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Midnight Addiction

I'm an avid reader and reviewer with an unhealthy addiction to coffee and a love of horses. When I'm not at the barn, I'm curled up with a good book. Over the years, I've developed a bad habit of being unable to put a book down, leading to more than one late night of reading.

Currently reading

Where She Went
Gayle Forman
A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell DNF. I tried, I really tried. I just couldn't force myself through the last 100 pages.

Review to come.

The Elite

The Elite - Kiera Cass Trilogies are notorious for their disappointing middle installments, and [b:The Elite|16248068|The Elite (The Selection, #2)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391454595s/16248068.jpg|20397129] held true to this concept, demonstrating a slew of one dimensional characters, gaping plot holes, and a frustratingly slow pace, which served as some as the best qualities for the first book in the series, [b:The Selection|10507293|The Selection (The Selection, #1)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1322103400s/10507293.jpg|15413183]. Maybe I'm becoming overly critical or have overindulged in dystopian trilogies over the past several years, but I find myself falling in love with the first novel in a series and becoming increasingly frustrated with any later installments. Maybe it's time to look for a few contemporary novels...

First of all, let's address one of the most pressing issues: the characters. Reading 336 pages about someone you would push off a cliff in a heartbeat is a painful endeavor for everyone involved (there were several heated conversations on the matter during which my dislike for the characters was made very clear). Unlike the majority of dystopian protagonists, America lacks confidence and decisiveness, spending the entire novel moping because she can't bring herself to choose between Maxon and Aspen. Relying upon that theory, she might as well not eat dinner for fear of being unable to choose between red and white wine. As the book progressed, America developed the equally annoying habit of becoming enraptured with whomever she was conversing, whether it was Maxon or Aspen. After having a private conversation with Maxon, she was ready to marry him in the blink of an eye, but during the next chapter, she was prepared to return home and start anew with Aspen. While I was tempted to abandon this book, I kept reading, secretly hoping that she would miraculously grow a backbone and move on. Nope, nothing of the sort. If anything, her noncommittal attitude worsened as the book progressed. Talk about a lack of character development.

I was also extremely curious while reading as to whether or not America had a brain in her head. Nearly every decision on her part was illogical, and she couldn't identify the potential consequences of her actions. For example, Marlee's punishment for fooling around with a royal guard failed to dissuade America from secretly meeting Aspen; in fact, it did just the opposite and caused an increase in the number of times that America and Aspen snuck away to a secluded area of the palace to spend time with one another. Because that makes perfect sense.

Aspen wasn't helping matters because he can't seem to make up his mind, either. One moment he's cozying up to America and tending to her every need and the next he's flirting and dancing with her maids and fellow competitors in the Selection. So long story short, everyone is sending each other mixed messages leading to one jumbled mess of confusion and hurt feelings. That is the extent of the plot. And no, there is no dramatic cliffhanger at the conclusion of the novel; in fact, there is very little resolution to the problems presented throughout the book. Therefore, you would easily be able to skip over [b:The Elite|16248068|The Elite (The Selection, #2)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391454595s/16248068.jpg|20397129] entirely and jump straight to [b:The One|20572939|The One (The Selection, #3)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1390089765s/20572939.jpg|21587145] without feeling as if you had missed anything significant.

The minor characters were comprised mainly of clingy, whiny, complaining girls. Having attended a private, all-girls school since first grade, I am privy to enough of these interactions on a daily basis that I do not enjoy reliving these moments while reading. The various girls participating in the Selection represent stereotypical girls from various social groups: there is the popular clique, the nerds, the artistically talented group, and the athletes, all of which were portrayed as extremely unoriginal. And of course, the guy always falls for the unpopular, least suspecting girl who goes through her day-to-day life by trying not to draw attention to herself. Every. Single. Time.

Meanwhile, Kiera Cass felt the need to throw in a few rebel attacks, simply overcomplicating things. These rebel attacks amounted to...wait for it, wait for it...NOTHING! They were minute and unnecessary, serving more as a nuisance than a viable plot point. The only comparison I can draw is to that of a persistent fly that you can't seem to swat and are consequently forced to listen to it buzzing in your ear for the next several hours. The only difference: the fly eventually drops dead of its own accord. The same can't be said for America, sadly. Of course, such a trivial event had to send the girls participating in the Selection into hysterics. Because clearly, everyone loves a group of teenage girls wailing about their "terrible lives" and the fact that they must live in fear of another attack. Insert eye roll here.

Then, we can move on to the dialogue. And the excessive crying. Both of which became obnoxious within the first fifty pages. And failed to improve, contributing to a fairly large number of facepalms. There's not much else to say on the matter, but to emphasize my point:
Kriss: I want to have seven bridesmaids at my wedding. I want to have a big wedding if Maxon chooses me.

Celeste: I won't want to have bridesmaids. Since it would be televised, I want all eyes on me.
Overall, I found [b:The Elite|16248068|The Elite (The Selection, #2)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391454595s/16248068.jpg|20397129] to be extremely disappointing, especially after I had fallen in love with [b:The Selection|10507293|The Selection (The Selection, #1)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1322103400s/10507293.jpg|15413183]. While I tried to give the book the benefit of the doubt initially, my patience quickly wore off, evolving into all-out hatred. While I typically don't enjoy the middle books in trilogies, there are very few that I have truly loathed, and [b:The Elite|16248068|The Elite (The Selection, #2)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1391454595s/16248068.jpg|20397129] definitely tops the list. So save yourself the frustration and simply skip ahead to [b:The One|20572939|The One (The Selection, #3)|Kiera Cass|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1390089765s/20572939.jpg|21587145] - you won't be missing much.

Elixir

Elixir - Ted Galdi I received a free copy of this book in the form of an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This review will contain spoilers, which I will not be tagging. Proceed at your own discretion.

That was a disappointing read. From the book summary and multitudinous positive reviews, I was expecting to be swept off my feet by some spectacular work of art. Instead, I felt like I was reading an entirely unrevised first draft of a mediocre novel. Despite approaching the book with an open mind, and wanting to enjoy it as much as the other reviewers had, I had to force myself through 2/3 of the book, almost marking it DNF on numerous occasions, hoping that it would improve drastically. Don't get your hopes up.

Teenage genius and child prodigy, Sean Malone, is known across the United States as one of the most successful participants on the popular television show, Jeopardy, where he competed regularly against adults at the age of eleven. Now fourteen, Sean is attending Southern California Technology Institute with students nearly twice his age. When he correctly solves a complex computer algorithm that had stumped countless computer geeks for decades, Sean is forced by the United States government to sign a waiver, agreeing to never reveal this knowledge due to its potentially harmful and widespread consequences. For his own safety, Sean is forced to relocate to Italy and adapt an alias, a boy by the name of James. After arriving in Italy, Sean begins to rebuild his life, forming friendships, finding a girlfriend, and trying to leave his past behind him. When his girlfriend contracts Ebola, however, Sean must figure out how to save her before it's too late.

As I touched on earlier, this did not strike me as a nearly finalized and published copy of a book - more like a very rough draft. While I understand that the majority of ARCs undergo further revisions before publication, Elixir contained the greatest number of errors in any ARC that I have read to date. Blatantly obvious errors. Errors that shouldn't have made it past the first draft. The most aggravating punctuation errors were commas, or lack thereof. If I counted all of the occasions where a necessary comma was omitted, I would have a double, or even triple, digit number (a very high one, to say the least). On several occasions, the commas that were present were misused, either inserted in the wrong location or entirely unnecessary. And yes, I am very stringent about comma usage, if you hadn't already gathered that. Additionally, there were some issues with switching verb tenses, as well as noun-pronoun agreement.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the 3rd person limited narrator. This led to excessive pronoun overuse - instead of referring to the main character as Sean, 98% of the time, the author inserted a pronoun, i.e. "he" or "him." This also held true for the other characters in the book, leading to a very large, tangled mess of pronouns, leaving readers stumped as to which he or she is being referenced in any particular sentence. The 3rd person narrator also prevented the author from conveying Sean's thoughts and emotions, which would have drastically improved the story. Not privy to what was going on in Sean's head, it was challenging to connect with him and grasp his perspective on events as they unfolded.

After Sean assumed his fake identity as "James," he was referred to as James in all dialogue, yet the author continued to reference him as Sean in the narrative. This was equally confusing and easily could have been avoided.

A final grammatical error that was repeated throughout the novel was repetitive word choice and phrasing, which pretty much speaks for itself. The writing seemed to be dumbed down to suit a much younger audience, but the subject matter was not appropriate for that young of an audience. A thesaurus would have definitely come in handy in selecting words that do not insult a reader's intelligence. Tying into the repetitive phrasing, Sean traveled to a variety of European countries, all of which spoke a different language. The author had a fascination with designating which language was being spoken, often repeating the dialogue tag of "_____ said in the same language." This was an unnecessary detail that didn't contribute to the overall story.

Overall, the writing style in general was a bit challenging to read. I'm sure you can all imagine why. If you're still stumped, take a look at this character description for yourself:
"He's thin in places he should be thicker, like his shoulders, and thick in places he should be thinner, like his stomach."
Exactly. Enough said.

There were several instances where the author went into too much detail about the characters' day-to-day lives. And yes, most of those were overly graphic, TMI moments. For example, I'm sure we could all do without the comments about a character having to pull over on the side of the highway to urinate (yes, there are a few details excluded here - trying to keep this review PG-13). It's entirely superfluous and does not factor into the plot whatsoever, serving merely as filler to lengthen the book. I have yet to come across a person who enjoys reading filler, let alone vulgar filler.

Many of the scenes were a bit abrupt and unrealistic, a little too perfect. For example, when Sean visits Switzerland, he becomes perfectly fluent in German in less than an hour by reading an instructional book on the plane ride (and yes, German is one of the official languages of Switzerland). I realize that he's intelligent, but I doubt even Albert Einstein would have been capable of such a feat.

Additionally, when Sean's girlfriend contracts Ebola, an extremely deadly and previously incurable illness, Sean magically develops the cure in a matter of hours, a cure that had stumped thousands of scientists before him.

Similarly, his girlfriend contracts Ebola during her family vacation in Africa. After extensive testing, no one else in her family tests positive for the illness. To put it in perspective, Ebola is extremely contagious. That's why any caretakers or visitors of Ebola patients are forced to wear biohazard suits and take proper precautionary measures. Therefore, if Sean's girlfriend was exposed to the virus, theoretically, the rest of her family would have been exposed to it, as well, and also would have fallen ill.

A short while later, Sean is involved in a serious car crash, but manages to walk away from the accident immediately after the car comes to a standstill, only casually noticing several blocks later that his ankle has been torn to shreds, the bone nearly exposed. Sean, however, continues on his merry little way, no indication that he is injured in any way. He even manages to run numerous blocks at top speed, because clearly ankles and their surrounding muscles and ligaments are unimportant for motor function.

The last unrealistic scenario, and the most humorous of the bunch, was Sean's ability to render a fully grown, athletic man unconscious using the metal rod that is generally bolted to bathroom walls to hold rolls of toilet paper. Seriously? You couldn't even knock out a cat with one of those, no matter how hard you tried. Good effort, but I'm not buying it.

There was one final, small detail that really got on my nerves - Sean's extreme fascination with Coke not tasting like Coke after his girlfriend contracts Ebola:
"Sean sips from a straw in his can of Coke, taste not like the one he's used to, his world remaining flavorless with his girlfriend still sick."
He only comments on his tasteless Coke four or five times throughout the novel, which certainly And really? Your girlfriend's still sick? I had no clue. You only mention it about every other sentence.

As I'm hoping you've gathered, this book certainly wasn't for me - from the writing, countless errors, characters, and unbelievable plot. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't justify how so many other reviewers had given this book four and five stars. I desperately wanted to enjoy the novel, especially since the author had been kind enough to print and mail me a copy of the book, but it lacked many of the components I would use to define a spectacular piece of writing. Consequently, I won't be recommending it to anyone anytime soon. And I think that concludes my mini rant.

Beastly

Beastly - Alex Flinn I initially placed this book on my To-Read shelf on a bit of a whim - the summary hadn't exactly won me over, and some of the reviews were none too forgiving. However, I figured that I needed to broaden my horizons and give it a try, instead of trying to judge a book by its cover. So here I am, 24 hours after starting the book (It's definitely saying something when it takes me an entire day to read 300 pages), and somewhat regretting picking up [b:Beastly|544891|Beastly|Alex Flinn|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1334260193s/544891.jpg|532177].

High school junior, Kyle Kingsbury, has the perfect life - he's popular, rich, and highly envied by those around him. He takes his good looks, luxurious lifestyle, and attractive girlfriend for granted, often occupying himself by degrading those he labels as ugly, overweight, shy, nerdy, etc. That is, until a certain girl stands up to him, flinging an insult right back at him. Wishing to teach Kyle a lesson, she casts a spell on him, a spell that takes away any physical beauty, relegating him to the appearance of a monster...a beast. Kyle has two years to fall truly in love with someone, falling in love with her personality and traits instead of her appearance. If Kyle fails to procure a kiss from his true love within the two-year timeframe, he will remain beastly forever.

The book begins with a rather confusing conversation occurring in an online chatroom. Confusing as in readers are completely unfamiliar with the characters participating in the chat and are unsure of what each user has undergone, leading to a rather baffling first 10 pages. After struggling through this uncommon introduction, readers transition to more stereotypical text (dialogue, descriptions, etc.). The writing style flip flops back and forth between the chat room scenario and traditional prose throughout the course of the novel. I definitely preferred the standard writing to the chat room context - it was much easier to follow and comprehend what exactly had transpired.

While [b:Beastly|544891|Beastly|Alex Flinn|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1334260193s/544891.jpg|532177] certainly has an original premise, the remainder of the plot lacked originality. For the most part, it was boring and predictable, right down to the supposedly "dramatic" ending. The characters, meanwhile, seemed oblivious to the consequences of their actions. Have you ever started screaming at an actor/actress on tv not to wander down the dark alleyway where the man with the knife was standing? If you have, then you would understand how I was feeling. Now imagine experiencing that for 300 pages. Exactly. It was torturous. Luckily, the majority of my hair still appears to be attached to my head.

The characters appeared shallow - our main character, Kyle, is initially characterized as an arrogant snob who has no reservations about degrading those he perceives as beneath him. After working to reverse the effects of the curse, however, Kyle experiences a sudden and immediate change in personality, suddenly adopting a kind and considerate attitude toward those around him. This rapid about-face came across as phony and unrealistic. Honestly, who undergoes a complete personality reversal overnight? Additionally, those around him seem much too eager to abruptly accept Kyle's new attitude, never pausing to question the cause of this dramatic change. Because that makes perfect sense.

The romance was ... disappointing ... unbelievable ... phony. Kyle's relationship with Lindy seemed very cliche and forced. Their relationship lacked depth and emotion, resulting in very flat, disengaging encounters. To be honest, I tended to skim the sections involving their "gradually building" romance. Disney's animated production of Beauty and the Beast could better quench your thirst for a little romance (astonishing, I know).

I'm glad to have finally gotten that little mini-rant off my chest. I could go on for another thirty paragraphs, but I think I should spare everyone by curtailing my review here. Needless to say, I won't be purchasing any Alex Flinn books in the near future. That would probably be best both for my sanity - and for all of yours.

If I Stay

If I Stay - Gayle Forman I have been so excited to read this, especially after receiving it as a birthday gift back in June (thanks DR - you know me too well!). After reading countless rave reviews and seeing the movie trailer, I couldn't wait to get started. Needless to say, I had fairly high expectations for If I Stay (this is starting to become a bad habit, because expectations are meant to be broken and I'll only be setting myself up for disappointment). However, I was a bit weary of the plot initially. From the summary, the book sounded like a conglomerate of other works, from The Fault in Our Stars to My Sister's Keeper. I sensed the potential for a patchwork plot composed of completely unrelated storylines pulled from a variety of other books. Let's just say I was relieved that my prediction never came true.

Mia's senior year of high school is riddled with college applications, Juilliard auditions, cello lessons, and spending time with her rocker boyfriend, Adam. Mia's life is average, nothing extraordinary. At least until the family car skids on a patch of ice, crashing headfirst into oncoming traffic. When the smoke clears, Mia realizes that she is watching the scene of the accident as an invisible being, unable to interact with those around her and helpless as paramedics arrive to assess the situation. With both of her parents proclaimed dead upon impact, Mia is loaded into an ambulance, orphaned, helpless, and alone. In this hours to come, Mia repeatedly contemplates whether she should stay or depart this world forever.

The characters were...unique to say the least. This is the first book I have read to date featuring a cello player as the protagonist, which was a refreshing twist. Having played the piano for 11 years, I enjoyed the musical references and components which generally aren't found in the YA genre. I found Mia to be an honest, down-to-earth narrator who chose not to fabricate or embellish her story. Her painstakingly raw emotions were expressed with such clarity as a result of Forman's admirable writing style, impressing themselves upon the reader. Mia experiences a wide range of emotions throughout the book from elated and giddy to downcast and dejected, leaving readers both chuckling and sobbing along the way.

One of my only complaints is regarding the placement and content of the flashbacks in the narrative. The story alternated between the present and past memories or recollections of certain events and individuals. The transitions between some of these scenes were a bit shaky, causing the book to erratically jump from one unrelated thought to the next. On several occasions, flashbacks seemed to splice important plot points, causing the flow of the story to become a bit rough and disjointed. The flashbacks could certainly have been arranged more logically in the narrative, but this was only a minor irritant while I was reading.

Overall, the tender relationships, gripping plot line, and lovable characters made this a challenging read to put down, so I would definitely set aside some reading time before you begin. While lacking the action and adventure found in many popular YA books, If I Stay is a heartfelt, gut-wrenching novel that highlights each individual's mortality and emphasizes the cliche, yet startlingly true, advice to live life to the fullest. While I'm excited to see the movie, I doubt that any film could completely and truly convey the beautifully striking writing. Therefore, I'd strongly recommend to read the book before seeing it in theaters - even nonbelievers, you may be surprised. It's amazing that such a moving book can cause you to reconsider your past choices and decisions, wondering what you may have done differently to procure alternate outcomes. While it's certainly not a light read, it's a sentimental, meaningful one, one that truly hits home.

Allegiance (Harlequin Teen)

Allegiance (Harlequin Teen) - Cayla Kluver Well that was an interesting little plot twist at the end...Review to come.

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre - Susan Ostrov Weisser, Charlotte Brontë This was a nice surprise, particularly after struggling through Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago. I loved the ending, even though it was a bit predictable - it was cute and managed to effectively tie up all loose ends (which is always a plus for me!).

Full review to be posted shortly.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door  - Stephanie Perkins This was such a cute (and rather surprising) read. I'm glad I chose to read Anna and the French Kiss before reading this, due to several reoccurring characters.

Review to come.

The Selection

The Selection - Kiera Cass After months of prompting to pick up this book, I finally decided to give it a try. I was a bit disappointed, especially considering all of the hype surrounding the series.

Full review to come.

City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare The epilogue contained so many Infernal Devices references, bringing on the flood of tears. I was also partially in shock that the series was finally over (although I am excited for the Bane Chronicles, the first of which will be released in 2015). I can't go out in public looking like I just bawled my eyes out. Ok, deep breaths...

Review to come.

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice - David M. Shapard, Jane Austen What better way to start the summer than reading a 740 page annotated version of Pride and Prejudice? Fun, right? I decided to read it in a little over two weeks, hoping to finish it before I left on a family vacation (thankfully, I was successful). In the process, I learned that I am not a Jane Austen fan, this being the first of her novels that I have read in its entirety. While I'm glad that I had an opportunity to read Pride and Prejudice, I wouldn't voluntarily pick up another Jane Austen novel at the moment. Pride and Prejudice should sate any desire to read a classic for quite some time.

For my eleventh grade English class, we were required to purchase and read the annotated edition. I was initially very optimistic about the annotations, hoping that they would facilitate an easier and faster understanding of the text. Unfortunately, as I began reading, I noticed that many of the annotations were unnecessary, or rambled on about completely unrelated topics. While some of the annotations proved to be very helpful, the book could have been significantly shorter in the absence of the extraneous ones, such as images of architecture and carriages that existed at the time.

I found the plot to be very dull, putting me to sleep on more than one occasion (which is definitely saying something because I rarely fall asleep while reading). The events seemed monotonous and nondescript, leading to a dragging and nearly nonexistent plot. The story could have been easily compressed into 5 pages or less.

Austen's style of writing left something to be desired. Her formality made the narrative appear stiff and forced. The characters came across as shallow and lacking depth. They were much too focused on adhering to societal norms to develop a personality and sense of individuality. Consequently, the relationships and romances present throughout the book were equally superficial, often surrounding money and social status. Austen's writing seemed to promote the stereotype that women married solely for money, a generalization that Austen herself refused to succumb to.

While I did not wholeheartedly despise Pride and Prejudice it will not be making my list of all time favorite books. It certainly had its ups and downs, but on a much smaller scale than most novels today. While I wasn't overly fond of the characters, plot, or writing style, it did have a few redeeming qualities, such as a few sharp, witty remarks and the sappy romances that developed. Inevitably, I will be reading more works by Jane Austen at some point in the future and will (hopefully) be able to approach them with an open mind.

Mark Twain had the right idea:
“I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin bone!”

Rebecca

Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier Summer is finally underway, and another year of high school is behind me. Of course that equates to summer reading! My reading list for my British Literature course next year is rather lengthy, so I've decided to get a head start on my summer reading books this year. I chose to read Rebecca first, simply because it was the shortest of the required novels at 448 pages. In all honesty, I was expecting to finish the novel in a matter of days, but had not taken into account the description laden, gothic style. Therefore, I spent slightly more than a week immersed in the book.

Rebecca centers around Maxim de Winter and his late wife, appropriately by the name Rebecca. The de Winters were the ideal couple, internationally acclaimed and admired by family and friends alike. Their prestigious estate at Manderely was famous for its magnificent array of flowers and role as the center of social life in southern England. Upon Rebecca's death during a freak sailing accident, Maxim flees Manderley, overwhelmed by a combination of grief and guilt.

While temporarily stopping in Monte Carlo, Maxim meets and falls in love with the female protagonist, who remains nameless for the entire novel. Maxim finally returns to Manderley with the heroine at his side, replacing Rebecca as his wife and a figure of authority within the household. The protagonist is inundated by constant, inescapable reminders of Rebecca. She is determined to uncover the true mystery surrounding Rebecca's death, but is in no way prepared for the information she discovers.

Rebecca is considered a gothic novel, incorporating elaborate descriptions and placing particular emphasis on the weather. As the novel unfolds, readers recognize that the weather foreshadows the events to come. The descriptions of impending thunderstorms became a bit tiring by the ninth or tenth storm. However, I must applaud Daphne du Maurier for her original, creative approaches to portraying dark, gray clouds looming overhead. I did not enjoy the obvious imbalance between dialogue and description. Excessive description, in any book, causes my attention to quickly dwindle, as was the case throughout Rebecca.

The mysterious and suspenseful mood are also characteristic of gothic literature, playing a large role in Rebecca. Manderley establishes an air of mystery and uncertainty, creating an eerie atmosphere for the novel to take place. As the plot unfolds, readers can begin to piece together various clues and glean what information they can. However, as soon as readers believed they have grasped some small portion of the mystery, their theories are proven wrong in an upcoming scene. Du Maurier keeps readers on their toes, establishing an elaborate series of unforeseen twists and turns.

Also significantly contributing to the mood were the grim characters, especially that of Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers was responsible for orchestrating and managing the servants and necessary household tasks at Manderley. Minimal information is revealed about Mrs. Danvers, above and beyond her strong relationship with Rebecca, which is evident through her cold, haughty attitude toward the female protagonist. Her character's frequent, and often unannounced, comings and goings send chills up readers' spines, leaving them wearily looking over their shoulders.

While Rebecca had several redeeming qualities, I found the book overall to be a bit tedious. The majority of the extensive narrative seemed like filler, and I ended up skimming entire pages of elaborate descriptions. I typically don't mind a slowly-unfolding mystery, but this book was missing the final, mind-numbing plot twist that I search for in mysteries such as this. Additionally, there was minimal characterization present - the protagonist, for example, is never even named. She remains a bit of a doormat throughout the entire book, simply observing and never intervening, reminding me of Judith O'Dea in Night of the Living Dead. The story wouldn't have drastically changed had she sat wordlessly on a couch for the entire novel. All in all, I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters and was secretly hoping that a few of them would just happen to be dragged out to sea (I can guarantee that there would have been no tears shed).

Taking into account the considerable hype surrounding this book, I was sorely disappointed. This was my first du Maurier, and I went into the book with very high expectations. I disliked the novel due to a combination of the ornate writing style and the frustrating characters. Even after seeing the Alfred Hitchcock movie adaptation, I wasn't impressed. Granted, I fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie, but that shows how invested I was in the storyline. The mediocre beginning left me anticipating a dramatic climax, which never arrived, leaving me wanting something more. While I didn't enjoy Rebecca as much as I would have liked, I'm glad that I decided to give it a chance.

Legacy

Legacy - Cayla Kluver Review to come

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick To be completely honest, I read this book on a dare (you know exactly who you are). I was dared by someone who found it intolerable, surpassing Twilight as her least favorite book, which is pretty impressive. After skimming a few reviews here on Goodreads, I learned fairly quickly that readers either loved it, or hated it; there was no real middle ground. Rather disappointingly, I noticed that the most popular reviews of Hush, Hush were labeled with only one star, with a sprinkling of the occasional five star review. So with those encouraging thoughts, I began reading and was shocked by how much I enjoyed it.

Nora Grey has never been particularly interested in finding a boyfriend, much to her best friend, Vee's, dismay. That is, until Patch arrives. Her instincts tell her to run, but her heart draws her closer to him. Patch is both intriguing and terrifying, possessing both unknown secrets from her past and a mysterious past of his own. As her world begins to crumble around her, Nora isn't sure whom to turn to or whom she can trust. Finding herself caught up in a war between heaven and hell, Nora's life is on the line and she is forced to distinguish between friend and foe.

Hush, Hush follows the traditional good girl meets bad boy love story; the characters' true allegiances are not black and white, however, but a muddled mixture of the two, providing readers with a refreshing and well-needed change.

This was my first foray into "fallen angel" novels - it was a completely foreign concept to me until a few weeks ago. I was a little skeptical when I first started Hush, Hush; I couldn't think of a plausible way to incorporate angels and demons into the plot summarized on the back cover. That being said, the summary doesn't do the book justice - the actual text was completely different from what I had been expecting. I think I have a new obsession...with fallen angels.

While the story begins in a very Twilight-esque manner, the plot quickly develops some complicated twists and turns. Just when you think you understand what's about to happen, the book takes a completely different turn, leaving you wide-eyed and mouth gaping open. All of my predictions while I was reading were...very far from the actual outcome - I couldn't have been more wrong. Then again, that may just be a reflection of my predictions...

The characters were realistic and lovable. Readers could witness each character grow and develop throughout the novel, breaking old habits and developing new ones. Patch stood out to me - the dark, cunning, and mysterious figure that every girl drools over. His calculating, yet down to earth, personality contradict his seemingly bad boy appearance, and his softer side is eventually revealed. And yes, I have a new fictional crush.

As a debut novel, Hush, Hush was an impressive and intriguing read. For those of you who haven't read it for a wide array of reasons, you're missing out. The plot summary hints at a cliche boy meets girl love story with a dark, underlying edge, but the plot deviates drastically from this. I highly recommend this - it's a quick read and it will be over before you know it. Besides, I need someone to gush over Patch with. So get reading!

Annabel

Annabel - Lauren Oliver After the rather disappointing ending to Requiem, I was relieved to stumble across the set of novellas associated with the series, hoping they would provide further closure. While this was not the case with Annabel, I was glad I took the time to read it.

Annabel provides further insight into the character of Lena's mother, particularly during her imprisonment in the Crypts. The heart-wrenching tale of her time there served as an eye opener as to how much she truly suffered, hanging onto every small shred of hope she could find. In the series itself, Annabel is overlooked, appearing for only a brief period of time in Requiem; this novella, however, provides a great deal of insight into the suffering she endured, unbeknown to the other characters. She was portrayed as strong and independent, refusing to give up, even in the face of adversity. It was evident that her strength and determination had been passed on to Lena.

Similar to Pandemonium, Annabel is divided into "then" and "now". While I'm not a huge fan of that structure and didn't enjoy it in Pandemonium, I didn't mind it here, surprisingly. The distinction in time portrayed how Annabel had changed and grown as a character, leaving behind her old self in search of a new beginning. Her magnified character growth made her more believable and memorable to readers. Additionally, hearing the story through the perspective of Lena's mother was a refreshing change, especially after reading three entire novels that we're told almost exclusively from Lena's point of view. Annabel was a much more pitiful character; she was wide beyond her years and her voice conveyed the suffering she was forced to overcome. This vulnerable tone is absent from Lena's narration, which is much more rigid and matter-of-fact.

Annabel ended much too quickly, of course. In retrospect, I wish I had read the novellas in the order that they appear in the series. It's a bit late for that, though, but I was glad I decided to give them a try regardless. Requiem was a big discouraging, so I was preparing myself for the worst, but Annabel thankfully exceeded my expectations. And now I think it's time to start the next novella, Hana.

Torment

Torment - Lauren Kate Torment did an excellent job of reminding me exactly why I didn't enjoy Fallen. I wonder why. I also wonder what I was thinking when I decided to pick up Torment. I was unknowingly walking head first into a physical sort of "torment."

Anyway, enough of that. I'll have a full review posted in a few days