Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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“Humans were so circular; they lived the same slow cycles of joy and misery over and over, never learning.”

Blue’s mother has gone missing. Things with The Raven Boys have gotten more serious, and relationships have begun to change. As Blue and the boys get closer and closer to finding Glendower, it becomes apparent that they are part of something much bigger than they had even imagined.

Each of these books is better than the last! Stiefvater’s writing is phenomenal and I literally flew through this book because it was so good. I love all of these characters and I am so glad that there is another book coming because I am not ready to say goodbye to this series yet.

Blue is juggling a lot in this book. Her mother is missing, she is falling in love with Gansey even though she is trying her hardest not to, and she has to go back to her high school where everything is “normal”. Her relationships with the boys, even Ronan, grow stronger as they get closer and closer to Glendower. I love how we learn more about each character as the books go on. I hated Ronan in the first book, but as I learn more about him it’s easier to understand him and I like him much more as a character.

Blue and the boys finally decide to explore the cave in Cabeswater in hopes of finding Glendower’s resting place and finding Maura. This leads them on a series of adventures involving new characters and supernatural occurrences, and they begin to realize that this is no longer just a hunt for Glendower, but something much bigger that could be the difference between life and death.

Overall, Blue Lily, Lily Blue was an amazing third book in The Raven Cycle. I was on the edge of my seat while reading this and I can’t wait for the next book!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue was released on October 21, 2014 and is the third book in The Raven Cycle.

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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.

The Queen’s Choice by Cayla Kluver

The Queen's Choice by Cayla KluverAnya, a Faerie of Chrior, is the niece of the Queen of the Faerie Kingdom. When the Queen tells her that she is dying and that Anya must take her place as Queen, Anya is overwhelmed to say the least. She has no desire to rule, but instead likes to spend her time traveling to and from the human world. However, if Anya doesn’t rule, then the crown will fall to her cousin Illumina, a Faerie who is extremely prejudiced against humans and who will ruin the relationship the Faeries have with the humans. The only option Anya has is to go out into the human world in search of the Queen’s son Zabriel, who ran away two years ago. Anya believes that if she can convince him to come home then the pressure to rule Chrior will be off of her.

I was really excited to read this book. It has a gorgeous cover and the story just sounded so different and interesting. And while I did like the story, I found it hard to get through. This book was over 500 pages. While I’ve read many books longer than that, this was a LONG 500 pages. There were many times throughout the book where I felt the story dragging, and I think probably 100-150 pages could’ve been cut from this book and it would’ve made the pacing better. I really had to push myself to get through this once I hit the halfway mark, and while I will say it did pick up a lot towards the end, it took awhile to get there.

I oscillated between liking and disliking Anya. At first she seems pretty selfish–she wants to go off and find her cousin so that he can rule instead of her. First of all, her aunt obviously though she was the best for the job so maybe she could have at least given it a chance instead of running off. Second, her cousin obviously ran away for a reason, and does she even stop to realize that maybe bringing him back will just make him miserable all over again? No, she is only thinking about her needs and how she has to give up her freedom when she becomes Queen. Also, she has this boyfriend Daric in the Faerie realm who is just supposed to sit around and wait for her to have her fun out in the human world? That’s kind of unfair. But aside from all of this, I will definitely say that she grew a lot throughout the book and became more selfless and understanding of other people.

I really liked the world building in this book and I think that was the only good thing about the length–it allowed Kluver to really show us a lot of the human world. I still would have liked to see more of Chrior though; the book starts off there but Anya quickly leaves and I would say about 90% of the book is spent in the human world after that. The Faerie world seemed really interesting and I’m hoping in future books we get to see more of it.

This book definitely had a great adventure and wasn’t just a fantasy book. There was a lot about political unrest both in the Faerie and human world, and the book had a lot of twists and turns. The ending was not something I expected at all and definitely left a big cliffhanger.

Overall, The Queen’s Choice was an exciting story that dragged slightly because of the length. However, the ending was a big twist and will definitely leave you excited for the next book.

The Queen’s Choice will be released on January 28, 2014.

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.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater“Ronan Lynch lived with every sort of secret.”

After waking the ley lines, things for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam begin to change. Adam begins to feel the full weight of his sacrifice, Ronan’s dreams begin to intrude upon reality, and Blue desperately tries to fight her fate. Meanwhile, Gansey begins to realize that he is not the only one searching for the truth about Cabeswater, and must figure out the puzzle before someone else does first.

I seriously squealed with joy when I received an ARC of The Dream Thieves at BEA this year. The Raven Boys was one of my favorite books from last year, and I was eagerly anticipating the sequel. I was a little bit worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but it honestly was even better than I expected! The writing in this book was incredibly beautiful–Stiefvater has the ability to drop hints and clues throughout the book so subtly that at the end of the book I still found myself being surprised. I love the dialogue between the characters also–they all fit together like pieces of a puzzle and it is evident what each character brings to their little group.

This book focuses a lot on Ronan, which at first I was unhappy about because he was probably my least favorite character from the first book, mainly because of his abrasive personality. However, after reading the entire book, I’m glad that Ronan was a big part of it because we actually learn why he has this roughness to him. We finally get the backstory behind his family’s problems, and let me tell you–it was nothing I could have guessed at all!! We also learn a lot more about Ronan’s ability to bring things from his dreams into real life, and how it affects the ley lines in Henrietta. Ronan realizes that there are people looking for him–people that want to use his ability to do wrong.

Adam actually ended up dropping down to my least favorite character in this one. After waking the ley line he begins to change. He grows more angry and standoffish, and constants pushes Blue away without realizing it. I think it was necessary for him to undergo this change so that he and Blue could go in the directions they needed to, but I still missed the old Adam.

Gansey is still definitely my favorite character. I love his quirky nature and the fact that he is an old soul. He still tries to fix everyone’s problems without giving much thought to his own, and he proves time and again what a good friend he is. Blue is another great character–she loves being part of the boys’ group but at the same time feels like an outsider. She is tough and always stands up for herself and still tries to fight her fate. She is as determined as the rest of the boys to discover the true secrets of Cabeswater, but at the same time she is dealing with the fact that Gansey may be dead in less than a year. I loved the interactions between Blue and Gansey in this book and I’m excited to see where the next book takes them!

Overall, The Dream Thieves was an amazing sequel with fantastic character development and beautiful writing. I don’t know how I am going to wait for the next book!!

The Dream Thieves is the second book in The Raven Cycle and will be released on September 17, 2013.

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead“’Any life worth living is going to have risks.’”

In the third book in the Bloodlines series, Sydney finds herself torn between her duty to the Alchemists and her desire to make her own choices. She begins to discover the truth behind the Alchemists and comes across Marcus Finch, an ex-Alchemist who wants Sydney to join his group of rebels and run away from the Alchemists like he did. At the same time, Sydney finds herself learning magic from her teacher in order to protect herself and other girls with magical abilities from an evil magic user who wants to steal their power.While dealing with her distrust of the Alchemists and her hesitation to use magic, she is also conflicted about her feelings for Adrian, who makes no secret of his feelings for her.

I think each of these books has been better than the last so far. The less uptight Sydney becomes, the more I like her. She really won me over in this book, mainly because she really started to learn how to use magic to protect herself and finally realized how much control the Alchemists have over her and that she doesn’t want that. She starts to finally take control of her life and make her own decisions, and she also starts coming to terms with her feelings for Adrian.

In this book Sydney meets Marcus Finch, who right away wants to help Sydney break away from the Alchemists. I was happy that she was finally starting to realize that the Alchemists are not exactly the people she thought they were, but I was glad she didn’t immediately trust Marcus also. Sydney becomes torn between living the life she was raised to lead, or starting a new life for herself. What I really love about Sydney though is that she is a very selfless person–she really cares about protecting Jill and doesn’t make any decisions without considering her first.

Jill and Eddie seemed to fall more to the background in this book, but I still think that Jill seems to be getting more mature with each book. She gives Sydney a lot of good advice and it seems like she’s finally starting to realize how much Sydney sacrifices to keep her safe. There were some really great Sydney and Adrian moments in this book, and I love how they each bring out different qualities in each other. Sydney really brings out the best in Adrian, and Adrian makes Sydney more confident and helps her to start putting her own needs first more often.

Overall, The Indigo Spell was a great book with tons of sweet moments between Sydney and Adrian and an ending that I absolutely did not see coming. The next book should definitely be interesting!!

The Indigo Spell was released on February 12, 2013 and is the third book in the Bloodlines series. The fourth book, The Fiery Heart, will be released on November 19, 2013, and apparently will feature Adrian’s point of view also!!

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead“’Every relationship is different. Everyone loves differently.’”

In this sequel to Bloodlines, Alchemist Sydney Sage begins to start questioning her beliefs about vampires and her own people. She begins to grow closer to Jill, Eddie, and Adrian–all people that she would normally fear and avoid. She falls into a relationship with a boy who is her intellectual match, but finds herself being drawn to someone else–someone she cannot allow herself to fall for. Sydney struggles between following the archaic beliefs of her people, or following her heart, and her loyalty is constantly being put to the test.

I liked this book better than I liked Bloodlines, but I will admit that after going back and reading the entire Vampire Academy series, I reread Bloodlines and enjoyed it much more. While it’s not necessary to read Vampire Academy before Bloodlines, I would definitely recommend it because I was able to understand more about the relationships between some characters that had been developed in Vampire Academy. That being said, I still liked The Golden Lily better than the first book, mainly because Sydney became a much more likeable character. She finally began to ease up a bit, and even though she is still socially awkward she seemed to have more of a personality.

Sydney starts dating a boy named Brayden in this book, and he is basically the male version of herself. He is very smart and she is able to have academic conversations with him, but there is no spark whatsoever. Plus, Sydney is always having to run out on him to deal with Moroi issues, so the relationship only gets more awkward. And while she’s trying to force herself to fall for Brayden, she finds herself drawn to Adrian, who, as a Moroi, is forbidden to her.

Adrian was one of my favorite characters from Vampire Academy and I’m so glad that he is such a big focus of this story. We get to see so much more of him in this book and we get to discover the many facets of his personality, from his vulnerability when meeting with his father to his protectiveness of Sydney when she feels threatened. His relationship with Sydney grows so much in this book–she helps him with his family issues, “teaches” him to drive a stick shift, and takes a self defense course with him. Their back and forth banter is really cute also, and I love the way they have helped each other to grow.

There was also a great side plot surrounding Jill and Eddie.  Eddie was another character that I loved from Vampire Academy and I was happy to see that he wasn’t punished too harshly after the events that occurred with Rose. He is fiercely protective of Jill to the point where it becomes obvious how he feels about her, even if Jill herself is oblivious. Jill was a little bit annoying in Bloodlines–she kept whining about not being able to be a model and she didn’t realize how everyone was sacrificing so much to protect her. She was a little bit better in this book and it seems like she is maturing and is a little bit less naive.

Overall, The Golden Lily was a great sequel to Bloodlines. The characters showed a lot of growth, Sydney herself was much more likeable, and we got to see a lot more of Adrian. I’m very excited to see what happens next!

The Golden Lily was released on June 12, 2012 and is the second book in the Bloodlines series. The third book, The Indigo Spell, is available now and the fourth, The Fiery Heart, will be released on November 19, 2013.