The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass [ARC Review]

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I recieved this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

SummaryCastella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.

Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.

Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Review: I came into this book not knowing what to expect, just having been intrigued enough to request an advanced copy, and I was pleasantly surprised. Though short, an incredible amount of development occurred. I really enjoyed the religious aspect of the book, which I was surprised by. Even as the book made clear that the Cresswell family took part in a harmful form of religion, religion as a whole was never condemned by the author, which I thought was so important. There was very little romance that occurred, and I was so happy about that. And when it was there, it was not only focused on one couple. However, I will admit, I was put off by the idea of incest. It was certainly not approved of, and was shown to be wrong, but I was a little wary. I loved Castley’s development. It was so natural and felt so right for her situation.The development for everyone in the family was amazing. There was a fair amount of surprises, which was great! I do wish this had been just a bit longer, though. I feel like if it was, the plot development and minor character development would have reached a whole new level. I also wish there had been more about their family history. I would’ve loved to see more about their father’s and his reasons for becoming who he was, and his motives for doing the things he does at the end. Overall, this was a very good book that I enjoyed immensely. I’m so glad to have received the ARC!

Rook by Sharon Cameron [REVIEW]

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Summary: History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction – Dystopian, Fantasy

Review: I was so intrigued by the synopsis of this book. Anything based on the French Revolution is exciting to me, and this seemed like the perfect retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel while still remaining original. Unfortunately, this book is nothing like what I was expecting. While still Revolution-esque, it’s more of a dystopian than anything else, and an underdeveloped one at that. This was a decent book, but nothing particularly stood out to me that made it amazing.

The book started off strong, with an introduction that drew you in, but began to drag very quickly. I felt like the majority of this book was filler, and that if it had been shorter, I would’ve enjoyed it immensely more. You were given a world so completely different from ours, which I loved, but there was no introduction to the setting. There were characters introduced, phrases used, places mentioned, that you had no explanation of. You jumped right in, which is typically a good thing in novels, but this book seemed underdeveloped in that way.

I liked the characters, especially as you began to see more and more of their motives and feelings towards others and the situation at hand. Sophia and Rene were amazing characters, but they fell flat sometimes as well. Their romance grew on me throughout the course of the book, but I wasn’t immediately on board with it. In all honesty, these characters fell flat because of a complete lack of plot consistency. You were introduced to elements that seemed like important plot points, and they were skimmed right over when there should’ve been a reason for their appearance. I was downright confused about the plot for the majority of the book, and even with a big revelation of the truth towards the end, it felt like it didn’t line up with everything that had just happened for 400 pages.

I was more interested in how this world came to be than what was going on in the first place. I loved the idea of a world without machines, where machines were blamed for death and a shift in the way of living. I wish that had been what this book was about, but unfortunately it wasn’t. The concept was amazing, it was simply poorly executed.

This was a good book, and I’m more than glad I read it, but it was nothing special. It fell victim to a lot of “classic YA tropes” that I normally have no issue with, but they were underdeveloped here. After reading the author’s note at the end, I was provided with the context that I needed, but I wish that note had been placed at the beginning of the book so I could better understand the setting I was entering into. All in all, this was a good book, but it will most likely fall to the recesses of my mind.

Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken [REVIEW]

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Summary: In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

As an enormous fan of The Darkest Minds, I was greatly looking forward to this release. I’ve always been a fan of time travel books, and this one was no disappointment. It was fast paced, magnificently written, and held your interest. While at times I had a hard time picking it up and reading it, it was certainly an amazing book, and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.

Etta and Nicholas are two complex, hard-headed characters, and seeing them together was amazing. It was wonderful to see an interracial relationship that openly discussed the difficulties in being together due to race. Furthermore, Bracken did not shy away from attacking race and gender roles of the past head on. Etta openly stood up for herself, even when it was not deemed “proper”, and stood up for other women too. While I loved Etta and Nicholas’s realtionship, it wasn’t necessarily healthy, and moved just a bit too fast for my liking. However, they still had a deep and genuine connection that I enjoyed reading about and found myself connecting to.

The plot itself was very intricate, and I feel like I got lost in the finer details every now and again. Despite that, I was engaged throughout the novel. It moved at a very fast pace, and never spent too long dragging out the journey. I didn’t like how long the chapters were, but that’s purely personal taste. The way the plot was uncovered and built up as it went on was amazing. And Bracken certainly threw me for a loop right there at the end, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out in the sequel.

Overall, this book was an incredible ride. It was engaging, well written, and an overally enjoyable read. I cannot wait to see where the sequel goes, and how the characters develop even further.

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein [REIVEW]

code name verity

SummaryOct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction (WWII)

It’s truly difficult to write this review through my tears. This is one of the most captivating, intricate novels ever written. It constantly made you reevaluate and piece things together yourself, while still remaining explicit enough to understand. The twists and turns at play made this book what it was. But overall, it was so much more than what it appears to be. This book deserves every bit of love and attention it has received.

At the end of the day, this book had one main focus: friendship. The genuine love that Maddie and Julie had for each other, and the depth of their connection, is so special. Without the two of them, this book would not exist the way it does, and would not be nearly as heartbreaking. While it is understood going into it that certain things are going to happen, nothing can prepare you for actually reading the events. Maddie and Julie are two of the strongest, most complex characters, and to see women be the focus of a WWII novel is something that should not be overlooked.

While there were moments of confusion, specifically in the first half, by the end of the novel everything had been sorted out and put together. What you thought you knew, what you were sure you knew, was flipped in an instant once Maddie’s part began, and I loved it.The actual plot of this novel was breathtaking. Much of the specifics relating to aircraft and military strategy was lost on me, but it didn’t take away from the overall experience of reading the novel, which is what was important. I wasn’t sure I was going to love this novel as much as I did because I didn’t always understand it, but once I reached the end, I fully understood why the novel was written the way it was.

This is a hard book to write a review for, as so much lies in the experience and the writing of the novel. It’s hard to sit down and try to fully capture what this novel is while also not giving away too much. All I can say is, this book was a journey and one I’m so glad I took. If you haven’t experienced it for yourself yet, move this novel to the top of your list.

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu [REVIEW]

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Summary: Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

This series continues to be one of the most fascinating out there. It’s incredibly rare to find villains as main characters, but Marie Lu has done it spectacularly. This book is everything the series needed in order to advance both the plot and the characters forward. It was dark, it was cruel, it was heartless. With small spots of light intertwined through the book, every heartstring was tugged at some point or another.

Marie Lu has crafted one of the most spectacular villains out there. Adelina is dark and cruel but has just enough light left in her to make you root for her no matter what her actions may be. There were times towards the end where she was downright frightening. The dynamic between the Daggers and the Roses was incredible. You see two groups fighting for the same thing in oppposite ways and the masterful way it’s written is breathtaking. The relationship between Adelina and her sister was also taken to new heights, and Violetta became fleshed out in a way she had not been before. Given what was seen at the end, their future as a pair is certainly something to look forward to.

The addition of new characters is what really made this book stand out. Magiano and Sergio added a new level to what the Young Elites really are and showed the scope (and subsequent danger) of their powers. However, old characters were still interspersed and developed at the same time. Without giving too much away, a certain character coming back added even more to the story. It took the book places you may never have seen coming, and will take it even further in the next installment.

The ending was spectacular, and led to so many questions to be answered in the final book. Marie Lu has always been brilliant in her conclusions, and the next book is sure to be anticipated even more than this one was.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven [REVIEW]

all the bright places

All the Bright Places is one of the most captivating books I’ve read this year. I’ve had it for a while, but never thought to pick it up until recently. I am so glad I did. This book was a wonderful mix of heartbreaking and hopeful. The narrators draw you in and make you feel everything they do. As sad as this book was, it left me with an overall feeling of happiness, which is something I never expected. This book tugs on all your heartstrings, and you want it to.

The way Finch and Violet brought out the best in each other was so incredibly special. Despite everything Finch struggled with, his ability to teach Violet to live while wanting to die was unbelievable. There wasn’t much I related to in these characters, but I still felt connected to them. I loved the concept of their wanderings, and how their relationship grew and changed in such a natural way. They got to see different sides of each other that they would never have seen otherwise, and found something to love about life together.

I saw it coming, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. I was heartbroken by the end of the novel, but I loved the impression of everything being okay you were left with. The characters moved past while still remembering. What finally broke me was the final wandering. It was something unexpected and absolutely shattering. I was so glad it happened, and that throughout the book you were reminded of Violet’s initial tragedy and her struggle with dealing with that.

This book was a gift. Suicide is a topic not typically focused on in YA lit, and I’m glad to see it being handled in a mature and serious way, while also reminding readers that you can move on and learn to live again in the wake of a death. I hope everyone reads this before the movie comes out, in a wholistic way unaffected by preconceptions of the film. I hope anyone struggling with mental illness in any form reads this book and experiences it for themselves, and finds comfort in it.