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Me on Books

Me on Books features reviews of young adult novels, the occasional middle grade or graphic novel, and promotes Canadian young adult authors as much as possible. :)

Currently reading

For Darkness Shows the Stars
Diana Peterfreund
Perfect Ruin
Lauren DeStefano

Pivot Point

Pivot Point - Addison's life is one big "What if?" As a Searcher, whenever she's face with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. When her parents reveal their divorce to her, she pas to pick who she wants to live with-her father, who's leaving the paranormal compound, or her mother, who's staying put. Addie loves her life so it should be an easy choice, but a Search six weeks into each future proves it's not. In one potential future, she's slowly fitting into a "Norm" high school and making friends with a cute boy named Trevor, while in the other she's being pursued by Duke, 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 inside the Compound, she's unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything. 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.Pivot Point circles around a mystery, a mystery viewed from two different sides as Addie explores two different futures. In determining her fate, she becomes involved in something dangerous, and in the end it will be her difficult choice to choose which future to actually experience. An intriguing and complicated idea.I've been thinking about why, in my opinion, the story fell a little short for my liking, and it's that it reads far more like a contemporary novel than a paranormal mystery. The paranormal element is still there, the mystery and the secrets are still there, but I don't think I expected it to feel as much like a high school contemporary YA as it did. That being said, I'm sure there are those who will enjoy this book, the mix of paranormal and contemporary, of mystery and romance, of Addie trying to figure out what to do and which life to choose.If you could see into the future, if you could decide which life to live when faced with a choice, would you? It's a complicated question, one with a complicated answer. What if you looked into two possible futures and didn't like how either of them turned out? What if both ended in disaster? Would you avoid both? Would you run? Or would you face trouble head on?Between the two story lines, Addie learns and changes in different ways. In one, she's confronted with being an outsider. In the other, she faces more danger. It's very interesting, seeing different sides of the same situation. As you read one you still know what is happening in or out of the Compound because of the other. It's like knowing something the author rarely or never reveals. The reader knows what else is going on, but will Addie figure it out? Will she be able to solve the mystery?Addie has a very clear teenage voice. She sounded young, sounded like she was still trying to figure things out, trying to find out which was right and which was wrong, and in the end how to fix everything.Two different lives that could be lived, two different fates Addie must decide between. I would've preferred more separation between the story lines, but it's not hard to tell which is which depending on which characters are present and where Addie is. I'm curious about what story the sequel will tell, if it will be a true sequel or more like a companion novel.

Ink

Ink - Amanda Sun On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building. Then there’s Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets. Katie never wanted to move to Japan, but now she may not make it out of the country alive.Ink is an intriguing story rich with modern day Japanese culture, Japanese mythology, and magic. In a country with such rich history there's bound to be something lurking around, something searching for power. A rather serious tone travels through the book because there's so much at stake for Katie. Like survival.It's very much a stranger in a strange land sort of book, Katie with her American customs and American way of thinking. So much research has been done by the author on Japanese geography, customs, and myths. And the English/Japanese language barrier was addressed, which was good. It was nice to see the author not sweep it off to the side and avoid it.I find that Katie tries to be strong and ends up with a façade over her face. She somewhat refuses to accept that, for the moment, she has to live in a foreign country with a relative she barely knows and speak a language she barely understands. In a culture so different from the one she grew up in, she's lost and puts up a wall, not complaining but not accepting. In the beginning, And so she waits for the day she can go back to North America, until danger arises and curiosity kicks in.There's an instant something between Katie and Tomohiro. I'm wary of saying it was the often hated insta-love, I think it's more instant anger or hatred or confusion. And then Katie sticks her nose in because she wants to know why what happened happened. She wants to know why he's a walking contradiction, why he's angry and closed-off but also quiet and friendly. Why his drawings come alive. Yes, following Tomohiro around makes her a creepy stalker, and no, I wouldn't suggest doing this in real life, but Katie's recklessly stubborn and she wants to keep those she's managed to make friends with safe. And so, with her big nose, she shoves her way in like a foolish idiot and gets caught up in a huge mess of trouble.Part of what I found compelling, beyond the setting, is the darkness and the magic in the ink. The fantasy aspect, the dark magic in the ink drawings, it all reaches back into Japanese myth, into lore and legend, and hints at the true power of the gods. In ways it's a subtle sort of magic, elusive at times, but in other ways it's clearly there, extremely dangerous and powerful. But Katie's involvement, Katie's connection, must be addressed. Why is a Caucasian girl from New York somehow involved?Certain things are very clear in this book. The gods are real, the kami have power, the ink is dangerous, and it wants them both. Everyone is at risk. Now that she's part of it, Katie has to figure out what to do next.

(You) Set Me on Fire

(You) Set Me on Fire - Mariko Tamaki Allison Lee is seventeen and off to college in the fall. So far, she's been in love once (a total catastrophe) and on fire twice (also pretty bad). Both have left their scars on her. Looking more like burnt chicken than a radiant and reborn phoenix, Allison heads off to live in residence at St. Joseph's College, where she discovers the true gift of being a freshman: the gift of reinventing yourself. Miles away from home and high school, the all-girls dorm is a strange new world to her, a place of new social circles and challenges. She still feels like the odd man out, until Shar appears. Shar quickly becomes the centre of Allison's world, drawing her in with her dangerous allure. Will Allison get burned again? And if she does, what scars will she earn this time?(You) Set Me on Fire is a rather honest and blunt look at a girl's first year at college and all she comes across, be they class subject matter, social situations, parties, drinking, family, or romance. It's very much a coming-of-age story for Allison, her first foray into the world, or that sub-adult world that occurs between high school and after college. It's also an intriguing comparison between love and fire, how they leave scars on our bodies, how they impact our lives, how they change us for better or for worse. It certainly leans towards the darker side of college, the drinking and the possibly dangerous situations, but at the end it is all about Allison, about her journey to figure out what kind of person she is, scars and all.At the beginning, Allison is really damaged, apart from the scars. She's ready to leave high school behind, all the people she knew and cared about and didn't care about, and she's ready to find new social circles to be a part of. But one of Allison's big flaws is how anti-social she is, and once she's alone at college she's pulled into a world that contains a lot of making friends and partying. Is that what college really is about? There are times when she goes to her classes, times when she does homework and exams, but not as much as I expected.Of course, everything takes a back seat when she meets Shar. It's such a spectacularly complicated relationship, Allison and Shar. She appears like a flash, quickly becomes the centre of everything, and takes over. It's messy, it's harsh, it's a semi-pseudo-romance, it's impossible to define, and it leaves Allison struggling to figure it all out.College does give you the change to reinvent yourself, especially if you move away and live in a dorm. Odds are, no one will know anything from your past, none of the bad sides and the rumours. It's a chance for Allison to start over, which, given her hangups and social issues.Love and fire and college, all three have their similarities. They can be harsh, painful, dangerous. They can be cleansing, a new experience. They can scar you for life and wipe away the past so you can focus on the future. Life-changing events happen. You just have to be able to come out on the other side, no matter if you've gained a new scar or two. Allison's story is an honest one, a very honest one, and hopefully readers will appreciate that.

The Diviners

The Diviners - Libba Bray Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring hometown and shipped off to the busy streets of New York, and she couldn't be more thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces. Soon enough, she's rubbing elbows with Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her uncle, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, otherwise known as the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. When a rash of occult-based murders starts up, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of things, and through it all, Evie displays a mysterious ability, one that could help catch the killer... if he doesn't catch her first.The Diviners is like an epic mystery highlighting an important and wondrous period in New York's rich history. Copious amounts of glitter, glamour, and 1920's female sass fill the pages and mix together with a supernatural murder mystery that spans decades to create something huge. And it is huge, judging by its page length. The length provides extensive detail, backstory, and mystery for the reader, but the reader will have to stick with it, stick with the snippits of secrets and the shifts between different main and supporting characters to reach the end.A compliment I can give to Libba Bray is that the entire book, not just certain characters or locations or events, read like it came out of New York in the 1920's. The voices of the characters and the tone of the book both sound so authentic, down to the little mannerisms and the slang words. And there are lots of characters with their own little authentic mannerisms. The summary is a little misleading, the book isn't all about Evie and her experience with the mysterious killings, but it possible that it comes with the third person point of view and the length of the book, objectively being shown multiple sides of the story but not revealing everything. It moves moment by moment, only showing the readers as much as they need until the end.I was surprised at how dark and dangerous the paranormal side turned out to be, how evil the shadows could be. Taking Evie and her happy-go-lucky life's a party attitude into account, the book was far darker than I expected. It was an exciting surprise for me, but I'm not sure how other readers will feel.Evie and her adventures do take up a fair amount of the book, but there's also Memphis and his less than legal dealings and his less than happy home life. Then there's the greater side characters, Evie's friends and her uncle. Then there's the dark shadowed side committing gruesome murders. Then there's the lesser side characters, the few who appear only half a dozen times who have their moments which either continue the story, filling a small gap, or set up a slew of questions that might be answered in a future book.The length of the book and the weaving in of the paranormal and the intrigue make me curious about the author's outlining process. It's such a complicated and heavily-plotted out book, I can only imagine the amount of outlining and world-building, the background research that had to be looked up. There are hints of connections with everything and everyone. Evie, Sam, Theta, Memphis, Jericho. Almost everyone that's mentioned has a connection to someone else, to the murders, to what's happened and what's to come.Enough was given and and enough was held back to set up what's to come in the series, but there's a lot to remember. So many characters are important, main and side characters, and they all have secrets of their own so there's no way of knowing which will shape the rest of the series and which won't. Before the next book comes out, a re-read of this first book might be in order.

Dark Kiss (Nightwatchers Series #1)

Dark Kiss - Michelle Rowen Samantha doesn't really do dangerous. She's smart and super careful, but she just could pass up a kiss from her secret crush. But then things started to feel different, like she was always hungry. And not for food. Part of her is missing. Then she meets Bishop, a confused street kid look-alike with loads of secrets. But something's moving into Trinity, and Bishop might be the only one who can help Sam before she loses herself to the darkness.Dark Kiss wasn't the book I expected when I first started reading. I knew there would be mystery and intrigue, loads of teenage girl angst and confusion, but I didn't expect the urban fantasy tweak that I ended up with. Rowen put enough of her own spin on angels and demons to keep me interested, to keep me turning the page. Coupled with funny one-liners, this book was enjoyable to read. It's something I prefer, characters with sass and snark when facing down angels, demons, and the prospect of having your soul sucked out of your body.Readers are given a rather authentic misfit teenage girl voice when they meet Sam. She's intelligent and careful and oh so cautious, right until that kiss, right until she meets Bishop and everything does a massive 180 degree turn. There was a moment in the book where a discussion got a bit serious and Sam, after asking a question and getting an answer, went and freaked out like a normal teenage would. That moment was great. No false bravado, no faking it. Characters who realize their fears, who know they have them and still struggle to keep on going, are awesome. Everyone's afraid of something, but you still have to man up, or girl up in Sam's case, and face it.There's nothing new these days in urban fantasy, but twists and tweaks and unique interpretations are always welcome. Rowen took angels, demons, and the idea of stealing someone's soul and changed it just enough to stand out. In a way, it reminds me of Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal, but it other ways is doesn't. I don't think this series will be as dark.I kept reading this book all the way to the end because I wanted to know what was going on. I needed to know. At times there was just enough information to fill in some blanks, at others there were hints and guesses. I always wanted to know where the story was going, what made Sam so special, what had happened to Bishop, and why everything was happening. At the end, I was left cursing the fact that, while the book had an ending, I still have to wait for the next book in the series.

Above

Above - Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, blonde hair shining and bee's wings falling away. They live together in Safe, a refuge deep underground for those fleeing the harsh city Above, like Whisper who speaks to ghosts, like Atticus who has thick claws for hands, like Jack Flash, shooting lightning from his fingertips. But one night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of Shadows, and only Matthew and Ariel, with a few friends, escape Above. Forced to survive in a dangerous place, Matthew strives to unravel the mystery of the shadows and Safe's own history, because he knows he has to find a way to rebuild Safe, not just for him or his friends, but for Ariel, who comes face to face with the life she ran away from.Above is pulled from the depths of imagination, a gorgeously written story that's both unbelievably magical and undeniably real. This book left me feeling weighed down, emotional and fractured. I have so many words and feelings about this book, but they feel dry and useless.You're in the dark when it starts, knowing not a single thing. Not about Safe, not about Matthew (except that he can Pass), not about Ariel or Atticus or Jack Flash, not about the others and their Curses, and not about Above. You've been sent into Safe blind with Matthew as your guide, but it's okay. Matthew is so wonderful as a narrator that you almost don't mind. His voice is perfect, giving just enough, hiding what doesn't need to be said. A voice so knowledgeable, but also so hauntingly sad and sweet. A little lyrical, a little poetic, and honest to the core.There's no background information cluttering up the story unless Matthew wants you to know about it. It's his purpose to Tell, and all he Tells you is what's happening at that moment, what he sees and hears. Because of that, you're thrown straight into his world, into his head, following him through the old and new sewers under the city Above, searching and running, racing to survive and keep Safe.Ariel is Matthew's gorgeous and fragile mystery, iridescent bee's wings like honey drawing him in. He's so in love with her, the scent of it sickly-sweet and cloying. Anything for Ariel, anything to keep her with him, to keep her away from Above, to stay with her and love her.Days after reading this book, I was still thinking about it. About what everyone went through, all the heartache and the struggles to keep Safe, the struggle to find a place to belong in a world that rejects them. What struck me the most, what cut the deepest, is how real Above felt. It felt like it was happening now. Not in a world past or a world to come, but now. Right now. And that both fascinates me and terrifies me.This book is not an easy book, not simple. It started soft and sweet and cautious, turned wary, draped in shadow, and became a Tale I never saw coming when forever passed in a moment. Never in a million years did I imagine that at the end of this book I would be left breathless. Both gorgeous and heartbreaking, Above is a world of mystery, full of creatures more human than humans and emotions so honest I was left wondering if it was reality and not fiction. So real and so magical, it took nothing for me to fall in love.

Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine - Brenna Yovanoff The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, birds are dying, and someone in a peaceful suburban community is killing girls. For Hannah, the summer is complicated. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago and Hannah wants everything to go back to normal. But things can't be normal when Lillian's ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders. Hannah's trying to understand why her friend self-destructed and where she fits in among the social elite now that Lillian is gone. And she needs to stop thinking about Finny Boone, an enigmatic delinquent whose hobbies include petty larceny and random acts of kindness. With the city in a panic, Hannah finds herself drawn to a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. Only by confronting the Valentine Killer will Hannah be able to move on, and it's up to her to put the pieces together before he strikes again.Paper Valentine brings a welcome and bitter chill to a hot summer's day. Oh so spooky and oh so dangerous, the book is descriptive and lush with detail, lush with hauntings and murders and one girl's reluctant quest to find whoever is responsible. A sweet and sad story about love, death, and friendship.Hannah feels like such a lost girl, broken by the loss of Lillian, left to wander aimlessly and attempt to navigate the small spaces her other friends have left for her. With Lillian gone, where does Hannah fit in now? With Lillian gone, Hannah has no strength, no power, and her other friends see this as a chance to take over the top spot. There are reluctant characters, and there's Hannah, pushed into a search for a murderer by an angry and emotional ghost. Then there's the intriguing, no good, must be avoided at all cost Finnegan Boone who's keeping some secrets of his own.The story of the dead girls takes over Ludlow, pushes fear into the hearts of mothers and fathers and daughters alike. One question rings true throughout the book and kept me guessing right to the end: who is the murderer?Sharing the spotlight with the Valentine Killer is Hannah's relationship with Lillian. It seems to me more like an alpha versus an omega, the stronger personality dominating the meeker one, but both girls are battered and bruised in different ways. Hannah always had Lillian for support, but now she's been left alone after her death, left to find her own place. Lillian has lost most of her strength after she died, lost her presence, but she still needs Hannah to be her arms and legs, to find out what happened.When I read a book written by Brenna Yovanoff, I'm always overwhelmed by wonderfully poetic and emotional storytelling. Such realistic and honest and flawed characters, everyone is flawed in some way, and it's those flaws, those bruises and scars, that make this book so moving. There is beauty in the darkness of this book, a gorgeous story where danger and death stay close.

Darkwater

Darkwater - Catherine Fisher Sarah would give anything to regain the power and wealth her family lost, so she makes a deal with Azrael, Lord of Darkwater Hall. He gives her a chance to accomplish her objective, providing the time and the means, all in exchange for her soul. Fast-forward one hundred years to Tom, a young boy who dreams of going to Darkwater Hall School but doesn't believe he has the talent. Until he meets the new professor, Azrael, who offers him a bargain. Will Sarah somehow be able to stop Tom from making the same mistakes she did?Darkwater is rather dark and mysterious, an exploration into the price of knowledge and the value of the soul. The book is two stories about two characters, two lessons that could lead to the same horrible outcome.Both Sarah and Tom have their similarities, but they're not the same character. Sarah's on a mission to restore her family's former glory and Tom wants to find a place of his own in his small town and move on from the bullies while figuring out the odd situation his brother is in. Unfortunately for the book, I was far more interested in Sarah's story than Tom's.Perhaps the biggest question in the book is who is Azrael. No one really knows what he's after. He's looking for someone to help him find something. That something is possibly scientific and almost definitely impossible, but that doesn't stop him. Anything can be discovered, given enough time.The book takes place in two time periods giving it both a historical feel and a present day feel. Again, since I preferred Sarah over Tom, I preferred the historical setting more, but the present day setting felt more complicated. This is possibly due to every important character being there: Sarah, Tom, Tom's brother, and Azrael.What is the price of knowledge and power? What must be sacrificed to have one of the other, or both? Would you sacrifice your own soul?

Hemlock

Hemlock - Mac and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was murdered. Since then, Mac's life has done a 180 degree flip. Amy is haunting her dreams and an extremist group has come to town to hunt Amy's killer: a white werewolf. Lupine syndrome, known as the werewolf virus, is on the rise. Many try to hide their symptoms, but sometimes it's hard to control the bloodlust. To put an end to her nightmares, Mac investigates Amy's murder only to find secrets in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy's boyfriend Jason, Mac's friend Kyle, and Amy herself. Mac soon ends up in the deep end, thrown into a mass of betrayal and violence that puts her life at risk.Hemlock is dangerous and deadly, mysterious, oddly haunting, and oddly romantic. It flowed smoothly, sweeping me into Mac's world, her story and her worries and emotions.Mac is so full of teen angst and outrageous stubborn concern over what happened to Amy and who or what killed her. The lack of definitive answers sucks for Mac. And then there's some stupid boy confusion over Jason and Kyle, both of them battered boys that you can't help but fall for, that Mac can't help but want to put back together, Jason because of Amy's death and Kyle because he's been acting strange. But she wants to put them back together for the sake of their friendship, because she wants something in her life to be normal after Amy's death. If something happens to shift from friendship to romance... that's another story. it would complicate things so much more for Mac.What intrigued me the most about this book was Kathleen Peacock's twist on werewolves. Calling it lupine syndrome almost makes it sound legitimate, like an actual disease or condition. Then came the prejudice over having the disease, the talks of camps. It makes the werewolves feel degraded, less than human, and gave more power to the story. It's quite well known that people fear the unknown, what they don't understand, what isn't normal, and in this world, where humans fear werewolves and want to hunt them down, the fear and hatred felt very real.When can you tell someone the truth about yourself, about the choices you made? When is it okay to lie to them in the name of protecting them, in the name of hiding it in the shadows where no one can find it unless they poke around? Keeping secrets can be dangerous, it could even kill you.Love. Can you help who you love when you know their secrets? Can you hide it when it keeps someone safe? When is it okay to lie in the name of love when the odds are good that it will backfire?Hemlock was so much what I wanted when I started reading. I wanted werewolves, I wanted danger and death and fighting, I wanted brutal fights and spilled blood, and yes, I wanted some teenage angst because what's a YA book without it. I wanted that splash of romance that blended with the werewolf aspect but didn't bring it down. To me, this book is more supernatural and mystery and thriller with some romance weaved into it. There is no depth to the amount of want I have for the next book in this series.

Soulbound (The Legacy of Tril Series #1)

Soulbound - Heather Brewer In Tril, there are Barrons who fight the war against the evil Graplar King and Healers who heal the Barrons. Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. At the Shadow Academy, it's against protocol for Healers to be trained to fight. So Kaya learns in secret, but there are barriers. Like the Barron she becomes Bound to, a guy who follows the rules, the golden boy of the Academy. Like the mysterious instructor seemingly hellbent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Only one of them will agree to train her, and once that happens, the consequences could change everything.Soulbound is action-packed and mysterious, a fantasy novel that feels like a fantasy novel in terms of world building and society but without a lot of magic. Still, the author makes up for the lack of spells and magical powers with Barrons and Healers, with connections, with being Bound and being Soulbound.Kaya ends up on a journey she doesn't want to take. From her parents' home, from the only life she's known, from hiding that she's a Healer born to two Barrons, to the Shadow Academy, to being treated like something precious with kid gloves, to being told her life's purpose is to heal the Barron she's Bound to. And she doesn't want that, she doesn't want to be helpless. She doesn't want to be told that if something goes wrong in a life or death situation, she doesn't need to learn how to keep herself alive. And she doesn't really know what to do with the two new guys in her life, one who likes her and one who constantly rubs her the wrong way. It made for some fun exchanges between her and each guy.There's some interesting world building in this book. Fantasy often seems more complex than urban fantasy or contemporary in terms of world building. Sure, authors can base the setting off of actual places and events, but they still have to craft everything else from the ground up, from societal norms and rules to class structure to units of money and measurement to buildings and languages and names and terms.There was one thing that kept be from liking this book more than I could've, and that's how the Academy that Kaya is sent to kept having this high school feel because of one character in particular, a jealous pretty girl who wants what/who she can't have. Everything else in this book was interesting, but this one girl bothered me too much. It's a little upsetting when one character has a knack of spoiling the parts of the book she's in. It's a good thing Maddox was there to provide some slightly bitter girl sass, her I liked.There might've been less magic than I've come to expect from a fantasy, but maybe this was like a wake-up, that fantasy doesn't have to be packed with magical abilities. There's still being Bound and being Soulbound, and the differences between Barrons and Healers, as well as an intriguing setting and an ending that blew everything Kaya thought she knew straight out the window.

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden Series #1)

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden Series #1) - Allison survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city, by scrounging for food during the day. Some days, it's her hatred of them, the vampires, that keeps her going, but then one night she's attacked and she has to make the ultimate choice. Die, or become a vampire. Faced with her own looming mortality, Allie becomes what she hates, and to survive she has to learn the rules of being immortal. But then she's forced to flee into the unknown, into the wilds of the world outside the city she's always known, and falls in with a group of humans seeking a legend, a cure for the rabid creatures that threaten both the vampires and the humans. But it isn't always easy to pass as human, especially around a certain boy, and Allie has to decide what, or who, is worth dying for.The Immortal Rules is a refreshing vampire YA novel in a saturated market. Fast-paced and exciting, readers are always on a journey with Allison, the human turned semi-reluctant vampire. The concept is nothing new, a human turned and hiding her vampirism from other humans, but the author has tweaked it enough that, mixed with the dystopic/post-apocalyptic disease setting, the book isn't left feeling old and stale. This book has a uniqueness that will help it stand out and grab hold of readers.The most surprising and enjoyable element of this book was the pacing. It was almost always fast and moving. When it wasn't, it wasn't moments of stalling but instead times of contemplation for Allie. Who wouldn't need time to think and learn about being a vampire?Allie has loads of guts and strength. Some reluctant vampires are bothersome, no one really wants to spend their time reading a book about someone filled to the brim with complaints and self-pity, but Allison was different. It wasn't that she was necessarily thrilled to be a vampire, but she didn't spend most of the book harping on it. It was like she had a kind of tenuous understanding, that all the wishing in the world wasn't going to turn back time, that she couldn't snap her fingers and be human again, scrounging for food and struggling to survive and stay Unregistered.There's an old world feel to the book, most likely brought on by the ruins of the cities, the starvation, the desperation, but it didn't feel ancient or medieval. It's very much a ruined future for the human race in a familiar setting. I'm noticing this more and more, dystopian novels taking place within 100 years of the current date. In that time, there will be differences, but hopefully not enough to completely alienate readers, make them feel like they're reading something that takes place thousands of years in the future.I don't always want to talk about book length, but I'm curious if books are getting longer. I don't think with this book it's an issue. Yes, it's fairly big, and yes, there's a lot of action and confusion and Allie's philosophical musings on being human and being a vampire, but with this story I feel it worked. There were points where I thought the story could've ended, but not enough had happened. So much does happen to Allie in this book, but everything moved along at a quick pace. There was rarely enough time for Allie to catch her breath, if she felt like breathing at all.This book was something new and fresh, standing out amongst all the other YA novels with vampire characters. Hopefully, readers will give it a try. I imagine fans of the authors previous work, The Iron Fae series, will also enjoy this.

Incarnate

Incarnate - Ana is new, not one of the million souls reincarnated over and over. She has no memories of past lives, no experiences. But when she was born, the temple went dark and one of those million souls vanished. Ana's mother Li thinks she's a nosoul, a bad luck omen, and kept her away from society. To escape and to learn whether or not she'll be reincarnated, Ana heads for the city of Heart. Sam believes her new soul is good, and he stands up for her when others would rather cast her out. But can he love someone who might only live once? Will Ana's search threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?Jodi Meadows' debut was sweet like a whisper, an effortless joy to read. Futuristic but oddly rustic, mysterious, and the additions of creatures like dragons and sylphs made the book rather fantastical.Ana was rather interesting as well. Filled with despair, she was self-depreciating, she didn't enjoy being alive. The little unique bits of herself were masked by the horrid way she was raised by Li, the mother who never loved her and instead saw her as something to be feared and hated, something abnormal, something wrong and unnatural. Not human. A monster.Ana wasn't effortless in the book, she didn't glide and instead plodded along in careful steps, like a puppy still waiting to be loved but constantly ignored and dismissed. She was so stubborn and hard-hearted in the beginning, she had every reason to lie and hide herself from the people in Heart because of how different she was. But she was so alone as well.By contrast, Sam was the rather experienced boy in a young body. He'd seen it all, he'd even been a girl a time or two, and he was willing to help Ana. But she couldn't understand why, not after Li and not knowing how the world actually works, and so they rubbed each other the wrong way for a little while.The idea of souls living on and reincarnation isn't new, but being a new soul after a million have been returning for 5000 years is. Jodi Meadows uses Ana to show us how it is to be a stranger in a strange land, a thorn in the paw of the inhabitants of Heart, a reminder of a man's strange experiments. Some would rather forget Ana existed, they'd rather they never would have to deal with her, but you can't turn someone like Ana away. At the beginning, they were as she is, and after those 5000 years of lifetimes, you'd think one of them might have a glimmer or a glimpse of a memory of what it was like to know nothing of the world. To know nothing of people and truth and lies.Unique and enchanting, intriguing, an exploration of self and what it means to be alive and matter, what is it to be new surrounded by experienced and ancient. A wonderful blend of romance, fantasy, and paranormal elements.

Endlessly (Paranormalcy Series #3)

Endlessly - Kiersten White

The life Evie once had keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants her back, will drag her back by any means possible. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her realm, stealing them from the human world. Reth is still around like the handsome, manipulative ex-boyfriend that he is, attempting to lure Evie away from her watery boyfriend Lend. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one that can save them. The clock is ticking. And fate rests in Evie's hands, no matter how much she wishes it didn't.Endlessly delivered the big conclusion that the end of Supernaturally promised but it wasn't boring. It was still exciting like past books, still full of twists and turns, still packed with all of Evie's personality, all of her spunkiness, frustration, and general bubbly teen girl angst. This series feels like a mixture of Aprilynne Pike's Wings series and Buffy the Vamprie Slayer, moments of action and despair and fear blended together with pink fun and faeries.I was intrigued with the character development of Evie in this last book. Her purpose as an Empty One is at odds with her desire to not be an Empty One, to be a normal boring human being and to live a normal human life with Lend (who's as close to normal as can be with a human father and an elemental mother). She needs a moment of self-discovery where she can realize her purpose and come to terms with it instead of being angry at the world for having a plan for her. Sometimes Fate has a job for us, and as much as we don't want to follow along with it, we have to. Evie can be as snarky and spunky and strong as she wants, but when it comes to acknowledging herself as an Empty One and her abilities, she's a frightened little girl. Basically, Evie needs to grow up in this book, or nothing's going to come out right at the end.There were lots of familiar faces in this book, but there was a little drop-off in how much Lend was in the book. I suppose I figured he'd be in more of the book, have some more conflicts with Reth over Evie, but it didn't really happen for me. There were still moments for he and Evie to get pulled apart, as usual. And Reth had to come back and still claim to love Evie even though it's creepy to follow her around so much. I enjoyed the return of Jack as well as the return of Vivian.White started the series with a bang and ends it just the same. I'm sure that some fans will be sad to see it end, will want to know if Evie and Lend end up in more trouble later on, but hopefully they will be satisfied with the way things have turned out for Evie.

Demon Catchers of Milan, The (Demon Catchers of Milan - Trilogy)

The Demon Catchers of Milan - Kat Beyer Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the worst way possible when she's suddenly possessed by a powerful and dangerous demon, only to be saved by distant relatives from Italy. Now her cousins say the only way to keep her safe is to take her back to Milan, to live and to learn Italian, and to master the family trade: fighting all kinds of demons with bells, books, and candles. Milan is not what Mia expected to find, but it will change her forever, her ancestral home the only place she can find salvation.The Demon Catchers of Milan is mysterious and feels old world, the cultured setting of Milan adding depth to the atmosphere. It features a different take on demons, ones who possess innocent people and are exorcised through tradition passed down through generations, and while it was well-paced with good tense moments, there wasn't a lot of action.The beginning was interesting enough, a glimpse into Mia's life in Milan, but then it went back in time to her possession in her home in the US, back before she ended up in Milan. My hopes that it was just a brief flashback sunk when it continued. While it did provide backstory and set up Mia's character, as well as those around her, I wasn't that interested, and I was never sure when that initial moment in Milan actually occurred.It is a unique twist on demons and possessions, on spirits and exorcisms. Not necessarily heavy on religion but more on tradition, more on history and ability, the ability to free the sufferers and trap the demons, to see the messengers and go where they are needed. The demons mixed with Milan's historical setting and the rich Italian history made the book fresh and interesting in that sense.Unfortunately, there were moments when Mia wasn't working out as the main character for me. Even though she understands why she has to go to Milan, understands (in some way) why the Della Torre family do what they do, she whined too much at times for my liking. She didn't know how to speak Italian, didn't know how to read it, didn't know any history, didn't know how to defend herself after the possession, but when she was told what she had to do, she complained about all the studying. I do understand that it's part of the teenage mentality, rejecting massive amounts of dry and boring texts that have been pushed on you to study, but still, she was a bit of a whiner until she figured some things out. And it wasn't all her fault, the family purposely kept her in the dark, waiting until she figured it out on her own, and kept her in the house.It wasn't until the ending that I realized that this book is clearly the beginning of a series. Once I got to the ending, everything before felt a little like a set up, like Mia first had to come to terms with her possession, with being in Milan, with being a demon catcher and all it entailed.This book reminded me very much of Flirting in Italian, both with the Italian setting and culture and the way the story flowed into a semi-ending kind of ending, an internal resolution ending that's set the reader up for the next book. That being said, I did enjoy this book for its setting and its twists on demons and possession. Maybe not Mia, but perhaps it was just how I saw her that I had issues with. Perhaps, if there is a second book, Mia will be much stronger and take a stand instead of complaining a bit too much.

Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky - Exiled from her home in the enclosed dome of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the wasteland, the Death Shop, are slim. Very slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent electrical storms will. She's been taught that the air outside the domes will kill her if she breathes it in. Then she meets a wild Outsider, a savage, who becomes her only chance at staying alive. As a hunter, Perry sees this frightened Dweller girl as a risk, as sheltered and useless, but he needs her in order to find redemption. Opposites in every way, they have to accept each other in order to survive.Under the Never Sky is a compelling blend of the dystopian, the futuristic, and the fantastical. Wandering a landscape both desolate and extremely dangerous, two people from different sides must come together to make sure not only they survive but so many others. Similar to other dystopian novels, it has elements that make it stand out on its own.It was slow to start for me, it actually took me three tries to get into the book, but once I got past it I couldn't stop reading it. I think that my issues with the beginning came from the fact that I wanted more descriptions of the world around Aria and Perry, more setting and less of them treating each other as something to be wary of. Perhaps I wanted Moira Young's Blood Red Road or Jeyn Roberts' Dark Inside and their unique landscapes. Again, after a bit it picked up, the book got more interesting and much more complicated.Aria and Perry. As much as I like both of them, enjoyed both of their characters, it was the classic pairing of a scared sheltered girl with secrets in her past that she doesn't know about and the rough and dangerous guy who has friend and family but is still an outcast because of abilities he can't control. I found the heightened senses aspect to be possibly the most intriguing part of the book, with the exception of side character Cinder. Side characters that do one thing to stand out amongst the others are some of the best parts of stories.The book has an interesting premise, mixing the futuristic and technological with the desolate and the basic need for survival of clans of hunter-gatherers, the dangerous Aether storms. It is reminiscent of other novels set in an unknown future where the world is vastly different and complicated, a little like Jodi Meadows' Incarnate, but I'm curious as to where the next book will go, what else Aria and Perry will learn about the world and themselves.

Immortal City

Immortal City - Scott Speer Jackson is the hottest young Angel in a city full of them and he's days away from becoming a Guardian. People around the world are hoping to be watched over by him. Everyone is obsessed with the Angels, except for Maddy. She's possibly the only girl who doesn't watch the TV shows or read the gossip blogs, so when she first meets Jackson, she has no idea who he is. But he's captivated by her. Maddy's quickly caught up in Jackson's world, a bright flash of glamour, red carpets, and now murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for police to find. Even the Guardians are powerless, and it might be up to Maddy to save Jackson.Immortal City was interesting to say the least. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much, I'm not a fan of books that focus on fame, reality TV shows, gossip, and paparazzi, but there was enough mystery and intrigue to keep me reading. It also didn't hurt that there were some unexpected plot twists, those are always appreciated.But I'm torn between taking this book one of two ways in terms of the fame and popularity aspect. I can either take it seriously, like this is how the world treats its celebrities and reality stars and fawns over them for doing nothing but look good, or as satire because of the outrageous antics of the reporters, gossip columnists, and Angel fans. I would love to take it as satire, as the author poking fun.There's a clear class distinction in this book between the privileged and the rest of society, the haves and have-nots (to borrow a cliché from high school). There will always be more than one side of any situation. In this book we have Jackson who's always had everything handed to him and everything expected of him, and we have Maddy who's as normal as can be and struggling, maybe not struggling to stay above the poverty line but struggling all the same. Everyone has their own opinion of normality, about a normal life and what's normal to them, but when you try and force your way onto someone else, someone who doesn't want it, you run the risk of ruining what someone's worked hard for. Both Jackson and Maddy have to learn this.The purpose of the Guardians is to watch over normal humans and protect them, but only the rich humans, only those who can afford it. I'm curious if the author was making a comparison between the Angels saving lives for money and the heath care system.The idea of fame is interesting, of being recognized wherever you go. Not everyone wants it. Jackson's always had it, but Maddy's happy enough without it, with living a normal life with normal struggled and high school and college. There's no pressure in her world, but in his, it could crush him if he's not strong enough.It was good that there was some intrigue, some action in terms of the dead Angels' wings and the murders, the questions that kept arising, and the honest life or death aspect. Without it, it's possible I wouldn't have finished this book.I'm sure there will be some who liked it and some who didn't, some parts I enjoyed and others I found impossible and outrageous, some I expected and some I didn't. A certain crowd will enjoy this book, those who enjoyed L.A. Candy and the popularity aspect, those who enjoyed Hush, Hush and its angels, romance, and mystery.