Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Cress (book 3 in Lunar Chronicles) is my favorite summer book (at least as of right now)! I think this is actually my favorite thus far in that series as well. I certainly liked Cinder (Cinderella) and Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), but Cress (Rapunzel) was fantastic from beginning until the end. I can’t believe the 4th (and final?) book in this series, Winter (based on Snow White) will not be released until November 2015! Ugh!

Cress was introduced to us in book 2, Scarlet, where she aided Cinder by telling her that Levana planned to kill Kai once they were married and Levana became empress. In the book, Cress, we find Cress (based loosely on Rapunzel) held prisoner on a satellite all alone. She is an expert computer hacker and spy for Lunar, though she is secretly helping Cinder and her gang by “hiding” their ship from the radar. When Cinder finally contacts Cress, Cinder decides to rescue her, but it comes with a surprise cost and Scarlet is lost and taken hostage to Lunar, Wolf is hurt, and Thorne and Cress crash to earth in the satellite.

We get a glimpse of Princess Winter on Lunar who by refusing to use her Lunar powers is mentally deteriorating, but she aids one of our friends who needs help.

This novel is filled with high adventure, reconciliations, and snippets of romance. Highly recommend!

Monsters by Ilsa Bick

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Monsters is the third and final book in the Ashes trilogy. Let’s see…negative words that describe this book: LONG, gruesome, frustrating, grotesque, gore, and unnecessary (some parts). Positive words about Monsters: intense (if you like a lot of action, which I do) and complete.

We left Alex falling down a mine shaft in book two, Shadows. In the first approximately 50 pages, Alex is rescued from a very near-death experience in the mine by her “boyfriend” zombie (AKA chucky), Wolf (or Simon), only to get immediately caught in an avalanche, an after effect from the mine explosion where she finds herself buried in snow and to the point of suffocation. Like Shadows, Alex remains separated from her core group throughout the entire book which is very frustrating. They all keep thinking the other is dead, and people keep confirming that fact!

There is resolution in Monsters; however, I think I deserved a more fulfilling ending after I worked for a happy ending for almost 700 pages (plus book 1 and 2)!

Ashes is one of my favorite YA zombie apocalypse novels and I highly recommend it, but Shadows was disappointing when not only are Tom, Alex, and Allie separated but the teen zombies (or chuckies) become promiscuous. Gross! Monsters is just hard work for the reader. It is one problem after another…did I mention it was almost 700 pages! The reader can never (even at the end) kick back and be happy. It is definitely not that kind of book.

I will continue to recommend Ashes, and if readers are like me, they will have to see the characters to the end…difficult as that may be.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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I just finished Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, and well…Wow! I’m on an emotional high from the ending right now. This is the third and final book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy.

The book starts slow…very slow…as Alina, the sun summoner, is stuck below ground healing, far away from the sun which gives her the strength to be able to heal. The Darkling obviously survives Alina’s attempt to kill them both at the end of book 2, and he has taken over Ravka. The King and his family (including the pirate prince, Nikolai) are forced into hiding.

Thanks to Alina’s friends, a hodgepodge of rogue Grisha and Mal, they are able to outwit the Apparat and escape his underground prison. They set out to find the third amplifier to increase Alina’s strength…what they believe to be the only way in defeating the Darkling, his monsters, and the Unsea. No way will I spoil the surprise regarding the third amplifier!

Alina must choose her path. Will she become the future Queen of Ravka and serve as a nominal wife to Prince Nikolai? Does she embrace her inner desire to be all powerful and reign beside the Darkling as his balance of good and evil, light and dark? Or does she relinquish power and return to her past (and her heart) by choosing Mal? And what will her choice cost? There is always a price to pay. I have to admit that I was surprised by her choice.

The ending…bittersweet! My heart aches, but I’m happy too.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

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GraduationDay

The tagline on Graduation Day is “The final test is the deadliest.” That’s the truth! Although Cia is still the same smart strategist that has gotten her thus far, she faces some difficult decisions in this novel. I have to admit, this is not what I was expecting for the finale of this series. Cia must wrestle with moral and ethical questions like…Is murder sometimes okay? Is it better to kill a few people in order to save the lives of thousands? I’ve never pictured Cia as a cold-blooded murderer, but in this novel she has to decide if that is indeed what is best for her country. Sometimes leaders have to make difficult choices. Isn’t that what the testing trained her for?

The President gives Cia an assignment. Like Cia’s father, the President urges her to trust no one. However Cia knows that she can not accomplish this task alone, so even though she loathes the testing, she finds herself creating “tests” for her “friends” to see if she can trust them…one with possible deadly implications. Where did our compassionate Cia go?!

The ending answers some questions we have, like where are the “redirected” testing students and Tosu City applicants who fail the entrance exam sent? Frankly, I thought they just killed them which never made sense to me. However, there are many questions that spring from the ending. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say that Charbonneau left the story wide open for another book. While there is resolution to the problems of this novel, the problems facing the country still exist. Of course, Cia, no doubt is the person to fix them.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Anna and the French Kiss is such a fun read! This would be classified as YA Romance or Realistic Fiction. Anna’s newly wealthy father who writes sentimental novels decides to send Anna to school in Paris for her senior year in high school. Though she wants to stay in Atlanta to be with her friends, she grudgingly obliges her father. Once in Paris, she quickly makes friends who help her “cope” with Parisian life and language. The highlight of the novel is Anna’s relationship with the hunky American/English/French, St. Clair. Unfortunately, he already has a girlfriend.

Great book! A Nice summer diversion!

The One by Kiera Cass

The One Book Cover
Finally we know who America chooses! The One is the third and final book in The Selection series. In the other 2 novels we see glimpses of rebel attacks and civil unrest, but in book 3 the rebels take serious action. The girls in the selection are down to three for Prince Maxon to choose, and despite the chaos that ensues, he gets his girl. And America gets her guy! This dystopian world meets “The Bachelor” is a such a fun series!

Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

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IntotheStillBlue

Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue complete the Under the Never Sky trilogy. Honestly, it is not my favorite dystopian series, but exciting enough to keep me interested to see the characters to the end.

In these two novels, characters struggle to locate the “still blue”… the place where the sky is not in turmoil with Aether storms and the ground is not torched by fire. The storms get increasingly worse threatening to destroy everyone and everything. The clock is ticking. Unlikely alliances are formed between the Dwellers and the Outsiders. They will need everyone’s strengths and assets to make the trip to the Still Blue. Cinder will play a pivotal role that is absolutely heartbreaking.

The Elite by Kiera Cass

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The Elite

The Elite continues America’s journey through The Selection process. Just when we think she may choose the Prince, America is shocked by the harshness of the royal family. She does not know if she is “princess” material. Can she be the perfectly poised young lady that the country needs? Is that what the country needs? Or do they need someone who will fight for their rights….like ending the caste system?

America goes back and forth between her first love, now soldier in the palace, and Prince Maxon. It is actually a little annoying to the reader, so I can only imagine how two guys might feel about it. Just choose America!

By the end, we THINK we know which direction she will go, but I guess we won’t know for sure until The One….just released! I have not read it yet, but I will soon! Will America be “The One”??

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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TheSelection
The Selection (2012) is like the TV show “The Bachelor” with a dystopian flair! I loved it and can’t wait to begin the second in the series, The Elite (2013).

With a caste system firmly in place, America Singer’s family is low on the totem pole as number fives. (One is the highest and eight is the lowest.) America is a musician and thinks she is in love with handsome but poor, Aspen, a six. However, Prince Maxon needs a wife and girls of a certain age from each district may apply for the The Selection contest. America is strongly encouraged to apply by both her mother (so the family can be elevated in caste and have extra money and luxuries…like food) and Aspen (so he doesn’t feel guilty for keeping her from moving up the caste system and enjoying luxury). Of course she is selected.
America immediately finds favor with Prince Maxon who appreciates her brutal honesty. (Of course it doesn’t hurt that she’s a pretty girl.) America’s emotions become conflicted as she develops feelings for Maxon, and when Aspen shows up at the palace as a new guard, America must choose what is best for her, her family, and her country.

The One (2014) is the third and final book in the series and has just been released! There is also a novella, The Prince and The Guard.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Under the Never Sky
In a futuristic world, Aria lives in a pod protected from the harsh Aether filled sky. She desperately desires to learn about her mother’s whereabouts and condition. The pod that her mother was conducting secretive research has been disconnected from Aria’s pod. After making a poor decision to infiltrate an off-limits area, Aria finds herself removed from her society and forced into the real world where she must face tough consequences – a scorched land, cannibals, wolves, lack of food. For the second time in her life, handsome, rugged, Perry comes to her rescue. They grudgingly become allies to locate Aria’s mother and to rescue Perry’s nephew from the Dweller’s pods.

This is a great sci-fi adventure and romance novel, and the first book in the trilogy. Other books in the series include Through the Ever Night (2013), Into the Still Blue (2014), and there are a couple of novellas as well.

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