Monday, April 8, 2013

The 3 Best Books of 2013 (so far)

I have recently read three seriously amazing books. I don't know what my end of the year lists will look like yet, but I can guarantee these three books will be on them (and likely somewhere at the top because I'm going to have to find some mind-blowing things to beat them). I bought Scarlet before reading it and got the other two at the library (though I immediately went and ordered them from Amazon after finishing both - they are that good). I highly recommend you pick up one or all three ASAP!!!

From Goodreads:
The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Don't read any further if you haven't read Cinder yet (and if you haven't I recommend it's the next book you read :D)!

Scarlet was so incredibly satisfying. All sequels should be this amazing! It is as good if not even better than Cinder. I loved the way the story continued and all the new characters that were introduced. And the incredibly brilliant way Marissa Meyer brings in fairy tale touches is my favorite, favorite part. This series really is the best of sci-fi, the best of dystopian, and the best of fairy retelling books. So, Scarlet is Red Riding Hood, but with moxy. She is so freaking awesome. The whole story and how it unfolded had me on edge, because as Scarlet gets to know Wolf (and holy cow, Wolf!) the whole time I'm thinking, "Ummm... we like him, but hello!!! His name is Wolf!!!! Don't trust him!" Let's just say the way it all turns out is (like I said before) incredibly satisfying. Staying true to the fairy tale, but still taking a completely original and clever spin on it.

And don't forget about Cinder. She plays a big part, along with the hilarious Captain (or should I say Cadet?) Thorne. Oh this book needed him. Scarlet's story is intense and when it switches over to Cinder and Thorne's POV (and Iko! So fabulous the way she returns!!!) Thorne provides some much needed comic relief. He's such a swaggering Han Solo wannabe and he cracked me up. Cinder finds much-needed answers and proof of her past and decides to embrace her real identity. It is so empowering. Don't forget Kai (love!) and Queen Levana either. Poor Kai is left confused and conflicted about missing Cinder and has a huge burden left on him - that would be Queen Levana and her wrath. And she further proves she is the most psycho evil queen of all time. All the stakes are being raised here for all characters and I am dying to see where this goes next.

Which is to the moon, by the way. And a Rapunzel character (who we know from her brief book 1 cameo as the instantly lovable trapped hacker - oh my gosh I can't wait for her story).

Content: Nothing in the way of language or sensuality (ok, maybe a little snogging between Scarlet and Wolf, but trust me - it's not a bad thing!). The final battle scene did get a bit bloody for my tastes but it also in my opinion makes the danger more real and got me even more invested in seeing Cinder and her friends succeed in the end.

 From Goodreads:
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Pivot Point is the first debut novel this year to completely live up to and exceed my expectations. I fell in love with it almost immediately and I am so looking forward to continuing this series. If you try one new book this year, let Pivot Point be it.

It seems like X-Men type superpowers have been done a million times and a million ways, but Pivot Point does the impossible and makes them totally fresh and new, with powers and abilities I've never seen done before. Addie's ability to search choices is so awesome (made me wish I could have had that one as a teenager). So, if you've read the summary you know the gist. Addie is given the impossible choice of deciding which of her parents to live with. One lets her stay in the paranormal compound she's lived in her whole life, and the other takes her to the outside world. The book is essentially her search, alternating chapters between what will happen in each scenario. It was so fascinating, especially as the suspense begins to build and it becomes clear that Addie has an impossible choice. Each scenario is filled with the same very real danger and Addie is able to do things about it in each scenario, but neither is enough to solve the mystery and the crime and to stop the murderer (and his accomplice/s who may or may not be people Addie is close to...) The romance is also worth a mention and so lovely. Addie develops a love interest in each scenario but this is no love triangle. As the book progresses I definitely found myself leaning one way and then wayyyy that way and then some big reveals come out and POW! Just woah. Can't say anymore. Someone read it so we can talk because that was awesome but heartbreaking.

I liked that the same basic events happened on each side; the parallel was so cool to follow. And huge kudos to Kasie West for an excellent job well done making me love and get invested in all side characters. From Addie's best friend Laila to Duke and Trevor (the love interests - both so incredible and layered) to Addie's FBI agent dad. Even the villains are well-drawn and multi-faceted.

And ack!!! Wait till you see how it ends and what Addie has to decide!!!

Highly recommended.

Content: Absolutely, beautifully clean. I found nothing objectionable. No swearing and no violence (even though the danger and evil are very real). I was especially pleased that the teenagers didn't spend their free time partying and drinking. There's a point in the story when a football game has just ended and Addie's with a group of friends celebrating and I thought for sure that the alcohol would come out, but instead they split into groups and played a game where they raced around to each other's houses, competing to see who could find the best dessert. It made me laugh because it's so something I would have done with my friends as a teen. I wasn't surprised to find out that Kasie West is originally from Utah and most likely Mormon, because we Mormons have to get crazy and creative like that as teens, since we don't drink and party. :D Maybe all that creativity is what makes so many Mormons great writers? Who knows, but I seriously appreciate seeing teens spending time not killing their brain cells.
From Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Oh my goodness. Poison is so charming, so funny, so perfectly everything I love in this type of book that I want to cry because there will never be a sequel. If you're a blogger, you've probably heard, but if not, the author Bridget Zinn passed away in 2011 from cancer and this book is being published posthumously. But don't think for a moment that I'm giving this book a glowing review out of charity, because it fully deserves every one of those five stars.

Kyra... well Kyra is fabulous. Hilarious. And talented. Don't mess with her because if you annoy her she'll knock you out with any of the numerous poisonous weapons she has hiding on her person at all times. Her potion and magical abilities are delightful and despite her penchant for poison-tipped weapons she is a good person and would never hurt a thing (I was kidding about her knocking you out for annoying her - she wouldn't... but she would definitely think about it!) unless it was absolutely necessary.

That right there is what drives this book. Why? Why would Kyra try to kill her best friend the princess? What did the princess do to deserve it? I liked Kyra so much I trusted her to have a good reason even though the answers don't come until near the end of the book. And when the answers come they are perfect. So mind-blowing. So good.

Kyra's adventure covers witches, trolls, evil magicians, vengeful thief lords, a seriously adorable pig (I'm not one to easily fall for cute animal sidekicks, but trust me - it's never been done this way before... I want that pig), poison, magical potions with lots of fun effects, mistaken identities, disguises, and I could go on. I loved every moment. And don't forget the romance with Fred. So perfect. So charming. I don't think I've ever liked the name Fred so much before. :D

Some things were predictable, but there were plenty of surprises in store (some huge ones even!). I loved it all. I can't wait to read it again and again.

Content: Nada. Enjoy!


melissa @ 1lbr said...

I've got Scarlet and Poison waiting so patiently for me on my shelf. Why can't I just pick them up already? Now I'm interested to try Pivot Point too. I love it when I get a bunch of fabulous books all in a row.

April and Jeff said...

I just finished Pivot Point! LOVED it. I like to read your reviews, then the book, them re-read the review! Please don't ever stop this blog. I totally love it.