ARC Review: Playlist For the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

Title: Playlist For the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Publication: January 27th 2015 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

-- My Rating --
4/5 Oscars: Really Liked It

-- My Thoughts --

    I was in mood for some dark contemporary when I stumbled upon this one. I think I put a lot of expectations into this book and it almost reached them.
     There's nothing left after Hayden dies. Only a playlist of songs that he leaves for his best friend, Sam. Sam doesn't get what happened and everything changes when he meets Astrid and her group of misfits. And Sam begins to question everything that has happened.
     First thing I loved about this book is the main character, Sam. I loved him. He felt so real, with his inner turmoil and his insecurities. A real fleshed-out character. Then, there's Astrid. I was very conflicted about my feelings for her. She reminded me a bit of Alaska from John Green's Looking For Alaska. The whole mysterious sexy girl attitude. The other characters were all one-dimensional. I didn't feel much for them.
     Then, there's the romance aspect. The romance was such a sweet and fluffy thing. I loved how it started from scratch and grew into a more stable thing. But the plot definitely surprised me. I didn't expect the ending chapters and they were somehow of a shock, but a good kind of one.
     The reference to the playlist and all those songs was very enjoyable! The ending was bittersweet and hopeful and I loved it. I am not such a big fan of happily ever afters so this was perfect for me. Although this book was not my favorite, I am definitely waiting for more books from the author.

ARC Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: This Shattered World (Starbound #2)
Author(s): Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publication: December 23rd 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: YA Science Fiction, Romance
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...
Rating: Five Stars

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

-- My Rating --
5/5 Oscars: LOVED it

-- My Thoughts --

     I have found my favorite book of 2014, period. I read These Broken Stars such a long time ago and it blew me away! It was beyond amazing and I was afraid this wouldn't match up! It totally did!
     Jubilee Chase is the Captain of the forces on the planet Avon. She's fearsome and fearless. Flynn Cormac is one of the rebels. It's in his blood. He has to do everything to keep his people safe. Even if it means kidnapping Jubilee for ransom. But these two people might actually find unlikely allies in one another.
     I am absolutely in LOVE with the world that these two authors have created. I love their world-building. It's intense and vivid. I could almost picture it in my mind. All those secret passages, the swamp, the cave, the bases. All so believable and so beautifully crafted. They are masters of descriptions.
     Then, there are the characters; Jubilee and Flynn. Jubilee is fearless, smart, cunning, badass and she has a heart of gold. I loved her and loved her personality. She was as cold as iron at first, but she grew on me through the course of this book. Then, there's Flynn. Oh, Flynn "gushing". I don't know how Kaufman and Spooner write these perfectly flawed swoon-worthy male leads that will leave you awwing and ahhing over them (I just made up two words :P ). He was kind and maybe a bit too nice, but I fell absolutely in love with him.
     The romance was sweet, slow, and beautiful. It felt real. There aren't any dull moments in this book. It's fast-moving, suspenseful and thrilling. It kept me on the edge of my seat with every new revelation. The whispers in the first book make an appearance in this one too. And they are seriously creepy. I was creeped out by the scenes with them in it and I LOVED that.
     But my absolute favorite thing is the cameo that the main characters of the first book make in this one! We meet Lilac and Tarver again! I LOVED them in the first book. And seeing them with Jubilee and Flynn was amazing! I loved the interactions and their back-story together was PERFECTLY INTERWOVEN!
     I noticed that some reviewers said that the characters act too old for their age. But I didn't mind then. Imagine living in such a world and going through so many things at such an early age definitely changes a person. For worse or for better. And I understood the way the characters acted and they were smart, I loved that.
     I can go on and on about how amazing this book was but it would never be enough. I am sad that we are drawing nearer and nearer to the end of this series and I do NOT want it to end. It's one of my favorite series EVER and these two books are on my all-time favorite shelf. They are masterpieces and I admire the way these two authors co-write this series. It's flawless. If you're into fantasy, science fiction, and a touch of romance, then you will LOVE this!

ARC Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publication: April 3rd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Source: Provided by the kind publisher...

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

-- My Rating --
5/5 Oscars: LOVED it

-- My Thoughts --

     I have been hearing so much about this series for a long while now. I didn't know exactly what genre it was but when I had the chance to read it, I jumped at it! And I am SO GLAD I did.
     Ismae has lived a harsh childhood and when she has the chance to become one of Death's handmaidens, she thinks that she finally has a chance to fit in. But with Brittany on the edge of war and siege and in a place where loyalties are tested and nobody is what they seem, executing Death's wishes has never been harder.
     First, the setting. Brittany. In a time where there is a threat of war from France. The MOST wonderful thing is that everything in this book has been taken from true historical events. Of course, some of the characters are fictional, but most of them were real people! The book has some actual historical events and it was so thrilling getting to read about them. I loved that the author took this approach and I think she excelled at it.
     The characters are definitely this book's strongest suit. I LOVED Ismae. She is the true definition of a bad ass heroine with a  brave heart and a kind soul. She had a unique voice. The other secondary characters were also quite believable, whether they were likable or not.
     Then, there's our love interest, Duval. This is by far one of the BEST romances I have ever read. Believe me, nothing compares to the excellence in which this romance was served. It developed slowly and it was believable. There was true chemistry and tension and passion. And I LOVED every single moment they were together.
     The events in this book are extremely thrilling. It's been a long while since I have read a book that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout its length and i didn't feel bored for a second. I cannot wait to start the second book and dive more into the depth and the wonderful imagery that is in Robin Lafevers' writing. PS I realized while reading this book that I am a HUGE fan of that era. I can picture myself walking in a castle with a huge gown. PERFECT!