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 Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

*Warning! If you haven’t read the first two books of this series, you probably want to avoid reading the synopsis and review as they contain spoliers for the first two books.

cressPages: 550

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Date Published: February 4, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

— 

Clocking in at 550 pages, Cress is full of nail-biting adventures.

Cress’s story gives readers a perspective from the mind of a Lunar citizen, which answers some questions I didn’t even think to be asking.

Her shy and naive nature combined with her loyalty and resourcefulness make Cress an asset to our other beloved heroes: Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, Captain Thorne, and Iko. Reading Cress’s tale was more exciting than Cinder’s and even Scarlet’s, perhaps because the stakes are higher.

It’s no secret I like big books. Cress has new mysteries and finally some answers. I still don’t completely see where the overall story is going . Cress made progress in the overall story arc, but not enough to be really satisfying.

Cinder and her crew continue to play a huge role in the books, and while the shifting POV helps put some events in perspective, I wish the narrative would focus only on the featured character.

On to the romance! It is pretty scarce in Cress because fighting evil mind controllers doesn’t leave a lot of free time, but it still manages to be sweet and hopeful.

In the end, Cress was entertaining and delivered a well thought out story. I am eager to see how Meyer ties everything together in the next installments. Meyer has written a novel that you’ll want to read all at once. She’s answered just enough questions, yet left a large amount of suspense to make readers want Winter immediately. 

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All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill

Pages: 368  Yesterdays 

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Date Published: September 3, 2013 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 

“You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. 

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. 

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. 

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Review:

All Our Yesterdays has done the unthinkable. It made me like a time travel book. If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s about time you did. (Yes, you can expect more bad time travel puns to follow.)

After hearing Cee rave about this book, I grabbed a copy from my library. By the first chapter I was hooked. I couldn’t wait another minute. I had to know what happened next.

I started to piece together elements before the characters, which created some nice dramatic irony that added to the suspense of the book. The pace doesn’t really let up once you are introduced to both narrators, Marina and Em.

This book has action, romance, character development, and much more. It’s logic made somewhat sense to me, though it would take me a second to understand most of it. I wish we got more of a back story from Em and Finn’s past travels and more of a look at the world as it is in the future. But, other than those qualms, there wasn’t much more I could ask for.

Marina’s perspective would kind of drag in the beginning, which would make me long for Em’s narration. Marina is a different character to like at first, but she grows and evolves and it is really great to read.

On to Finn. Him and Em are my new favorite couple to ship. They were cute while facing down danger. I was rooting for those two the whole time. 

All Our Yesterdays has clocked in as my favorite time travel book. 

P.S. May I suggest to that the title to this book get changed to All Hour Yesterdays? 


Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Pages: 320  drop 

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 

Summary from Goodreads: 

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Review: 

Layered with emotion, Not a Drop to Drink is full of stunning writing and heartfelt characters.

Each word in this story felt deliberate and added to the story. The world building is simple but present. With every action or dialogue the setting and mood are revealed, creating a brutal backdrop for this somber story.

Lynn’s portrayal as a strong yet desperate heroine is so honest. Never once is the reader shielded from some hard truths about the her, but it only works to endear her more. There is only a small cast of main characters, and each completes the story in some way.

The novel moves at its own pace. It’s a bit slower than readers looking for lots of action typical in a post-apocalyptic might like. Nothing happens too fast or too slow, but rather a nice blending of the two.

One thing I especially liked about Not a Drop to Drink is that though there is a small romance, it is nowhere near the most important relationship of the novel. Each character connects to one another in a vital way, and I think writing these connections is McGinnis’ strong point.

Oh, the ending! By that point, most of Lynn’s walls had come down, making each emotion she felt bolder. McGinnis’ didn’t take any shortcuts when crafting that conclusion. The last few lines are still stuck in my head. 

Not a Drop to Drink doesn’t pull any punches, making it one of my new favorite post-apocalyptics.  


The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Pages: 256  BridgeBoy

Publisher: Scholastic 

Source: Giveaway from This is Teen 

Summary from Goodreads:

A new breathtaking novel from Natalie Standiford about love and trust during the Cold War.

Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia–a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she’s been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches–when Laura must return to the United States–Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She’s only nineteen and doesn’t think she’s ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn’t she take it?

One of my biggest dreams is to study abroad, so when I won a copy of The Boy on the Bridge I was ecstatic. Reading of one girl’s experience in Soviet Russia was very entertaining. The Boy on the Bridge is very powerful in a quiet sort of way.

TBotB is the sort of book where not a whole lot happens, but at the same time each event is important. The story unfolds slowly and is over quickly.

While I cared about the future of each character, I didn’t connect with them. There was a cold detachment to the narration that fit the bleak and desperate setting. The third person narration is a bit of a barrier, and I think the story would have much more likability if it were told in first person.

Learning about the culture of the time was extremely fascinating. Standiford did her research  to get all of the facts exactly right. My favorite points in the book were when Laura was discovering new sights and food and people.

Mystery surrounded the story from beginning to end. The ending is a little ambiguous, almost left to the reader’s interpretation. While this is a little frustrating, it also suited the book well.

Standiford has told a beautifully cruel story of desperation. The bleak qualities of the book won’t be appealing to everyone. The cover really deceived me into think I was about to read a light romance, which was so not the case. The Boy on the Bridge is a historical novel for those who love books with culture and intrigue.


Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pages: 343    PivotPoint

 Publisher: Harper Teen

Source: J Reads YA! Giveaway

Summary from Goodreads:

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without. 

Review: 

Pivot Point has one of the most clever plots I’ve read in a while. Told in alternating chapters of two futures, Pivot Point kept me guessing as to what exactly would happen next. I always had some inklings about what would happen, but then a new plot element would be added to the story that complicated it further. I was quickly turning the pages the whole time.

I started Pivot Point once before, but didn’t get very far. I think it was Addie’s personality that had annoyed me when I first tried to read this book. She comes off as a bit spoiled and immature for the first few pages of the book. But, Addie grows a lot throughout the book by having to make difficult decisions.

Reading two futures at once did confuse me sometimes, especially when I wasn’t paying very close attention. The way in which the two choices affected each other was pretty fun to read. Sometimes I thought I knew which possibility Addie would choose, but something new would happen to make me rethink things. I preferred reading the future where Addie stays on the Compound, but both perspectives were nice to read.

I didn’t like many characters in the book because sometimes they were flat or stereotypes. There is a star quarter back, a sensitive artist, mean cheerleaders, an outgoing and extroverted best friend who wants to help popular-ize her bookworm best friend, etc… I have forgotten a lot of the names of some of the secondary characters because they simply didn’t play any role in the overall story.

I’m still left wondering a few things, such as the motives of certain characters. Pivot Point will have a sequel coming out in February. I can’t really talk more about the ending for fear of spoiling everything. 

At one point this may have been a 5 star book for me. Pivot Point is worth the read. Despite having a few flaws, it is an engaging and exciting novel.


Angelfall by Susan Ee

Pages: 283                     Angelfall

Publisher: Feral Dream

Source: Won in giveaway from J Reads YA!

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Review: 

Angelfall makes a lot of angel books pale in comparison. Penryn is a very vivid main charcter. There is certainly a lot of action going on in Angelfall, which made the book very hard to put down.

I really love dystopians/post-apocalyptics, but I haven’t read one recently that really stood out from the rest. Angelfall changed all of that, though. Set in Silicon Valley/San Francisco, Angelfall has a good, but not overly terrific, setting. The explanation as to why the angels attacked is a little unclear. The novel could have used a touch more explanation regarding the background of the story.

Penryn is an exciting protagonist. Her level-headedness combined with her impulsivity keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. Her love for her sister and mother is clearly evident. It only made me like her more. Raffe is very cocky but well-developed. I was rooting for those two the whole story.

Suan Ee can definitely tell a good story, but she sometimes uses odd phrases or expressions. Sometimes it would draw me out of the story, but the action always pulled me right back in. I look forward to seeing how Ee’s writing will grow over the course of the series.

When I reached the end, things took a turn for the creeeeppppyyyy. I went from shock to horror to disgust to sympathy. It was quite the whirlwind of emotions. I was very surprised by all the horrors introduced. I am so eager to see how it all plays out in World After, the next book in the series.

Angelfall delighted and shocked me. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to read it. 


The Distance Between Us by Kasie West  

         The Distance Between Us

Pages: 320

Publisher:HarperTeen

Summary from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Review:
The Distance Between Us is a very enjoyable read. The protagonist, Caymen, has plenty of snark and wit, so she really stands out against other female leads in YA contemporary.

There is never very much action going on, yet I never felt like the pace was too slow. I devoured this one in a single sitting. Every scene has charm and gives you insight on the characters, so I was never once bored.

Caymen and Xander were perfectly awkward and sweet. Sometimes they completely misunderstand each other, which is a little frustrating. They start off as friends and then work towards something more, which I liked because I don’t think the book would have had the same effect on me as it did if they just jumped into a relationship.

Skye, Caymen’s best friend, always livened up the plot. She and Caymen have a believable and normal friendship. I wouldn’t mind reading a book featuring her and maybe even Henry. Skye balanced out the book and kept it from being all about Caymen seeing Xander. Even Caymen and her mom have an interesting dynamic going on that gave the book more dimension and focus.

Caymen and the others were all very relatable. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life, yet she know she wants nothing to do with the doll shop. (Really, who can blame her? There is no way I could ever live in a place that had that many creepy eyes always watching me.) Xander doesn’t know what he wants out of his future either, so they really bond over finding out each others’ likes and dislikes.

So I know the major conflict here is money, yet that plot point felt odd and fell flat. Caymen tells us her mom despises the rich, but we are hardly ever shown that. The one and only time her mom truly speaks up about the subject seemed stilted. Up until that point I figured Caymen’s belief that her mom couldn’t stand the wealthy was all in her head, an excuse to keep her distance from some people. There were just so many mixed signals going on there. I decided to just let it go and not dwell on it too much.

The other thing about the book that bothered me a little was the ending. The whole time I was thinking, “Woah, what? What just happened? No. No. Whaaaa?” Once I got beyond that phase I could see how this resolution explained some things, but also opened up a new can of worms. I just accepted it and moved on.

The Distance Between Us is very lovely and a book I will read again, especially for the sarcasm.


Reboot by Amy Tintera    

                                Reboot

Pages: 365

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary from Goodreads:                              

 Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).


Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Review:

Reboot sounded pretty awesome. It’s a zombie book with only minimal gore and plenty of blood.

Wren, the main character, is this cold-blooded killer, and I will admit that I respect her for that. She kills without regret, literally talking about how she enjoys the thrill of it all. I loved that about the book because typically when there is a murderer as a character they only feel guilt and remorse. This  look at the other side of a sociopathic mindset was refreshing in a disturbing kind of way. Wren is a very distant character, supposedly emotionless, though really she is just very awkward and anti-social. I found her to be amusing when she was in that odd emotional state:

“I guessed this was a friend thing. I saw the other girls doing it, so I went along with it.” – pg 11

(That sounds so much like my friend interactions it isn’t even funny.)

Of course she changes pretty quickly once she meets Callum, a very humanlike reboot. Wren sort of lost her edge once he entered the picture, but she regained some of her earlier killer personality by the end. Callum is the complete opposite of Wren, so I really enjoyed their scenes together (which are plentiful).

For the majority of the book, Wren and Callum are really the only characters that truly affect the plot. Sure, there are others, but really Callum is all Wren could think about. I wouldn’t call it insta-love because they were never necessarily mushy or made me want to gag myself on their gushiness. (Gushiness is totally word.)

The Texas pride evident in Reboot definitely caused me to favor this book a little more. I ain’t even going to try and act like it didn’t. The explanation for why the USA has fallen apart is practically non-existant, except for the fact that some disease killed many, many people and caused some of the victims to reboot. Texas is the only state still standing and it has become a dangerous place to live. The settings are excellent, though my favorite is the dystopian version of Austin:

“‘It’s weird here,’ he mumbled.” – pg 295

TINTERA, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

Reboot will have a sequel, which I feel is much needed because the ending was a little too convenient. I’m hoping this means something bad will start off the next book because I want to read more of Wren kicking butt.



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