All the Bright Places

All the Bright PlacesTitle: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Published by Knopf on 2015-01-06
ISBN: 978-0385755887
ASIN: B00LKJHTB8
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, controversial topics, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

My Review

This book was… amazing.  For heart wrenching novels, this is right up there with The Fault in Our Stars and Love and Other Unknown Variable, two of my favorite novels of 2014.  It touches the soul, it touches the heart, and leaves you reeling.  I started it in the morning and didn’t put it down again until I had finished it.  And then I sat there drained.  It was so beautiful in its own way.  I love that this book recognizes that happy ever afters don’t always happen in life.  Life is messy, sad, funny, loving, and every emotion in between.  There is love and there is loss.

Theo is the guy that no one really understands, including himself.  Even his two best friends seem to know him only on the most basic of levels.  His family is largely a group of people living separate lives and I frequently thought that his little sister Decca was the most together of them all.  He has had a pretty troubled past and he struggles to figure out who he is.  Violet is the, on the surface, the popular girl with the “right” friends and the “right” boyfriend.  Inside, she is a mess, struggling to survive after losing her sister, her best friend.  She doesn’t know how to move on, bogged down in her grief.  The two meet in the worst possible moment, two people who are seemingly totally different.  Yet they are drawn to each other and their story is beautiful.

There is so much depth to this story.  Yes, there are heart wrenchingly sad moments, but there are beautiful ones, too.  There is a ton of unexpected and witty humor, and so much sweetness from Theo that made him even more amazing.  But there is no denying that Theo’s story also made me angry, as a parent.  Without giving too much away, it just angered me to see him as he was through much of the book.  If his parents had just opened their eyes and taken the time to BE parents, his story could have been so very different.  And that drove me insane.

My Recommendation

This is a beautiful read.   The story is not light, but touches on real issues with compassion.  Not every story has a perfectly happy ending, but there is always a lesson to be learned and that is the case with this incredible novel.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Jennifer Niven

By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson (“If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win”), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sister entitled Blindness Strikes Mary, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring me as the main character (an internationally famous rock star detective), and a partially finished novel about Vietnam. I was also an excellent speller from a very early age.

In 2000, I started writing full-time, and I haven’t stopped… I’ve written eight books (two of those are forthcoming), and when I’m not working on the ninth, I’m contributing to my web magazine, Germ (www.germmagazine.com), thinking up new books, and dabbling in TV. I am always writing.

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City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen AngelsTitle: City of Fallen Angels
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #4
Also in this series: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Lost Souls
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 434
on 2011-04-05
ISBN: 978-1442403550
ASIN: B003V1WVH0
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

My Review

Each time I read a book in this series, it is my new favorite.  And here I am, with a new favorite!

The Mortal War is over and life should be exciting and full of possibilities.  But life is never that easy, is it?  Despite the fact that Shadowhunters and Downworlders came together to battle Valentine, there are centuries of age-old hate and distrust to overcome in the aftermat.  The Clave is changing, adapting and evolving.  And there are those that will play on the distrust to advance their own causes.

I wondered how this book was going to continue the stoy line of the first three novels in an exciting way.  The Mortal War was at the center of those books and it ended at the conclusion of the third book.  So what would come next that would keep the story progressing?  I shouldn’t have worried!  The mystery and intrigue didn’t end with the War.  The twists and turns have amped up in this book and so has the frustration level.  Just when you think things are going to finally fall into place for Jace and Clary…!

I love the man-fecta of Jace, Jordan, and Simon.  The dynamics going on there are fantastic and there is more of that fantastically snarky banter between them.  I like the bromance weirdly brewing between Jace and Simon, too, a bromance that Jace would like to continue to deny.  The characters are so wonderful in these books, even those you love to hate!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

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City of Glass

City of GlassTitle: City of Glass
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #3
Also in this series: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 561
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on 2009-0324
ISBN: 978-1416972259
ASIN: B001NLL93W
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

My Review

City of Glass is the third book in The Mortal Instruments series and it is my favorite thus far!  So much action, so much intrigue, so many twists and turns!

There are some new characters in this book, some of which have turned the story line of the series on end.  Bad guys, good guys… from page to page, there are times when you just don’t know about some of these characters.  Even those we known and love have their moments.  Nothing is black and white in this book, but a million shades in between.

There is a ton of emotion in this book, a ton of mystery and intrigue, a ton of battles and action.  I love the ongoing story of the series and the way it constantly changes!  Engrossing!!

My Recommendation

This is a must read for fans of the series, my favorite yet!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

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December Wrap-Up

What the Diva read in December…

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City of Ashes

City of AshesTitle: City of Ashes
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #2
Also in this series: City of Bones, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 513
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on 2008-03-25
ISBN: 978-1416972242
ASIN: B001NLKZUA
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

My Review

City of Ashes is the second in The Mortal Instruments series and just as good as the first.  City of Bones threw some wrenches into the romance and the frustration with that is just as palpable in this book.  The action is kicked up yet another notch and the twists and turns just don’t end!

The romance… oh, the romance.  The frustration is overwhelming at times because what you want as a reader, you just can’t have.  The angst is unbelievable and it pulls you into the story, hoping page after page that you will get what you want!  Jace and Clary are tormented and so is everyone around them!!

But more than the romance is the story itself.  There are so many twists and turns as truths are uncovered and secrets revealed.  Just as soon as you think you know where the story may be going, things change and everything is turned on edge again.  The anticipation was wonderful.

One again, I am in love with the characters and the banter.  I love that the cast is diverse because it makes for some fantastic interactions that are sometimes sad, sometimes serious, and sometimes hilarious.  The banter is snarky, but intelligent and full of one-liners that I just want to find occasions to use!

My Recommendation

Definately a must-read after City of Bones!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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