Toxic Heart by Theo Lawrence

Toxic Heart by Theo LawrenceSince Aria and Hunter started a rebellion in Mystic City, Aria has been in hiding outside the city while Hunter has been underground in the city leading the rebels. Aria is growing more and more restless because she misses her boyfriend and feels like she is not helping anyone by hiding out. When she is forced to return to the city and Hunter, she realizes that the Hunter she fell in love with has changed. Aria believes that he can still be the leader they need, and she tries to reunite the city rather than cause more destruction.

Mystic City was a really unique story so I was looking forward to reading this sequel. However, it seems that this book fell into the sophomore slump. The romance between Aria and Hunter, which basically drove the entire story of the first book, completely died in this book. Hunter was distant and cold and had a completely different personality than in the first book. He kept pushing Aria away and doing things that the old Hunter never would’ve even considered in order to win the rebellion. Basically, he became extremely unlikable.

Aria herself became kind of annoying also. She seemed even more naive in this book than in the first, and kept putting herself in obviously dangerous situations and then is shocked when her life is threatened. She wants the city to reunite and everyone to live in peace and harmony, which is all well and good but more than a little bit impossible. I was glad that she finally started learning to fight though, instead of relying on everyone else to save her all the time.

The story as a whole was a bit dragged out, with Aria basically searching the city for the heart of her dead mystic friend for much of the book. The whole book was basically Hunter telling Aria to stay put and do nothing and Aria going out and doing what she wants instead. The ending was definitely different than I expected, and I may still read the next book just to find out how it all ends.

Overall, Toxic Heart was not as good as the first book in the series. I was really surprised that Hunter, such a pivotal character from the first book, had such a diminished role in this one. The romance that was so important to the first book completely fell flat in this one, and I honestly don’t know what will happen in the next book.

Toxic Heart was released on April 8, 2014 and is the second book in the Mystic City series.

Advertisements

The One by Kiera Cass

The One by Kiera Cass“The best people all have some kind of scar.”

America Singer has to make a decision once and for all–will she choose Maxon and a life as a princess, or Aspen and a normal life? Both options have their pros and cons but what America begins to realize is that her decision affects more people than she could have imagined. In The One, America has to choose her future, knowing her life may never return to what it was.

I had been waiting to read this book for what seemed like forever and I literally downloaded it to my Nook at midnight on its release date. All three of The Selection books were super fast reads and I literally finished this one later that night. I couldn’t wait to find out who America would choose and how everything would play out and I was definitely not disappointed.

In this book America begins to realize that the other girls are more than just competition. She realizes that they each have qualities that would make them wonderful future queens, and finally instead of just trying to drag each other down, the girls begin to enjoy their time together because they know it is limited.

We also get to see more of what is going on politically throughout the country and how America and Maxon could help to change things. There is a good amount of action in this book that keeps the pace moving quickly. We learn a lot more about the country’s past and about the different types of rebels and what their actual agendas are. All loose ends are tied up pretty nicely, though I will say that towards the end things were a little bit more rushed than I would’ve liked.

Overall, The One was a great ending to the trilogy. I’m sad to leave these characters but I really loved the ending.

The One was released on May 6, 2014 and is the final book in The Selection trilogy.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonPrincess Lia is being forced to marry against her will. Her parents have secured her a marriage to a prince of another land–a prince she has never even met. As a First Daughter, she is supposed to have the gift of sight, which makes her valuable. However, Lia knows that she does not have the gift and that her parents are lying in order to form an alliance with a different kingdom. Lia refuses to be a political pawn and instead runs away on her wedding day, hiding in a far off village while pretending to be a waitress in an inn. When two mysterious men arrive and appear interested in her, she finds herself torn between the two, not realizing that one is the prince she ran away from and the other an assassin sent to murder her.

This was such a great read! Lia is a smart girl who isn’t the typical princess–she hates doing the normal “girly” princess tasks and instead loves to run around with her brothers. When she finds out that she is expected to marry a stranger and move to a nearby kingdom that she has never been to, she is extremely unhappy. She is not the type to sit and be a docile wife but rather she loves to talk back to her father’s advisers and keeps herself educated. Lia, along with her maid and best friend, Pauline, flees the kingdom, leading her father’s men on many false trails and managing to hide herself away in a distant village.

What was really incredible about this book was the narration style. The majority of the book is told from Lia’s point of view, but every few chapters we get a short chapter told from the prince’s point of view and then from the assassin’s. This enables the reader to get a better idea of the other character’s motives and how they are conflicted once faced with Lia. The prince chases after her to see what kind of girl was bold enough to jilt him at his wedding and nearly cause a war between two kingdoms, and the assassin was sent by his employer from a distant land to kill Lia. However, once he meets her, he finds this more and more difficult to accomplish.

Lia is a very humble character for a princess–she gets a job in an inn and is willing to learn and pull her own weight in order to make her way. She doesn’t expect to be handed anything simply because of who she is and she treats her former maid Pauline as an equal. After spending some time away from home and then hearing from her brother about the war that is brewing, she realizes that running away did not only stop the wedding, but may have started more than she intended. Though she is enjoying her new life, she realizes that she may have to consider returning and facing her responsibilities before it is too late. It grows increasingly difficult to leave, however, because she finds herself gaining the attention of both the prince and the assassin, both of whom are torn between their feelings for her and their own responsibilities.

Overall, The Kiss of Deception was an exciting fantasy read that kept me turning pages. The narration style really made the story, especially with a twist I wasn’t expecting, and I look forward to reading the sequel!

The Kiss of Deception will be released on July 15, 2014 and is the first book in The Remnant Chronicles.

Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Of Neptune by Anna BanksEmma and Galen have decided to get some much needed alone time by taking a road trip. Emma’s grandfather pushes them in the direction of a small town called Neptune, which turns out to be something completely unexpected. In Neptune, Syrena live in harmony with humans and Half-Breeds. Emma begins to realize that she may have another choice for her future and when a Half-Breed named Reed begins to pay her extra attention, Galen is worried that Emma may decide to stay in Neptune forever.

The first book in this series was really good–it was one of the first mermaid YA books I’ve read and it seemed really original and had a great plot. The second book fell pretty flat in my opinion and I nearly gave up on the series after that. However, because I feel compelled to always finish a series (the exception being Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, ugh), I decided that I had to read Of Neptune. I was hoping that it would revive the trilogy for me, but unfortunately it was more like the second book than the first.

The romance between Emma and Galen seemed to die after the first book. I felt like I had little interest in their love story anymore because there didn’t really even seem to be one. Their love story, along with much of the plot of this book, seemed contrived. Emma and Galen seem like they keep trying to force their relationship to be something it’s not, and by going on a road trip it seemed like they were trying to get everything back on track. However, when they find Neptune and realize they both have radically differing opinions on the small town, it just drags them further apart.

Emma and Galen are both extreme in their personalities–Emma is super trusting and so ridiculously naive that sometimes you just want to slap her, and Galen is super overprotective and sometimes channels Edward Cullen. So when they meet a Half-Breed named Reed who invites them back to their town, Galen automatically hates him just because he so much as glances at Emma, and Emma automatically trusts him and agrees to go with him with or without Galen, just because he is a Half-Breed like herself. The guy could still be a murdering psychopath! Who just runs off with someone they meet in the woods? So naturally, Reed creates a rift between Emma and Galen because he obviously has the hots for Emma, which annoys Galen. And what’s even more annoying is that Emma pretends to be unaware of it, and even when Reed is blatant about it she just shrugs it off and ignores it.

The bigger conflict in this book is that technically a town like Neptune where humans and Syrena live together and where Half-Breeds exist at all is illegal by Syrena rules, and since Galen is a Triton royal, he is under obligation to tell his brother, the king. The problem is that Emma loves the town and loves the idea of mermaids and humans living together, so Galen and Emma soon find themselves in the middle of a political struggle. This leads to the even bigger issue surrounding their relationship: they have no idea what they will do when they’re finally mated–will Galen live on land with Emma or will Emma live in the ocean with Galen?

Overall, Of Neptune was kind of a blah ending to the trilogy. Everything was basically wrapped up plot-wise, but much of the book felt contrived and Emma just got more annoying as the series progressed.

Of Neptune was released on May 13, 2014 and is the final book in The Syrena Legacy.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On by Katie McGarryHaley Williams was a championship kickboxer until one night changed everything. Since then, she refuses to fight or train in her grandfather’s gym, even though it upsets the rest of her family. However, when she meets West Young, things begin to change. He accepts a mixed martial arts fight with her ex-boyfriend in her honor, and she is forced to either train him or watch him lose. West begins to form a new life for himself, one in which he isn’t just a Young, and he regrets the day when Haley will find out who he really is and where he comes from.

I’ve been a huge fan of this series since the very first book, and three books later Katie McGarry does not fail to disappoint! Haley is great character–she is super tough and able to defeat guys twice her size, but unfortunately she loses her will to fight after a tragic event. She also deals with her horrible living situation in the best way she can and continues to suffer in silence so that she can put the rest of her family first. Her family had to move in with her uncle’s family after her father lost his job, and her uncle constantly demeans her and orders her around. Instead of complaining about her situation she tries to do whatever she can to find her own way to pay for college and works part time after school to help her family with money.

West’s life is completely different–his family is the richest family in town. He has his own car, a huge mansion, and his own credit cards, all paid for by his parents. When he gets kicked out of school and his parent’s home and is forced to enroll in the local public school and live in his car, he realizes how much he takes for granted. For the first time, he is responsible for himself and has to get a job in order to pay for his own food and gas. Once he meets Haley and realizes how resilient she is even when faced with the problems she deals with every day, he is worried that she will never see who he really is if she knows where he comes from, so he hides the fact that he is a member of the Young family.

West gets involved when Haley’s ex-boyfriend’s brother causes trouble for her one night, and because he steps in he is challenged to an official fight in the ring. West agrees, both because he wants to defend Haley and he wants to prove that he isn’t weak, but he doesn’t realize this isn’t just a regular fistfight. He will be fighting against a trained mixed martial arts fighter and is entirely unprepared. Haley agrees to train West so that he can stand a chance in the ring, and tries to keep herself from falling for another fighter.

I loved Haley and West’s story! They are both struggling in their own way and are able to help each other get through a really rough time. Haley is such a strong fighter yet she has to learn how to stay strong where her uncle and her family are concerned. She also has to learn to accept help from others. West has to learn that proving himself doesn’t necessarily mean proving himself physically, and he has to realize that getting his father’s approval may not be as important as he thought. I also loved how we get to see characters from previous stories in this book–there are appearances by West’s sister Rachel and her boyfriend Isaiah, and their friend Abby as well.

Overall, Take Me On was a great romance about two great characters. I loved this story and I’m hoping that the next one will be about Abby!

Take Me On will be released on May 27, 2014 and is the fourth book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Adaptation by Malinda Lo“People are always going to think something about you that isn’t real. It doesn’t matter what they think.”

Reese is on a debate team field trip with her longtime crush David when disaster strikes. All over the country, flocks of birds fly into the engines of planes, causing them to crash and killing thousands. Since the government grounds all of the flights from then on, Reese and David rent a car and decide to drive home to San Francisco from their trip in Arizona. When a bird flies straight at their car and causes them to crash somewhere near Area 51, Reese thinks that they will both be killed. However, they wake up in a military hospital in Nevada, miraculously healed of all injuries. They are forbidden to speak of their treatment and are sent home to their parents, where things seem to have changed in their absence.

This book started off really great but quickly went downhill. The whole concept seemed really interesting–I found myself really interested in the whole idea of a government cover up and I couldn’t wait to find out the real reason behind the airplane crashes. However, midway through the book the whole thing fell apart and I found myself not really caring about the main character or the cover up at all.

Reese was kind of an annoying character. She has this completely weird aversion to relationships because of her parents divorce–she tells herself she will never be in a relationship with anyone. Yeah, not really a healthy thought. So she tries to ignore her feelings for David and then completely wigs out when he seems to show some interest in her. After they get in the accident and are told that they have to sign a bunch of paperwork stating that their treatment is confidential and they are not allowed to talk about it, Reese does so with very little resistance. Um, what? Some random people in the middle of nowhere heal you from near death and then tell you that you can’t talk about it, and you just…sign paperwork agreeing to this? At least try a little harder to find out why!!

What bugged me most about this book though was how much of it seemed contrived and out of place. I felt like the book switched genres halfway through and went from a sci-fi/apocalyptic type story to contemporary romance and then back again. The whole middle of the book was about Reese’s relationship with a random girl she meets named Amber, and while I understood the whole new love/discovery of oneself and all that stuff (which was actually really well done writing-wise), it just seemed out of place in the story. Once Amber came into the story, a good chunk of the book seemed more of a contemporary coming of age story and then dove right back into the sci-fi stuff. Also, the whole thing with Amber was very predictable from the start.

Overall, Adaptation started off good but then quickly failed to hold my attention. It had a lot of potential but unfortunately just flopped in my opinion.

Adaptation was released on September 18, 2012 and is the first book in the Adaptation series.

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepard“Sometimes you have to embrace the darkness to stop it.”

Juliet Moreau escaped her father’s island and returned to London. She is trying to rebuild her old life and forget about her father and the secrets she left behind on the island, but when people she knows begin to get murdered in an all too familiar way, she fears that the secrets have caught up with her after all.

The Madman’s Daughter was both creepy and amazing, so I was very excited to read this sequel, which is basically a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While this was definitely a great follow up to the first book, Juliet herself annoyed me a bit in this one.

People that have previously wronged Juliet begin to die, and they are killed the same way that the victims on the island were murdered. Juliet begins to think that Edward followed her back to England, and she is worried that the monster part of him has taken control. At the same time, Juliet is still pining over Montgomery, who admitted to caring for her but then stayed on the island rather than coming back to London with her.

It was Juliet’s back and forth between Edward and Montgomery that annoyed me in this book. I didn’t mind the love triangle in the first book because it was easy to see how Juliet could be torn between the two, but in this book it got to be a little bit too much. She literally bounces back and forth between the two and constantly feels guilty about it. Instead of just not involving herself with either man until she figures out what she really wants, she basically gets the best of both worlds for awhile at the expense of both of their feelings.

However, other than this problem, I really loved the rest of the book. Juliet is trying to solve these murders and at the same time is trying to figure out how to make a new serum to keep her condition from ruining her life. She basically sets up her own chemistry lab in a little room and tries over and over to replicate the serum that her father invented. I liked how she was able to throw herself back into her old life in society yet keep her independence by sneaking out at night to experiment.

I also loved seeing Edward’s constant conflict with the monster that lives within him. It’s easy to understand Juliet’s own inner conflict when it comes to Edward–on the outside he is a kind and respectful man who adores her, yet inside him lurks another being that enjoys killing and will stop at nothing to gain control. She is torn about what to do with him because she doesn’t want to hurt him, yet doesn’t want the Beast to hurt anyone else.

Overall, I enjoyed Her Dark Curiosity even though the love triangle bothered me a bit. I’m excited to see how this will all end in the final book.

Her Dark Curiosity was released on January 28, 2014 and is the second book in The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. The final book, A Cold Legacy is expected to be released in 2015.