Prodigy by Marie Lu

13414446I’m still misty-eyed after finishing Prodigy by Marie Lu, the second book in the Legend series. I really liked Legend and I liked Prodigy even more.

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

I had no idea where Marie Lu was going to go with this series but she totally blew my mind. Day and June are on the run from the Republic and with nowhere else to go, they turn to the Patriots for help.

I loved the depth of both Day and June that the reader gets to see in this book. Emotions are high and loyalties are tested. I really liked how its obvious both Day and June like each other, but it’s still evident that they’ve only known each other a short time. They’ve both risked everything to be together but their relationship is still growing. I love that it’s so natural and real.

Just like in the first book, I loved June’s critical, sharp mind. She is so badass. I loved being in her head, watching her assess each situation with calm calculation. It made her evaluation of her emotions and feelings that much more fun to read. With that said, I loved Day’s zest for life and justice. He wears his heart on his sleeve and I love that about him. The only thing I didn’t like was reading his sections in blue. I’m not sure why the publisher did that, but it makes it hard to read and, consequently,  incredibly distracting. Anden, the elector’s son, was so hard to hate after seeing his interaction with June.  I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t skip a beat when I saw the potential for a love triangle. I can’t wait to see where Lu takes this story.

The tension was high in this book. I found myself constantly worried about what would happen. There are a lot of close calls and twists. I thought I was going to have a heart attack a few times. In essence, this book is just as good if not better than the first. This book left my heart racing, tears flowing down my cheeks and an undeniable love for this series in my heart. I highly recommend this series and I can’t wait to read the next installment, Champion, which won’t be released until 2014.

STARS: 4 out of 5

The Immortal Rules By Julie Kagawa

Book one of the Blood Of Eden series, The Immortal Rules by Julie Kawaga, is one of those books that I put off reading because I didn’t care for Kawaga’s Iron Fey series. However, I read a recent review that reminded me the book existed and boasted a good read. So, I picked it up at my local library.

10215349In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.”Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of “them.” The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked–and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend–a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what–and who–is worth dying for.

The best thing about this book is the pacing. Throughout the story, Allison goes through many transitions. In each one, the reader is introduced to the characters and basically falls in love with them in just a few short pages and then BAM! — she moves on to the next transition and characters are falling like flies. I was surprised that Kawaga had the ability to make me fall in love with such short-lived characters with only a paragraph or two of back story. I give mad props to Kawaga for achieving such skills. I also appreciated that the main character, Allison, was constant throughout the transitions. She still possessed the strong-willed, sassy personality with bite that just progressed into pure awesome.

Kawaga created a world around Allison that seemed effortless. Now, looking back, I can see where it must have been incredibly complicated. Tied with the plot twists throughout the book, I felt like this story was well put together in every sense of the word. The characters were each distinct and the main character grew from the challenges and experiences.

I don’t know exactly how I feel about the romance between Allison and Zeke but I was definitely enthralled. It had all the elements of a young romance with sexual tension and sweet anticipation, but there was a strange difference that made me keep my distance from growing “feelings” about their relationship. I don’t know if it was because I knew Kawaga had a tendency to drop characters like flies or that the futility of the relationship just showed through, but I had a feeling that this love story would end tragically (NOT saying that it did, this is NOT a spoiler). Regardless, I really like Allison and Zeke but I wasn’t passionately rooting for them like I usually do with couples.

With that said, I really enjoyed this book. Since this story is set in the post-apocalyptic future, centuries worth of knowledge has been lost. The way Kawaga writes about some of Allison’s weird discoveries was hilarious at points. It was things that are common knowledge to us like Spaghetti-Os, SD cards, and automobiles. It definitely made me smile and I could almost visualize Kawaga sitting at her keyboard with a smirk on her face mentally patting herself on the back for her wit.

I would recommend this book. It definitely wasn’t at all what I was expecting and the plot took off in directions I wasn’t even anticipating. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Allison is one kick-ass heroine and I loved how sensible and down-to-earth she was about life as she knew it. It was a believable approach to a practical girl in an impractical situation. I’ll be checking out the next book, The Eternity Cure, which is released on April 23, 2013. (That’s the good thing about putting off a book, once you’ve read it the next book is already almost out!!!)

STARS: 4.5 out of 5

The Essence by Kimberly Derting

My first impression of The Essence, the sequel to The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, wasn’t the best. I struggled to get back in the story of Charlie, now Queen of Ludania, and her new life with her friends in the Palace.

12631512At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.

For some reason, I couldn’t remember who was who in this story, and Derting didn’t do a recap of her characters. I was a bit lost. Along those same lines, the characters from the first book are totally different in the second simply because now they have official titles and duties in the palace working for Charlie. This made it seem a bit forced from a character development aspect; I just couldn’t believe that her best friends were now her guard and important officials for an entire country.

 The story itself is a grand adventure. Charlie is traveling to the Summit to meet other Queens and discover new lands. During this process, someone is out to kill her. There was a strong element of mystery in this book and Derting alternated point of views, including the mysterious “killer,” which confused me in the end. There seemed to be no purpose to that character’s point of view. It didn’t add anything to the story, which made it seem like a token literary trick.

Overall, I enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it. The romance between Charlie and Max was still electric but there wasn’t much of it. There’s a blooming romance concerning Charlie’s best friend Brook, which was intriguing, but it came on so suddenly. I was so surprised; I must have missed some plot points earlier in the novel, or maybe they just weren’t there. I felt like this story was original but I couldn’t connect to the characters, even with the new element of alternating point of views.

The ending was very buttoned up. There was even an epilogue, which I found strange for the second book in a trilogy. Maybe I was expecting a cliffhanger? Derting provided enough build-up for the next book, leaning towards the whisperings of war. The last chapter left me with a happy feeling and I’m hoping for a LOT more of that next time.

Unfortunately, I had a really hard time wrapping my mind around this book but I still want to finish the series. The last installment of the trilogy is untitled and will release in 2014. I’m hoping I can understand the characters better in the next book.

STARS: 2.5 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day books are released to the world.

(Sidenote: I know I’ve been MIA for a while…two words: Graduate School. I’m making a concious effort to post everything I’ve been writing. I’ve got some good stuff coming up too!)

This week I’m anticipating the release of a book that everyone seems to be raving about, Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger, which is released TODAY, Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

13445306A broken past and a divided future can’t stop the electric connection of two teens in this “charged and romantic” (Becca Fitzpatrick), lush novel.

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

So everyone on Goodreads is raving, I’m intrigued. The chemistry is supposedly off the charts and the story is supposedly really unique. I’m all over it. I’m loving the cover and I LOVE the idea of Sylphs (It stems from the Battle Sylph, I read awhile back.) I’m excited for this one and I won’t have to wait long since it’s released today. However, it’ll most likely stay on the bottom of my To-Be-Read pile for awhile, but I’ll definitely check it out!