5 stars · dystopia · fiction · romance · series · young adult

Crossed by Ally Condie


Author: Ally Condie

Pages [hardcover] 367

Matched #2
Book 1: Matched

memorable quote:
Everyone has something of beauty about them.

favorite characters: eli & cassia


The hotly awaited second book in the dystopian Matched trilogy

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky – taken by the Society to his certain death – only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander – who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart – change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.


 I’ve been dying to read this book ever since I finished ‘Matched’! That was one of those books that I heard everyone loved, so I decided to read, but still had my doubts about it when I picked it up. Luckily, they were blown away when I actually read it, and I think Crossed was even better. Something that I thought I would easily dismiss has turned out to be one of my favorite dystopian trilogies.

This time around, some mysteries from the past were cleared up, secrets were revealed, and friendships were tested. New characters were introduced, and while I absolutely loved some of them, I couldn’t quite figure out others-and not only because they were purposefully trying to be mysterious. I loved having every other chapter told from Ky’s perspective. At first I didn’t think I’d like the new voice-though there was no other way to tell what was happening to him in the Outer Provinces-and allowed his character to develop and let the reader understand some of the difficult decisions he is making.

I loved the integration of ‘Do Not Go Gentle’ into Cassia’s personal rebellion as well as the theme of the book. That poem has practically followed me around all of my life, and it’s one of my favorites. I’m glad it’s one of the few that’s managed to survive despite the Society’s best attempts to eliminate all other pieces of art.

The ending seemed abrupt and forced for me, as if there wasn’t a good point to leave off for the next book. I didn’t think it fit in with the pace of the rest of Crossed, and although I wasn’t happy with it, there was still enough to make me come back for the next one. I’m definitely sticking with these characters to see what happens next, because this book was more of a transitional ‘journey’ book, getting from point a to b. While I liked reading it, finding out more about the characters-particularly Ky and Xander-I think what I’m really looking for will happen in the next installment. I can’t wait!


4 stars · fiction · horror · romance · series · young adult

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


Anna Dressed in Blood

Kendare Blake

Pages: [hardcover] 316

memorable quote:
“It feels so separate, like I’ve touched something that’s taken the color out of me. Or maybe I’m in color now and they’re in black and white.”

favorite characters: Thomas & Cas


Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. . .

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.


 I started this thinking I was in for a good, creepy ghost story, and knew that somehow romance would be thrown into the mix. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be a conventional paranormal story, it fell slightly short of my expectations, though I still enjoyed it.

For those looking for a psychological horror, this isn’t for you. It’s full of horrific ghosts, murders, mayhem, battles with spirits-and great descriptions of all of those. The writing in that respect was brilliant, and I could easily imagine a movie being made of this. The dialogue fell a little flat, as did the characters. Some of the things they did didn’t seem to make any sense, with their pasts, and some didn’t have reactions at all when something extremely life changing happened to them, just because they weren’t the main guy. Even he had his down moments.

I liked the new-ish take on the bad guys. While it’s hard to be original about ghosts, these weren’t the typical bump in the dark kind. Each one had their separate story, their own tricks up their sleeves, and a knack for killing people who happened to wander their way. This book isn’t for those who get squeamish at death scene descriptions.

 I did not, however, know that this is going to be a series. While I’m going to read the next book, whenever it comes out, I really need to start paying attention to that, so I’ll know what to expect. I thought everything would be resolved by the end of Anna Dressed in Blood, and while most was, there was still enough to keep me hooked. Which was the point. And . . I think it could have worked well enough as a stand alone.


4 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series · young adult

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight

Book 4 in the Iron Fey series
Book 1: The Iron King 
Book 2: The Iron Princess
Book 3: The Iron Queen

Author: Julie Kagawa

Pages: [paperback] 361

memorable quote:
“Geez, you guys. I know I’m popular and all, but seriously, you’re a bit too co-dependent for me. I’m going to need you to step away from my personal bubble.” A wispy vine-woman curled ivy tendrils around his arm, and he sliced through them with his dagger. “No! Bad Wraith! No touchie!”

favorite characters:
puck & grimalkin


Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.



I think that about sums up all of my love, frustration, and Team Puck-ness for this fourth and final installment of the Iron Fey series. Or maybe it’s just a bunch of random letters.

I first fell in love with Julie Kagawa’s characters all the way back in 2010 . . . Okay, not so long ago, but that’s nearly two years of anxiously wanting to get my hands on each installment and devouring them as fast as possible, then still wanting more. While I was disappointed to learn that this wouldn’t be from Meghan’s point of view, as it’s all about Ash’s journey and wouldn’t really make sense any other way, I liked it more than I thought I would. (Possibly because Puck was in nearly the entire thing. But I won’t let my review be partial to him . . . much. 😉 )

Filled with the humor, suspense, romance, and action that I’ve become accustomed to in the Iron books, The Iron Knight is equal parts thrilling and nerve-wracking. The world Ash lives in isn’t the safest place to roam in, and more than once I was convinced they would all end up dead, stuck somewhere, and the rest of the book would be empty pages, to fool everyone. Maybe that was just paranoia. But that would be a good, unexpected tactic to use . . .

One thing that I didn’t like about it was how some parts-and I can’t point them out specifically without being spoilery-seemed to drag on longer than I thought necessary, while others were rushed over or plainly summarized when I thought they could have used more explaining. At one point, I knew what was happening and wanted to know what would happen next, but was stuck in a writing-rut for a while to get to where I wanted to go. And I’m glad that, picky as this is, it’s the only thing I can think to complain about in this finale.

The characters were, as always, awesome. (And not just Puck. I swear.) Ash the stoic, brave knight he needed to be; Grimalkin, the cunning and ever-clever cat; even the Big Bad Wolf was exactly how I’d picture he would be, did he exist as a manifestation of his many incarnations.

I love Julie Kagawa’s writing style, and can’t wait to read more by her. Now that this is over. That’s painful to type. But, good news on the horizon! I heard she’s at work on a new series, this one about vampires. Not sure about that transition, but I’m definitely reading it. Bring it on!


4 stars · classic · dystopia · fiction

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: [paperback] 311

favorite characters: ofglen & nick


Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.


And just when I thought I was getting used to the creep factor brought on by most dystopian novels, I read this.

Okay, so it could be worse. But not by much. Picturing a society where every woman’s movements are so controlled they’ve had to do their best to make sure there’s no way they can commit suicide, throw in all the forced attempts at pregnancy and tearing apart of families and . . well, I don’t really want to list everything in the novel, but, goodness. Margaret Atwood sure knows how to create the perfect imperfect world. Ha.

While I can definitely appreciate the books that have more symbols and other devices imbedded within the work, The Handmaid’s Tale makes it fairly easy to pick out what’s important and what can be discarded. The narrator herself-and we never learn her true name-comments on how this or that now means something else, and the ironic tones are never left untouched for long. Thank goodness.

Originally, I was disappointed and frustrated with the ending, for reasons I won’t specify for fear of giving anything away. But, thinking back on it now, it’s perfect. I don’t think I’d have wanted it to be any different, if I could change it myself, and after this reflection, I’m glad that I can’t. Score one for Margaret Atwood!

I think what makes this book so appealing, so powerful, is the knowledge that something like this might actually happen. Maybe not exactly this; it’s impossible to predict the future. But it’s easier to take away liberties than to hand them out, and it’s not hard to imagine a world, years from now, with a more controlling government (a more censored internet?) and a whole lot of creepiness. Everywhere. And while dystopian authors might be trying to warn us, or entertain us, or try to prove some other point altogether, I think all that matters is picking up a book (like this: it’s worth it, I swear) and learning something from it. Something positive, hopefully. I don’t want to go around telling people to get bad habits . .

Heh. Like the habits they wear in this book.

Anyway, go read this. Not everyone has a school to force them to, so use that free will of yours, and give into peer pressure. About books like this, at least.


4 stars · books to movies · fiction · history · young adult

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Author: Brian Selznick

Pages [hardcover]: 533

memorable quote: Even if all the clocks in the station break down, thought Hugo, time won’t stop. Not even if you really want it to.

Like now.

favorite characters: Hugo & Etienne


Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist’s spell.


 I was really looking forward to reading this book-mostly, I’m not going to lie, because of the pictures. Yeah, that’s right. There are so many of them, because Brian Selznick is going for a new feel in this book. Sort of a cinematic reading experience. Sounds crazy? Maybe it is, but it sort of works. Seeing pictures of a fight scene helps me picture everything better than simply reading about it, but some chases in books can be particularly descriptive, too. I can just say it was a good experience, the images were wonderful, and I hope to read more books like this in the future. Pictures shouldn’t be just for kids!

This book was a bit predictable, which disappointed me. I was looking for some conspiracy, some twist, that would shake me up and make me look at the book in a different light. I know not every novel can work out that way, but I don’t want to be able to see the end from before the middle of the book. While I kept reading on, that definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the entire thing.

This is really a quick read! I read it in a few days, but could have easily done so in a couple of hours. What with the big font, small pieces of writing, and page after page of illustrations, I was literally flipping through the pages to see what would happen next.

While I recommend this book, mainly for the unique premise, I wouldn’t see to hold your breath while waiting to read it. It’s a sweet little story, but not one that knocked my socks off.


5 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

Don’t Breathe a Word

Author: Holly Cupala [also wrote Tell Me a Secret]

Pages [hardcover]: 320

Favorite Characters: Creed & Joy


Joy Delamere is suffocating…

From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out.

Joy can take her cruel words until the night they go too far.

Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe…if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late.

Set against the gritty backdrop of Seattle’s streets and a cast of characters with secrets of their own, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the hurt of bullying, the meaning of family, and how far a girl will go to discover her own strength.


 This book was amazing! I loved Cupala’s first book, Tell Me a Secret, and was excited to read something else by her. Little did I know that once I picked up this book, I literally wouldn’t stop reading it (except to catch a few hours of sleep) until I finished it the next morning. The plot is so captivating, the characters are interesting , and I desperately wanted to know what would happen to everyone next!

Joy seemed like she would be a flat, unimpressive character at first . . . Then, as I began to learn about her past and every decision that led her to this point, I realized she was more complex than I could have imagined. What she does, thinking that it’s the right and only way for her to live her life, has a grave impact on herself, and those around her.

From the despicable, like Asher, to the lovable, like Creed, every character has a chance to reveal themselves for better or for worse. Joy lets us know what she thinks of everyone, but the reader’s left to form their own opinions about the characters, as sometimes she doesn’t see what’s right before her eyes.

Even though I can’t say I like asthma, I do think it added a lot to the story. It gave Joy something to deal with that she didn’t really have control over, and that drove her and the ones who had to look after her crazy. I know most people would react the same in that situation.

The plot is packed with so many twists, I could never expect how things actually ended up. I loved the end because it fit perfectly with the story, but I hated it because it ended everything! This is one of my new favorite books, and I’ll read it over and over!



Best of 2011!

This year was AMAZING. Of course, not only because of the books, of course. Can’t forget my friends and family, all of the other things I love doing-like playing tennis or making someone smile-and all of the random pieces that fit together to make it awesome.

And, yeah, there was a bit of time for reading, too. These are my definite favorites of 2011, with all of their pretty covers, because who doesn’t like pictures? They’re in no particular order, or category, because I didn’t want to limit myself to choosing one from each genre, or something like that. I just want to be able to share books I love!

Delirium by Lauren Oliver is such a great start to a series, and it might be my overall favorite read for the entire year! Great dystopian, controlling setting, great romance. And the best plot twists around.

You by Charles Benoit. Definitely one of the most heart-wrenching, tear-jerking books I read all year. And because it’s written in second person, all the more powerful.

Atonement by Ian McEwan. What? I picked a book I read in school as one of my favorites? That has to be some kind of blasphemy. But I can’t put down an ending like that, which turned me head over heels and really made me think about the book. And life. And people. And lies. If a book can make you feel like I did when I finished this-incredibly smart and sad and wanting to read more and knowing you weren’t going to get any-it’s definitely fantastic.


I read so many books that were the finales of series and trilogies I’ve been following for ages. The last, Scorpia Rising, is an end to the Alex Rider series, which I’ve been reading for . . . five years now? At least. And I couldn’t have been happier at the farewell I got. Same goes to Everfound, the last book of the Skinjacker trilogy. (And, if I had to pick a favorite of the four, this would be it. Neal Shusterman is a genius.) Goliath, which makes me want to read more steampunk. And Scott Westerfeld. Now. And Monsters of Men, which was AMAZING. OH MY GOODNESS. 

If I had to pick the best YA historical fiction book of the year, it’d be Song of the Sparrow. Not only does it make me want to get started on reading more like this, it’s lyrical prose and wonderful characters make me want to read it again and again. And again.


I’ve loved Peter Pan ever since I first saw the Disney movie. And I wanted to read the book before I re-watched the 2003 version with Jeremy Sumpter (<3) and fell in love with that as well. I was reluctant to start a series that ‘comes before’ this book that I would marry if I could, but, seriously. Peter and the Starcatchers? Couldn’t ask for more. All the little witty references to the original, and a plot that can do more than stand on its own? Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson . . . I worship you.

This book was everything I wanted, and more. ‘Nuff said. Get me the sequel now!

I love this book so, so much! What makes it weird is that had it not been for chance, I’d probably have never read it . . . I won a contest, and the publisher took longer than usual to mail the book I’d been waiting for out, so they included Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings as an apology! Thank you, fate.


I loved this book so much! It reminds me of something I read a long, long time ago, and I absolutely adored the mythology mixed in. Addictive, great, fun!


Can’t forget Percy! Well, technically not Percy, as this is a spin-off of the series, and he’s MIA. The Son of Neptune, the sequel to this, is also in my top books of the year! Yet another great series by Rick Riordan! Yay!

And that’s all! I hope all of you had a fantastic 2011, and have an even better 2012!