Review: Sinner

sinnerTitle: Sinner

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls 3.5

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Read via: ARC received at Book Con (thanks!)

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

If there was one thing that would have made the chaos of Book Con worth it, it was receiving an advanced copy of Sinner. Cole and Isabel were my favorite characters in Linger and Forever, and I was disappointed with the ending they had in Forever. Therefore, you can imagine how I thrilled I was when plans for Sinner were announced, and I’m happy to say that it was so worth the wait. I am utterly in love with this book, and it completely killed me.

Cole and Isabel are just as broken, raw, and amazing as they were before. Cole, especially, repeatedly broke my heart. His emotional struggles felt so incredibly real, and I empathized with him immensely. However, Isabel remains my favorite character. She’s rough, brutal at times, but her tough exterior hides so much pain and heart. The relationship between the two of them is complicated if nothing else, but for some reason these two seem to make each other better. It’s a messy road they travel though. In addition to Isabel and Cole, Sinner is filled with a marvelous cast of characters. Leon, Jeremy, and Sofia were amazing. All of them provided brilliant moments of humor, but also heartbreaking and fun glimpses into their own lives.

From the moment I began reading, Sinner was impossible to put down. It has Maggie Stiefvater’s usual gorgeous writing full of dramatic storytelling and lyrical prose. While this may classify as fantasy (there are werewolves after all), honestly, there were moments when I forgot about this because these characters and their struggles could easily exist in the “real world.” There may be wolves, but Sinner is truly an in-depth look at addiction, fame, relationships, and pain in so many forms.

In the end, Sinner may be my new favorite of The Wolves of Mercy Falls. I cannot explain how brutally intense and emotional this book was, and I would highly recommend it. Occasionally, when authors decide to continue on a completed series it doesn’t work, but Sinner only improves upon the books that came before. However, I would warn that some moments could be triggering.

Cover: 3.5
Plot: 4
Writing: 4.5
Personally: 4.5

Overall: 4.1 out of 5

Review: Spell Bound

Title: Spell Bound

Series: Hex Hall #3

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Read via: Purchased

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.
Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

I began reading this series because of the fantastic covers, but I stayed for the amazing characters, fantastic plot, and witty dialogue. Reading Spell Bound, the final book of the series, I can still say that all of these things are true. I am still in awe of the story that Rachel Hawkins has created, and its ability to make me laugh out loud and also break my heart.

Sophie is rather lost at the beginning of this book, understandably so. After the dramatic events of Demonglass, Sophie is at loss. She is not sure about the fates of most of the people she loves, and she finds herself questioning all the things she thought she knew. Meeting the Brannicks was an absolutely perfect twist to the story, and I only wish that I would have been able to spend more time with the stories of the Brannick women. Archer and Cal both play important roles for Sophie, and I am still in love with the way the love triangle comes to a head. This is one of my favorite love triangles, because I absolutely adore both Archer and Cal.

My one major complaint with Spell Bound is that so much happens. At times the story seemed a little bit rushed, but I will admit that the constant twists and turns also kept me completely engrossed in it. The way the many elements of the plot pull together was compelling and, if nothing else, utterly dramatic.

Overall, I think this was a wonderful conclusion to the Hex Hall series, and I am very happy with the way things turned out. I will admit there was one moment that absolutely broke my heart, but there were also many moments had me grinning. I have heard statements about a possible spin-off series, featuring one of the characters that appeared in Spell Bound. I must admit I am thrilled with the idea, and am crossing my fingers that Izzy (Isolde) Brannick is the featured character, because she totally and completely deserves her own series. I would definitely recommend not only Spell Bound, but the entire Hex Hall series.

Cover: 4
Plot: 5
Writing: 4
Personally: 4

Overall: 4.2 out of 5

Review: Spell Bound

Title: Spell Bound

Series: Hex Hall #3

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Read via: Purchased

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.
Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

I began reading this series because of the fantastic covers, but I stayed for the amazing characters, fantastic plot, and witty dialogue. Reading Spell Bound, the final book of the series, I can still say that all of these things are true. I am still in awe of the story that Rachel Hawkins has created, and its ability to make me laugh out loud and also break my heart.

Sophie is rather lost at the beginning of this book, understandably so. After the dramatic events of Demonglass, Sophie is at loss. She is not sure about the fates of most of the people she loves, and she finds herself questioning all the things she thought she knew. Meeting the Brannicks was an absolutely perfect twist to the story, and I only wish that I would have been able to spend more time with the stories of the Brannick women. Archer and Cal both play important roles for Sophie, and I am still in love with the way the love triangle comes to a head. This is one of my favorite love triangles, because I absolutely adore both Archer and Cal.

My one major complaint with Spell Bound is that so much happens. At times the story seemed a little bit rushed, but I will admit that the constant twists and turns also kept me completely engrossed in it. The way the many elements of the plot pull together was compelling and, if nothing else, utterly dramatic.

Overall, I think this was a wonderful conclusion to the Hex Hall series, and I am very happy with the way things turned out. I will admit there was one moment that absolutely broke my heart, but there were also many moments had me grinning. I have heard statements about a possible spin-off series, featuring one of the characters that appeared in Spell Bound. I must admit I am thrilled with the idea, and am crossing my fingers that Izzy (Isolde) Brannick is the featured character, because she totally and completely deserves her own series. I would definitely recommend not only Spell Bound, but the entire Hex Hall series.

Cover: 4
Plot: 5
Writing: 4
Personally: 4

Overall: 4.2 out of 5

Review: The Savage Grace

Title: The Savage Grace

Series: Dark Divine #3

Author: Bree Despain

Read via: ARC from Publisher

A troubled soul. An impossible choice. A final battle.
Wrestling with the werewolf curse pulsing deep inside of her, Grace Divine was finally able to find her brother, but it nearly cost her everything.
With her boyfriend, Daniel, stuck in wolf form and Sirhan’s death approaching, time is running out for Grace to stop Caleb Kalbi and his gang of demons. If she fails, her family and hometown will perish. Everything rests on Grace’s shoulders.
The final installment in The Dark Divine trilogy brings Daniel and Grace’s love story to a breathtaking conclusion.

After the terribly cruel ending of The Lost Saint, I (and my sister) have been dying to read this book. Then, of course, there was the changing release date. From December to March, that is just too long to wait! However, I was elated, no make that ecstatic, when I received an ARC copy from the publisher (for which I must say THANK YOU!!).  I read this the day I received it, taking only one break in the middle. I could not put it down.

All of the fantastic characters are back for this conclusion. The first chapter starts shortly after the end of The Lost Saint. Daniel is still stuck as the white wolf, which is heartbreaking for Grace. Grace’s emotional state is so raw; it’s hard not to want to cry with her. Grace’s family remains an important element of the story as well. Her father is still one of my favorite parental figures in YA literature. There are also some new characters, “the lost boys”. Werewolves that left Caleb’s “gang” to follow Daniel. They add a humorous element to the overall serious, dramatic tone of the story. I fell in love with Grace and Daniel’s “little family”.

This book is probably the most intense, dramatic of the series. The stakes are so high for everyone, and in the end not everyone will survive. It is hard to say much about the plot without giving away anything, so this review will likely be short. Haunting, beautiful, and with one of the best romances in YA this is a series you do not want to miss!

Overall, this may not be my favorite book in the series, but it is a fantastic conclusion. Although the ending is rather ambiguous, so I am hoping for more at some point. If you have not started reading this series, I recommend that you do so immediately. It is unique, engaging, and a gorgeously written series that standouts amongst the many paranormal books in the YA genre today. Fans of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater would probably enjoy this one as well.

Cover: 5
Plot: 4.5
Writing: 4
Personally: 4

Overall: 4.3 out of 5

Review: Bloodrose

Title: Bloodrose

Series: Nightshade #3

Author: Andrea Cremer

Read via: Purchased

The Ultimate Sacrifice.
Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.
In the final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Andrea Cremer creates a novel with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its final pages. A dynamic end to this breathtaking trilogy.

This review is a long time coming. I was entranced by Nightshade; I fell in love with Wolfsbane. Then came Bloodrose. I think it has taken me so long to write this simply because it has taken some time to process how I feel, and what it is I want to say. The end of a series is always a tricky thing. I had hopes for this, but at the same time I tried to prepare myself for how I thought it would end.

All the marvelous characters are back for the final battle. I still thoroughly enjoyed Calla. Although her back-and-forth between Ren & Shay did get to be a little too much at times. Shay and Ren. These two boys, men, have caused so much tension throughout all of the books. I am a diehard Ren fan. I was not at first, but throughout the end of Nightshade and most of Wolfsbane, I could not stand Shay. I am happy to say though, that I actually came to have a sort of respect for Shay by the end of Bloodrose. I was not expecting that, and it was a happy surprise. Adne and Connor are both back in Bloodrose, and they are definitely my two favorite new characters from Wolfsbane. Sabine gets a marvelous storyline that I fell in love with. By the end of the book, I think she was possibly my favorite character.

This book is nonstop action from the beginning to the end. All of the action comes with a price, however, and the losses are heavy. I found all of them to be quite believable, and gave the story added depth. The story builds up nicely to the final confrontation. It is that final confrontation that will divide the readers of the book. I am not pleased with it, but I can understand it. Plus it gave us a wonderfully, heartbreaking scene that I adored. It is a rare thing for a book to bring me to tears, but that scene did.

Overall, Bloodrose is hard for me to say something concretely good or bad about. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, especially some of the subplots. The ending, however, I am not content with. I understand it, but I just do not love it. I will still recommend the series. I think it is a fantastic series with some wonderful characters and a fantastic take on werewolf mythology. At the same time though, I cannot say that Bloodrose sits upon my favorites shelf.

Cover: 3
Plot: 4
Writing: 3.5
Personally: 3

Overall: 3.3 out of 5

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

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Review: Clockwork Prince

Title: Clockwork Prince

Series: Infernal Devices #2

Author: Cassandra Clare

Read via: Christmas Gift

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

I absolutely adored The Mortal Instruments series, but I did not completely fall in love with Clockwork Angel. However, I was still really looking forward to reading this, especially as the reviews for this were so positive. Needless to say I am definitely one of those positive reviewers. With this book I am a solid, happy fan of the Infernal Devices series.

All of the characters are so unique, interesting, and all around entertaining. Tessa is a marvelous heroine, although not as physically tough as some. Her abilities and history remain completely intriguing. Jem and Will are even better in this book than the first. The relationship between the three of them is exceedingly complex. This is probably, hands-down the best love triangle I have ever read. I cannot remember another book where I was so torn as to how I wanted it to end. Even as one couple is perfectly happy, the person being left out completely breaks my heart. Sophie’s role expands in this book, and I found that to be very enjoyable. I loved her all-around, and I hope we get to see more of her in the next book.

I sped through this book, because it was absolutely impossible to put down. From the opening of the book through the shocking last sentences, the book charges full speed ahead. Full of mystery, intrigue, romance, and heartbreak, there is never a dull moment. All of the characters experience growth, but it was especially noticeable in Will’s storyline. So much is revealed about his history and his motivations, and honestly it just makes him that much better as a character.

Filled with Cassandra Clare’s trademark witty remarks and beautiful writing, this book is absolutely brilliant and has a well-earned spot on my favorites shelf. Fans of both the Mortal Instruments series and Clockwork Angel are sure to love this, and, like me, will be anxiously awaiting the next book. The cliffhanger ending will ensure that. I highly, highly recommend both this series and Mortal Instruments!

Cover: 3.5
Plot: 5
Writing: 5
Personally: 4

Overall: 4.3 out of 5

Review: Born at Midnight

Title: Born At Midnight

Series: Shadow Falls #1

Author: C.C. Hunter

Read via: library

Kylie Galen has had a lot of crap tossed in her lap lately. Her parents are getting a divorce for who the heck knows why. Her boyfriend broke up with her because she wouldn’t put out.  And her grandmother died because . . . well, older people do that.  But now, Kylie’s acquired a stalker and she hasn’t a clue what he wants or how to get rid of him . . . and she really wants to get rid of him because apparently she’s the only one who sees him.  Thinking she may be losing it, her parents send her off to see a psychologist who gets Kylie sent to Shadow Falls Camp.  Kylie and her parents think it’s a camp for troubled teens.

They thought wrong.

Kylie’s surrounded by vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches and shapeshifters.  And if she believes what they tell her, she’s one of them.  They’re just not sure exactly how she fits in. As Kylie struggles to cope with the realization that these creatures even exist, and the fact that she might not be human, she’s got two hot guys, a werewolf and a half-fairy vying for her attention.  And they can just keep vying.  Kylie’s determined that before she lets her heart loose on love, she needs to unearth the truth.  What does the ghost want?  Who can and can’t she trust?  And most of all . . . What is she?

The gorgeous cover is what initially drew my attention to this book. Then, of course, there is the fabulous title. I was immediately intrigued. Then there was the quick release(s) of the next book(s) in the series. I always love being able to read a series without having to wait between each book. Unfortunately it took me ages to get a copy of this book via my library, but I did finally. I will admit that after seeing this on some Top Ten & Favorites lists that I was a bit disappointed.

The storyline was excellent from the beginning. Kylie’s family life and “mental issues” captured my interest. For the most part I enjoyed Kylie. I did think that the way she held out on accepting herself for so much of the book was rather irritating, but somewhat understandable. My biggest problem with her was the way she seemed to be “in love” with every boy she came into contact with. That was just too unrealistic and annoyed me. Her friendships with Holiday and her two roommates were awesome though. Nicely developed, they were very nice examples of good friendships between girls. Of the boys in the story, I definitely was much more in love with Lucas. Derek was nice, but, like Kylie, I was never completely trusting of him.

The story is interesting, but at times it felt like the mystery of what was happening at the camp disappeared behind Kylie’s personal struggles. The vast variety of paranormals is a nice plus, but many of the characters are lacking in real depth. There are many interesting histories and subplots for the surrounding characters that I wish we could get more of. Kylie’s journey to find her identity and that of “her” ghost were very compelling, although a little predictable towards the end.

Overall, I thought this was a nice, quick read. There are certain aspects of the story that seem geared more toward older teens (mentions of teen pregnancy, sexual content), but the writing and story are not as mature. The potential for a good series is there, but I am not sure if I am interested enough to continue reading the series.

Cover: 3.5
Plot: 3
Writing: 3
Personally: 3

Overall: 3.1 out of 5

Review: Forever

Title: Forever

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Read via: ARC from ALA
*Special thanks to my amazing cousin who passed this on to me.

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater

then.

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment – a moment of death or life, farewell or forever

Wow! It is strange to believe that this is the end of such a marvelous series. When I first read Shiver, I was not sure if I was going to fall in love with this series, but then came Linger. I was absolutely entranced, especially by the four characters who dominate the story. Strangely, at least to my friends, my favorite characters are not Sam & Grace, but Cole and especially Isabel. I have been desperately waiting to read this for months, and at my family reunion my cousin asked if I read this series because she had picked up an ARC of Forever when she was at ALA. Needless to say I was completely ecstatic. I went home and stayed up reading until I had turned the final page.
Everything in Mercy Falls has changed, Sam and Grace have switched places. Sam is the one who now has to wait for the weather to warm enough for Grace to stay human. The brief moments where Grace became human were painful and heartbreaking. As she fought to remember who she was and where she belonged my heart kept hurting for Sam who would do anything to save her, bring her back. As always Cole and Isabel are a bit more volatile characters. In this book though, Cole has a new sense of purpose and a fierce drive to discover a way to save the wolves. Isabel finds herself again caught between her friendship with Sam, Grace, and Cole and her relationship with her father. Please excuse the next fangirling lines, I adore Isabel as a character! She is very vulnerable, but at the same time she as this tough, devil-may-care attitude that I admire. I could read a spin-off series based around her!! In case that was not obvious, that was a hint. 😉 😉
The pacing and action of this story is fast, fast, fast! It never slows down, let alone stop to let you catch your breath. It is just one thing after another, and that is absolutely marvelous. The rush to save the wolves, Sam, Cole, and now Grace among them, is a main theme throughout the story. I just loved every aspect of it. The writing, as usual, was fantastic.
Overall I found myself completely blown away by this book. It is a stunning conclusion to what has been a spectacular series. I loved the way it ended, but I would kill highly enjoy any stories that continued telling us about Sam, Grace, Cole, and Isabel! This is definitely a must read for fans of the series, and I think it concludes everything quite nicely.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review: Nightshade

Title: Nightshade

Author: Andrea Cremer

Read via: library

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers.

But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Why did it take me so long to read this?! I cannot believe that I kept passing up on opportunities to read this amazing book. So, you may be asking, why did I? Well, it was the summary. I am not sure why, but it never really *caught* me. Despite the gorgeous cover, I just was not drawn in. I finally decided to break down and read it. I am absolutely thrilled that I did.
Calla is the biggest reason for loving this book. She is an excellent heroine. She’s strong, courageous, tough, and definitely not your typical YA girl. I love her! The relationships within and between the packs were absolutely fascinating to me. I loved the variety and mix of the pack members. They were all their own people as well as members of the pack. I really enjoyed the relationship between Bryn and Calla, although I wish it had been present more. There is a love triangle. I know that makes many of you sigh, and me along with you. Shay and Ren are both good, decent characters. I was not sure which one I liked, even as I finished the book. As I have thought it over though, I think I am definitely more in love with Ren. I am not sure why, but I had a hard time liking Shay. I do kind of feel, however, that he was the one I was supposed to like. I am still hoping that Ren and Calla have a chance though.
I love the world the author created. The balance and power between the Guardians and the Keepers. Plus you have the mysterious Searchers. I love the mythology and history that is given to the characters and their world. It is a tense, mysterious read that kept me interested and intrigued. I do not know what else to say beyond how much I really loved it.
I would like to note that there is some content that tips this more towards older readers. Some of the moments, especially between Ren and Calla are a bit steamy, so just beware before handing this to a young reader.Otherwise, go read this!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover Rating: 5 out of 5

Review: Nightshade

Title: Nightshade

Author: Andrea Cremer

Read via: library

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers.

But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Why did it take me so long to read this?! I cannot believe that I kept passing up on opportunities to read this amazing book. So, you may be asking, why did I? Well, it was the summary. I am not sure why, but it never really *caught* me. Despite the gorgeous cover, I just was not drawn in. I finally decided to break down and read it. I am absolutely thrilled that I did.
Calla is the biggest reason for loving this book. She is an excellent heroine. She’s strong, courageous, tough, and definitely not your typical YA girl. I love her! The relationships within and between the packs were absolutely fascinating to me. I loved the variety and mix of the pack members. They were all their own people as well as members of the pack. I really enjoyed the relationship between Bryn and Calla, although I wish it had been present more. There is a love triangle. I know that makes many of you sigh, and me along with you. Shay and Ren are both good, decent characters. I was not sure which one I liked, even as I finished the book. As I have thought it over though, I think I am definitely more in love with Ren. I am not sure why, but I had a hard time liking Shay. I do kind of feel, however, that he was the one I was supposed to like. I am still hoping that Ren and Calla have a chance though.
I love the world the author created. The balance and power between the Guardians and the Keepers. Plus you have the mysterious Searchers. I love the mythology and history that is given to the characters and their world. It is a tense, mysterious read that kept me interested and intrigued. I do not know what else to say beyond how much I really loved it.
I would like to note that there is some content that tips this more towards older readers. Some of the moments, especially between Ren and Calla are a bit steamy, so just beware before handing this to a young reader.Otherwise, go read this!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover Rating: 5 out of 5