Review | The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve read The 5th Wave, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from The Infinite Sea. As a result, I found the first ~2/3 of The Infinite Sea to be rather confusing, especially since nothing seemed to be happening in terms of plot progression. Thankfully, the latter portion captured my interest a bit more, if only because of the many twists, turns, and promises of desolation and desperation that it contained.

The Infinite Sea consists of multiple shifts in perspective, including Cassie, Poundcake, and Ringer. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cassie – her infatuation with Evan Walker was more annoying than it was in the first book, as it seemed to plague her every thought, so I was glad that her narration only took up a small portion of the story.

Ringer’s narration, on the other hand, took up the majority of the book. At first, I wasn’t too fond of this switch: she was very straight-forward and distant in The 5th Wave, so I loved seeing the reasons for this coldness. Ringer is determined, intelligent, and very, very angry, so I can’t wait to see where she goes next.

My favourite POV definitely belonged to Poundcake, even though it was absolutely heartbreaking to read about his backstory and the reasoning behind his nickname.

As with The 5th Wave, I loved the themes that Rick Yancey chose to explore. Over the course of the novel, I found myself thinking intently about the importance of hope, the nature of humanity, and the instinct to protect the young against all costs. More than that, though, I loved how these philosophical musings were tied into the aliens’ grand plan, even if they did raise more questions than answers.

Overall, I’m incredibly conflicted about The Infinite Sea. Although there were several aspects that I really enjoyed, it felt rather unfocused and seemed to contain more filler than substance. Here’s hoping that the next book is much better.

Review | No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige

After returning to Kansas, Dorothy Gale has realized that the dreary fields of Kansas don’t compare to the vibrant landscapes of Oz. And although she’s happy to be reunited with Aunt Em, she misses her friends from the yellow brick road. But most of all, Dorothy misses the fame and the adventure. In Kansas she’s just another prairie girl, but in Oz she was a hero. So Dorothy is willing to do anything to get back, because there really is no place like Oz. But returning to the land she left comes at a price, and after Dorothy is through with it, Oz will never be the same.

Perfect for fans of Alex Flinn, Marissa Meyer, and Gregory Maguire, No Place Like Oz is a dark reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Building off of its rich mythology, Danielle Paige creates an edgy, thrilling story for teens that chronicles the rise and fall of one of the literature’s most beloved characters. This digital original novella is a prequel that sets the stage for the forthcoming novel Dorothy Must Die.

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“This wanting itself was a kind of magic—one that I’d had since I was just a little girl. Since even before I’d been to Oz. Even before I’d had a pair of magic shoes, silver or red. I had always wanted more.”

No Place Like Oz takes place shortly after the events in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s previous adventures are briefly referenced and readers are reintroduced to several famous characters and landmarks, so one does not need to be an Oz connoisseur to appreciate this story. Those who are familiar with either the movie or Baum’s stories, though, will appreciate the subtle nods to each that are placed throughout the story (like creating an explanation for why Dorothy’s silver shoes in the book were replaced with the red shoes that she’s more commonly associated with).

This glimpse inside Dorothy’s head made me a lot more sympathetic to her character than I had thought possible. I understood why she desperately wanted to get back to Oz – after all, going from all that glitter and recognition to your normal, monotonous routine would be hard – so I was able to forgive her selfishness and unkind thoughts towards her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry… at first, anyways. She’s power-hungry and wants more for herself (both in terms of material items and future prospects), and as the story progresses, these help push her further over the edge in her transformation to powerful “villain.”

Overall, No Place Like Oz was a rather addictive read. I enjoyed seeing how the twisted version of Dorothy that we were presented with in Dorothy Must Die came about, and am interested to see how this information will colour my read of The Wicked Will Rise.

Mid-May Book Haul

I finally broke my self-imposed book buying ban, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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Purchased:

Giveaway Wins:

ARCs/Review Copies:

  • Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (thanks to Spencer Hill Contemporary & NetGalley!)
  • Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (thanks to Harlequin TEEN & NetGalley!)

Which books have you bought recently?

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Be My (Fictional) Bad Boy

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed something interesting about the way I tend to react to love triangles – or, more specifically, the “choices” involved in the love triangle. I’ve found that I gravitate towards the “bad boys” when presented with an option between them and the boy-next-door/childhood best friend archetype. If given the choice, I’d choose the Darkling over Mal, Morpheus over Jeb, and Warner over Adam every time. I wish I could say that this says a lot about my personality… but, in real life, I’m the exact opposite.

In fact, all of the guys I’ve dated have been close friends. No hate-to-love transformations here, even though I adore those types of relationships in books. Friends-first relationships have the security and stability that I crave, without needing any of the awkward first date questions. They’ve seen me at me best and worst, have listened to all of my random thoughts, and have seen my many, many obsessions. And, despite all that, they’re still there.

So, then, why don’t I like these relationships in the books that I read? It’s not a case of “saving” the “bad boys” through true love or any of that; it’s just that they’re more exciting. I view reading as a sort of escape, a way of living out many different lives and experiences without any of the real-world costs/potential dangers. As a result, I don’t want to read about people making the safe choices that I would make (unless it’s a contemporary romance, since Max in The Start of Me and You is 100% the type of guy I’d go for). With the “bad boys,” the stakes are higher; there’s a sense of danger, and you’re not sure if you should even trust this individual, and that’s what makes the story even more exciting.

More than that, though, they’re compelling. While the pure evil ones can be fun to read about for a little bit, complicated, morally ambiguous characters are much more interesting – especially when compared to the “good guy” who is inevitably going to be his foil. Maybe they’ve done some inexcusable things (looking at you, Darkling), but they’ve also shown potential for improvement, so it’s hard not to root for some kind of redemption. And, you know, the possibility of snarky banter is higher, and that’s one of my biggest weaknesses.

Although the “bad boy” is a trope, it’s one that I absolutely love. Fictional bad boys, you have my heart (real life ones, though, not so much).

Do you like bookish bad boys as much as I do? If so, who are some of your favourites?

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Waiting on Wednesday (May 13)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton, which has an expected publication date of October 1, 2015.

The follow-up to the acclaimed novel The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

In an unassuming corner of Brooklyn, a young woman learns to be ladylike, to love context, and to speak her mind from a very curious sort of tutor.

In a faraway land convulsed by war, a young soldier hears the desert’s curious hum as he disarms bombs with the person he doesn’t know how to love.

In a place so shriveled by drought that any drowning is a curiosity, a young writer tries again and again to tread water beneath the surface of a vast and unusual sea.

Three new stories—complete with commentary on the creative process—from three acclaimed young adult authors working at the height of their powers.

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I absolutely loved The Curiosities, since it was an interactive learning experience of sorts – while the stories were captivating, getting a glimpse into these lovely ladies’ writing processes also helped me with my own writing. It’s such a neat way to write a book, so I’m ridiculously excited that there’s a follow-up!

What books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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Top Ten Authors I Really Want To Meet

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten authors I really want to meet.” I haven’t actually met any authors, so my list is way longer than 10 names… so here are a few on my list, in no particular order.

1. J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series helped get me hooked on reading, so I’d naturally love to meet the woman whose words helped shape my childhood. More than that, though, these books have helped me form long, lasting friendships, and for that I’ll always be thankful.

2. Rainbow Rowell
I feel like all of my reviews of her books include the sentence, “I just really want Rainbow to be my best friend.” And it’s true. So what better way to accomplish this than meeting her in real life?

3. Maureen Johnson
I’ve been following her on Twitter for ages and think she’s absolutely hilarious. I feel like we’d get up to shenanigans, stare at random strangers a lot, and eat a bunch of watermelon. Sounds like the perfect day, right?

4. Sarah J. Maas
I unashamedly fangirl over all of her books, especially The Assassin’s Blade and (most recently) A Court of Thorns and Roses. I’d love to see her and Susan Dennard give a talk since their friendship is too cute.

5. Neil Gaiman
I’d absolutely love to see what goes on inside his head, since all of his stories are incredibly imaginative and enchanting – both the ones for children and for adults.

6. Lemony Snicket / Daniel Handler
One of my favourite childhood series was A Series of Unfortunate Events, and after re-reading it a couple of summers ago, I found it every bit as wonderful – especially now that I understand all the dark humour. His writing style is just so fantastic, and these books are a huge part of why I’m an avid reader today.

7. Maggie Stiefvater
The emotional rollercoaster that The Raven Cycle has taken me on means that I need to sit down with Maggie and discuss all those beautiful characters. And Camaros. And find out where I can befriend a Gansey or Ronan in real life.

8. Stephanie Perkins
I’ve reread Anna and the French Kiss a million times, and Isla and the Happily Ever After led to some serious reflection and tears on my part. Anna is the book that got me into reading contemporary romance, partially because it could have been the story of my life (aside from the Paris part) and partially because of Etienne.

9. George R.R. Martin
I’m always so impressed that he can keep so many different plot-lines and characters straight. Plus, I’d love to try to convince him to tell me all about Winds of Winter, since I’ve been impatiently waiting on it for a while.

10. Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus is one of my all-time favourite books, and I’ve been known to chat for hours about the tents and how beautiful my mental image of the Cirque des Reves is. The meeting may or may not involve pestering her to make another book in that world, too.

Which authors do you desperately want to meet? Leave me a list or a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below.
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Review | The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

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The School for Good and Evil would make an excellent movie. It has an original premise and vivid descriptions, and also deconstructs fairytale tropes in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. It’s adorable, creative, and (surprisingly) quite dark at times, so I could easily visualize it as a cross between Shrek and Into the Woods, if it were to get the Disney treatment.

One of the things that I loved the most about The School for Good and Evil was its underlying messages. No one is inherently good or bad. You don’t have to live up to others’ expectations or society’s ideals. The School for Good and Evil also made mention of how looks aren’t everything, and that it’s the choices we make and what’s on the inside that truly count. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as though this last message was as effectively presented – which is unfortunate, given that it’s truly important.

Our main characters, Agatha and Sophie, were the perfect foil for one another. Agatha was quite easy to sympathize with and root for, but Sophie was less likeable. That being said, I absolutely loved the character arc that Sophie went on – especially once she realized how truly important her friendship with Agatha was.

Overall, The School for Good and Evil was creative, entertaining, and filled with so many excellent messages. I’m excited to see where Agatha and Sophie’s tale goes next!