Looking back at 2012

There is both good news and bad news about my reading accomplishments of 2012. The good part is that I made it past my goal of reading 100 books. Hooray, go me! The bad news is that I utterly failed at writing a review for each and every one of those 100. This makes me sad. When I look back at my diligent reviews from the earlier months of last year I find them very comforting. I like having that written record of what I was feeling in the moments or days right after I finished a book, especially if it was one I really love. Time makes these things blurry and I’m left with more of an overall impression, rather than the specifics of what a story meant to me.

The moment for writing detailed reviews for everything I read in 2012 has passed, but I do want to make note of some of my favorites that I never got around to reviewing here. Because they deserve that. There were so many lovely surprises and thrills and books that still make me sigh or smile even months after having finished them. Does that sound cheesy? I guess that’s just how I am about books I love.

1. 9302583The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

Reading a Marchetta book is kind of like stepping into a maelstorm of emotion. For me anyway. That makes it really hard to come up with intelligent things to say about it, especially seven months after reading. I never expected to feel so fond of Tom Mackee after reading Saving Francesca, but boy did I ever care. I ended up caring about his whole family as though they were people I knew or people I was or might have been. It’s very hard to explain so I generally don’t. I just tell people that this book should be read. I read all of Melina Marchetta’s books last year, and this one stands out as possibly my favorite. And that is saying a lot.

4620332. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

I love immersing myself in a nice, long series of books. The Maisie Dobbs books were recommended by a friend at just the right time. I read the first one early in the summer… and didn’t stop until I finished the series sometime in the fall. They accompanied me on vacation, lunch breaks, car rides… Maisie was my companian pretty much everywhere for those months.

Maisie is an interesting character to read about. The books are as much about her personal progression as they are about the mysteries she solves. She was a nurse in the first world war and, though the books start years after the war is over, Maisie is still struggling to recover from her experiances and the loss of the man she loved. Her personal issues mirror much of what England itself was struggling with, and many of her cases directly relate to what happened during the war or its many lingering consequences.

Maisie is strong without being perfect. Her powers of perception may be what help her put together the pieces of a case, but they frequently cause her trouble in her personal life. It’s easy to get frustrated with her at times, but Maisie is constantly progressing and that’s what makes her wonderful to read about. Seeing her heal and grow and try to change is what’s at the heart of these books, interwoven into each and every mystery that she solves.

97117143. Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

This is a hard book to write about because it deals with so many of life’s small intricacies. It’s about bullying and how even small cruelties can impact lives, but it’s about more than that too. I want to say it’s about how we can rise above all of that but that’s not quite right and it sounds corny. This book is imaginative and funny and depressing all at once. I’m definitely glad to put it on this list, despite not being quite sure what to say about it. I forget why I put it on my to-read list, all I know is I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

135747104. The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

Sometimes I forget that I like short stories because of how much I love long ones. I get caught up in series and continuation and waiting and EPIC EVERYTHING. And then a book like this comes along and manages to smack me in the face with its awesomeness even though the stories are all only a few pages long.

As someone who writes (Occasionally. With much struggle.) this book was inspirational. I loved the handwritten notes in the margins and I appreciated the distinct style and humor of each author. The stories they tell are often dark but also playful and always interesting. It’s a bit like stepping onto a private writing playground and getting a tour.

60685515. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

This was the year of Maggie Stiefvater for me. Remember at the end of 2011 when I read The Scorpio Races and said I was adding all of her books to my to-read list?Well I did. And then I read them. And they were amazing. Seriously, I can’t get over how much I wish I could just crawl inside her books and live there. The way she puts together words makes me want to cry and shout with happiness all at the same time. I can’t get over how poetic her books are without EVER slipping into purple prose. How can they be so sentimental without being sappy? I don’t know! These are things that make me scratch my head. So, yeah. I love all her books. I could probably count them all as notable reads of this year, but this trilogy is most notable because I loved it best despite being extremely reluctant to read it. Why? Because of the werewolves, of course.

Here’s the thing. As a general rule, I am not a huge fan of books that live in the paramormal teen romance section at the bookstore. It boggles my mind a little bit that this section even exists because when I used to browse through the YA section it was just books all together, living in harmony. But now YA is all chopped up into these little subgroups which is nice if you’re looking for something in particular but also confusing and sometimes a little misleading. The how and why of this sort of branding is something I could go on and on about, but the point is, I thought I was tired of werewolves. I just didn’t want to hear about them anymore. I also didn’t want to hear about falling in love with one and Shiver is quite clearly about a girl who falls in love with a werewolf. But then I read The Scorpio Races and then I read The Raven Boys and Lament and I had Shiver just sitting on my shelf. Waiting. So I read it. And I really liked it.

Did that feel anticlamactic? Okay, so I liked it and I was definitely on board with Stiefvater’s version of werewolves and I was pretty much on board with why you might fall in love with one, but I also just liked it. I didn’t love it. Do you hear the “yet” that is hovering in the air? Because then I read Linger and suddenly everything clicked into place for me. That happens sometimes for me with a series. I need the whole thing. In this case I needed Cole and I needed to read about Sam on his own and I needed to read about Isabel and see Grace through someone else’s eyes. And once all that happened I was hooked. I read Linger in one day. And then I read Forever the next.

It’s impossible to talk about everything I like about Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. Though they are very different in most ways, both she and Melina Marchetta are authors who tend to capture my attention and devotion with the details of their writing. They way they put together words. It leaves me breathless and hopeful and amazed that words in the right hands can have so much meaning. That’s all I can say about that. But there are also some very specific things that make me like these books.

Backstory. There’s a lot of backstory involved in this trilogy. Mostly Sam’s, but also Cole’s and a little bit of Grace. Some of it is important to the plot, but most of it is important because of how it helps the characterization. So much of what makes Sam who he is, is because of things that have happened in his past, and these scenes unfold slowly. They are tucked into unrelated moments and brought on by things that trigger memories for him. It’s not seamless exactly, because it’s done with intention. But these memories and flashbacks are never misplaced. They are always important and vivid and worthy.

Disappearing parents. This is kind of a thing in a lot of YA books and it has always bothered me, but Grace’s parents are the exception. Their disapearing act is actually a focus in the story. It’s a source of sadness and frustration and they are never forgotten about. It’s an issue, not just a convenient way to get them out of the picture.

Romance and love. Romance is many different things for many different people. I loved reading about Grace and Sam. I loved reading about how they felt for each other. I didn’t care that they essentially fell in love right away. And I know love at first sight is normally a pet peeve of mine but it worked in this case because there were reasons, okay? And it made sense to me and it felt real and it felt like something other than lust. There are a lot of complexities involved in each and every relationship in these books and that was something I really appreciated.

And now this has practially turned into it’s own stand alone review so I’ll stop. All I can say is that these are going on my all time favorites list. I’ve already started re-reading Shiver and I’m noticing all sorts of things that slipped past me the first time around. Books that are worth revisiting are the very best kind.

 

I’m trying to read 100 books again this year. I’m already a little bit behind in my reading, so I can’t really promise that my reviewing habits are going to improve, but I would like to try. I can’t wait to see what my favorites of 2013 are going to be.

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Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior’s discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

 

Oh, Melina Marchetta how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

The first Marchetta book I read was Saving Francesca. That was years ago. I remember being very surprised at how much I ended up loving a book with a seemingly simple plot. I was touched by it. I liked Francesca’s voice and I liked how it was a book that focused on interactions with family and friends in a way that made sense to me. It was very real.

It was about two years ago that I read Finnikin of the Rock. It made me cry. Okay, I’ll be honest, it made me sob like a little baby. The book takes place in a world where a lot of bad things happen. There’s a lot of rape and people losing their homes and families being torn apart. But the thing that really got to me was the writing. The writing was so good, it made me cry over stupid little things that weren’t even all that sad. They were just so damn insightful. I just cared so much about what was happening that I couldn’t help but get crazy emotional about everything that happened by the end of that book.

After describing that level of emotional upheaval, does it sound strange to say that I was really looking forward to reading Froi of the Exiles? I guess I’m just that kind of reader. I read so many books, and a lot of them are really good. But after a while, you start to want something more than just good. I start to wonder, “When will I find the next one?” The “next one” being one of those books that is simply unforgettable. The kind of book that goes instantly to my favorites list. Froi of the Exiles did not disappoint.

After two years, my memories of Finnikin of the Rock had gotten a bit hazy, at least when it came to details. Fortunately this book picks up long enough after the events of the first one that it didn’t really matter. I was drawn back into the world right away, completely caught up in the intricate plotlines and relationships.

Marchetta writes about journeys. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading one of her contemporary books or one of her fantasies. Her stories are made up of characters that are on journeys both literally and emotionally. It’s about discovery and messed up people peeling away layers until you’re left with the heart of the matter. That’s what her books have in common, no matter what genre. Froi is a great example of this.

The book begins as he is sent on a mission into Charyn, the same kingdom whose soldiers invaded Lumatere years ago and caused so much death and heartache. His mission starts out fairly straightforward, but once Froi actually gets there, things become anything but. He discovers that Charyn is a land with just as complicated a past as Lumatere, full of people who are suffering from a years old curse. And at the heart of all this is a princess named Quintana who is by turns insane and insightful.

That’s just the tip of the iceburg.

There’s so much to say about a book like this. I mean, this thing is LONG! As I was reading I would stop every now and then to see where I was at in the book, delighted each time to find myself only in the middle when another book would be almost over. There are so many brilliant moments and characters wrapped up in those pages. So many developments that NEED that much time or else it would feel rushed and not nearly as true.

Even though this is clearly a fantasy novel, there are many themes and elements that could fit into any genre. It’s about family, and what that word means and the kind of love that blood inspires. It’s about displaced people searching for their place in the world. It’s about how strong people can be, and also how cruel.

One thing I really like about the Lumatere Chronicles is how Marchetta handles unhappiness. As I said earlier, a lot of horrible things happen in this world. It’s terrible and characters suffer and that’s a reacurring theme. In another author’s hands, these books might have just left you with the feeling of “Wow, life sucks.” But somehow the focus in these books shifts from these awful events and instead focuses on where the characters go from there. How they grow. I’m not saying that everything is uplifting or heartwarming, because that would be way too simple. I’m just saying that nothing is black and white here. There is balance and understanding woven into every event and word written…

I may be gushing. Am I gushing? Melina Marchetta has that effect on me. Just wait until I get around to reviewing The Piper’s Son.

Anyway, I don’t know what else I can say about this book because I really think it’s the sort of thing you have to experiance for yourself. I can’t explain Quintana to you in a review. I can’t describe how Froi practically leaps off the pages until his thoughts and actions are all that’s running through your head.

In Conclusion: Loved it. In case you couldn’t tell. I don’t want this series to end.

Froi of the Exiles on Goodreads & Amazon

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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The legend begins…

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

I liked pretty much everything about this book. Actually, I would go so far as to say I loved this book. Everything about it, from the beautiful storytelling to the blue and gold on the cover of my copy caught and held my attention.

You don’t have to be all that familiar with Greek mythology to know who Achilles is, or how his story ended. Patroclus, on the other hand, is not quite as well remembered. As this book begins, he is an exiled prince, sent away from home after the accidental death of another boy. In the kingdom of Phthia he finds himself drawn to Achilles, a boy who is set part from others in pretty much every way imaginable. The two boys unexpectedly form a deep bond.

I’ve read a few retellings of the battle of Troy, but I’m not sure if it was in those stories or somewhere else that the idea of Achilles and Patroclus being involved romantically was first suggested to me, or hinted at really, since nothing was every spelled out clearly. The Song of Achilles takes those hints and turns them into a fully fledged relationship. Goodbye subtext. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could not fall for young Achilles, the way he’s described here. The writing was a nice blend of elaborate and stark, always flowing together in a way I found very lyrical. There’s a good amount of time spent building up the relationship between the two main characters, which I liked. It’s not always action packed, but it sets the stage for what comes later.

And then there’s what comes later. It’s hard reading a book you really like when you know the outcome to begin with, and that it’s not going to be a happy one. There was one moment when I suddenly realized just how invested I had become in the lives of Patroclus and Achilles because I suddenly looked up from the book and said, “Oh nooooo!” But I kept reading because I just couldn’t stop and I wanted to know how this version would treat the battle of Troy and what it would do to these characters that I’d grown so fond of in the first half of the book. It’s heartbreaking, but the story never loses its beauty, even when terrible things happen. I guess I kind of love a good literary tragedy every now and then.

The Song of Achilles on Goodreads & Amazon

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

For me, May has been a good month for reading. Seriously good. Three books that I know will not only be on my list of 2012 favorites at year’s end, they’ll just be favorites. They will be books I want to buy and put on my shelf of most beloved books. They will be stories I remember.

So to start things off, let’s talk about The Night Circus.

ImageThe circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My roommate bought this book and read it first. Every now and then we would be sitting in the same room as she was reading and every now and then she would put the book down for a minute to say, “You have to read this as soon as I’m finished.” Or, “I’m afraid this book is going to make me cry.” So once she was done I picked the book up and was immediately wrapped up in the beautiful world created by Erin Morgenstern.

The scene is set when two men enter into a contest of sorts. You aren’t told what the rules are. You aren’t told where the contest will take place. You don’t know how the contest will be won. All you know is that each man will choose and train his own contestant. The first player has already been chosen, in fact. Over the course of the book, the murky rules and circumstance surrounding this battle of wills slowly become more apparent.

This is an atmospheric book, first and foremost. There is a plot here, and I enjoyed the plot very much, but it moves along slowly to make room for lavish descriptions. I didn’t find the pace boring at all. The details were so wonderfully done that by the end of the book I wished I could actually visit the Night Circus SO BADLY! Seriously. I want someone to create this type of circus so I can go to it. I loved how all the sounds and smells and sights of this place came to life on the page.

The characters here are mysterious, intriguing, and at times heartbreaking. Because of the perspective it feels as though they keep you at arms length even as you read about their lives, but that seemed fitting.

I wish I had written a review right away when I finished this book at the beginning of the month. I think I had so much more to say then! Now all I can tell you is that this story is still living in my head. I think about certain parts of it as I go about my day. I know I’ll read it again at some point.

In Conclusion: Loved it! I hope this author writes more soon

The Night Circus on Goodreads & Amazon

 

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When The Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

In Pelimburg-city of storm and sea and spray-magic is power. Both are controlled by an elite class, who inhale scriven dust to enhance their natural talents.

As the only daughter of the city’s founding family, Felicita has a luxurious but narrow life, one that is ruled by a list of traditionally acceptable and appropriate behaviors. When her dearest friend, Ilven, throws herself over the cliffs and into the sea to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own suicide and escapes to the slums, leaving behind everything she’s ever known, including the means to practice magic. Soon she’s living in a squat, working as a scullery girl, and falling hard for charismatic renegade Dash while also becoming fascinated by the strange, thrilling magic of vampire Jannik.

Then translucent corpses begin to wash up onshore. As it becomes clear that Ilven’s death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic that the upper class with their scriven are powerless against, Felicita must decide where her true loyalties lie-with the family she’s abandoned, or with those who would harness this dark power to destroy Pelimburg’s caste system, and the whole city along with it.

Good books sneak up on you, most of the time. There is no predicting which ones will really strike you in just the right way. Half of the time the books I’m really excited about reading don’t meet my expectations. When the Sea is Rising Red was an unexpected pleasure.

In Felicita’s world, there are certain inevitabilities to life. Men have the power. Girls marry who their told. Magic is powerful… and only the elite Houses have magic. Felicita is born into one of those houses and, despite her unhappiness at the way her older brother is able to rule her life, she doesn’t think to question that this is the natural order of things. Until her best friend dies. Ilven throws herself into the sea rather than be married off in a deal that benefits her family. When Felicita is soon after betrothed, she decides to take charge of her life by faking suicide and venturing into a world that’s completely different from her own.

It started off somewhat slowly for me. Up until a certain point I had trouble really being drawn into Felicita’s world. It was like watching events through a window. But once she enters the house on Whelk Street everything sprang to life. The characters are so wonderful! I wished the book was longer so that we could have learned even more about the people Felicita meets.

The world here seemed very well thought out without being spelled out for the reader. I loved that the slang flowed. Unnecessary slang is one of my pet peeves, but the made up words in this book really seemed to fit.

I liked how dark and gritty this world was. Not just the things that happened, but the people and emotions too. Motives and desires totally got twisted up at times in a way that made me shiver because it was just so well written! There’s a lot of drama and beautiful, haunting imagery, but it wasn’t over the top. Always tempered.

Details could get a bit murky at times. The ending felt rushed to me. I could see it coming and then BANG. There it was. I could have used a bit more buildup and explanation. Some of Felicita’s actions in the final scenes don’t entirely make sense to me. While this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book as a whole, it is worth noting. As far as main characters go, she could be quite passive. Normally this would bother me more, but for some reason it didn’t here. Maybe because she didn’t strike me as a weak character, even though her actions didn’t ultimately have much of an impact.

This book had vampires that I actually liked! It wasn’t about vampires, but they did play a role. And they weren’t annoying or overly romanticized, nor overly violent.

In Conclusion: Really good! Cat Hellisen’s writing style felt very fresh and unique to me. I hope to see more from her.

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In The Woods & The Likeness by Tana French

Whoa! Has it really been a month? I have definitely fallen behind on the review process, that much is clear. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! I’m right on track for my goal of reading 100 books, I just haven’t had enough time to write down my thoughts on all of them. But I want to get back on track with that. And I have a lot of thoughts about The Likeness.

It’s impossible for me to review The Likeness without first talking about In The Woods, so lets see what the summary for that book looks like first.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

Oooh, chilling right? I don’t read a lot of mysteries. Not because I don’t like them, but because I got freaked out reading Nancy Drew as a kid. Don’t even get me started on how freaked out I was by reading Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Basically I’m a big wimp. But at the same time I get hooked very easily. Once I start, I HAVE to know who did it. If I hear even the opening Law & Order noise, I have to watch the episode. So once I read the description to In The Woods, I HAD to read it. I needed to know what was up with the blood in his shoes, what had happened to the other kids, how these cases were connected. I was drawn in before I even opened the book.

Here’s the part where I warn you about SPOILERS! NASTY SPOILERS THAT WILL RUIN THE MYSTERY!

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Catching Up

I’ve been reading. A lot. My Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge tracker informs me that I am now 4 books ahead. Go me! Unfortunately, I’ve fallen WAY behind with reviewing said books. So here are a few quick thoughts on what I’ve been reading.

Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich

The king of Lóng City is dying. For Kai Zōu, the news means more than it does for most former street rats in the small mountain stronghold, because he and the king’s daughter are close friends. Then the majestic ruler of the ghost dragons orders Kai to travel across the country to the Phoenix Empire, where the princess is learning statecraft. In a court filled with intrigue, Kai and his best friend Yún must work together to help the princess escape and return to Lóng City. A refreshing mixture of magic, wit, and action, Fox and Phoenix is an auspicious debut!

This was like a simple kids adventure story, with a few teenage elements thrown in. There’s a quest to find a princess, dragons, magic and love…. twooo love.

Ahem.

Anyway, I liked it. Kai’s voice is unique, even if the general storyline is familiar. There’s humor here, though nothing that made me laugh out loud. Overall, I felt like even though the world was interesting and it was a fun read, this book lacked the spark to bump it to the next level.

Though Kai’s spirit pig was pretty cool.

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.

Jeez, if you thought Wither was depressing, brace yourself. It doesn’t get any happier with this book.

For Rhine and Gabriel, this is a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. Immediately after escaping the mansion they’re captured by Madame Soleski. Madame runs a circus of sorts, full of drugged girls who she rents out to any guy who’ll pay. Yeah, not a nice place for them to be.

Of course, the people who Rhine and Gabriel meet as they struggle to find a way to New York are very representative of the world created here. Madame Soleski is hardly the most horrible thing in this book.

I really don’t want to give anything away. The plot is so much about their journey and it unfolds slowly. The writing is dark and at times poetic, though beautiful prose does nothing to distract from the unhappiness.

I think I liked Wither better, mostly because of Rhine’s interactions with her sister-wives, but Fever is still a good read. Not fun, but good. And I’m VERY eager to see what happens in the next book.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

OK, so in my last post I talked about Abandon and how I heartily disliked it. Well, Everneath is also a retelling of the Persephone myth, but I actually enjoyed it. It was a very compelling modernization and I really felt something for the characters… at the time. To be honest, I read it about a week ago and I’m already a little fuzzy on the details. That’s what I get for waiting so long to write this!

I really liked that this book was romantic without losing its darkness. Nikki’s interactions, even when she’s happy, are always tinged with sadness. That seemed very fitting to the story. It also seemed fitting that everything wasn’t wrapped up in a nicely neat and happy ending, but then I found out that there’s going to be another book. I think it would have worked as a standalone, but that’s just me and I’m guessing that puts me in a very small minority.

Ninth Key (The Mediator #2) by Meg Cabot

Everything is going great for Suze. Her new life in California is a whirlwind of parties and excellent hair days. Tad Beaumont, the hottest boy in town, has even asked Suze out on her very first date. Suze is so excited that she’s willing to ignore her misgivings about Tad… particularly the fact that he’s not Jesse, whose ghostly status–not to mention apparent disinterest in her–make him unattainable.

What Suze can’t ignore, however, is the ghost of a murdered woman whose death seems directly connected to dark secrets hidden in none other than Tad Beaumont’s past.

So, as I explained in my last post, I was recently prompted to reread some older Meg Cabot books. The library didn’t have the first book in The Mediator series, so I grabbed the second one. This was a fun and super fluffy read.

Suze is just as funny and just as much of a smartass as I remember her being. Jesse is just as hot as my sixteen year old self thought he was, puffy white shirt and all. They aren’t particularly complicated characters, and the plot is straightforward, but sometimes that’s a nice thing. Also, they have great chemistry. It makes the teenager in me squee.

What I had forgotten about were Suze’s step brothers, and how funny her interactions with them are. I’d also forgotten about her ghost dad showing up every now and then and Brother Dom’s earnest enthusiasm for mediating.

Nice to revisit and a quick read.

I have more, but I might (just might) be able to write individual reviews for the rest since they’re fresher in my mind. Also they’re pretty standout reads, so I’ve got more to say about them. And this post is long enough!

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