Marie Lu’s Villain Squad + a Giveaway

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The second book, The Rose Society, in the New York Times Best Selling series, The Young Elites, by Marie Lu will be released on October 13, 2015, with the paper back of The Young Elites currently in stores. The series is about power-hungry Adelina’s rapid descent into paranoia and madness, as she pulls together her own society of gifted and ruthless malfettos, determined to overthrow those persecuting their kind.

I was asked by Penguin to create my own kind of Villain Identity which was really fun to think about. Honestly I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but then I was inspired when I saw Erin and Jaime’s post and I got an idea of what my Villain identity would be.

I don’t have a lot of bad books habits, unless you count buying too many way one. I mean I don’t dog ear pages, I don’t crack spines and I don’t usually read the end of the book first. But I do have one habit:

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Yup, I admit it, I flip through books sometimes just to find the kissing scenes. It is a sickness that I can’t break. I mean when I am reading certain books I use all the willpower I have not to flip through the book but it isn’t always so successful. I just need to know how many pages I have to wait until I get some of my happily ever after, you know, before the inevitable break-up. So yes, I am Andi and my villain name is The Kiss Searcher.

*thank you Jaime and Erin for giving me the idea!

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Published by Speak
Published: August 25th 2015
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Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Coming Soon:

Marie Lu’s Villain Squad + a GiveawayThe Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

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 that murdered her love, the Crown Prince Enzo Valenciano.

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?

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Review: Where She Went – Gayle Forman

Review: Where She Went – Gayle FormanWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Published by Speak
Published: April 17th 2012
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five-stars

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Review

I first fell in love with Mia and Adam’s stories when I read both If I Stay and Where She Went back in April of 2011. It was my first experience with Gayle Forman’s writing and I was head over heels for it. She wrote a heartbreaking story that made me feel sad and uplifted and broken and emotionally drained and hopeful all in the span of two books. She hit on all the right spots and I just fell in love. And then I saw the If I Stay movie and all of those emotions came back. I left the theater knowing one thing, I had to read Where She Went again. I had to go back to Adam’s story. And the truth is, I had all the same emotions coursing through me as I did the first time I read it, only this time it felt more real, like I knew these characters and I was an actual part of their story.

Where She Went is the second part of the If I Stay duology. It’s been three years since the accident that took away Mia’s family and Adam is off living his dream. He’s won awards, had platinum records, and a tour on the way. But Adam is no longer the same guy he was. His life is the shadow of what it should be and it all traces back to the accident that changed everything he believed in. Now he was a broken guy no longer in love with the music he used to eat, slept and dreamed about. Instead he is a guy just floating by. And then a random, chance encounter changes everything. And the past that Adam thought he was over and had left behind is suddenly right in his face leaving him no choice but to deal with his demons and decide if the past should be left in the past.

So when I read this book the first time I didn’t review it. I had a really hard time putting it into words and I don’t want to spoil either book for anyone. But I just need to get it out there how amazing this follow-up truly is. The truth is if I thought I was demolished by Mia’s story in If I Stay, that was nothing compared to Adam. Where She Went took the feels to a whole other level. My heart just ached for him and everything that had unraveled in his life. How he had to look put together almost all the time when he was just a mess inside. Basically Adam killed me in this book in the kind of way that was a punch to the gut. He just seemed so alone and detached and I hated seeing him that way. But I also understood it. Between the pressure and the guilt and the grief and the heartache he was desperate to not feel so alone which he always did even if he was in a room full of people. Adam was missing one thing and it was his heart which was shattered on a snowy road in Oregon years before. Killed me!

With all that said Where She Went is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read and read reread and that is a testament to Forman and the way she writes a book to make it feel real, how you feel a part of the story. I was affected the first time I read this book, but even more the second time. It felt a part of me and it left me feeling like things sometimes had a way of figuring themselves on their own. If you haven’t read either if these books I highly recommend that you do.

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Review: Champion – Marie Lu

Review: Champion – Marie LuChampion by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #3
Published by Speak
Published: November 5, 2013
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three-stars

He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

Disappointed. That’s the first word that sadly came to mind as I read the last page of Champion, the end of the Legend series. I was flat out disappointed in the series as a whole which I’m well aware is a very unpopular opinion, but how I feel none the less. I really loved Legend. I loved the story and the energy and excitement. But that is where the love ended. For me, there was something missing in both Prodigy and Champion which left me feeling just meh about the series in general.

Champion is the final part of Marie Lu’s Legend series and to say I was leery going in would be a slight understatement. Because the truth is that I wasn’t 100% crazy about Prodigy. I found that book to be slow and picked up enough at the end, but still not up to Legend caliber. I hoped it was just me and timing, but after reading Champion I know it wasn’t timing. It could still just be me, actually, it kind of looks like it is based on reviews and ratings, but I just didn’t feel it. It felt forced and was actually a chore to read in parts because something just wasn’t there for me.

The story picks up where Prodigy left off. June is now part of the new Elector’s political world while Day is dealing with the news of is headaches and the return of his brother Eden. Having been separated for months they try to move on from one another. But when the Republic and all its citizens are in danger June and Day come together and work to stop the danger. But as tensions rise and situations change they are both put to the test and have to decide how far they are willing to go for their country and what I may cost them in the long run.

Like I said, this book was just off for me. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t enjoy it either. Were there parts I liked? Definitely. I enjoyed seeing sides of Day and June that hadn’t really be touched on. I liked hearing more backstory on both of them and their struggles. When they were in scenes together they were magic. And this may be where my trouble lies as I feel like there wasn’t enough of them together. Maybe that was the spark I was missing or what I felt was off. I just don’t know. I wanted to like it, I did, but I just couldn’t do it.

I will say that Lu’s story was strong for the series in general. She thought the whole thing through from the first book to the last and didn’t leave anything to chance. The end of Champion was definitely a unique way to go that was unexpected. Just because I didn’t love it, don’t go by me. Like I said I have the unpopular opinion on this one and I strongly suggest you read it and make up your own mind.

 

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Review: Just One Year – Gayle Forman

Review: Just One Year – Gayle FormanJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Speak
Published: September 30, 2014
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four-stars

The compelling companion title to the much-lauded  Just One Day  follows Willem's transformative journey toward self-discovery and true love, by the author of  If I Stay.

Picking up where  Just One Day  ended, Just One Year  tells Willem's side of the story. After spending an amazing day and night with Allyson in Paris that ends in separation, Willem and Allyson are both searching for one another. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

Let me start by saying how excited I was when a friend got an advanced copy of this and let me borrow it before she even read it. She is totally awesome. I’ve been dying to read this book since I finished Just One Day back in January and it didn’t disappoint…for the most part. Although I didn’t love it as much as Just One Day, I really enjoyed Willem’s story which turned out to be a year of growth and changes.

Just One Year is the companion to Just One Day. I say companion because although it has the exact same characters and revolves around the same circumstances I didn’t find it to be a sequel. It was more a story on its own. It was Willem’s story. When we left our couple in Just One Day we never really got to know what happened to Willem and why he disappeared and what had happened to him. It was all a blank slate and Just One Year clears it all up. We get to see what Willem has been up to in the year since he and “Lulu” had parted. What obstacles he faced, what trials were thrown at him, how much he grew as a person. We find out if he was looking for “Lulu” or if he didn’t care as much. We really get to know him.

You know, I liked Willem a lot in Just One Day. What we knew of him it was good stuff. But it was surface stuff for the most part. Sure we knew his thoughts on love and family, but I didn’t feel we really go to know him. Well that all changed in this book and I liked Willem even more as I watched him truly become a man and not be stuck in that man/boy stage. When we first met him he was kind of a lost soul and “Lulu” grounded him, touched him in a way that would forever change him, and in the year they were apart, he was changed. From the first page to the last Willem changed and I loved being able to clearly see that transformation. We as the reader really got to be a part of it which isn’t always the case.

I know, this review is all very vague, but that’s because I don’t want to give away the wonderfulness of the book. Like I said, to me, it wasn’t as good as the 1st book, and I have my reasons for that that I can’t share without giving away some of the plot, but it really was a great journey. I didn’t want to throw in the towel at any point. I wanted to know everything I could and that is because of Forman’s style of writing which pulls you in. She has a knack for writing character stories whether it is Mia and Adam from If I Stay/Where She Went or Willem and LuLu from the Just One Day Series. You become a part of the journey and that is definitely what happened in Just One Year. I would definitely recommend it. It’s a great period and exclamation point on a great two-part story.

 

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Review: Prodigy – Marie Lu

Review: Prodigy – Marie LuProdigy by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #2
Published by Speak
Published: April 8, 2014
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three-half-stars

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller Legend, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action. 


Right away I will admit to not liking this as much as Legend at all. I found the middle to drag and the end was super sad but you could see coming from a mile away. But I also understood the purpose of this book. To me, Prodigy did what most first books do and set up the series.  In my mind, Prodigy was there to set up the final chapter, the last book in the series, Champion, and that made it understandable why I found parts slow and draggy.

Prodigy picks up right where Legend ended. June and Day are on the run and are heading to Vegas to see the Patriots. Not really sure what they are up against or what the Patriots will do for them, they head in blindly and are faced with a request. For the Patriots to help them they must do one thing, they must kill the Elector Primo. Only things are different because the Elector dies and his son takes over. Faced with a decision June agrees to go to the new Elector undercover and starts to question everything as the new Elector proves to show he is nothing like his father. Now in a race against time and with the truth bubbling to the surface June and Day must make a choice and it is a choice that could leave one or both of the heartbroken.

I really don’t know what it was about this book, but it just didn’t wow me. Like I said, I think I got the point of it, but I still feel like something was missing. Was it a nice addition to Legend, sure. But I also think it could have been condensed and mad part of Legend. I don’t feel like it was enough to be a book on its own and it didn’t really make me pine for Champion like I thought it would.  Maybe it was the lack of Day and June togetherness/interaction or the addition of the Patriots who I found annoying or the fact that I just didn’t like where it went, but it just didn’t feel right. June didn’t seem like June and Day seemed less Day like. I hated the Tess parts and the plot itself reminded me of other dystopian books I have read in the past.

With that said, Lu’s writing was still amazing and one of the parts I really loved about the book. I also liked the end even though I saw it coming. It still left me with a feeling of what will happen next so that was a plus to the experience. All in all, I didn’t get the great book feels that others have seemed to get. It may have just been me and the fact I was traveling and reading or I just wasn’t into it. Either way, I’m still going to read Champion like I planned and find out how this series is going to end. I would say to read it for yourself and you decide what you think.

Don’t forget to enter my Last Hurrah Giveaway. Goes until 8/24 at 11pm EST.

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