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ReRead- Review: The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) by Michelle Hodkin

 

The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3)

By Michelle Hodkin

SummaryMara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.

There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived. 

Source: I preordered a hardcover. It came signed, which was an amazing surprise!

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Review:

Original review posted November 12, 2014 here.
 
Oh. My. God. The Retribution of Mara Dyer was AMAZING. It was such an awesome and action packed ending to the trilogy. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, never knowing what would happen or who Mara could trust. It was such a great book.  
 
I felt like each book got crazier, more terrifying, and the stakes were higher as the story went on. And the whole time, while I knew something was happening to Mara that was beyond her control, I wondered how much, if any of it, was really in her head. I loved not knowing and not knowing just how far the author would take any of Mara’s supposedly crazy suspicions.  
 
The trilogy is a perfect blend of mystery, psychological thriller, romance, and the paranormal, which is a blend that I don’t find often at all. Mara was an unreliable narrator who lost time and and did some seriously disturbing things, but was also clearly being set up by someone at least some of the time.  
 
The Retribution of Mara Dyer answered a ton of questions and linked a lot of the different ideas, characters, and flashbacks together. But it also left enough of the mystery open even at the end. I love when endings are both satisfying and leave some threads open and some questions unanswered. I thought the entire book was absolutely perfect.  
 
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Mara Dyer trilogy is how it feels like it’s not YA. The writing is superb, the themes are dark and twisted, and the characters aren’t afraid to use profanity in their situations. I mean, when your entire life is unraveling before you, I think a little bit of profanity is perfect. I loved that it kind of pushes the limits of what kind of language and themes should be in a YA book and it makes it a perfect read for adults.  
 
I highly recommend the trilogy and thought The Retribution of Mara Dyer may be the best book. It was definitely not a disappointing third book like so many trilogies we’ve all read and loved.

2017 Updates:

I never realized how many people actually disliked the final book in the trilogy or the ending. I always thought it was the strongest book in the trilogy and I didn’t see any problems with the ending. I think, though, that I’m different than most people in that I actually love endings that most people hate. Noah and Mara didn’t uncover some hidden link that proved they were supposed to be together and they decided, instead, to ignore the warnings and be together anyway. I think that’s a lot like life. I don’t really care if a future in which I decided to not choose to marry my husband was a successful one, I would still choose him because it’s worth it to me. I think people wanted a neater bow on the end of the series.

I still think this may be the best book in the trilogy, but I loved book 2 for completely different reasons. In book 2, I was happy to be on a ride in which I wasn’t sure who was telling the truth. Book 3 gave me answers that I feel I really needed, but it uncovered a lot of the mystery from books 1 and 2. I did really enjoy the fact that Noah wasn’t a huge part of the final book, not that I don’t love his character, but I wanted to see Mara have to deal with things without leaning on him and she surprised me by how ruthless and cunning and amazing she could be. We all ask for help when we can, but it occurred to me that Mara never had to face anything head on since the crumbling of the asylum and I loved seeing her grow as a character.

I love this trilogy and I’m so excited to read the spin off that came out this year!

Star 5

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ReRead – Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin

 

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2)

By Michelle Hodkin

SummaryThe truth about Mara Dyer’s dangerous and mysterious abilities continues to unravel in the New York Times bestselling sequel to the thrilling The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.She can’t. She used to think her problems were all in her head. They aren’t. She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets. She’s wrong. In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Original review posted on October 17, 2013 here.

Wow. The Evolution of Mara Dyer was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed the first book, but it was nothing compared to this one. I was floored by the complexity and intelligence of the plot, which sprouted from the events in book 1. I love the mood and feelings I got while reading. Was Mara crazy? Or was whatever was happening to her crazy? What is in her mind? What is real? Who is Mara Dyer? I loved not knowing. I loved the unreliable narrator. It was brilliant! 

Honestly, I had no idea where the plot would go. It was just as plausible that Mara was crazy as it was that the events were real and no one knew about them. I didn’t know where the author was going, but the book dripped with paranoia and I loved the mystery. Some things could be explained by her sleepwalking. Something was happening to her. But was it ALL in her head? Or was any of it in her head? 

I absolutely loved Mara’s character. I loved her narration, the fact that she was unreliable, the way she described the world around her, her love for Noah, the easy banter she had with her brother, the love she had for every member of her family, and her bravery. I admired her, I felt scared for her, and I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery with her. Michelle Hodkin really created a fabulous premise with the Mara Dyer series because she is both likable and kind of crazy. The way the other characters in the book watch her and the way she feels watched makes my spine tingle. I felt like I was going mad while reading it, but in a good way. The wheels in my brain were constantly turning. Some moments, Mara was such a teenager that it made me smile and other moments, she was so deep and wise that it shocked me.  

The Mara Dyer series is a must read. It is full of intrigue, paranoia, the supernatural, mystery, romance, friendship, family, identity, and much, much more. I liked the first book, but The Evolution of Mara Dyer was so phenomenal, it’s now a favorite and a series I’m anxiously and impatiently waiting to be finished. I find it so amazing to come across these types of YA novels that are so smart and well written and yet capture so many teenage elements at the same time. 

Quotes:

 “…plopped down at the table across from my mother, who was sitting her laptop. I rested my head on my arms and sighed dramatically.  
‘What’s up?’ she asked.  
‘Why are boys so annoying?’ 
 She chuckled. ‘You know what my mother used to say?’  
I shook my head, still in position. 
 ‘Boys are stupid and girls are trouble.’  
Truer words were never spoken.”   

 

“His eyes and voice were defiant. ‘If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want  to make you mine in each one.’”   

 

“My throat burned with tears I wanted to cry but wouldn’t. I knew she loved me. She just didn’t believe me. I understood why, but it hurt like hell just the same.”   

 

“You will love him to ruins.” 

 

2017 Updates:

It must be a trend where I’m always a tad cautious when it comes to the first book in a series. I rated the first book a conservative 4 stars because, let’s be honest, without having read the rest at the time, how could I have known whether the series would get better or follow the traditional YA trilogy pattern of a downward spiral? 

I know now that the entire trilogy is indeed 1 story arc that makes sense and is really good, so I’m not as floored by how great the second book was these days, but it was still really good and I think it might be my favorite in the trilogy because I honestly wasn’t sure if Mara was crazy. 

I love when there are unreliable narrators and I loved not knowing what was really happening. I thought, with some skepticism, that Mara was as crazy as a bag of marbles and Noah was just humoring her because he loved her and their abilities were unrelated to her fracturing mind. Even though I know what happens, I still felt the same way reading it a second time.

I highly recommend the trilogy.

Star 5

ReRead – Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) 

By Michelle Hodkin

SummaryMara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. 

She’s wrong.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Original Review Posted on October 15, 2013 here.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was great! I loved the way the story unfolded and how unpredictable it was the entire time. It wasn’t what I originally expected, though it was definitely unique, captivating, and more interesting than I expected. I cannot wait to read the next book!

I loved the level of mystery and the slow way the story unfolded. I liked Mara as the unreliable narrator and I was constantly trying to figure out what on earth was happening to her. I really felt watched and crazy and confused, as Mara felt throughout the book. The execution of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was marvelous!

Even though Mara was a heroine distracted by a gorgeous love interest and the novel wasn’t afraid to spend some time there, I wasn’t frustrated by it whatsoever. I didn’t feel like the story was a YA love story with a paranormal backdrop but a truly conflicted and mysterious series of events that happened to head in the direction of a romance. It all fit and flowed and worked really well. 

I cannot gush enough about the feeling of the novel. I absolutely loved the mystery. I loved the way Mara’s parents hovered and watched and poked and prodded. I loved the missing time, the questions of sanity, the strange happenings that Mara couldn’t explain. It was so well done. Even the stifling Florida heat fit the feel and I could imagine it around me. Mara’s choices were paranoid, she was often in a bit of a frenzy, all while trying to appear normal so as not to upset her hovering parents and watchful siblings. 

My review is vague, but so was the synopsis. I had no idea what the book was really about and I liked it that way, so I don’t want to give any details away. It was well written and I highly recommend it, especially to anyone looking for something a little different and unique in YA  supernatural fiction.

2017 Updates:

Nothing much has changed in regards to how I feel about the book today. I’m so glad I reread the book. It had been a long time and it was exactly what I was in the mood for. Mara is a great unreliable narrator and I loved watching her world begin to unravel around her. Still definitely recommend!

Star 4

Review – Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1) by Alex Flynn

 

Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1)

By Alex Flinn

SummaryI am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

I’ve seen the Beastly movie a handful of times and enjoy it, for the most part. I decided to finally check out the book and see if it was any better. I like the movie, but there are times when the movie is unbelievably cheesy.

Beastly is a great Beauty and the Beast retelling that is modern, young,  and from the beast’s point of view. In a lot of ways, it was pretty good. It seemed a tad more serious than the movie and I liked that it kept the theme of roses and we got to see Kyle grow as a person when he transformed. I enjoyed the twist with the maid that wasn’t a part of the movie. I also liked that I got a little more insight into Lindy’s life and her father’s drug problem that the movie kind of rushed through.

However, I think I prefer the movie in every other way. 

I liked that the movie turned Kyle into a different version of himself, but he was still human. I liked that he had to learn how to be an ugly person, but was otherwise fairly normal looking. His flaws and scars were just enough to turn heads, but it wasn’t like he was some furry and clawed animal trying to walk around. I feel like learning to be ugly is a much better lesson and more believable. People are going to scream when an animal starts walking around town, so I felt like it was a little far fetched to turn him into that like that book did. 

I also did not like the weird IM chatroom between the various fairy tale people. I mean, I felt like it was interesting, but it made the story seem that much more unbelievable to me. I think I preferred the strange Kendra magic that was not quite explained in the movie, but was otherwise unconnected to other fairy tales. 

Still, I’m glad I read the book and I do like that it’s one of the few out there that modernize the story and give us the POV of the beast based on why he was initially turned. It was a little awful to be stuck in Kyle’s shallow head, but it was so much more satisfying to watch him grow into a better person.

Star 3

 

Review – A Million Junes by Emily Henry

 

A Million Junes

By Emily Henry

SummaryFor as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.


Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

 

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Source: I received a hardcover as part of my Book of the Month Club subscription

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Review:

I heard great things about A Million Junes, but it sat on my TBR shelf for quite some time. I picked it up to complete a category in the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge (book with a month in the title), but I didn’t have high expectations. I didn’t enjoy The Love That Split The World and magical realism is hit or miss for me. I have my go to authors for it and I definitely have to be in the mood, but I was so disappointed by her other book that I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this one. I almost didn’t choose it for my BotM Club pick, but the reviews were so great that I knew I should try it out.

A Million Junes was dazzling. 

I enjoyed the story so much and immediately grew to care about all of the characters. I enjoyed the legends about the O’Donnells and the family feud with the Angerts. I wanted to unravel the mystery for June, especially as she found herself constantly around Saul Angert and realized maybe it wasn’t as simple as she thought.

I felt like the author really captured a wonderful story about growing up, falling in love, family, friendship, and letting go of the past all in one magical story. I loved that the magical elements were there, but not overpowering. It was just a taste of the supernatural in an otherwise regular world. It was brilliantly executed and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I cannot gush about it enough. I felt completely immersed in the book from page one and I couldn’t wait to see how it all unfolded.

I highly recommend A Million Junes. It was so much better than I’d expected! It actually makes me want to reread The Love That Split the World because maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it at the time? I’m not sure. But I preferred the actual plot in A Million Junes, too.

 Star 5

Review – The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

The Goblins of Bellwater

By Molly Ringle

SummaryA contemporary romance inspired by Christina Rossetti’s eerie, sensual poem, “Goblin Market.” Four neighbors encounter sinister enchantments and a magical path to love in a small, modern-day Puget Sound town, where a fae realm hides in the woods and waters…

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. 

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I picked up The Goblins of Bellwater on a whim while book shopping. I was drawn to the cover and the fact that it’s set near where I’m currently living. I love the idea of goblins in the woods and have enjoyed every goblin/faery story with that plot/backdrop, so I felt like this was a great pick for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think the book was as gorgeous as the cover. I don’t know what I expected, but I think what ultimately failed for me was the execution. I knew going into it that was more of an urban fantasy/new adult romance and that was fine, but i think I expected a bit more magic and even the sensual aspects, since it was based off of the poem, to be higher and more ramped up. Skye lingered in the forests and was drawn to the spell of the goblins, but I didn’t FEEL it. When she was quiet and cursed, I didn’t feel the longing that way I expected. Instead, the POV switched over to the sister and became more of an ordinary small town romance. I wish I wouldn’t been more connected to the characters.

In the end, the book felt more like a contemporary romance that you’d find for 2 bucks on Amazon and I don’t mean that in a good way. It was forgettable and not as enchanting as the synopsis or cover suggested. It was frustrating because there was so much potential for the story to be amazing and it just didn’t fit together in a way that grabbed me. 

Star 2

 

Sweet Peril (Sweet Trilogy #2) by Wendy Higgins

 

Sweet Peril (Sweet Trilogy #2)

By Wendy Higgins

SummaryAnna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things. 

Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaiden Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.

When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaiden must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

Source: I borrowed a Kindle copy from my local library

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Review:

I admit that Sweet Evil was a total guilty pleasure YA romance read that took me out of a reading slump, but wasn’t amazing or mind blowing. I could say the same about Sweet Peril, but I also have to admit that it was a really good sequel. In the land of second-book syndrome and awful sequels, YA trilogies with sequels that are better than the first book are rare. Sweet Peril was awesome and much more addicting than the first book. 

Anna was thrust into a lifestyle and had to embrace her darker side in order to fit in and escape the radar of worse characters. Unfortunately, Kaiden’s father was one of those worse characters and it meant her relationship with him wasn’t to be. There was miscommunication, romantic tension, and resistance. It was so much fun.

Sweet Peril was a steamy YA paranormal romance with a ton of conflicts and darker adventures and I couldn’t get enough. I loved the characters, the romance, and the plot and I definitely don’t care if it’s a guilty pleasure kind of book. It was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump and I can’t get enough. 

Star 4