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[Review] For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars

Author: Diana Peterfreund

Publication: June 12th 2012 by Balzer + Bray

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary (Amazon): It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

My Review: I was simultaneously excited and worried before starting this book. While i adore Diana Peterfreund, her killer unicorns books are absolutely fabulous, I was never a huge fan of Persuasion by Jane Austen which this book is based on (I think my life of Pride and Prejudice made it difficult to love her other novels.)

I shouldn’t have been worried. At all. Diana came through and delivered with a book that immediately found its way to the very top of my favorite books from 2012. A little dystopian, a little sci-fi, a little classic, a little steampunk and a lot of awesome. This may be on my list of all time favorite YA Reads as well.

Elliot is a phenominal character (and I love this name for a girl!), she’s strong, driven and fiercely loyal, but at the same time she is incredibly vulnerable and fragile.  As i got further into the story I was completely unable to put the book down and I frantically flipped pages to find out what was going to happen to Elliot. I was fully invested in the story and Elliot’s well-being and I had to keep reading to make sure that everything would be okay.

The story is beautifully executed, flipping seamlessly between long ago letters exchanged between Kai and Elliot and the events that were occurring in real time. The letters were a fantastic insight into the two when they were children, and it was great being able to see the history they had without being subjected to multiple flashbacks. They also served to make Kai a more sympathetic character, because for a lot of the book he was pretty much a jerk.

The world building was fascinating and complex without being overly complicated. The class structure that was developed added an interesting layer to the plot. The world felt both familiar and strange at the same time, which constantly kept me on my toes and trying to figure out how things would work.

All in all, Diana’s blend of dystopian and science fiction was the perfect complement to Jane Austen’s novel of manners. Austen’s influence gave an entirely new spin on the dystopian genre and in my opinion it was something that I loved to see happen. This is a must read for everyone. I promise you, you’ll enjoy it.

 
 

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[Review] The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Title: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)

Author: Richelle Mead

Publication: June 12th 2012 by Razorbill

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary (Amazon): Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students–children of the wealthy and powerful–carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.

My Review: Okay, full disclosure before continuing: there will be copious amounts of squealing, arm flailing, gushing and capslock/exclamation point abuse in this review. That is the only way I con properly convey how I feel. Read at your own risk. 🙂

Oh. My. Goodness. This book. THIS BOOK. It’s been quite a while since I finished a book and then immediately turned around and flipped back through in order to reread various sections. There were just some moments that I absolutely adored and wanted to relive one more time before I passed the book off to my best friend.

If you still had any lingering doubts about Sydney as a narrator even after reading Bloodlines, well NEVER FEAR, The Golden Lily crushes them all. I love Sydney and her practical clothes, her vast intelligence, determination, and her courage. She has come a long way since her first appearance Blood Promise, and it’s fascinating to watch her warring emotions between how she feels about her friends, the vampires, and what her Alchemist rules and regulations demand from her. She’s not sure how to feel or if how she feels is right or wrong and I think we’ll see more of this as the series goes on.

Also, her naiveté when it comes to boys and social situations is frickin’ HIALRIOUS! It’s so endearing to watch this calm and logical girl try to rationalize dating and just fail so miserably. As astute as she is, she’s completely baffled and blind when it comes to romantic entanglements. It’s adorably infuriating to watch her, you just want to reach through the pages and shake some sense into her!

So, what we get in The Golden Lily that we didn’t really get in Bloodlines was Dimitri!! Words cannot express how excited i was to see the tall, dark, handsome Russian in a trench coat (does anyone else picture Spike’s Russian cousin or something? Or is that just me? Ahh, just me then…) grace the pages once again. I love watching interactions between Dimitri and Adrian, as it’s vastly entertaining how calm he can remain while Adrian flings zinger after singer his way. And, for all you Rose/Dimitri lovers out there, there’s a moment tucked away that will make you absolutely melt.

The storyline in The Golden Lily had me far more intrigued than I was in Bloodlines, and I was fascinated to see the research they were doing to determine why the Strigoi weren’t able to drink Sydney or Lee’s blood. Other than that I can’t go into too much detail about what happened without spoiling the plot of the book, so you’ll have to take more word on it that’s its all rather thrilling and throws Sydney totally off her game. It’s AWESOME.

Okay, so now that I’ve been good and given my thoughts on the book, let me get to what I’m really excited about. ADRIAN. This book has ADIRAN EVERYWHERE. Words cannot express how much I love Adrian and his snarky ways. He’s my all time favorite book crush (even if in real life I’m not big on binge drinkers and chain smokers, whatevs.) and he’s FANTASTIC. He’s so adorable and OBVIOUS about everything and it’s so cute to watch. Adrian has come a looooong way since the Vampire Academy days and I’m just so proud. He’s all grown up, but still just as smokin’ hot as ever.

And damn, does that boy have some good lines! I warn you, you may melt into a giant puddle of goo. Or maybe that’s just me.

I loved this book more than I’ve loved any other book in quite a while. It had me at Anna and the French Kiss levels of giddiness, which is saying something! If you’re a fan of Richelle Meade’s Vampire Academy and haven’t gotten around to this spinoff, what are you waiting for? Go get Bloodlines and The Golden Lily NOW!

 
 

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Book Review: Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin (aka Books, Tears and Babies)

Yesterday afternoon while I was hanging out in Decatur waiting for my parents and sister to meet me for dinner I wandered into the Little Shop of Stories to kill some time. (side note – I seriously love this book store, it’s my favorite one in all of Atlanta. If you’re ever in the area you HAVE to stop by). I wasn’t really planning on buying anything but I picked up a book off the front table display, read the back and immediately knew I wasn’t leaving until I had purchased it.

The book was Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin (Published on April 14th, 2011 by Grand Central Publishing.)

Matt and Liz Logelin were high school sweethearts. After years of long-distance dating, the pair finally settled together in Los Angeles, and they had it all: a perfect marriage, a gorgeous new home, and a baby girl on the way. Liz’s pregnancy was rocky, but they welcomed Madeline, beautiful and healthy, into the world on March 24, 2008.

Just twenty-seven hours later, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited. Though confronted with devastating grief and the responsibilities of a new and single father, Matt did not surrender to devastation; he chose to keep moving forward– to make a life for Maddy.

In this memoir, Matt shares bittersweet and often humorous anecdotes of his courtship and marriage to Liz; of relying on his newborn daughter for the support that she unknowingly provided; and of the extraordinary online community of strangers who have become his friends. In honoring Liz’s legacy, heartache has become solace.

This memori doesn’t fit my usual reading pattern (I tend to only read memoirs if they’re of Holocaust survivors, weird I know) but I was so drawn to this story and had to know what happened that I found myself picking it up and being unable to put it down until I finished the entire thing.

I stayed up entirely too late last night reading this book. Losing myself entirely in a story that’s about death, love, loss, life, adventure, grief and joy. From almost the beginning I had tears streaming down my face as I read the struggles this young family faced both during the pregnancy and after the loss of their wife and mother. Yet as the book moved forward I found myself laughing and smiling (occasionally through tears) along with Matt and Maddy as he recounted their lives over the past three years.

I’m not sure that any full review I write could do any semblance of justice to this incredible book and the true story behind it. Suffice it to say that this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and the story will stay with me for some time.

If you’re interested you can read Matt’s blog as well.

 
 

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