Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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In the world that eighteen-year-old Mare Barrow lives in, wealth and power belong exclusively to the Silver Elites. They run the country because of the color of their blood and the supernatural abilities that they possess. Mare’s own people, the Reds, are the lowly servants, soldiers, fishermen, and common folk who work tough jobs until their backs break, or until they are killed in the battlefield. For centuries, this has been how their world worked, and no one ever dared defy the rule of the land.

Unlike her younger sister Gisa, who apprentices as a seamstress in the city market and sells her work to Silver merchants and nobles, Mare possesses no special skills. She is, however, quite the gifted petty thief. And this skill has tided her and her family over during the hardest days.

When Mare finds out that her childhood friend, Kilorn Warren, lost his job as a fisherman’s apprentice and has no choice but to be Conscripted, Mare nearly loses it. Conscription requires all eighteen-year-olds without jobs or apprenticeships to enlist in the army and fight in the war. All of Mare’s three brothers are already Conscripted. She will not let another person she loves be corrupted or killed by war.

In a desperate effort to save Kilorn’s life, Mare turns to the local black market and asks their help to smuggle Kilorn out of the Stilts. They agree, but for a fee that will cost Mare dearly.

When things take a different turn, Mare hits the streets again to steal whatever she can. She stumbles upon a mysterious stranger who catches her in the act, but gives her money anyway. The next day, Mare finds herself with a job as a servant at the king’s castle.

It’s the strange events that take place at the king’s castle that convince Mare that she can never trust anybody, and that anyone can betray anyone. It’s also there in the company of powerful Silvers that Mare discovers something about herself that will forever change her life.

This book has been on my to-read list for the longest time, and now I just can’t help wishing I read it sooner. I’m not a big fan of YA fantasy / adventure books, but I figured I had to give this one a shot. And I’m so glad I did because I really enjoyed reading about the world of Reds and Silvers.

Sure, the plot is not anything new, but it still brings something different and exciting to the mix. Red Queen is well-written and well-paced, and it wasn’t difficult to keep track of all the names, locations, and characters. Victoria Aveyard has created a rich and fascinating world that makes readers want to explore all its deep and dark secrets.

I like that the main character is not obsessed with boys. It’s not a romantic book, but it does have its rare romantic moments. (Hello, Prince Maven. Hello, Prince Calore.)

Red Queen is just a peek into the complex but exciting world of Mare Barrow. There’s still so much to know about the Red and Silver bloods, and the uprising that’s slowly taking place. But that’s for us to find out in the sequel. This first installment is filled with exciting twists and unpredictable turns. It’s a decent read that promises quite a few shockers from start to finish.

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Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

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Lillia Cho is rich, smart, beautiful, and popular. She also knows her childhood best friend, Alex Lind, is in love with her. He’s also rich, smart, handsome, and popular. He’s one of her oldest, most dependable, and most trusted friends. Unfortunately, she just doesn’t feel anything romantic for him. So when Lillia finds out that Alex has his sights set on her younger sister Nadia, and that something went down during one of their many wild parties, Lillia swears he’ll be sorry he ever laid a hand on her sister.

Kat DeBrassio used to be friends with the most popular girls in school, Rennie Holtz and Lillia Cho. They were thick as thieves, and summers were always a blast. Until queen bee Rennie decided to stop being her friend shortly after Kat’s mother died of cancer. Rennie chose Lillia. And if that wasn’t awful enough, Rennie made Kat’s life a living hell from then on. She bullied and spread malicious rumors about her just because she wanted to. One day, Kat decides that she’s had enough. It’s time for Rennie to have a dose of her own medicine.

Mary Zane has been holding on to the humiliation and heartbreak caused by her erstwhile friend Reeve Tabatsky for years. That fateful day at the ferry dock is something that Mary will carry with her for the rest of her life. What hurts the most is that Reeve doesn’t even know how much damage he’s caused. He’s still loved by all, still popular, still good-looking, his life so full of excitement, and his future so filled with promise. But he can’t get away with what he did. It’s time people knew what a horrible person he truly is. And Mary Zane is back to make sure that he pays for what he did. No matter what.

These three girls are brought together by their desire for revenge. They cannot do it on their own, but together, they can plot the sneakiest, juiciest, and most flawless revenge plan.

What can I say? It’s wild, shameless, and fun — I loved it! I wanted to hate it simply because these teenagers are horrible. All they do is drink, party, sleep around, and hate on each other. But those things are what actually make this trilogy such a delicious read. Plenty of booze, boyfriends, bitches, and bestfriendships here. And oh, not to mention revenge plots and ghost stories that will have your heart racing and your hands clammy.

Don’t be quick to hate because there’s more to Lillia, Kat, and Mary than meets the eye. It’s not all about boys and catfights. It’s not all about fun and games, either. It also talks about serious issues like date rape, suicide, sex, and depression. They look like a mindless read, judging from the book covers, but I can’t say that they totally sucked. I enjoyed reading them and didn’t think for one minute I wasted all those hours for nothing.

The ending leaves a lot to be desired, but I can’t really talk about it without spoiling it for you. Now that I’ve finished reading all three books, I actually miss the rich and beautiful people of Jar Island. Especially Kat and Reeve. It really sucks that they’re not real, because in my head, we’re like BFFs. Once again, I’ve managed to crush on a fictional high school quarterback, who’s an asshole most of the time, but really sweet and romantic when nobody’s looking. And once again, I have to break up with these book characters and move on to my next book. Oh, I hurt.

After You by Jojo Moyes

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Image from www.jojomoyes.com

After You picks up on the events that happened after Will Traynor’s death, which took place in the first book, Me Before You. Louisa Clark is still trying to find her way back into the real world, one without Will in it, but with all of his memories everywhere. She goes through life on autopilot; working her crappy pub job at the airport to pay the bills and buy the groceries, living in a colorless and lifeless London flat, and attending a grief support group called Moving On Circle once a week.

Everything in her life feels like a major letdown, and for once, she’s glad that Will is no longer around to see what has become of her. If that’s not depressing enough, she suffers a freak accident right in her own home, forcing her to stay with her parents in her hometown of Stortfold where more family drama awaits. Lou is so ready to accept her fate; that this is as good as it gets, and that she’s simply just not that person Will was convinced she could be.

And then one day, someone from Will’s past turns up at her door. Someone who could’ve possibly been one more reason for Will to want to live, if only they had met sooner. But this someone is even more messed up than Lou, and she finds herself asking: What would Lou have done?

For the first time in a long time, Lou finds a purpose.

What follows next is a rollercoaster of emotions as major life problems unravel and then get sorted out, families break up and make up, and broken hearts are mended and made whole again. Lou finally understands that she need not live in sadness and misery to keep Will alive in her heart forever.

Me Before You was what made me a big Jojo Moyes fan. It’s beautiful, sad, and heartbreaking, and I will forever remain a fan of Will and Lou’s love story. It was such a great book that didn’t need any follow-up book. However, if you know a second book exists out there, you just can’t ignore it. You can’t just not read it.

Overall, After You is not quite as beautiful as Me Before You, but it’s still a nice and entertaining read. For something that deals with grief and moving on, it didn’t feel dark and depressing. It’s actually light, positive, and even laugh out loud funny. Thank you to Ambulance Sam and the guys at the Moving On Circle. They pretty much saved this book for me. I loved the whole flirtation game with Ambulance Sam, and he’s just the kind of man who can get someone like Lou to start loving again.

The sudden appearance of that new major character plus the Clark and Traynor family drama just felt contrived, so I wasn’t too happy about those. I think this plot twist is just tired and too convenient. I would have enjoyed reading a story told from Will Traynor’s point of view, possibly his life before the accident, or his life while with Lou. That would have been loads better than this plot twist straight out of a daytime soap opera. This, however, doesn’t make me less of a Jojo Moyes fan.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

 

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After the harrowing and unforgettable events that happened in the past few months, Joe Goldberg can finally say that his broken heart has healed. He can finally say that he has moved on from the beautiful but troubled Guinevere Beck.

Because now, he has found the perfect woman to love, in the person of Amy Adam.

Meeting Amy was nothing that he orchestrated, nor was it something straight out of a romantic comedy. She was purchasing a rare book using a stolen credit card.

But Joe knew she was something special just by her choice of book, which she had to buy even if it meant blowing her cover. He knew just by her intoxicating beauty and biting wit. He knew that they belonged together, and that he will fall harder than he fell for Beck.

However, just when Joe was starting to feel the first stirrings of love, Amy disappears like a thief in the night. Along with his money and some rare and highly valuable books. When it dawns on him that she had been playing him all this time, something in Joe snaps. He vows to find her and teach her a very hard lesson.

But unlike Beck who had been on Twitter all of the time, and who had written emails like her life depended on it, Amy Adams is off the grid. No social media accounts, no emails, no credit cards, and no permanent address. Locating her will be a challenge. Challenging, but not impossible.

Joe picks up on a lead he finds on his very own laptop. Without any second thought, he packs all of his things and moves to sunny California, where he sets out on a mission to crush Amy’s dreams of being an actress, and eventually keep her silent for good.

Is it freaky to admit that once again I hoped for a happy ending for this psycho killer with good intentions? It felt kind of weird how much I wanted to remind Joe that he has a woman to find and kill, so enough with the Hollywood parties already.

“Hidden Bodies” is less creepy and less suspenseful than “You”, but enjoyable and thrilling all the same. Obviously, there’s less stalking involved, but it still boasts of annoying characters you will want to murder yourself. Thus, the body count here will still leave you feeling strangely satisfied.

Hollywood has different plans for our good-looking, smart, and charismatic Joe Goldberg. In his search for the elusive Amy Adam, he meets plenty of colorful characters along the way. Some I genuinely liked, hated, and fell in love with. That killer ending will leave you wanting for more. You will find yourself rooting for Joe, and hoping that he can get away with murder. And just like me, you will feel helpless and frustrated, because all you can do is wait until Caroline Kepnes churns out the third book.

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

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Like a cruel twist of fate, on the eve of what should have been her third year of being cancer-free, twenty-seven-year-old Daisy Richmond finds out that her cancer is back, and there’s lots of it. It’s not good. The cancer has spread to different parts of her body in a very rapid and aggressive manner. Doctors break the news that her stage four cancer will give her about four months. But the clinical trial can give her more, if she agrees to participate.

Having cancer, or dying of cancer, does not terrify Daisy anymore. She did everything to make sure the cancer did not come back, but still it did, so surely this must be her life’s course. It’s out of her hands now. What truly haunts her every waking moment is the thought of leaving her husband Jack behind.

Who will make sure that he’s eating right, that his dirty socks don’t pile up by the foot of the bed, that he gets the windows caulked, and that he doesn’t lose his keys? Who will hold his hand, kiss his face, and keep his bed warm? Who will make sure that he will finish his doctorate and graduate on time? These are the thoughts that keep Daisy awake at night and sick to her stomach. She cannot leave her kind and brilliant husband to his own devices. Jack will come apart at the seams when she’s gone. Daisy’s certain of it. And that’s the last thing she wants to happen.

It’s time to find him a new wife.

Daisy’s search for the perfect new wife will leave you feeling conflicted. At first, I thought it would be a cheesy drama with lots of hysterical tears in the end. There were tears, yes, but they were both happy and sad tears. Colleen Oakley’s “Before I Go” succeeded in striking a balance between heartbreak and hope, and joy and sadness. I didn’t bawl my eyes out, but I felt like there was something lodged in my throat most of the time, and I was blinking away hot tears before anybody could notice. It’s not your first choice of a book to read because of its gloomy subject, but the author had written the story in a way that is light, funny, and heartbreakingly real. More than the cancer, it focused on how this disease eats away at relationships, and how this disease can also bring people together. I loved that the book didn’t feel like a death sentence, but more of a bittersweet, melancholic, and thoughtful journey of a young and courageous woman, and it felt just right.