Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Siege and Storm, This Is What Happy Looks Like, and Gravity

Goodreads summary:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


After completely falling in love with Shadow and Bone last year, I thought there was no way this sequel could be as good as the first book.  So I was thrilled to find that Siege and Storm is just as good, if not better, than Shadow and Bone.  This is fantasy at its finest.  The writing is perfectly paced, with gorgeous descriptions and action scenes that seem to fly off the page.  I love the magic in this book.  It's a little like Narnia for teens, and I absolutely love this inventive world that Bardugo has created.

I know most people don't like Mal, but I actually do want him and Alina to end up together.  He was a little too needy and moody in this book, but I still like him.  Sturmhond, however...let's just say he is completely swoon-worthy.  I don't know of a single person who's read this book and not fallen in love with him.  And Alina is such a likeable heroine.  This is such a captivating sequel - definitely not a sophomore slump.  I can't wait for the final book, Ruin and Rising!

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

This is an adorable little contemporary.  Although I enjoyed this author's previous work, I was a little wary of this one - I can't stand books where the main character falls in love with a celebrity.  It's usually pretty cheesy, but Jennifer E. Smith pulls it off well in this book.  I love how she portrays Graham as a genuinely nice guy who hates being famous, and points out that being a celebrity isn't as glamorous and thrilling as one might think.

This is quite lighthearted, but I also like the thoughtful questions about life that are asked.  I like the emails back and forth between Graham and Ellie, and I like their definitions of what happy looks like.  And even though the book's a little over 400 pages, which is pretty long for a contemporary, there was never a boring moment.  I finished this book with a smile on my face.  Very cute read, and recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

In the future, only one rule will matter:

Don’t. Ever. Peek.

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.


This book was just meh.  Almost a 2.5 rating.  Maybe?  I don't know.  There were times I wanted to slap Ari for being so oblivious.  I didn't like the writing style, it felt too chunky and slow (although as far as I've seen, no one else has a problem with it, so it could be just me).  And the insta-love?  Gag.  But the plot was pretty inventive and nicely thought-out.

Most of the time I didn't like Ari because she was so impulsive and made awful choices.  But I thought it was kind of fun that she's grown up being taught how to fight, so it's nice that she actually uses her skills and doesn't stand off to the side whining.  And thankfully, despite the romance being full of clich├ęs and insta-love, it's not the main focus of the story.  There's plenty of action, too.  So in the end, this book had both bad and good points.  I'm not too crazy about it, but I don't hate it either.  I wouldn't recommend it personally, but lots of others have loved it.  I think it's just a "it's not you, it's me" thing.

My rating:  3 (leaning towards 2.5) out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

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