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Annabelle Marie Veronica has read 11 books toward her goal of 100 books.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011
*****FINAL RATING: 5.00 STARS*****

Let's just say that I rarely rate books 5.00 stars. It is a huge accomplishment.

Where to begin? I'll start with a miniature anecdote.

Some time ago I bought a tube of bright, electric, cobalt blue mascara. I wanted something different and fun. Well, recently I've taken to wearing it and have observed that it is very noticeable. I get compliments and comments on it all the time. It seems impossible for people not to say something or, at the very least, do a double take.

Anyway, there is a point to this story. This book is like that. It's impossible not to notice it. It's practically screaming, "I'M RIGHT HERE, EVERYONE!!! SEE ME SEE ME SEE ME!!!!" And it's beautiful and different and very, very wonderful.

Cas is a wonderful narrator whose voice I loved from the very beginning. He's intriguing and haunting and downright sexy. He's also beautifully developed BUT the author does not spend pages and pages going over the way he looks. In fact, I'm not entirely sure we are subjected to the way he looks at all. Thank you, Ms. Blake, for not obsessing over the way our hero looks. There are ideas, certainly, but I can picture him in my head quite clearly.

He kind of reminds me of my boyfriend, actually. Not the killing-ghosts part, but the dedication part. Okaaay, they are dedicated for different reasons, but that is beside the point. Dedication is sexy in a man.

ANYWAY. It's not often I get to read a very good book from a male P.O.V., and I'm happy to say that Cas did not disappoint me in the least. He was a wonderful hero whom I immediately fell in love with and I enjoy reading about him immensely.

I adore Anna. She seems so haunted and even though she doesn't remember her past at first, clearly trapped inside it. She has so much history and so much emotions that she managed more than once to drive me to tears. Anna is no puffball (oh my God, I used the word puffball) and she is most definitely not TSTL. I loved that she was strong.

Anna is such an interesting character and I wished we'd gotten to see her more even though we saw her so much. She has such an air of mystery surrounding her and I'd love to go even deeper into her character.

Carmel and Thomas were wonderful secondary characters who were not underdeveloped and served nice places in the story. They each are beautifully characterized and described. I feel like I know them very well, as I should. Morfran is a magnificent character as well. Will, Chase, and Mike serve also move the story along nicely as well, though that is their only purpose, really. Each character is very well-written. Anyway. I probably can't really say much else here without starting to blab spoilers so… moving on.

Oh my, my, my. This plot is so beautiful and original that I almost don't know what to say. I most certainly do not want to give anything away because I would hate to ruin this book for anyone. It's perfect. Intriguing and mysterious and just the right amount of vague, it blends into the story and fits beautifully. The plot is so original that it never gets boring, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The setting and the details are intricate. Every detail was perfect, from the Victorian house to the elaborate but nicely slowly moving descriptions of magic. Magic, also, was not overused or clich├ęd. I'm afraid to say more, so.

(Someone pointed out to me that I forgot to write this section. I actually totally meant to leave it out. *LIE*)
Anyway, the romance was beautiful. It was not developed too quickly and it had real substance. It wasn't shoved in my face. It was subtle but it was most definitely there. Cas and Anna make a sweet, if tragic, pair, and I will be looking forward to how this plays out later on. 

Ahhh!! I love Ms. Blake's writing. It's lovely and detailed and not insipid or vapid at all. It definitely contributes to the beauty of the story, and, as aforementioned, I adore Cas' voice. It is realistic and intelligent and rings true. The writing is never boring, but brings to life the characters and plot and setting of the book and makes them real and visible.

Beautifully written ending with an awful cliffhanger. Awful because the next book does not arrive until early next August. The ending was relevant and didn't feel thrown in but seemed well-thought-out. It didn't feel overused but original. It was definitely a ver good way to end the book and I'm not sure it could have been better.

I will absolutely be reading the sequel as soon as I can possibly get my hands on it. This book left me aching for Girl of Nightmares.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The sky is dark with wings. . . .

In RAPTURE, the highly anticipated fourth and final novel in the FALLEN series, Luce and Daniel are together . . . but for how long? Can history be rewritten? Or are some punishments eternal?

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Amelia—still caught between life and death—must fight for every moment of her relationship with the human boy Joshua. They can hardly even kiss without Amelia accidentally dematerializing. Looking for answers, they go to visit some of Joshua’s Seer relatives in New Orleans. But even in a city so famously steeped in the supernatural, Amelia ends up with more questions than answers…and becomes increasingly convinced that she and Joshua can never have a future together.Wandering through the French Quarter, Amelia meets other in-between ghosts, and begins to seriously consider joining them. And then she meets Gabrielle. Somehow, against impossible odds, Gaby has found a way to live a sort of half-life...a half-life for which Amelia would pay any price. Torn between two worlds, Amelia must choose carefully, before the evil spirits of the netherworld choose for her.

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Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose affect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates.

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011
****FINAL RATING: 4.50 STARS**** 

This was my first read from this author but it certainly will not be my last. The beautiful love story is romantic and everything about the book is absolutely lovely. I burned through it so quickly and I simply could not get enough. Every page left me yearning for more. This gorgeous retelling of Beauty and the Beast is marvelous. 

Annabel is a beautiful and complex character and I loved her from the start. And I'm not just being biased because of the whole name thing. ;) She usually makes good decisions and always seems to try to truly make the right choice, taking herself into consideration without being completely selfish. It's a trait that seems so rare in YA heroines these days and I loved seeing it here. Annabel is strong and independent and shows over and over again that she doesn't need anyone else's opinion to survive on her own. Annabel is also so brave. I admired that in her, as well as her strong faith, which is another thing sorely lacking in YA reading these days. Annabel is an incredible exemplar of female strength and I loved that both about her and about this book as a whole. 

Ranulf is a haunting and gorgeous character who immediately intrigued me. As the book progressed, I got to know him better and better, as opposed to hearing about the same traits over and over again or nothing at all. He continually develops throughout the novel. He has a little bit of darkness to him but buried underneath his outward appearance lies a sweet man. He has much more substance than many YA male leads. I thought he was a very well-written character. He blossoms beautifully throughout the novel. Ranulf is definitely one of the better characters in this book. 

Ah, the plot of this novel was pretty and fairly original considering that it was a retelling. First and foremost it was a love story, but it also has themes of independence and a lot of faith. There's a lot of content in the Bible readings that take place throughout the novel. Annabel's plight also serves as an entertaining plot line for the romance to write itself on. There's no really dull points and it moves at a nice pace, not too slowly but not too quickly. 

Annabel's and Ranulf's romance is sweet and believable. It is a tad underdeveloped, but overall I really liked it and felt it was much nicer done. And there's definitely no insta-love. No love triangle either, which was quite refreshing. The romance isn't gross and it's not too insubstantial. It's beautiful. It takes time to develop and doesn't factor in for a little while, so it doesn't dominate the entire book, even though most readers will realize he is the love interest. 

I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that I really liked it. It was fascinating and fantastically written. 

Dickerson's writing is artful and eloquent without being ostentatious. It's pretty and not over simplistic. She writes with a practiced hand and it is clear that she is a professional writer. It does not come across as amateurish. The writing was probably one of my favorite aspects of this novel and made it very enjoyable. 

It was a beautifully written story with strong characters and a sweet romance. I genuinely enjoyed reading it and will be picking up more novels by this author in the future. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The final chapter of Evie's adventures. Old friends, new ones, all wrapped up in impossible decisions. And some ball gowns. Because what's a life of normal and paranormal drama without a ball gown or two?

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Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.
Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.
Not this time.
But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.
Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.
But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.
And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

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As the only Scion that can enter Hades at will, Helen descends to the Underworld in search of a way to overcome the Furies and end the cycle of revenge that has cursed the Scions. But she’s running out of time. Each descent weakens her both in mind and spirit. A mysterious stranger might be her only salvation, but the price may be her love for Lucas Delos.

As an unforgettable love triangle emerges, Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding. The eagerly awaited sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed, Dreamless delivers with a huge emotional impact that will leave readers satisfied—and longing for more.

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Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful—and deadly—of all, and she is working with Klea to conquer and destroy Avalon. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares for a fight she never thought she would have to face.
Filled with heart-pounding action, sweeping romance, and higher stakes at every turn, Destined is the series conclusion that readers have been clamoring for—with a twist that will leave them breathless.

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I wanted to like this book. I really did. It was one of those books I heard about by random chance and immediately started counting down the days to its release. It looked that good, and was beautiful besides. And when I finally bought it, with its gorgeous cover, I was ecstatic. I dove right in. The beginning was amazing and drew me in right away. And now? I'm embarrassed to admit I own it. Yet another time where I've let beautifully written dust jacket blurbs and lovely covers suck me in. 

This review will contain spoilers. Major ones. And profanity, so if that insults you, stop here. Please. 

(Profanity has been redacted from this review to keep it and my blog clean. However, my Goodreads review still gets to feel the full burn of my anger.)

Seriously. There is A LOT of profanity. I'm not sure I've ever used so much in a review before. Or at all, for that matter. 

(Again, profanity has been redacted from this review.)

Was I supposed to like her at all? Juliet was vapid, shallow, and selfish. Not to mention that she could never stick to a decision. Ever. All she ever did was complain about how she hates Romeo because he killed her, and then near the end of the book she remembers that SHE FREAKING KILLED HERSELF. What. The. Heck?!? There are no words sufficient to describe the stupidity of this!! "Oops. My bad! You didn't kill me. So I've been hating you all these years for nothing! Shoot!" It makes no sense!! Basically, she's wasted her entire centuries of her life. And what was with the whole "I hated myself but I should really love myself" stuff? It sounded too thrown in at the last moment, too rushed. There was no real substance and throughout the entire book Juliet felt so false and fake. 

Um. So. What about him? Let's see, he's hot, he's dreamy, he's hot, he's dreamy, and, oh yeah, in his past life he was BENVOLIO FREAKING MONTAGUE. This makes absolutely no sense and felt so thrown in! Can you say random? Or how about I have no clue what to write so I think I'll throw this in? It felt like Jay needed to end the book so she made something up at the last minute. Too bad it makes no sense. And what was with his creepy, overprotectiveness? Not to mention his weird, annoying habit of being stupid and obtuse? He annoyed the hell out of me! Where's the good character traits that I'm supposed to fall in love with?! Why was he so shallow? Why does Juliet love him? Answers, please!! There's not even anything good to say about him. He talks too much and when he talks nothing that makes even remote sense comes out of his mouth. 

Romeo is the only remotely interesting character in this book. He has a sexy, bad boy attitude that's actually attractive. He's supposed to be evil, at least according to Juliet, but I don't see it. I love the two or three intermezzos (incidentally, I speak Italian.Intermezzo means interval. Which makes no sense. Just saying) when we get to hear the story from his point of view. He has a gorgeous, sarcastic voice and his parts are actually well written.He has more depth than every other character combined. he has regrets, and he made his choices. he has to live by them, but he doesn't have to like them. I love that about him and I wish there were more characters like him in this book. 

Ariel's best friend, Gemma, is so freaking annoying. Talk about a spoiled brat. Although Juliet couldn't seem to make up her mind about her, liking her one moment and hating her the next. So bipolar!! Make up your damn mind. There's not much to say about her, but I wanted to say this, so here goes: what was the point of her, exactly? 

The plot was, like, OMG, amazing. 

Wait, that's not right. It sucked. 

Juliet is so freaking indecisive, which does not help the plot at all. 

I must be with Ben. I love him. 
I can't be with Ben. He's supposed to love Gemma. 
Screw Gemma! Ben, let's make out. 
Go away, Ben! We can't ever be together! 
Actually, let's elope. 

Or try this one: 

Romeo, I'm not working with you. 
Oh, Romeo, fine. Let's get it over with. 
Just kidding. I want to stay with Ben. 
No! Wait! I need your help! 
Screw you. I don't want to speak to you again. 

And so on and so forth. So the book drags on for pages and pages of unnecessary stuff where nothing happens. 

Basically, Juliet makes out with Romeo to convince Ben that they're together so he and Gemma can be together. Then she realizes Gemma and Mike are soul mates and Ben is her soul mate. They make out and fall in love. A bit too convenient, don't you think? 

Hmm, you're right. Way too convenient. 

And what happens? Love. Yep. That pretty much sums up the whole plot. So let's move on… 

Romeo and Juliet fall in love in about five days, give or take. The author says she doesn't believe this love was real, and yet she has Ben and Juliet fall in love in three days? It makes no freaking sense. There's no substance to the romance. Seriously, if anyone knows why Ben and Juliet fall in love, please tell me. Because it looks like a serious freaking case of insta-love to me. All they ever do is make out. They never actually have a deep conversation. And let's not mention that Juliet is technically lying to him about who she is. So he's in love with a stranger and doesn't know it. Lovely. How wonderful for them that they can fall in love without knowing one another at all. It seems to me like Juliet is repeating her mistake. How great. What a wonderful message to send to the world. 

Oh my God. ALTERNATE UNIVERSES. Are you freaking kidding me? This feels so thrown in at the last second! Innocent Ariel is lying on the ground. She's going to die, and so is Juliet. But wait! Juliet gets sent to an alternate universe! And Ariel exists in a another universe too, so it's okay! Well, what about this universe?!? I hate this. The damn alternate universe thing is such a damn crutch. Jay is basically saying she had no clue as to how to end the book, so she threw in alternate universes. Where Juliet falls in love with Ben as Benvolio Montague, in her original body. Instantly. And everything is happy and cheerful. Except for the fact that it's completely unbelievable. She gets a new life in the most pathetic way possible. And Ariel can start over. But since she, you know, died in this universe, making everything that Juliet was semi-decent enough to try to do for her, completely freaking pointless! Because she's dead! So the entire book was a waste!! Why not just start at the freaking ending?!? She might as well have!! Everything that happens throughout the entire book becomes irrelevant at the end. Ariel starts out in a new universe as Romeo's second chance. Great! So clean! Except for the major plot hole: where did the freaking alternate universes come from?! And why are the Ambassadors the only one who can use them?! Oh, and what happened to the Mercenaries?! Never mind them! We got our happy ending! Yeah. Sure. 

Juliet is the narrator. 'Nuff said. 
No, but seriously, her voice is so annoying. I might've actually enjoyed the book more told from third person P.O.V. or someone else's P.O.V. Romeo's brief chapters, for example, I actually enjoyed. He has a dark, sardonic voice that pulls you in. Juliet, on the other hand, pushes your away. There's really not much else to say. Juliet was irritating and Romeo was not. 

Will I read the sequel? Probably only if it's about Romeo. And even then, only if it has a nice cover. Otherwise, I'd be too ashamed to buy it. 

That was a mouthful. Anyway, that seemingly romantic quote on the back of the book? Well, not only does it turn out it would've sounded stupid because there was no love between Ben and Juliet that I could see, she doesn't even say it. She just thinks it. How lame is that? Pathetic, I know. 


Never let it be said that I didn't try to like this book, because I did try. I tried impossibly hard. The cover is shimmery and absolutely gorgeous, and there's so much symbolism I could write an essay on the implications of the cover alone. The book was so promising in the beginning too. I've read so many glowing reviews, but I just didn't feel it. It also felt a bit simplistic and empty; I can't even write a good snark review about it. 

While I've definitely read about worse heroines (Luce, Juliet, Amelia, I'm talking about you) Cassia wasn't my favorite. Not even close, really. She just felt so shallow to me. I know plenty of you will disagree, but I simply did not like her. I din't exactly dislike her, but it was definitely borderline. She was somewhat vapid and I didn't feel like I knew her as well as I should by the end of the book. I thought she seemed rather annoying at times and while she definitely had her moments, I overall didn't care for her. 

Xander was probably the only character in this book I actually really liked. While I do love my bad boys, there's also something about the good ones too. I thought Xander was a good representation of the kind of resistance that most of us would do in such a society; not open disobedience, but not complete conformity. He was so sweet and soft, even. He's so steady and he always seems to be there at just the right moments. Xander has the type of exterior that's marred by a few interior flaws, but imperfection is usually more attractive than perfection. The only thing I don't get is why he would want to be with Cassia. 
There's not a lot to say about him, except that I probably haven't disliked a male lead so much in a really long time, if ever. He irritated me. Looking back, I can't say why exactly. That probably weakens my argument, but it's my opinion. Either way, I disliked him. He felt so shallow and I he seemed condescending to me. I know he's made many young ladies swoon but again, I'm not feeling it. I skimmed more than read the parts where he showed up which were far too many. He bored me and I thought he was rather stupid too. 

There wasn't really much of a plot to the novel. It honestly felt like a really long introduction and nothing really happened. Sure, there were incidents, but nothing major. It seemed like the story was basically a dystopian romance. Usually, I wouldn't mind, but liking the romance would involve actually loving the characters. This plot was essentially nonexistent, although I do like the parts about the pills and the Hundred poems, paintings, etc., and the artifacts. Basically, I enjoyed reading about the actual society. Condie has crafted a beautiful dystopian world. 

That's all this book was about. Romance. Mostly Cassia and Ky. We see a little bit of Xander, although it's obvious from the beginning that Cassia has already chosen Ky. The love triangle feels forced and unnatural. Cassia and Ky's romance is shallow and flat from the very beginning. They have so little chemistry and everything between them feels awkward and feigned. Cassia and Xander weren't much better, although they did seem to sizzle a bit in the beginning. If Condie can capture that in later books, it would really increase my appreciation for her books. 

I'm fairly certain it was supposed to be a cliffhanger, but when I finished I didn't get my usual OMGMUSTGETNEXTBOOKNOW feeling. It closed the story better than I had expected but there was no real urgency to it. I liked some of the closing scenes but others I didn't care for. It left me with mixed feelings but was overall not terrible. 

Condie has beautiful writing but reading everything from Cassia's P.O.V. somewhat bored me. I didn't care for it. However, like I said, the writing itself was actually pretty good, if a tad simple. It was a bit young for a YA series, but it is a debut novel, so, as usual, I'll cut some slack. 

I will be reading Crossed, but without any particular urgency. Still, I'm looking forward to reading it. 

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