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Everneath 1 - Brodi' 'Ashton 3.5 Stars
I'm torn about this book. It was a super fast read, easy to fall into and follow, likable characters, neat concept ... but it was all too ... I don't know ... cliche, somehow. Damaged girl (doesn't realize how beautiful she really is). Dark and brooding bad boy (who always wears black). Super nice good boy (quarterback of the football team and should never look twice at our plain jane protagonist). Steady best friend. Bitchy blonde mean girl. I mean, come on.
I was hoping for a lot more mythological tie-ins throughout the story, and while it did become prevalent in the latter part of the book, it was kind of too little too late for me to round this up to a 4 star rating. However, it was enough for me to want to pick up the next book, [b:Everbound|13115995|Everbound (Everneath, #2)|Brodi Ashton||18289996].

One thing I did really like was Nikki's father and brother. The dynamic there felt real and I was pleasantly surprised to see it included in the storyline as much as it was. I was sad, though, that while Nikki seemed to come to an understanding and get some closure with her Dad, the little brother was left hanging.

One thing that I absolutely HATED was how often Nikki blushed. Seriously? What year is it anyway? Hopefully she grows out of that annoying habit in the next book.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone  - Laini Taylor 4.0 Stars
So close to 4.5 or maybe even 5 stars, but I got bored near the end where there was a convergence of the past and the present. The pacing was really hitting a peak for me when all of the sudden I was getting backstory and it ruined my momentum.
Don't get me wrong - still loved the story and cannot wait to pick up the next one, [b:Days of Blood & Starlight|12812550|Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)|Laini Taylor||17961723].
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? - Jeanette Winterson DNF
The Death Cure - James Dashner 3.5 stars rounded up due to the beauty of the trilogy. Loved it.
Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking: Book Three - Patrick Ness A good book to end the trilogy. The climax of the story was a little too long for my taste - I thought it might never end. But, overall, a satisfying conclusion. I recommend these books to pretty much anyone. Don't let the classification of children's book scare you away; some seriously mature and dark subjects are explored extremely well.
Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool, #1-5) - Hugh Howey 4.5 stars Outstanding book(s).
Thank you very much, Ann, for the recommendation.

Terrific dystopian novel with several twists and turns. And so different and refreshing from the standard YA dystopians (which, don't get me wrong, I also love - but something unexpected is always nice). The first book (Wool) did not hook me quite as quickly as I had hoped; the writing and emotion was quite compelling, but it was a slightly slow start. Mostly it just made me sad. No matter, it was a super quick read and once I got to the second book (Proper Gauge), the backstory made sense and the mystery set in. I was hooked. The ending of the third book (Casting Off) was absolutely awesome.
One of the best things about this book are the larger messages and deeper meanings throughout. Additionally, I love it when I go back forth and have internal struggles about whether or not a character is a good guy or a bad guy. Finally, the characters are amazing, well-developed and believable (for the most part, anyway).

Characters ...
I Loved: Juliette (I adore a kicka** protagonist), Knox, Walker, Solo
I Loved to Hate: Duh ... Bernard
I was "meh" about: Lukas
That broke my heart: Holston and Allison, Peter (Juliette's father), Jahns and Marnes

Cannot wait to start the next books, [b:Shift Omnibus Edition|17306293|Shift Omnibus Edition (Wool, #6-8)|Hugh Howey||23965619].
Shift Omnibus Edition - Hugh Howey A solid 4.0 stars.
An excellent extension of the Wool series. Complicated and emotional. I agree with several of the reviews that say the Shift books are a bit slower and less intense than the Wool books - too true. But still, they are engaging and nicely tie up some areas that were question marks in the Wool books. The first book (First Shift - Legacy) was pretty boring, actually - but in hindsight I see the necessity for the setup. I struggled a litle bit with trying to keep the "when" clear between the stories and where each one fell within the timeline for the Wool series. But, I think that's mostly my hangup and wasn't really needed to enjoy the books (mostly me just being OCD about it).
I am glad we found out about Solo's journey of how he came to be where he was when Juliette met him in the Wool series. I can't say I enjoyed it because, truth be told, it was heartwrenching.

Characters I:
Loved: Mission, Victor, Crow, Solo/Jimmy, Shadow
Liked: Charlotte (we didn't get to know her well enough for me to love her, but I think I might have - and it appears she will play a large role in the upcoming books)
Loved to Hate: Mick, Senator Thurman, Anna - totally saw that one coming
Was (and am) conflicted about: Donald

I'm very much looking forward to the final two books in the series - Dust and Sand. Definitely going on the to-read list.
The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2) - Patrick Ness This sequel was something else.
Admittedly, this one is quite a bit slower than the first book, [b:The Knife of Never Letting Go|2118745|The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)|Patrick Ness||2124180]. However, it's a thinker. The author tackles some seriously mature issues like war, terrorism, torture and genocide and has a much darker tone to it with some pretty shocking scenes. It will make you question who is right and who is wrong, who is the hero and who is the villain; and, it will almost certainly leave you wanting to read the third and final installment, [b:Monsters of Men|7540092|Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3)|Patrick Ness||7160343].
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes A story that is both inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. My skin crawled at the cruelty of those who treated Charlie poorly and as if he were practically inhuman - those that did it intentionally as well as those who did it unintentionally.
On the surface, this book is a short story that will make you cheer for the protagonist and then be saddened as you watch the price he pays. On a deeper level, if you're lucky, it also makes you analyze how you (and others) treat everyone around you.

I did not feel good after finishing this book ... but I did feel inspired to continue to work every day to treat every person around me with the civility, kindness and respect that we all deserve.
The Kitchen God's Wife - Amy Tan I want to kick Wen Fu. And Aunt Helen is exasperating.
The Knife of Never Letting Go  - Patrick Ness I really liked this book. The buildup in the beginning was pretty straightforward and only somewhat engaging, but once I got to the part where Manchee dies , and immediately leading up to it, my emotions were swirling and had a few small tears eke out. The first 70% of the book was probably only 3 stars, but once I hit that spot and became totally emotionally invested, it jumped up to about 4.5 stars. The answers we get as the book steamrolls toward the end are heartbreaking. The cliffhanger at the end was kinda overly dramatic - I was hoping for a bit more closure; but, I can't lie, it makes me want to run out and buy book two tomorrow (or tonight?).

Vaguely reminiscent of [b:The Giver|3636|The Giver (The Giver, #1)|Lois Lowry||2543234].
Last Sacrifice  - Richelle Mead I guess 3.5 stars, rounded down this time. Overall, I liked the ending to the series. It wrapped everything up enough to be worthy. And, it was believable in that not everyone got their happy ending. There were some things about Rose that I disliked again in this book. It's like she just doesn't care about anything except Lissa and herself and what Rose believes is the best thing to do, ruining other lives in the process. The author addresses this a little near the end, and I think it's intended to make Rose more complicated and real -- but I just found it annoying. And don't even get me started on the cheating. Never OK. Even if someone IS your soulmate or whatever, have the courtesy to freaking break up with your current boyfriend first.
I'm still deciding if I'll give the spinoff [b:Bloodlines|8709527|Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)|Richelle Mead||13582374] a try. We'll see.
Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Book 5) - Richelle Mead Better than the last book. This was probably the first time, though, that I remember actively disliking some of Rose's choices. Who uses their current boyfriend's credit card for a trip that has to do with her ex-boyfriend's situation? And, on the sly, no less? Argh. However - even with that, I still enjoyed the pacing and plot to this story. I love the court intrigue. And yet another cliffhanger, forcing me to continue to the last in the series.
Blood Promise  - Richelle Mead This one was hard to rate. Most of the first part was slow - while I was happy and intersted to learn more about Dmitiri's backstory, it just seemed to take FOR-EV-ER. The Avery and Lissa story was stupid. There may be a purpose to it but honestly, it just seemed dumb. The last bit of the book, though, made up for a lot of things. Very dramatic and intense. Here's hoping we are on an upswing for the last two books of the series.
Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead Another excellent installment. The ending contains a terrific cliffhanger - can't wait to read the next one. There are much deeper and more complex emotions and feelings in this one, and the politics are intriguing.
Frostbite - Richelle Mead Another good read. The plot thickens. Rose grows a bit, although it's clear she's still in high school and experiences the drama and angst that goes along with that. But even with that, I still really like her. It appears I'm hooked to the series and must soldier on to the next.

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