solved like 20 pages later without much effort. And the book doesn’t answer the more pressing mystery of “what the hell is Kylie?”.  Nope.  That would have been too simple.  They probably keep that a mystery until book 3 or something.  All we know is that she can see ghosts and likes the taste of blood, both of which are pretty rare in the supernatural world (Well it’s not rare for  Vamps to enjoy blood, but other creatures).

Beyond the fact that nothing really happens and this book could have been reduced to a few chapters as an introduction of another book, it’s an interesting concept for a book.  A supernatural camp where all the different creatures intermingle. Basically, you’ve got witches, vamps, werewolves, shifters, and fae at a camp together (I think that’s it).  Oh and Kylie, who doesn’t know what she is because she’s speshul.

And even though she can be super judgy, Kylie wasn’t the worst character in the world. The one thing that really, really annoyed me (beyond what I mention below) is how Kylie thought of Fredricka and Lucas.  Just because Lucas left, and Fredricka followed him a few days later, doesn’t mean they ran off together.  Lucas admitted that he didn’t like her…so STOP complaining about it.   It’s a childish book, but I’ve definitely read worse.

But what really annoyed me, and actually probably took off half a star, is that there is definitely an underlying theme of SEX IS BAD.  I mean, her best friend starts off the book with a pregnancy scare (and then promptly disappears because she has served her purpose) and almost every single character admits to regretting sex.  And the one  I mean, Kylie doesn’t want to have sex.  She isn’t ready.  That’s totally fine.  But you don’t need to project your own feelings onto everyone else.

If there hadn’t been such a focus on “SEX IS BAD” I would have given this 2.5 stars, maybe even 3 if I was feeling generous.  I did speed through it, and as I’ve said it wasn’t the worst supernatural book I’ve come across.  (And it did inspire a project I’m super excited about! But more on that later). I already have the 2nd book, because it came as a 2 in 1 special edition, so I guess I’ll be reading that eventually.

2016 “Series I Need to Finish” Challenge

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I’ve probably mentioned that I am the worst when it comes to actually finishing series.  So, another challenge I want to set for myself is to finish  8 series.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy 

by Laini Taylor

The Lynburn Legacy

by Sarah Rees Brennan

Under the Never Sky Trilogy

by Veronica Rossi

Legend

by Marie Lu

Penryn and the End of Days

by Susan Ee

The Grisha

by Leigh Bardugo

The Divergent Trilogy

by Veronica Roth

The Rebel Belle Trilogy

by Rachel Hawkins

 My 2016 reading schedule is already pretty packed (and it’s still 2015!) so I’ll be happy to finish 4 series, giving me 3 months per series.  The first 4 are my top priority and the next 4 would just be extra.

Are there any series that you’ve been meaning to finish but haven’t?

 

I’ll keep everyone updated as 2016 begins!

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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There are some books I just can’t even think about reviewing. The Harry Potter series, A Song Of Ice and Fire series, etc. Basically if I love it too much I just can’t form the words. I’ve been having a problem writing my review for Winter, by Marissa Meyer, probably for that same reason. It’s just too good and my words won’t do it justice. So instead, I decided that I would just do quick, mini reviews for the entire series. I don’t usually give 5 star ratings to books, but I think this series comes pretty close. There are probably some minor spoilers, but nothing huge. I’m not really going to discuss the plot, just my overall feelings of the characters and the novels in general.

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Cinder

TLC #1

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When it comes down to it, I love Cinder simply because it is the first book of the series. I think it is a beautiful introduction to the characters, the story and the world in general. Out of all the female MCs, Cinder is probably my least favorite. I know she is basically the most important character, but I just don’t connect with her as much as I do Scarlet or Cress. And, at the same time, Kai is my least favorite love interest. And their relationship is my least favorite “ship”. It probably seems like I hate them, but I don’t at all. I still love them, and the book, but there are other characters and books I love more.

 

 

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Scarlet

TLC #2

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One of my favorite parts of this series is how each story introduces a new character and beautifully continues the plotline. While Cinder was a bit boring and reactive, Scarlet is the take charge type of woman. She is the most badass of the characters. While Wolf might not be my favorite love interest, I really, really loved that sex was included in this book. Ok, well, a little. It’s totally hinted at that Scarlet and Wolf slept together. Even if it takes place off page, sex in YA is important. The pacing was a bit slow and disjointed for a lot of this book, but I forgive it because of the introduction of my Lunar Chronicle’s man crush, Captain Carswell Thorne. He really helped give this book a (not so needed) boost.

 

 

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Cress

TLC #3

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Oh Cress, how I love you. This is definitely my favorite book of the series and a lot of it has to do with Cress and Thorne, individually and together. Cress is my favorite, with all of her beautiful naivety and dreaming of a prince to save her and figuring out she sometimes has to save herself. And Thorne just makes every scene better. Cress fixed the main issue I had with Scarlet, which was the pace. It is basically nonstop throughout this entire book. Cress also made me rethink my earlier assessment of Cinder, because I realized how much she had changed from the first book.

 

 

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Winter

TLC #4

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I’d like to use Winter as an example of how to end a series, especially one that continued to improve with each novel. Yes there were some points that were a little slow, but I didn’t even mind. Nothing could have turned me away from finding out how it all ended. Winter and Jacin are probably my second favorite relationship in the series. And I do love Winter.   I loved how Winter’s mental illness was handled for the most part. I could have done without Scarlet calling her crazy all the time, but overall I think it was good. I think a big part was that it expressed that Winter didn’t need to be fixed. And I loved Jacin and how supportive and caring he was. Basically I loved almost everything about this book.

 

Final Thoughts:

The Lunar Chronicles is probably one of my favorite fairytale retellings. Each novel brings new life to old tales in creative and original ways. A cyborg Cinderella, a kickass Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel trapped on a satellite and a black, mentally ill Snow White. Each new character added to my overall enjoyment of the series.

There are few series that continue to get better with each additional installment, and The Lunar Chronicles is definitely one of them. Taken together, the entire series is wonderful and is one I know I will be able to read again and again without tiring.

 

ETA: It’s a minor annoyance,  but does anyone else notice how the apple isn’t as red as the shoe, cape and ribbon??

Waiting on Wednesday: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

 

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Their Fractured Light

Starbound #3

by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

December 1,  2015


About

A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now-infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness LaRoux Industries’ corruption. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were the only survivors of the Icarus shipwreck, forced to live a double life after their rescue. Now, at the center of the galaxy on Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players in the fight against LRI.
 
Gideon Marchant is an underworld hacker known as the Knave of Hearts, ready to climb and abseil his way past the best security measures on the planet to expose LRI’s atrocities. Sofia Quinn, charming con artist, can work her way into any stronghold without missing a beat. When a foiled attempt to infiltrate LRI Headquarters forces them into a fragile alliance, it’s impossible to know who’s playing whom–and whether they can ever learn to trust each other.
 
With their lives, loves, and loyalties at stake, only by joining forces with the Icarus survivors and Avon’s protectors do they stand a chance of taking down the most powerful corporation in the galaxy—before LRI’s secrets destroy them all.  (from Amazon)

Why I’m Excited:

Another last book in a series that I have really enjoyed reading. I’m excited to meet the new couple and visit the old ones.  And I’m also really excited to see how they wrap this up! Plus that cover is beautiful.

 

2016 “Series I Need to Start” Challenge

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 2.42.18 PMI’m still working on my review of The Lunar Chronicles so while I try my best to put my words together I thought I would leave you with this.

2016 is going to be the year of challenges. Not any of those “a book with a color in the title” type of challenges (though I might actually attempt some of those as well). Instead I am challenging myself to make it through a big chunk of my ever growing TBR list.  I already posted about my “Nope” Challenge.  Today is my list of series I hope to start in 2016.

All of these are series that the authors are already finished writing or will be ending in 2016 (that I’m aware of). I’ve discovered recently that I hate starting series that aren’t finished or close to being finished. This is mainly because I usually end up forgetting what happened in the year I have to wait for the sequel and then have to end up rereading and I also just hate waiting the year.

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Any suggestions on what I should start first? Any series you have been meaning to get to but haven’t done so yet?

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Illuminae (Illuminae Files _01)

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.


Thoughts:

When I finished this book I knew I would have trouble reviewing it, so here is my best attempt.

 At 599 pages, (really? Couldn’t add one more page?) I thought it would take me awhile to get through this. I mean, I’m somewhat of a fast reader and I can read HP and the Order of the Phoenix in a day, (but that’s HP and I’ve read it so many times I can skim, but still). I thought it would take me at least the weekend.  But, if I hadn’t been forced to emerge from my bedroom and interact with a houseguest I could have finished this in one sitting.  It was just so exciting.  I felt as if I was Kady, alone and ignorant to what had happened, and I NEEDED TO KNOW.  And the format of this book was everything to making this story exciting.

While I enjoyed it a lot, I can understand that the way the story is told probably isn’t for everyone. Instead of a straightforward 1st person or 3rd person POV, we are presented with an array of different types of documents.  Through interviews, chat transcripts, emails, and official memorandums, to name a few, the events of the last year unfold.

I have to admit that there were points where I was confused. In my currently reading update I mentioned that I had seen Titus Andronicus the night before I started reading.  While watching, I found myself totally confused for scenes at a time until I was able to piece together what was happening.  That’s how this book worked for me.  I would read 15 pages, have no idea what had happened, and then get to another document that would help clarify what was going on. Unlike Shakespeare, where it is more the fact that it takes a while to get used to the language, I think this was actually the author’s intention.  The book tells the story of Kady and Ezra as they try to figure out what is going on and at times we are just as lost as they are.

And while I did enjoy the format, one negative was that it took longer for me to connect with the characters. We are kept at a distance between their actual thoughts, and it is only what they put forward in their e-mails and chats that we really get a sense of who they are.  Kady’s journal entries helped add an insight into her mind as well.  Even with the distance, I did find myself caring for the characters and their relationship (even secondary characters).  Their chats were adorable and from the start I was rooting for the two of them to work things out, despite the separation and the terrible situations they found themselves in.

It is hard for me to talk about the plot of this book without giving away important facts. Let’s just say that the first 250 pages or so were relatively normal and just when it was getting a bit tedious, shit got weird.  Real weird.  I don’t even want to explain what was so weird because I didn’t see it coming and I feel like it would ruin a bit of the surprise.

Illuminae didn’t answer all of the questions I had, but it didn’t bother me. This is a rollercoaster of a book and just went when you think you’ve hit the end of all the surprised and revelations, it knocks you back down and leaves you wanting more.

Jackaby by William Ritter

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Jackaby

Jackaby #1

by William Ritter

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It’s 1892 and Abigail Rook has left her parents home in search of adventure. After a brief tenure as an archaeological assistant, she leaves Europe behind to head to the United States. She is soon employed by a Mr. R. F. Jackaby, a strange and brilliant man who has the ability to detect the supernatural that are usually otherwise hidden from the human eye. Their first case together involves a supernatural serial killer with the penchant of ripping open his victims and mopping up their blood.

While the mystery aspect of Jackaby was pretty standard (beyond it being a supernatural suspect), what really sold me on the book were the characters.

Abigail Rook is a strong, independent young woman (I don’t think her age is ever mentioned, but I’d guess she is anywhere from maybe 16-19.) After years of being left behind while her father went to one archeological digs after another, she decides to set out on her own.

“As you had previously cautioned, a professional dig site proved to be no place for a young lady to run around. Currently in seek of a better location to do so.”

She is smart, observant and won’t let anyone tell her how she is supposed to act as a young lady, which I particularly enjoyed. The subtle (Ok maybe not so subtle) jabs at gender norms was one of my favorite parts.   And she has a healthy appreciation for pockets.

“Pockets! I was thrilled. I have never understood the aversion to pockets in ladies fashion—as though it has become some great shame to appear as if one might actually need to possess anything.”

It’s funny how 120 years have passed and it’s still a struggle to find any women’s clothing that has real pockets. But, back to the story.

I liked Abigail’s narration a lot. She was funny witty and I think an overall awesome counterpart to Jackaby.

“I see the things more extraordinary still, the things no one else sees. But you—you notice mailboxes and wastebaskets and…and people. One who can see the ordinary is extraordinary indeed, Abigail Rook.”

Jackaby, like the synopsis stated, is the Sherlock Holmes of supernatural mysteries.

“I am a man of reason and science. I believe what I can see or prove, and what I can see is often difficult for others to grasp […] I do not believe, for an example, that pixies enjoy honey and milk because some old superstition says they do …I believe it because when I leave a dish out for them a few times a week, they top by and drink.”

But at the same time he reminded me of Shawn Spencer from Psych because he can be funny when he wants to be, often at the expense of the police inspector who doesn’t believe in the supernatural.

And the relationship that developed (albeit rather quickly) between them was great. First, because it is 100% platonic without any sort of indication that would ever change. They banter was probably my favorite part:

“That book. What on earth are you doing with it?”

“Well, you had the stick.”

His eyebrows furrowed. “This is a shillelagh. It was cut from Irish blackthorn by a leprechaun craftsman […] That […] is a book.”

“It’s heavy, though. A Leprechaun? Like, the tiny fellow who keeps pots of gold at the ends of rainbows?”

“Don’t be asinine. I mean a real leprechaun.”

I also really liked that there was almost no romance. There was the development of a crush and the hint of a possible future romance but that’s really it.

The writing was good; it was pretty simple and straightforward, but that’s not always a bad thing. I think Jackaby would be great for middle grade and the younger set of YA, but I still had a great time reading it. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.