Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi“We all have the potential to do terrible things. But we also have the potential to overcome our mistakes.”

Perry and Aria have to figure out a way to save the Dwellers and the rest of Perry’s tribe by bringing them into the Still Blue. However, now that Sable and Hess have teamed up, it seems almost impossible that Aria and Perry will be able to save their people. First, they must rescue Cinder, because he is the only one that can help them get to the Still Blue, even though it means sacrificing himself to save them all.

I really enjoyed this series overall. Aria and Perry have grown so much since the first book, both individually and as a couple. They finally have learned how they best complement each other, and that they cannot stop the other from fighting alongside them. Their relationship allows them to help the Dwellers and the Outsiders see past their differences and help each other to survive.

One of my favorite things about this series is Roar and Aria’s relationship. This was so well done by Rossi–Aria and Roar are able to have a very close friendship without it being at all romantic or love triangle-y. The two of them have a great relationship and after the loss of Liv it is even more important that Roar have someone like Aria by his side.

The ending to this series was somewhat predictable, but I like the way it was executed. Once again, the dual narration worked well, especially towards the end. I really loved how strong Aria has become, especially outside of her home, and how she has truly become part of both the Dwellers and the Outsiders.

Overall, Into the Still Blue was a great ending to the series! I’m sad that this series had to end, and while the ending was somewhat predictable, I enjoyed the way it was done.

Into the Still Blue was released on January 28, 2014.

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

Lady Thief by A.C. GaughenYour power, your great gift, is that you never give up.

Scarlet was forced to reveal her true identity and marry Lord Gisbourne in front of all of Nottingham. She despises Gisbourne, who is cruel and manipulative, and is actually in love with Robin Hood. She and Robin want to find a way to be together, but first she must figure out how to get her marriage annulled. But as the royal court comes to Nottingham to appoint a new sheriff, Scarlet realizes that there are even bigger things to worry about than her forced marriage.

This was a really great sequel to Scarlet, and in my opinion was even better than the first book! Scarlet and Robin are in a much different place in this book–Scarlet is upset about her marriage to Gisbourne, and Robin is suffering from PTSD after being held prisoner and tortured. He is trying not to let it affect his relationship with Scarlet, but it keeps getting worse and worse. Then when Gisbourne arrives to blackmail Scarlet, she is forced to leave Robin anyway.

Gisbourne tells Scarlet that if she behaves like a noblewoman and stays by his side while the royal court is in Nottingham, he will annul their marriage when it is all over. Scarlet is torn, because while she does not trust Gisbourne to hold his word, she is willing to do almost anything to annul her marriage so that she can be with Robin. When she goes to stay in the castle with Gisbourne, we get a bigger glimpse into his character and the reasons behind his cruelty.

Scarlet is such a great heroine. She has the amazing ability to never give up, despite how dire her circumstances seem. She always has a backup plan, and is able to get herself out of the worst situations. She doesn’t let the fact that she is small and female stop her from doing anything and she is willing to do almost anything to keep the people of Nottingham safe.

This book had even more twists and turns than the first one. I did not anticipate the ending at all, and I can’t wait to see how the events of this book will affect Scarlet and Robin in the next one!

Overall, Lady Thief was a great sequel to Scarlet, and was full of action and suspense. I can’t wait to read what happens next!

Lady Thief was released on February 11, 2014.

 

Book to Film: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent movieI was very excited for this movie release! Divergent is one of my favorite dystopian series, and I couldn’t wait to see it translated onto the big screen. But of course I was also a little bit nervous about how much the filmmakers would change and how that would affect the overall story. I’m happy to say that the film adaptation of Divergent was extremely well done!

I remember a lot of people being very apprehensive about Shailene Woodley being cast as Tris, but I was very pleased with her performance. She has shown herself to be a very versatile actress, and she really brought Tris’s character to life on screen. Same goes for Theo James, who was the perfect Four.

The details that were included from the book were really well done–the different colors of clothes worn by each faction, the zipline, the trains that the Dauntless ride, and the Dauntless headquarters. I was worried about things from the book being cut out, but the few things that were didn’t really impact the story much at all.

My favorite part of the movie was the fear landscapes. Four’s especially was so well done, I literally was cringing in my seat at the part where his fear of small spaces forced him and Tris to be enclosed in a metal box. It was really cool to see these brought to life on screen!

Overall, Divergent was an excellent film and stayed very true to the book! The casting was very well done and Tris and Four especially were excellent on screen. I highly recommend seeing this one if you haven’t yet!

Divergent was released in theaters on March 21, 2014.

Top Ten Gateway Books/Authors

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Gateway Books/Authors. Here’s my Top Ten:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling–this was my gateway book into fantasy and the wonderful world of  Harry Potter. There’s a funny story behind my reading this actually: my younger brother had to read it for school when he was about 9 years old and I was 12, and since he hates reading so much it was taking him forever to finish it. I bet him that I could start the book and finish the entire thing before he could finish the second half of it, and I loved it so much that I ended up reading the first three books before he finished the first!

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare–my gateway into Steampunk. I really had no idea what this genre even was until I read this book, and once I picked this one up I was hooked!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins–this was my gateway dystopian novel and also the book that made me realize how much I loved books with strong female protagonists. Katniss was one of the most kickass heroines I had ever read about and it made me want to read more books like this. Now, years later, dystopian novels are one of my favorite subgenres.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan–this book made me love zombie novels!! I have always been a huge fan of all things zombie but mainly just movies and video games. Once I read this book, it made me want to hunt down more zombie novels!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins–while I had read some contemporary stuff before I read this, this was definitely the book that made me a huge contemporary fan. I literally could not put this down, and once I had finished it a second time I had to search for books just like it.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot–I read this many, many years ago and I’m pretty sure this was what really got me started on my love for young adult fiction. This was such a great story and a great way to be introduced to my favorite genre.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis–this was definitely my gateway into sci-fi. I was a bit apprehensive about reading this one but once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. This book made me interested in the exciting world of outer space, and led to me reading other great sci-fi novels like Cinder and These Broken Stars.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green–my first John Green novel, which made me want to read every book he’s ever written! This book was so amazing/heartbreaking, and I am slowly but surely working my way through the rest of John Green’s novels.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund–this was my gateway into retellings. This book was such an amazing retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and it really made me love retellings of all kinds–fairy tales, classics, and more! There’s just something about someone being able to reinvent a story that you’ve read before and make you feel like you’re reading something entirely new.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire–my gateway into New Adult. I loved this book and couldn’t wait to read more like it! Unfortunately, the New Adult genre is saturated with books that are borderline erotica, so my New Adult reading has been very limited. There are definitely a few gems out there though, and this was one of them!

 

What books/authors made your Top Ten this week?

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

The Break-Up Artist by Philip SiegelBecca Williamson will break up any couple at her high school for the simple price of $100 via Paypal. She is sick of all the couples in her high school making single girls feel inadequate just because they aren’t in a relationship, so she is more than happy to manipulate a seemingly happy couple into a break up. But then Becca receives her toughest request yet–someone wants her to break up the school’s power couple, Steve and Huxley.

This was a really great story about relationships and the effect they can have on friendships. Most of the people who request help from the “Break-Up Artist” are people who feel as though they’ve lost their best friends since he/she began dating someone. Many people in high school are guilty of this–dropping everything for their first boyfriend/girlfriend, including abandoning their friends. Becca, as the Break-Up Artist, feels she is doing a good deed by splitting these couples up so people can have their friends back, and when her own best friend commits the crime of practically abandoning Becca for her new boyfriend, Becca feels even more justified in what she’s doing.

Becca herself has never had a boyfriend and is vehemently opposed to the seemingly universal high school belief that one needs a significant other to matter. Her best friend Val, however, will do just about anything to get a boyfriend, even if it means outright lying about herself to snag one. After witnessing her sister get jilted on her wedding day, Becca doesn’t believe in real love, and thinks that people like her parents just settle for someone to marry. She has no problem breaking up all of these couples, because she thinks she is actually doing them a favor.

When she is given the task of breaking up Steve and Huxley however, everything begins to change. She was Huxley’s best friend before Huxley began dating Steve and got popular, leaving Becca behind to wonder why she was no longer good enough to be Huxley’s friend. Becca works to insert herself back into Huxley’s life so that she can find the weaknesses of Huxley and Steve’s relationship and figure out how to exploit them. However, she begins to realize that maybe some couples are in fact meant to be and it isn’t her place to decide whether or not this is the case. At the same time that she begins struggling with the morality behind her job, someone at school begins trying to find out who the Break-Up Artist is, so they can stop her from ruining any more relationships.

Overall, The Break-Up Artist was a great story about how relationships in high school can affect friendships and more. I definitely recommend this one!

The Break-Up Artist will be released on April 29, 2014.

 

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesPrenna James comes to present day New York when she is twelve years old. She and a group of people have traveled back in time from the future, where the world is in ruin due to an epidemic spread by mosquitoes. Prenna is expected to follow a specific sort of rules, including the strict rule that she must never be close anyone that is not part of the community. But when Prenna begins to fall for Ethan Jarves, she finds it difficult to follow the rules she has always obeyed.

I was really excited to read this one because it is by the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but I have to honestly say that I was extremely disappointed in this book. It was really hard to get through, which is saying something because the entire book is less than 300 pages. I came very close to adding this book to my DNF shelf, but I figured since it was pretty short I might as well power through.

Prenna herself was a huge problem for me. I hate to say it but her character was just…dumb. She made stupid decisions that would be obvious to anyone else, and these decisions lead to outcomes that are extremely predictable. Prenna constantly goes on and on about how her “community” was supposed to travel back in time to stop the plague from happening…yet she thought they would do this by attending normal school for the past five years? Why has it taken her this long to realize that nobody is actually taking any action?

Another problem I had was the insta-love. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and usually a deal breaker when it comes to a story. Ethan sees Prenna appear randomly one day, which happened to be the day she time traveled, and he is instantly hooked. Prenna is basically in love with him from the moment she meets him, even though there are no sparks between them at all. And Ethan is portrayed as being basically perfect. He’s good looking, super smart and nerdy yet extremely popular, invited to all the best parties at school, great with computers, and somehow manages to acquire a glass cutter and know how to use it. All very convenient–too much so.

There were some definitely plot holes also. A few things just didn’t make sense, and then there was this whole thing with a homeless guy that was obviously supposed to be a big twist but just seemed completely weird and way too convenient to the plot. What really bugged me also was that after Prenna and Ethan figure out how they are supposed to essentially save the world, they sit around for two days hanging out by the beach and playing cards? I don’t know if this was supposed to be the relationship building part of the story, but it just seemed odd.

Overall, The Here and Now was a huge disappointment that I almost didn’t finish due to the awful main character, insta-love, and plot holes. The premise behind it was interesting but overall the book was a big flop for me.

The Here and Now will be released on April 8, 2014.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergWhen Levi moves from California to Wisconsin in eighth grade, he and Macallan hit it off from the start. They bond over a favorite British television show and become fast friends. They begin to do everything together and even their families grow close. People constantly make the assumption that they are a couple, but they keep denying that, saying they are simply best friends and nothing more. However, as the years go by and relationships come and go, they realize that their “friendship” is getting in the way of other things. Dates accuse them of focusing too much on each other, boys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s dating Levi, and the two begin to wonder if something more is possible, or if they’d be better off staying friends.

This was a really cute story! I was already a fan of Elizabeth Eulberg because I loved her previous book, The Lonely Hearts Club, so I knew I would enjoy this one. Better Off Friends is basically a high school version of When Harry Met Sally, and equally as good.

I really liked both of these characters. Macallan is tough, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for people. She has an uncle with a slight mental disability, and she treats him like her second father. Whenever anyone even slightly makes fun of him, she is super quick to defend him no matter what, which shows how good of a person she is. Levi is another great character–he doesn’t push Macallan to talk about her mother’s death, but makes himself available in case she ever wants to bring it up. The two are really great friends to one another, which makes it easy to understand why they would be hesitant to change their friendship into something more.

What I loved about this book is how it followed Levi and Macallan from when they first met in eighth grade and continued on through the rest of high school. By doing this we’re able to see how they grow up together and how they change over the years. They each go through their own series of relationships and friendships with other people, yet they manage to stay friends through even the worst times. The only time they seriously begin to falter is when the hint of something more appears and they both get nervous about the possibility of ruining their friendship.

Overall, Better Off Friends is a really cute story about best friends with the potential for more. I loved the way each chapter followed with a conversation between the present day Levi and Macallan reminiscing about each memory.

Better Off Friends was released on February 25, 2014.