Review: Passenger

20983362

Passenger

By: Alexandra Bracken

Pages: 486

Genre: YA Historical Fiction, YA Time Travel, YA Romance

Personal Age Rating: 15+

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis:

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

My Review (spoiler free!):

“Look lively, we’ve a journey to make.”

Passenger was everything I wanted and everything I didn’t know I needed. This novel is truly stunning, filled with a captivating story, beautiful prose and wonderful main characters. I had high expectations going into this book because it is written by one of my favorite authors, Alexandra Bracken, but I had little knowledge on what specifically this book was about. After reading Passenger, I can best characterize it as a treasure hunt through time, filled with an epic romance and a lot of historical information: both real history and fictitious time travel history. This book is more focused on the historical impact of time travel rather than the scientific elements of it, which made it unique to other time travel books I have read and in my opinion, better. The story revolves around the main characters: Etta, a seventeen year old violinist from New York in 2015, and Nicholas, a pirate currently residing on the high seas of the Atlantic in 1776. This book is emotional, engrossing, and leaves you desperately awaiting the sequel to the dualogy.

If you have read Alexandra Bracken’s  dystopian trilogy, The Darkest Minds, you know she has a knack for weaving words in the most impossibly beautiful way. Bracken really stepped up her game in this novel… the writing is even better and more profound than that of her previous books, but it also shows a different facet of her talent. While The Darkest Minds is narrorated in first person and is filled to the brim with fast-paced action, Passenger is told in third-person and is definitely a slower paced read. I’ve noticed that many YA readers seem to have an aversion to slower paced books, but I can’t understand why. Just because a story just takes more time to establish and gives more information to process doesn’t make it bad! In this case, it just allows readers to soak the story in and enjoy the beautiful writing and fantastic plot. Point being: Don’t refuse to give this book a shot if you have heard it is slow and you are an action reader. You will miss out!

Another obvious strength of Passenger is the romance. Although romances typically add to a book’s enjoyment level, the romantic relationship between Nicholas and Etta truly enhanced the plot and the characters themselves. Nicholas is honorable, intelligent, and stoic, although sensitive when he lets his guard down. Etta is fierce and determined, but still kindhearted. Because of the way the differences and similarities of the characters collided, I literally fell in love with the idea of Etta and Nicholas being together from the moment they met, and I continued to root for them throughout the novel. Both Etta and Nicholas are struggling with different guilts, goals, and shortcomings, and it is beautiful to see both characters overcome, or wish to overcome these obstacles in order to be together. There are also a lot of really great messages that are (mostly) communicated through the romantic relationship that I was happy to see. Their love is one that transcends all boundaries, and I really, really adored their relationship. Definitely one of my new favorite literary couples!

Something that makes this story so exciting is that it seems as if anything can happen. You never know where the story will go next! From oceans, to jungles, to the 1500s-modern day, this story truly travels all over the world AND all over time. It gave me serious wanderlust! In addition, the world created in Passenger as it relates to time travel is intricate and unique to anything I have ever read before. It is obvious that a lot of time and thought went into planning and executing the novel.

And of course, since it’s me, I have to add I love the literary elements in this book. There is a significant amount of subtle foreshadowing that comes into play later in the book that is very important. And also, since it’s still me, I have to commend Alexandra Bracken for the insane amount of research that must have gone into writing this book!

My only complaint about this book is that I would have liked to see Etta & Nicholas interact with more characters throughout their journey. Bracken is GREAT at writing characters, so I was disappointed that this book revolved so heavily around the MCs.

I am beyond excited for Wayfarer, the final book in this dualogy! I think it has potential to be even better than Passenger, which is definitely going to be a difficult feat!

If you have read Passenger, what is your favorite scene? One of my favorites has to be Etta and Nicholas’s first conversation aboard his ship. I really adored how much respect they already had for each other in that moment!

Thank you for reading my review! I appreciate all of your support!

<3, Brittany

 

 

Review: The Heart of Betrayal

21569527

The Heart of Betrayal

By: Mary E. Pearson

Pages: 470

Genre: YA Fantasy

Personal Age Rating: 14+

Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Synopsis:

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

My Review:

“The rules of reason build towers that reach past the treetops. The rules of trust build towers that reach past the stars.”

The Heart of Betrayal is the exciting sequel to The Kiss of Deception, the first book in a young adult fantasy series that took the book community by storm last year. I read The Kiss of Deception this past summer and immensely enjoyed it, but did not pick up the sequel until now, and I am so glad I finally did.

This book elevates the intensity of the series to an entirely new level. The stakes are set incredibly high now that Lia and Rafe have been taken captive by the Vendans, and Lia must make sacrifices she never imagined possible. Because of this, The Heart of Betrayal takes on a tangible intensity that its predecessor lacked. This book is better than the first in almost every aspect: Extensive world-building, a more intriguing and all-encompassing plot, difficult choices that result in character development, and of course, unforeseen and bitter betrayal. Although the first book was by no means “lighthearted”, it certainly would be considered so compared to The Heart of Betrayal.

What I loved about this sequel was that it addressed all the things I wished for in my review for The Kiss of Deception. Let’s take a look back at my review this past July:

My only complaint about this book would be that the the plot is a bit weighted down by the love triangle. I have no problem with love triangles; I just feel that this story has so much potential to be solely focused on the love triangle. I am hoping that the next book allows a bit more world-building and character development, because the characters and world are already so rich and interesting.

A less prominent romance (focus on the plot), more character development, and fleshing out the wonderful fantasy world Ms. Pearson had created? This book gave all these things and more. I will discuss the romance in the spoilery section, but for now I will say that the romance took the backseat to the plot this time around, even becoming relevant and necessary to drive the plot itself. We were able to see Lia develop as a character, but yet there is still room for development in the last book. She is perceptive, intelligent, and strong-willed, but yet still compassionate and loving. We were able to learn Kaden’s backstory, which definitely makes you understand his behavior and even causes you sympathize with him. The only character we see little development from is Rafe, but I am expecting that in the next book. He got more time in the spotlight in The Kiss of Deception, anyway. And then we get to explore the supposedly savage kingdom of Venda, which is incredibly interesting and drenched with culture and history.

The last thing I will say in the “non-spoilery” section of this review that the history of the kingdoms weaves together in an interesting way throughout this novel. Lia comes to several realizations and it is fun to piece together the information as she does.

My only complaint about this book is that it had a tendency to be a bit slow, unlike its predecessor. I think the book could have included a lot more action or been much shorter, but it was still a fantastic book either way.

Overall, I highly recommend this series, it just continues to get better and better! Please do not read below unless you want to be spoiled or have already read The Heart of Betrayal!

Continue reading Review: The Heart of Betrayal

Review: Sekret

Sekret

By: Lindsay Smith

Pages: 341

Genre: YA Historical Fiction, YA Paranormal

Personal Age Rating: 15+

Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Synopsis:

Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia’s powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn’t the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.

Yulia is a survivor. She won’t be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won’t let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won’t become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.

My Review:

“You’ll be here longer than you like, you know. But not so long that you’ll lose yourself. I’m confident you’ll find your way.”

A psychic espionage novel set in Cold War era Russia? Consider me intrigued. Sekret perfectly blends history with paranormal elements to create a fictitious story that feels as if it could have actually happened in the Soviet Union in 1963.

It has been a while since the first book in a debut series has gotten me this excited. I am enamored by Lindsey Smith’s storytelling and the extent of research that was invested into making this book such a vivid representation of Communist Russia. The descriptions in this book allow for a perfect mental picture of the events as they play out. Sekret is a fresh breath of air in the Young Adult genre… it blends several YA tropes with innovative new ideas in order to create a book that is crisp and unique.

Yulia is recruited by the KGB when it is discovered that she can read the minds of the people she touches. The KGB is using teenage spies, second generation psychics, to protect the Soviet space program from American spies. Yulia, the daughter of a geneticist and biologist, is a smart, determined protagonist who uses her abilities and common sense to reason and solve problems. Yulia’s first priority is to protect her family, which is a concept that plays a vital role in this novel, but then spends the rest of the novel attempting to escape the KGB. Naturally, action and deception ensue.

Sekret is crafted like a puzzle; all the pieces are given to you, jumbled up in the beginning, but by the end of the book the picture is perfectly clear. Because of this, the first 100 pages or so can be confusing because of the massive amount of information given and characters introduced in a small time frame. Don’t let this turn you away: everything starts to make sense as the novel progresses. Characters become unique and differentiable, questions are answered, and the plot becomes clear. I appreciate that this book is written with an intelligent audience in mind. Smith assumes her readers have a common knowledge about Communist Russia, and that if they don’t know something, they will look it up (what a concept). Smith also does not feel the need to reiterate plot points and is able to drop subtle foreshadowing hints without giving the twists away, which is something that many YA authors have failed to master. I guessed one of the plot twists (yay!) but it was because I actually used my brain to figure it out, not because it was spelled out in the text.

Disclaimer: There is a love triangle, but it is not overbearing. It almost doesn’t even feel like a love triangle because it is obvious who Yulia wants to be with and there is evident chemistry between her that specific character. The romance is really sweet and extremely interesting with the psychic dynamic, but definitely takes second stage to the plot. I really like Yulia’s love interest and the complexity of his character. In fact, all the characters are wonderful and complex and add to the story in some way, even if it doesn’t seem like they will from the beginning.

Overall, Sekret is a fantastically written novel that is engrossing, thrilling, and deceptive. This book will require you to think, but if you are willing to put in the effort, I believe you will find it extremely enjoyable! I highly recommend Sekret and am looking forward to reading Skandal as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!

Review: Queen of Shadows

Well hello, my friends! It’s been almost two months since I have updated my blog and I am terribly sorry. Thank you all for sticking with me! I went on vacation, started my senior year of high school, and have been very busy keeping up with life. However, a book was recently released that I finished and LOVED and will be reviewing it today… Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Mass!

Queen of Shadows

By: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 645

Genre: YA Fantasy

Personal Age Rating: 15+

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

My Review:

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save for the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph”

Queen of Shadows is the highly anticipated fourth installment to the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. This novel combines the expected amount of thrilling action and adventure that readers of the Throne of Glass series have come to love as well as introducing an exciting cast of characters to add to the already incredible and diverse group that fans of the series have come to adore. If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I adore this series. Which is why you’re probably thinking: Why didn’t she give this book five stars?? Don’t get me wrong, I feel as if the book was definitely the most exciting and action-packed of the series, but I also feel that it is heavily lacking in the character development department.

Also, this is a side note, but I wanted to leave it out of the spoiler section. I would HIGHLY recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade novellas before reading Queen of Shadows. A lot of the content in this book references and pertains to the novellas and it will definitely enhance your QoS reading experience if you have those stories under your belt.

Do not read on if you have not yet read Queen of Shadows. There WILL be spoilers ahead, and I do NOT want to spoil you. Beyond this point is more of a spoilery discussion than a true “review”. Please, please go read this series, and then come back so we can talk about it! Because this book certainly left me with a lot to say.

Continue reading Review: Queen of Shadows

Review: P.S. I Still Love You

20698530

P.S. I Still Love You

By: Jenny Han

Pages: 337

Genre: YA Contemporary

Personal Age Rating: 15+

Rating: 3.25/5 stars

Synopsis: Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My Review:

“You’re not my best friend, You’re my sister, and that’s more.”

My very favorite thing about To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was the Song sisterhood, and that continued to be my favorite aspect of P.S. I Still Love You. I have also gained a persistent desire to bake, attend a 1940s party, and watch The Sound of Music. However, I found all the drama in this book highly frustrating. Everything in this book is everything I have and will always try to avoid in my high school experience. There will be spoilers ahead. Let me explain…

Continue reading Review: P.S. I Still Love You

Review: Ignite Me

 I13188676gnite Me

By: Tahereh Mafi

Pages: 408

Genre: YA Dystopian Romance

Personal Age Rating: 15+

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

My Review:

“Come back to life, love. I’ll be here when you wake up.” -Warner

Ignite Me embodies every aspect you could ever wish for in the final book of a series. It’s emotional, empowering, satisfying, and most importantly, the best book in the entire series. Young Adult Dystopian trilogies too often struggle with tying up the lose ends in the last book, leaving the reader with a dissatisfied feeling toward the series as a whole. The Shatter me series did NOT have this problem at all. Each book gets better and better, and the character development in each book is perfectly executed. If you haven’t read Shatter Me yet and need a bit of convincing, please check out my Shatter Me review. I did not review Unravel Me because I was too busy, but I gave it 4.75 stars in Goodreads. This review for Ignite Me will contain spoilers for the rest of the series, seeing as it is the last book, and I want you to be able to enjoy this masterpiece of a trilogy as much as I did!

Continue reading Review: Ignite Me

Review: Shatter Me

71GXQFa+RRLShatter Me

By: Tahereh Mafi

Pages: 338

Genre: YA Dystopian Romance

Personal Age Rating: 14+

Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

My Review:

“Laughter comes from living. I’ve never really been alive before.”

I know, I’m about the last person in the universe to hop on this bandwagon. I have constantly been told to read this book, and guess what, I finally did! Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is a refreshing change from what I have previously been reading and is exquisitely unique. Mafi is very much a visual writer, which is evident though the repetition, punctuation, strikethroughs, and use of numbers scattered throughout her prose. Not only is Mafi’s writing visual to the eye, but also visual to the mind, as it is drenched in flowery metaphors and vivid imagery. The beautiful writing is accompanied by a stellar story, filled with several interesting characters that provide potential for great character development as the series progresses. Here are some things that I loved about this book, and some things I didn’t particularly enjoy.

Continue reading Review: Shatter Me