One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

One Past Midnight by Jessica ShirvingtonSabine has lived two lives for as long as she can remember. She lives each day and then switches at midnight to her other life where she lives the same day over as a different person. She has the same name in both lives and lives in the same area, yet has a completely different family and set of friends in each life. In one life, she her family is wealthy, yet Sabine has to fake her personality to stay with her crowd at school and please her parents. In the other life, she hates her parents and the fact that they are poor, but loves her little sister unconditionally.

It had always seemed like a rule that if she got sick or injured in one life she would still be sick or injured in the other life when she switched over. One day, when Sabine sprains her wrist in one life and her wrist remains perfectly fine in the other, she realizes that the rules might be changing and she may be able to pick one life to stay in once and for all. She begins to conduct experiments to determine if it would be possible to kill herself in one life and remain in the other.

This book was really interesting! It reminded me of that movie Sliding Doors. Sabine is unhappy in both of her lives for different reasons. In one life she loves her sister but hates being poor and in the other life she loves her family’s wealth but hates her fake personality. When she realizes she may be able to pick one, it seems to her that the obvious answer would be the wealthy, privileged life, but she cannot bear the thought of never seeing her little sister again.

When Sabine meets Ethan in one life, he begins to seem like the only person who may be able to help her and the only one who she may be able to convince of her situation. He begins to help her to see the good things about each life, and that choosing between them might not be the best solution. Sabine begins to realize that her situation may be different, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

One Past Midnight was a great story that blended contemporary and science fiction genres.  It was very well written and is actually a standalone novel!

One Past Midnight was published May 1, 2013.

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Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund“We can only be responsible for what we ourselves do.”

Persis Blake publicly plays the role of a rich socialite, spending time at parties discussing clothes and gossip. But in her private life, she is the Wild Poppy, a notorious spy who rescues people of Galatea from being Reduced and sneaks them over to the island of Albion, where she resides. When Justen Helo, a medic from Galatea, finds her ill after one of her missions and helps her return home, she decides to keep him close so that she can discover his true motives in Albion. What she didn’t expect was how she would begin to feel for him, and how much she would wish she could tell him the truth about who she is.

Across a Star-Swept Sea is actually a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars. While you don’t need to read the first book in order to understand this one, it definitely helps because some characters from that book reappear in this one. I absolutely loved the first book, and the second was just as good.

This book is actually a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I haven’t read but definitely want to after reading this one. Persis has always been very intelligent and has had a bright future ahead of her, but when her best friend Isla’s family is killed and Isla is made acting queen of Albion, Persis abandons school and her future in order to help her friend. She creates the Wild Poppy in order to help Isla make a difference while the council of Albion prevents Isla from actually doing anything politically about the rebellion in Galatea. In Galatea, the rulers are Reducing people–basically giving them a drug that makes them lose their mental capacities. The Wild Poppy saves these people who are Reduced and brings them to Albion to recover.

Justen Helo decides to abandon Galatea when he realizes what is really going on. He sees Persis as nothing more than a flaky socialite however, and doesn’t realize how much of a difference she is actually making. He begins to work in the lab, trying to find a cure for the Reduced, and tries to keep from Persis how involved he really was in the rebellion in Galatea. Persis uses the image she created for herself as a ditzy socialite to keep people from finding out that she is really the Wild Poppy, but unfortunately it keeps Justen, the one person whom she may actually want to be herself with, from seeing who she really is.

Peterfreund does a brilliant job building the world of New Pacifica. Her descriptions paint a vivid world and by doing so she creates an intricate and compelling story that you can’t put down. The flutternotes were the most interesting detail for me–little holographic notes that basically fly from one person to another through the air and then deliver a message to them via an electronic device on their palm. Every detail of this story was fascinating and unique and added a great sci-fi aspect to the plot.

Overall, Across a Star-Swept Sea was a fascinating story with great world building and beautiful writing. I look forward to reading more stories about New Pacifica!

Across a Star-Swept Sea was released on October 15, 2013 and is a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi“Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can remember them.”

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Juliette and Adam have escaped to Omega Point, a rebel headquarters where there are many other people with abilities who are training to fight the Reestablishment. Juliette has to try to integrate herself into life at Omega Point, but is still fearful of her own power. She thought she was finally free from the Reestablishment and their plans for her, but when she finds out that Warner is still searching for her, she realizes that what she thought was over is only just beginning.

This was such a great sequel. I love every character in these books, but I’d have to say Kenji was one of my favorites in this one. Juliette starts off in Unravel Me by being super mopey, upset that people don’t talk to her and that Adam seems to be hiding something from her, and finally Kenji calls her out on it. She begins to realize that only she can make a change in the way people see her, and she starts to grow stronger and learn to use her ability for good rather than fear it.

But seriously, I went from liking Adam in Shatter Me to wanting to throw him across the room in Unravel Me. He became such a whiny baby in this book, and every moment with him was like a soap opera. When Warner finally came back into the picture, I was so happy because even though he had seemed like a bit of a monster, his character was so much stronger and intriguing than Adam, who was just draining.

And speaking of Warner. CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO. Oh my goodness. I was leaning towards “Team Warner” before this but that chapter definitely sold me there. Enough said.

What I really loved most about this book was the growth that Juliette showed from beginning to end. Like I said before, she starts off very emotional and depressed, and when Kenji kind of slaps her in the face with honestly midway through the book, she starts to become stronger both emotionally and physically. By the end of the book, she is such a strong person that it is hard to even remember how depressed and down on herself she was in Shatter Me.

Overall, Unravel Me was an excellent sequel that really solidified my love for this series. Juliette is quickly turning into one of my favorite female protagonists, and I literally had to download the final book thirty seconds after finishing this one because it was just that good.

Unravel Me was released on February 5, 2013 and is the second book in the Shatter Me series.

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire“And when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever.”

A Beautiful Wedding is a novella that gives a full account of Travis and Abby’s wedding in Beautiful Disaster. Following the horrific fire at the fight where Abby and Travis almost lost their lives, the two hop on a plane to Vegas to get married. The novella gives the reader more detail about Abby’s reasoning for the quick marriage, and also shows us a bit more of what happens after.

I was very excited to read this because I will never tire of these characters, but I have to say that I had mixed feelings about this novella. I loved being able to read about the actual wedding, but finding out Abby’s real reason behind the wedding ruined it a bit for me. In Beautiful Disaster, the reader is led to believe that Abby wants to get married so quickly and so young because she can’t imagine another day without Travis, yet in this novella we find out that there is actually an ulterior motive involved. I understood Abby’s motive, but at the same time I really felt like she was deceiving Travis a bit and that he deserved to know the truth about why she was pushing for this marriage.

I did like that there was more attention paid to the after effects of the fire–in Beautiful Disaster it seemed as though Abby and Travis brushed it off pretty quickly, but in the novella we learn that it definitely affected them more than it seemed. So many people died in the fire and Travis is left feeling extremely guilty and responsible because it was the fight that he was in that drew so many people to that building. Since the novella is told from both characters point of view, we get to see how upset Travis is and how nervous Abby is that he will be held responsible.

Overall, A Beautiful Wedding was a good follow up novella that gives the reader more insight into what really happened at Travis and Abby’s wedding. While I loved reading more of this story, part of me didn’t like Abby’s reasoning behind the elopement.

A Beautiful Wedding was released on December 10, 2013.

Running On Empty by Colette Ballard

Running On Empty by Colette BallardRiver Daniels’ life has never been easy. Her mother died of cancer and her family was forced to move into a trailer park. Her stepfather is a drunk who hardly takes care of River and her sister. But River has always had a great group of friends who support her through everything, until she begins dating Logan, a spoiled rich kid who doesn’t treat River well at all. She sacrifices time with her friends for him, and even though he is horrible to her she keeps going back to him. Her friends keep trying to convince her to break up with him but River keeps defending him, until one night when he brutally attacks her, forcing her to take action. After she realizes what she’s done, River is forced to flee her home as a fugitive, with her two best girlfriends along for the ride.

What I really loved about this book was River’s growth–she goes from being basically a battered woman, constantly going back to a boyfriend who mistreats her, to a strong woman, determined to prove her innocence and get her life back. It’s a long journey for her, but she survives and copes really well.

I also loved River’s friends and their constant loyalty to her. Her best friend Justice, who is obviously in love with her, is willing to do anything to keep her safe even though she doesn’t realize it. Her two best girlfriends, Kat and Billi Jo, were slightly annoying characters but I admired their decision to sacrifice their own lives to help their best friend. River is put in an extremely difficult situation and they really help her to recover.

There were some parts of this book that dragged a little bit, but not so much that I felt bored while reading it. River just annoyed me a few times, mainly because of her back and forth with Justice and her inability to believe their was any way he could love her, and also because of her constant jealously that Justice has a girlfriend. She gets upset when he didn’t approve of her relationship with psychopath Logan, but she is allowed to get super jealous of his perfectly normal girlfriend.

Overall, Running On Empty was a great story about a girl struggling to recover and get her life back after a traumatic event. While River did annoy me at times, I admired her ability to cope and grow as a person after such a difficult time.

Running On Empty was released on November 25, 2013.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner“For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space.”

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are only two of the thousands of passengers aboard the Icarus, a massive spaceship traveling millions of miles through hyperspace. Lilac is untouchable, the daughter of the richest man in the universe–a man who will do anything to ensure his daughter’s safety. Tarver is a war hero, and has worked his way up from a poor life to one where he is allowed to mingle with the rich. He normally would want nothing to do with a girl like Lilac, but when the Icarus is suddenly yanked out of hyperspace, he finds himself in an escape pod, alone with her. When the escape pod crash lands on an unfamiliar planet, Lilac and Tarver must travel for days in order to find help. They are forced to rely on each other, and when they discover the secret behind the whispers following them, they wonder if it may be better to stay on the planet rather than be rescued.

I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and I am so glad I finally gave it a chance. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. The story was very original–there aren’t many YA books that take place in space other than the Across the Universe trilogy, and Kaufman and Spooner did a great job of world building both on the Icarus and on the planet. The Icarus is a huge spaceliner that sort of reminded me how the Titanic was set up–the lower class was only allowed to stay on the lower decks and was basically locked down there while the upper class stayed on the upper levels of the ship and were privileged to all sorts of luxuries. Tarver had spent his whole life as part of the lower class but now that he is considered a war hero he is given upper class status. He has the odd experience of seeing how the other half lives, and finds it hard to fit himself in their world.

I loved both Lilac and Tarver, and I think the fact that the book alternated between their points of view helped the story. Lilac first comes off to Tarver as a spoiled rich girl who treats everyone as though they are beneath her, but when we get Lilac’s point of view it becomes evident that she is terrified of what her father will do to any man she shows interest in, which is what causes her to snub Tarver. Tarver is a true soldier and hero–even though he thinks of Lilac as a brat, he still does whatever he can to save her life and make sure that they are found by her father’s people, even though he knows he may be punished for being alone with her. They are both really strong characters in their own way–Lilac walks for miles in high heels without complaining as Tarver expected she would–and they end up bringing out the best in each other.

This books is a really beautifully written story about survival and trust, and will definitely keep you turning pages. I loved watching Lilac and Tarver’s relationship change and develop, and how they went from being wary of each other to completely trusting in one another. The sci-fi aspect was really well done also–when Lilac and Tarver are traveling across the planet, Lilac begins hearing whispers that follow them. When they finally discover what is causing the whispers, it is something they never could have imagined and completely changes their view on many things.

Overall, These Broken Stars was an incredible, original, and extremely well written story. This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long while, and I highly recommend it!

These Broken Stars was released on December 10, 2013 and is the first book in the Starbound series. The second book, This Shattered World, is a companion novel set to be released this year.

Favorite Books of 2013

There were so many fantastic books released this year so it was really hard for me to narrow it down to just ten books like I really loved. Since it would have been even harder for me to distinguish the best of the ten, I have simply put my list this year in alphabetical order:

Allegiant by Veronica RothAllegiant by Veronica Roth

I know there was a lot of controversy surrounding this book–some people gave it one star on Goodreads, others gave it five–but overall I really loved the way the series was concluded. There were so many people that hated the ending but I think that it made sense for it to end the way it did. I also liked that in this book we were able to get more into Tobias’s mind and I think it helped me to understand his character a lot better.

 

 

 

 

 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra ClareClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

I’ve been a huge fan of the Shadowhunter world since I first read City of Bones a few years ago, and I was so excited that Clare’s prequel trilogy was just as good if not better than The Mortal Instruments series. I admit that I was nervous about how this trilogy would end, but I am so glad that it ended the way it did. I honestly think that this is Clare’s best book yet, and I’m excited to read all of the new series she has in the works already.

 

 

 

 

 

17167166Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I didn’t know if this book could be as good as Throne of Glass, but Maas did an excellent job with this one. It was even better than the first book, filled with so many twists and turns that I had to keep turning pages. The ending was not something I expected either, so I eagerly await the next book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dare You To by Katie McGarryDare You To by Katie McGarry

I will probably read anything that Katie McGarry writes because so far every book I’ve read by her has been great. Dare You To has been my favorite of her books so far. I loved Beth’s attitude and the way that Ryan was able to finally make her trust again. This was a great love story that I highly recommend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THIS BOOK! I absolutely loved The Raven Boys and the sequel was just as good. The writing in this book was beautiful and the story got even better. I love this series and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Elite by Kiera CassThe Elite by Kiera Cass

This is another series that I absolutely love. While I will admit, some of America’s back and forth between Aspen and Maxon did annoy me a little, I still could not put this book down. I have no idea how it is all going to end but I can’t wait to find out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was such a cute story! It really brought me back to my own fangirl days of Harry Potter fanfiction. This was a really great story about family and adjusting to college life, and definitely a must read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Madman's Daughter by Megan SheperdThe Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

This book both fascinated me and scared me. It was super creepy at times but the scientist in me loved it. The ending almost made me scream until I realized that there is a sequel planned. Definitely not something I would recommend reading alone at night, but a must read for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requiem by Lauren OliverRequiem by Lauren Oliver

This was another book I was nervous about, because the ending of the previous book was definitely not expected. I wasn’t sure how Oliver would wrap this all up, but I think she did a good job. It wasn’t your typical ending but I liked how it was slightly open ended. Overall, a great conclusion to the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerScarlet by Marissa Meyer

I love how each of these books is a retelling of a different fairy tale. This one is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, yet we still get glimpses of what is going on with Cinder. Scarlet is such a great character, and I loved the way her story intertwined with Cinder’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously this was a fantastic year for YA! What were your favorite books from 2013? What are you excited to read in 2014?