Review: Requiem – Lauren Oliver

Review: Requiem – Lauren OliverRequiem by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #3
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books
Published: March 5, 2013
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.Requiem is told from the perspectives of both Lena and her friend Hana. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

I was lucky, SUPER lucky and got to read this book back in November when a friend lent me her Advanced Readers Copy. To say I devoured it would be a huge understatement.  I read the whole book in probably less than 8 hours and it has taken me 3 months to get my thoughts on paper, 3 months to realize it is over, 3 months to accept that Lena’s story is done(well until the TV show starts!).  Why has it taken me so long? Truth: I’m devastated it’s over. I loved this series with everything I have and when I turned that last page and read those last words I was slightly heartbroken because it was an ending. Lauren Oliver had crafted such a deep, emotionally story for these characters and I was sad to see them go. From the first page of Delirium to the last page of Requiem I was invested and to say goodbye was hard. But every good beginning must have an end and I’m thrilled to say I’m happy that Requiem was that end.

Much like Delirium, we get to see both Lena and Hana’s lives, but this time from both girl’s eyes and not just from Lena’s perspective. Both girls have chosen different paths in their lives and that is evident almost immediately because neither one of them is the same girl they were at the beginning of the series. Lena is much harder than she was. She has seen things she never imagined she would back in the days she was with Alex. She has had her heart broken and has been thrown for a loop. She feels things more than she ever could have imagined when she left Portland. And then you have Hana. Hana has been living a loveless life in Portland with guilt slowly eating her alive. Once full of life and energy Hana is now a drone fighting her natural urge to feel things. She is torn and restless and yearns for the life that she could have had. Both girls are in two different places in their lives but suddenly on the same path which is about to coverage right while a war is about to begin and everything is about to change.

Amazing really. Requiem is an amazing ending to an amazing series. Each book gave me a different feeling when I was reading it and I think the anxious feeling I got from Requiem was appropriate. It was more action packed and tense than the other two books but had a deep level of emotion as well. I completely understood Lena’s motives and Hana’s feelings(or lack there off) and why it led each of them to take the actions they did. Lena was stronger than she ever was and Hana was the weak one which in reality was always the case no matter how it appeared. The dynamic between both girls was really spot on.

What I really loved about this book was how you could see the complete growth and maturity of Lena. Oliver managed to show how she became a woman in a subtle yet blatantly apparent way and that was a highlight of this final book. Gone was the uncertain Lena with the school girl like crush on Alex and the envious feelings about her best friend’s life. She did what few others had done, she ran and stood up for what she believed in and she was a better person for it.

Bravo Lauren Oliver for opening my eyes to this world and thank you for letting me spend time with these amazing creations. Much like I felt reading that final word, I leave with a smile on my face and tear in my eye.

Continue Reading

Second Chance Sunday – Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Second Chance Sunday – Pandemonium by Lauren OliverPandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #2
Published by HarperTeen
Published: February 28, 2012
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame. In this electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller Delirium, Lauren Oliver sets Lena on a dangerous course that hurtles through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Seldom is there a book that I am so excited for I run out to purchase it the day it’s released. And rarely does that book live up to my expectation. It is like that movie that people tell you over and over to see that gets built up in your head and then after you see it, total disappointment. It has happened to me before and it will happen again so I was worried about Pandemonium. Did I put too much stock into it? Would it be a “sophomore” slump sp to speak? With the amazingness of Delirium, it had pretty big shoes to fill. Well, Pandemonium filled those shoes and more! It was absolutely everything I wanted it to be and more! It hit all the points I was hoping for, had the growth in the character of Lena that I was looking for and yet left me aching for more, more, more. It did EXACTLY what the second part of this sure to be amazing trilogy was supposed to do; it left me wanting the final piece of the story.

Pandemonium starts off with Lena and where she is now. It has been months since she climbed the fence, months since she watched Alex get shot to save her and she is now part of the resistance. She is undercover in New York doing what she can to help save people from the procedure and to open their eyes like hers were. She has obviously been through a lot since we last saw her, and through a series of Then and Now chapters we get to see what Lena’s life is like now and what it was like when she was in the Wilds. As readers, we are taken on a journey of Lena learning how to fend forever herself and how to trust people she doesn’t know all while burying the emotions of the past and trying to forget Alex, Hana, and Grace. We learn how she got to where she is and what leaving everything behind has done to her.

Because the thing is, Lena Holoway is not the same girl we knew in Delirium. She is this new person that has to deal with that age old saying…“it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Lena has loved. She loved with everything she could and then she lost it all and everything she knew in one split second. That love was taken from her and so was her right to choose and that changes a person. You see, there was no way for Lena to stay the same. Her eyes were opened by Alex and once that happened she couldn’t go back. Lena had to accept how things are and learn to adapt. The thing is in order to do that she has to push down a tiny piece of herself.

Really it was brilliantly done. The changes in Lena are so subtle but noticeable. She is no longer the girl that isn’t anything special. She isn’t the girl that is hiding behind her pretty best friend. She is the girl that Alex brought to light, that he taught to fight for her right to choose. She is braver and stronger and aware. She stands taller and swears and thinks things through instead of being told what to do. Like it says in Pandemonium, she was reborn the day she went over the fence and there is no past.

Honestly, the whole book was just magical. Right down to the page turning, cliffhanger of an ending. I knew Oliver was going to do it, leave us hanging on for more. I just knew it and yet I was sad, happy, annoyed and anxious when I got to the final page. I wanted to throw the book and laugh all at the same time. Instead, I just ended up smiling for a very very long time and I still can’t get the book out of my head. It has only been a couple of days since I read it and I’m already dreaming of a re-read. And that right there is a true testament to the power of her words and a book that will end up being timeless.

There is really a ton of things I can say about Pandemonium. I can go into a ton of details about what the Wilds were like for Lena, the people she encounters, the circumstances that are thrust upon her, and the connections she makes(whether romantic or not), but I just can’t. It would give away too much and you would miss out on a remarkable story. Just do yourself a favor. I know you may or may not know me, but trust me on this…pick up both books, Delirium and Pandemonium, if you haven’t already. In my heart of hearts, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Continue Reading

Where the Stars Still Shine Cover Reveal

Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal and one of the nicest people you will talk to on Twitter, has revealed the cover of her next book Where the Star Still Shine(due out September 2013 but can be pre-ordered here) and she is doing a contest. If you would like to enter please visit her blog for instructions, rules and guidelines. And if you haven’t read Something Like Normal get on that ASAP. And if you have just sit here and drool with me over the gorgeous cover.


Continue Reading

Review: Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore

Review: Bitterblue – Kristin CashoreBitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #3
Published by Dial Books
Published: May 1st 2012
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.

But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck's death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck's reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea's past has become shrouded in mystery, and it's only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle - curious, disguised and alone - to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.

Whatever that past holds.

Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . .

And the Graceling spark is back! What a great, great ending to a pretty amazing series that I almost never read. If you have read my reviews of Graceling and Fire you know that while I loved Graceling to pieces, Fire was definitely not my favorite. I liked it a lot, but I didn’t love it. So with one book left in the series I was scared. I had no idea what I was getting in the final chapter of the story. Well, folks, I got exactly what I hoped for. I got a story that was almost as good as Graceling, faster paced then Fire, and gave me a new love for Queen Bitterblue that I didn’t have in Graceling. I got the perfect ending to a fabulous trilogy that managed to pull all three books together in a pretty seamless fashion. Simply put, I got exactly what I was looking for.

Bitterblue takes place 8 years after Graceling and about 3 decades after Fire. It’s about Bitterblue, who we first met as a 10-year-old in Graceling who was fleeing from her psychopathic father and is taken into safety by Katsa and Prince Po. Now with her father, Leck dead Bitterblue is Queen of Monsea and has been for some time now. Buried under a mountain of paperwork and the burden of the destruction her father caused Bitterblue yearns to get outside and see her kingdom. Unable to do so thanks to her advisers Bitterblue takes to sneaking out and in the midst uncovers secrets in her kingdom that go back to the time her father ruled Monsea and they are secrets that some people don’t want to let out. With the help of some old friends, some commoners and some new friends, Bitterblue has to figure out who to trust and exactly how to move her people forward all while dealing with matters of the heart.

Confession time…I didn’t like Bitterblue in Graceling. I know she was a kid, but there was something about her that I found annoying. So basically I was dreading a whole book about her.  But honestly, I fell head over heels for her in Bitterblue. She had grown leaps and bounds since the first time we saw her and man was I ever grateful. She carried the whole book on her back, I mean she had no choice since the book is titled Bitterblue, but you know what I mean. I actually found myself loving her and the power she held and her desire to want to help her people. I loved seeing her work with Katsa, Po, Raffin & Giddon (like the wouldn’t make an appearance) and I loved seeing her interact with Sapphire and Teddy. As conflicted as she was about moving forward and away from Leck she knew the right thing to do was try and figure out exactly what went down during his reign. And the addition of Fire, Death and the healer were nice touches.

Was Bitterblue as good as Graceling? No, but I’m not sure many books can be. But what it was was a book all its own that used familiar and not so familiar to tie a trilogy together. It used a good mystery to drag you in and kept it fresh and interesting at the same time. Cashore created a fantasy world that was believable in Graceling, gave some background in Fire and tied it all together in Bitterblue leaving this reader very happy and very satisfied. To all of you out there that convinced me to read this series and take a chance, a humble thank you.

Continue Reading

Second Chance Sunday – Delirium by Lauren Oliver

With the countdown to Requiem (pre-order here), the final book in Lauren Oliver’s amazing series, which comes out on March 5th, I am going to use the next two Second Chance Sunday’s to rediscover the first two books. I have already read Requiem and it is amazing(review on that to come). It is everything Delirium was with a lot of Pandemonium added. Although I’m sad to see the series end, my love of it still holds strong.

Second Chance Sunday – Delirium by Lauren OliverDelirium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
Published by HarperCollins
Published: February 7, 2012
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

There is an alternate cover edition for this ISBN13 here.

In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistake.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the "Wilds" who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

To say I loved this book would be a huge understatement.  As many can attest I have suggested and pushed this book on any and everyone I encounter.  I’ve suggested it to friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, some fans of YA literature and dystopian stories and some not.  I have legitimately pushed this book on everyone I know.  Why you may ask? Because it is that freaking good!  And you know what gets me the most now that I have read it twice? I almost didn’t know it was so good because I almost didn’t read it.

Before this book, I was one of those people that wouldn’t read anything that was out of the realm of reality.  If it isn’t something that sounds plausible in real life then it was not going to end up on my to-read shelf.  I had successfully dodged the whole vampire phenomenon and managed not to ever pick up a book about magic.  Not my scene, not my thing. But after much pushing from a friend I caved and gave it a shot.  Did I think outlawing love was possible? Not so much, but I figured what the heck, I’ll go for it.  And let me tell you, Lauren Oliver made a believer out of me.

At first glance, you read the description and think okay, straight up dystopian story.  Different world, different laws, different time. The United States is completely different. There are borders surrounding it with fences, there is less electricity, not as many cars on the road, less spending. It is a completely made up world at first glance and I guess partly you would be right to think that.  But there is so much more to it then just another dystopian once you get to the core of the story. There is heart and angst and a journey of self-discovery hidden in this “make-believe” world.  It isn’t just a story or an alternate reality, it is really a story about a girl that is faced with a truth she never wanted to see and the choices she makes because of it even if it is the opposite of everything she has grown being taught.

Delirium is a story about Lena, an orphaned girl, living with her aunt in Portland, ME.  She is 17 and counting down the days until her 18th birthday so she can get the procedure done that will cure her of the disease, deliria nervosa, we are all born with.  It will cure her of love. In her short 17 years, all she has seen is the destruction love can bring and she wants to forget. She wants to be cured so she can get a free slate and not have to remember what life was like when she felt loved by her mother. She doesn’t want to have to worry that the disease will get her too. But what both Lena and the government don’t realize is love isn’t something you need to be cured from, it is something that makes you strong, something that heals instead of heeds you.  Well, at least Lena didn’t realize it until she met Alex.

Alex. What does one say about Alex?! A seemingly normal boy, no different really then a boy in any other book and yet there is something special about him. He is by far one of the best characters I have ever read about. He sees things that others don’t see, been through things that he shouldn’t have dealt with at his age and yet he believes in love and the power it has.  He believes in Lena and by doing so changes everything Lena thought she wanted, thought she believed in.  He shows her a new world with touching and feeling and laughing and happiness, but he does it in a way that allows her to slowly accept it. He doesn’t push or force her to disbelieve everything she was taught and thought was fact. He shows her the world as he sees and, the world he lives in and by doing that he changes Lena as a person and together they become what the meaning of love is truly about.

Honestly, there really aren’t enough words in the English language to aptly explain the beauty of this book.  It encompasses so much more than your typical love story.  Oliver truly has written an epic story of beauty and wonder and awe and love. It changed me in the best of ways and I will push for people to read this book for as long as I can because it is that amazing. Please don’t be like I was in the beginning and almost miss out on a true work of art.

Continue Reading