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.

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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.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi“Ignite, my love. Ignite.”

WARNING: Spoilers for previous books in the Shatter Me series ahead.

Juliette has decided to take down the Reestablishment. In order to do this, she needs help from Warner, someone she never thought she would trust. As she works with him and gets to know him better, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about him was wrong. She has to figure out her feelings for Warner and Adam, and at the same time learn all she can about how to fight because she realizes the only way to win this rebellion is to lead it herself.

This was hands down the best book in the series. So good that I stayed up until all hours of the night reading it. Juliette finally turns into the girl we all knew she could be and decides that she is going on the offensive. After Warner saved her life, she starts to see him in a new light and decides to work with him to bring down his father. Warner begins to let down some of his defenses around Juliette, and she finds that he is much different than she had originally thought.

Warner definitely showed the most growth of anyone in this book. We finally get to see who he really is under that tough exterior, and he begins to show his true self to more than just Juliette. The more he helps her friends and the more he reveals about himself, the more Juliette finds herself drawn to him and the more confused she becomes about her feelings. I loved the moments between the two of them–they were beautifully written and so full of emotion.

But oh man, Adam? After Unravel Me, I was ready to just be done with him. But in this book? He turned into such a jealous, whiny little brat that I had a hard time figuring out why I even liked him back in Shatter Me. Like Warner, in this book Adam’s true colors began to show, but unlike Warner, it put him in a much more negative light. What was great about Juliette though is that she realizes that there is so much going on that is more important than her love life, and she is able to overcome the difficulties she faces emotionally and become a strong leader.

Juliette finally learns to control her ability and she learns the many different dimensions of it. Basically, in this book she becomes a super hero. She has grown so much from the first book and she has definitely become one of my favorite female characters ever. She is able to come up with a plan to not only get rid of Warner’s father for good, but to also take over the Reestablishment and change the world.

Overall, Ignite Me was one of the best final books in a series ever. I could not have imagined a better ending, and I absolutely loved every minute of this book!!

Ignite Me was released on February 4, 2014 and is the final book in the Shatter Me series.

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.

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy by Sara B. LarsonAlexa Hollen is a girl who is forced to disguise herself as a boy in the king’s army after she and her twin brother are orphaned. In Antion, girls who are orphaned are forced to go to the breeding houses, and to avoid this Alexa must cut off her hair and call herself Alex. She has been trained to fight so she easily passes off as a boy and quickly rises through the ranks to become part of the prince’s personal guard. However, when a sorcerer comes to abduct the prince, Alexa is unable to stop him and she and her fellow guard Rylan get abducted as well. When her secret is revealed, it seems that the prince and Rylan may have secrets of their own, and Alexa has to deal with two men vying for her affections along with trying to protect the kingdom.

This was such a great start to this series! Alexa is my favorite type of heroine–brave, fierce, and able to beat a grown man in sword fighting. She becomes the best fighter in the army even though she has suffered so many hardships, and she proves that just girls can fight just as well as boys can. Alexa poses as a boy in order to avoid the breeding house, which was so horrible to read about. Orphan girls are taken into the breeding house where they are basically raped by men in the army and forced to bear children. Those children are then forced to fight in the army if they are boys, and if they are girls they are forced right back into the breeding house. Alexa was fortunate enough to have her fighting skills and her brother’s quick thinking to cut off her hair, but there are so many poor girls who didn’t have that chance and suffer daily in the breeding house.

I enjoyed the love triangle in this book because it wasn’t the only focus of the story and it was obvious pretty early on who Alexa really loved. Both Prince Damian and Rylan admit to having feelings for her once her cover is blown, and this poor girl who has never been allowed to think like a girl is suddenly thrown into a love triangle. I think Alexa’s reaction was very real, and any girl in that situation would definitely be overwhelmed.

I really admired Alexa because she was so determined to carry on. She is constantly thrown into different situations that take her out of her element, but she quickly adjusts and is able to deal with it. After losing her parents and basically losing her identity, she still pushes on and tries to make the best life possible for herself. She also is fiercely loyal to the prince, even though at first she doesn’t believe he deserves her loyalty, and she is willing to throw her life down for his.

Overall, Defy was a fantastic start to a new series! Alexa was a great heroine and I can’t wait to see where the second book takes her!

Defy will be released on January 7, 2014 and is the first book in a series.

Book to Film: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching FireI have been a huge fan of The Hunger Games since before the books even got big and even had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne Collins herself a few years ago so you can imagine how excited I was for the release of the Catching Fire movie. I enjoyed the first movie but I felt like it shied away from the violence a bit, but overall it was a good representation of the novel. Catching Fire, however, was a million times better.

It is very rare that a movie follows extremely close to the book it is based on, which is understandable because it is an entirely different way of presenting the story, but Catching Fire managed to accomplish this task beautifully. It stuck very close to the book while at the same time giving the viewer a new way of seeing the story. There were a few things that they left out–very minor things–but they didn’t really change anything drastically so that made it that much more enjoyable for me since Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy.

The casting for this movie couldn’t have been more perfect. Finnick and Johanna were exactly how I pictured them and Mags was wonderfully heartbreaking. Jennifer Lawrence is a fantastic Katniss and she really makes the movie as good as it is. I felt more sparks between Katniss and Peeta in this movie than in the last, which made it more believable because in this movie Katniss is supposed to be starting to feel something for him, too. The costumes and the arena were incredible and one of my favorites scenes had to be when Katniss’s dress transformed her into a mockingjay.

Overall, Catching Fire was a fantastic movie that stuck very close to the book and the phenomenal cast just added to the excellent directing. I hope they keep the same director for the next film because he really did a wonderful job.

Catching Fire was released in theaters on November 22, 2013.