Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

The beginning of Falling Under had me a little nervous. It was a little awkward and there was that “insta-love” that I have a hard time buying. After a few chapters, things started to turn around though. The story got interesting, I started to love the love, and I was constantly guessing about where the story was about to go.

Theia has lived a sheltered life, her father not letting her go through those typical teen trials and tribulations. So when a new guy shows up both in her dreams and in her life, she starts to want more. She doesn’t want to be the perfectly molded little girl her dad wants her to be.

I wasn’t really a fan of Theia and Haden’s relationship right away. They didn’t really have much solid interaction before suddenly falling for each other. They were hardly even friendly and suddenly they were declaring love. This was the only part of the book that I didn’t enjoy. It was a little too sudden and didn’t have a solid foundation, in my eyes. After they got to know each other a little more, I was in love with their relationship.

Theia’s friends were fantastic. They don’t let her get away with anything, calling her out when they needed to. They were always there for her, even when they didn’t always agree on everything. They were different from a lot of friends in Young Adult novels lately; they help build Theia up instead of trying to bring her down. I loved it.

Falling Under was a fantastic book that managed to make me love it, despite my initial wariness. It’s a unique story and I’ll definitely be digging into Dreaming Awake as soon as I can.

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young

I was feeling a little “eh” about A Need So Beautiful. It was good, but it was missing something. A Want So Wicked made up for that and then some. My eyes were getting foggy as I read my way through the book; it was that touching and wonderful.

A Want So Wicked picks up where A Need So Beautiful left off. We’re thrown right into Elise’s life, all the while knowing where she came from, even though Elise doesn’t have any idea. It was a little easy to pick up on the good and bad in the novel, but that didn’t make me enjoy it any less.

Harlin was even more wonderful in this book, and even Abe’s charms worked on me every once in a while. Lucy was a fantastic secondary character. I felt for the relationship between Elise and Lucy, it’s the type of sister relationship I wish more novels had.

Elise had me tearing up. As much as Charlotte’s story pulled at me, Elise’s did tenfold. Her confusion around her life and feels was so well written, it made my chest hurt. I wished more than anything the story would end differently than I knew it had to.

The ending was perfect and yet I hated it (in a good way). I’m just going to hope and wish there will be a third novel. I want more of Harlin and Elise/Charlotte’s story.

A Fractured Light by Jocelyn Davies

I’m a little torn on A Fractured Light. It’s the second book in a trilogy, and started to fall into the slump a lot of second books seem prey to, and yet it managed to stay just enough outside of the hole that I still really enjoyed the book. I just felt some of the middle started to stretch and drag a little more than I’d like.

A Fractured Light starts out only a few days after the end of A Beautiful Dark. It comes out kicking and I was completely into it. Davies doesn’t let the story start on a dull note, immediately getting into gear and I loved that. Unfortunately, after a little while, the story started to drag just a little bit. There was a lot happening, but some of it felt a little like filler. There were still important things happening, but in between those moments, there wasn’t as much plot progression as I would have liked.

Thankfully, the last few chapters completely turned this novel around and had my jaw resting on the floor. There are plot twists that I didn’t see coming until they were right there and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

The relationship between Asher and Skye progresses, but I’m left with a strange feeling about it. Asher still gives the swoony feelings, but I’m no longer completely trusting him. Davies wrote him in such a wonderful way that even as I’m falling for his words, a tiny red flag goes up making me question the true motive behind his every word. Even with those red flags, I was still completely taken with him and his charm.

A Fractured Light was a good follow-up novel to A Beautiful Dark. There were places where it could have been better, but it was still a great read that had me constantly turning the pages. I can’t wait to see how Skye’s story ends.

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

I’ve had this book on my to read list ever since I came across it last year. I made myself wait until A Want So Wicked was out because I was hoping hard I’d love it and the wait between books would be too much. A Need So Beautiful was a good book, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, unfortunately.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book. Definitely. But the balance was a little off and that kept me from completely enjoying it. Nothing makes me happier than when the action side of the plot and the romance side of the plot balance each other out and make each other stronger. In A Need So Beautiful the angel aspect of the story isn’t explored as much as I’d have liked while the romance was given just a little too much attention.

While the love between Charlotte and Harlin was sweet and it provided some of the most touching moments of the novel, it also overshadowed the angel part of the story. What I did read about Charlotte being a Forgotten was done wonderfully and beautifully. I would have gladly read an entire novel about that, even without a love interest. Sadly, Young tended to put a lot of unnecessary focus on Charlotte and Harlin’s relationship instead of on Charlotte’s purpose.

In the end, A Need So Beautiful is a book that had amazing potential, but fell a little short. It’s still a good read, and if you like the angel genre, it’s a good read, but it just didn’t quite live up to expectations.

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Some books are so good that when you reach the last chapter, after every line, you look away and say “I just can’t handle this. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” The Crown of Embers is one of those books.

Elisa grew up so much in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, that I wasn’t sure there would be any room left for her to grow. I was so wrong. She still doesn’t have the strength she needs to rule a country. She’s not that sure of her own power yet. Despite her best efforts, she’s able to be manipulated and the glory of her victory in war is starting to fade. She’s not weak, however. She is willing to do whatever she needs to save her country and its people, and she’s definitely not stupid about how she fights her battles.

The romance in this one had me feelings like a giant puddle of goo. Her love with Humberto was sweet, and it’s a love she’ll never forget. First loves are like that. I’ll even admit to spending the first couple chapters just wishing Humberto would make a surprise appearance. But then, something wonderful happened and now I’m even more in love with Elisa’s romance. It’s built upon trust and respect and it’s so, so, so amazing.

Once again, Carson is able to build Elisa’s wonder fantastically. Every location is beautifully described, jumping off the page and coming to life.

The Crown of Embers is one of my favorite books of the year. It’s filled with everything I love and nothing I don’t. Carson writes the story I didn’t even realize I wanted and she does it so perfectly that there really isn’t anything I can say against it. The Crown of Embers is a book that deserves to be read and I really can’t wait for The Bitter Kingdom.

Glass Heart by Amy Garvey

I love the way Garvey can intertwine a paranormal story with a romance. Neither side feels overdone or left out. Each side balance out perfectly, and in the end, Glass Heart leaves your soul feeling happy and content.

After the heart wrenching story of Cold Kiss, it was nice to see Wren happy and in love once again. It’s a different type of love, though. Not only because you can only have one first love, but because Wren isn’t the same person with Gabriel as she was with Danny. She’s also exploring the paranormal side to her a little more. It’s this testing of her powers that leads to Gabriel revealing he’s not entirely comfortable with that, and that hurts Wren. She feels a little rejected and instead of continuing to explore her powers in the safe way she knows, she starts to get a little more reckless.

While I feel like both the romantic and paranormal sides of this book are explored well, I wish there had been a little bit more on Bay and Fiona, the people Wren starts to hang out with after feeling put off my Gabriel, and their involvement in the novel. It was the only thing holding my back from thinking this book was completely perfect.

Amy Garvey wrote yet another wonderfully sweet, romantic paranormal story that had me falling in love with her words all over again. There’s something special in the way Garvey tells her story. There’s a lot of heart without it weighing the book down. It’s emotional, but in a fantastic way. Garvey is definitely a Young Adult author to keep your eye on.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

I love a book that can give me that creepy feeling, where you don’t want to turn the page but you have to because you need to know what comes next. Girl of Nightmares is that kind of book.

Girl of Nightmares follows Cas as he tries to come to terms with losing Anna, and finding a way to see if she’s at peace after she sacrificed herself to save him. It’s a little more emotional than Anna Dressed in Blood, but it also has those light moments to keep it from dragging. There are enough side stories to keep the secondary characters involved and real, and yet it’s easy to see the main storyline.

Anna isn’t in this book much, but that’s okay. She doesn’t need to be in order for her to have an impact. Her absence in Cas’ life is felt by having her absent in the book. She only really shows up near the end, and while I’m sad there’s not going to be another book to their story, the ending is perfect for them. It was exactly what I wish for in any ending of a story. It felt right and gave me that happy feeling while still making me sigh because there’s nothing more.

Once again, Blake’s writing style helps make this novel amazing. She doesn’t skimp on anything. You get the full effect of everything creepy and morbid in this novel. If something happens, she doesn’t make the book prettier and gloss over it. If a ghost is gross, you read that. If a place is creepy beyond belief, she makes you believe it. It is fantastic.

Girl of Nightmares is an amazing sequel to a wonderful book. It’s a fitting conclusion to the story of Anna and Cas. Even though I wish there could be more, Blake managed to end the series on a perfect note.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I really didn’t think I was going to like this book for only one reason. It’s a cyborg Cinderella. Growing up on Disney princesses has made me a bit bitter when it comes to retelling the stories I first fell in love with as a kid. Really, the only reason I picked this book up was because I’ve had it on my kindle for a while, and I was waiting for other books to be publish. Horrible, I know.

I even started this book thinking, “I’m just not going to like it. Cinder is a mechanic and part android and it just doesn’t sound great.” So Cinder had a huge obstacle in its way. And yet about halfway through, my entire viewpoint shifted. I was no longer reading it just to make it to the end. I was reading it because it was good.

Cinder is a fantastic character. She’s strong, but also vulnerable. She doesn’t give in easily, but knows which battles to pick. She falls into instant adoration with Prince Kai, but she doesn’t delude herself into thinking it’s love. That doesn’t come for a while, and even then, I’m still not sure it’s out yet.

Prince Kai is extremely sweet and it’s easy to see how much he cares for Cinder. He lights up when he’s with her. He becomes a different person. Not the prince, not the prince disguised as a commoner, but just Kai. It was really great to see, and while there was instant attraction to Cinder, he also doesn’t delude himself into believing it’s more than it is. There’s also an interesting set-up involving their relationship for the next book.

The world building was fantastic and I never felt lost or confused when it came to the world Kai and Cinder live in. It was easy to believe and immerse myself in.

Cinder definitely had a challenge in getting me to like it. I was fully prepared to give this book a one star review and tell everyone just how horrible a cyborg Cinderella was, but instead, the book wowed me and has completely won me over. I’ll certainly be picking up the next books, anxious to read more of Cinder’s story.

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

I had never read a book written in free verse style. It’s not really my thing. I prefer my poetry to be poetry and my novels to be novels. That said, there is no other way this story could have been told. I simply don’t think all the emotion and passion and heartbreak could have gotten across any other way.

The characters in Exposed are amazingly well-written. They aren’t really black and white, but I felt for them in some way in every poem. The story is told through Liz’s point of view, and her aching was completely visible and palpable. It oozed off the page and crawled under my skin until I was a teary mess because it was horrible, and yet the book was so good.

The way Marcus didn’t really give a definitive answer on the major plot point was genius. I didn’t need to know the yes or no answer. Either way, it was a horrible situation and an answer wasn’t going to solve it. Too much hurt had already happened for any result to heal the wounds.

There honestly isn’t anything else I can say about this book, except that people need to read it. It is so incredibly raw and powerful that there aren’t words that adequately describe how stunning this book is in its heartbreak.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

I’m having a difficult time with this review. Not because the book was bad or problematic, but rather because it was good. I wasn’t all that excited about reading this book. It hadn’t really been on my radar and it just didn’t seem like the kind of book I’d fall into and love. I bought it because it was on sale, and I read it because I was waiting for other things to be published.

Why am I telling you how reluctant I was to read Masque of the Red Death? So that you don’t make the same mistake I did. You need to get this book, sit down, and just read. You’ll thank me for it later.

Araby is living a guilty life. Alive, but not really living. At first, I was confused as to why she was the one that got involved with everything happening in the book. She isn’t the bravest or the strongest or the smartest character I’ve ever read. She didn’t have that special something. But then I realized that was why she was involved. Because she was normal. She was in the right place at the right time and had something necessary. Her importance isn’t apparent at first. But as you read, you’ll discover that despite all her faults, there’s a reason people need her like they do.

The love triangle. One of the things I dread the most on Young Adult novels. They usually annoy me because they become more important than everything else in the novel, instead of acting as a tool to help build the strength of the story. Not in Masque of the Red Death. Yes it’s there, but it doesn’t take over the story. Neither guy is completely perfect and I question both their motives. I’m not sure I trust either one, but I like that. It adds more mystery to the novel and more confusion.

Masque of the Red Death is a dark, edgy book that draws you in and won’t let go. It wraps around your mind until you can’t resist and then it seeps into your blood, making sure to bring you right into the story. It’s a fantastic read and I can’t wait for the next book.