The In-Between Place

I love books, words, stories, and reading - especially when paired with a cup of hot chocolate or tea. Find out more at http://theinbetweenplace.wordpress.com

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, Book 1)

Sloppy Firsts - Megan McCafferty Sloppy Firsts is written in a way that is very similar to the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart - a series that I thoroughly enjoyed. Through Jessica Darling's journal entries and letters to her best friend, Hope, readers get to experience the mess that is high school right alongside her. As a result, there isn't a lot of dialogue; just Jessica's introspective thoughts, feelings, and summations of what went on in her day. While I usually prefer books with a lot of dialogue, Jessica's diary reminded me so much of my own, and this authenticity certainly contributed to my enjoyment of the story.

Jessica Darling, our narrator, is someone I immediately identified with. She's intelligent, engaging, cynical, and sometimes crazy, which made for a hilarious and thought-provoking read. Her voice perfectly captures what it's like to be a teenager in high school, especially one from a small town, and I really enjoyed watching her slowly reevaluate her opinions and preconceived notions about her classmates and her town throughout the course of the book.

Before reading Sloppy Firsts all I knew about the story was that Marcus Flutie was practically everyone's book boyfriend. So imagine my surprise when he was introduced as a "dreg" and a "Krispy Kreme" - or a drug user with red dreads who was certainly not my type. Thankfully, Marcus evolved as a character, and managed to make me appreciate his unpredictability and intelligence, even if I'm still not quite sold on him.

The secondary characters in Sloppy Firsts are just as interesting as Jessica and Marcus, and I really enjoyed watching the "Clueless Crew" and other stereotypical, high school archetypes grow into something other than the labels they were given. High school relationships aren't the only facet that was explored, however; Jessica's parents are present, flaws and all, and equal time is devoted to exploring their relationship.

And can I just say how well McCafferty treated the topic of sexual relationships in high school? Instead of perpetuating the virgin/whore dichotomy that is seen way too much in YA fiction, sex was discussed in such a frank and open way - and given that this came out in 2000, that's pretty impressive.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sloppy Firsts. Although I just started this series, I have a feeling that it's going to be one of my new favourites.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Please Ignore Vera Dietz - A. S. King Please Ignore Vera Dietz is so much more than the story of a grieving girl who has recently lost her best friend. Familial relationships, the age-old question of nature vs. nurture, zen wisdom, and romantic love are equally important explorations. The mystery of Charlie's death and the dissolution of his friendship with Vera hovers behind every action and flashback, and continuously made me wonder what would have happened if someone had spoken up - would things have played out differently, or was this an inevitable outcome?

Please Ignore Vera Dietz is very much a character-driven story, partially due to Vera's desire to be ignored by the high school masses. Vera's voice is incredibly compelling, and her raw sadness, and anger bleeds through in her words, regardless of how much she tries to mask it. She's intelligent, hard working, and genuine, and I immediately found myself connecting to her. My heart broke for her - and for Charlie and her father, both of whom were also wonderfully written, flawed characters that I couldn't help but love.

King tackles many difficult topics in Please Ignore Vera Dietz: from abusive parents to alcoholism, among other things, it certainly isn't a light read. While it may seem like that's a lot of tough issues to display at once, it's certainly reflective of reality -- these awful circumstances happen more often than we'd like to think, and sometimes are even happening next door. It's not all gloom and doom, however; Between talking pickles and a narration from the pagoda, these heavy, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics are counterbalanced with the perfect amounts of surrealism and humour.

Overall, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a beautiful, heartbreaking examination of grief, love, and regret that is truly unforgettable. I highly, highly recommend it.

And We Stay

And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard Actual rating: 2.5 stars

When I read a book about grief or loss, I expect it to resonate with me in some way. I expect it to make me feel or make me think... and, unfortunately, And We Stay did none of those things.

And We Stay is told in third person present tense which definitely made it difficult to read. Although the prose was beautifully written and often gave me writing envy, the narrative style made it incredibly hard to connect with Emily. Her circumstances were told to me, rather than shown, leading me to feel very detached from her character - despite the fact that I knew I should be sympathizing with her. The only points where I was able to make any sort of emotional connection with Emily was while I was reading her poetry at the end of each chapter, but even those weren't enough to make Emily a substantial main character.

While it was difficult to understand Emily's emotions, it was virtually impossible to understand the motivations of any of the other characters. After reading, I still don't quite understand why Paul committed suicide -- the reason behind the action was eventually uncovered, but I don't feel like I truly had a good enough grasp on his personality to understand the emotions that drove him to such an act.

Overall, And We Stay had a lot of potential to be a book that I really enjoyed, but the third person present tense left me feeling very detached from both the story and the characters.

Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman

To say that The Book of Blood and Shadow is a YA version of The Da Vinci Code is a fairly apt comparison: puzzles within historical documents, intrigue, and murder are definitely important pieces of this story. And though I wasn't crazy about The Da Vinci Code, I absolutely loved the adventure that The Book of Blood and Shadow took me on.

From the opening line, "I should probably start with the blood," I was instantly drawn into the story. Although the majority of the action didn't start until a quarter of the way through the book, Wasserman excelled at building enough intrigue and dread that I hung on to every word. Once the pace picked up, it really got going -- betrayals, twists, and turns kept me wondering just where the story would head next and, more often than not, proved my predictions to be wrong time and time again.

Easily my favourite portions of the story involved reading Elizabeth's letters and how they tied into the Voynich manuscript, which I was surprised to learn actually does exist. There was enough overlap between Elizabeth's letters and the occurrences in Nora's life to transition between them nicely, while giving Elizabeth a distinct and compelling enough voice to leave me just as enthralled by her as Nora was. And, thankfully, my prediction that Elizabeth was Nora's ancestor was incorrect -- there are more than enough of those plotlines out there, and this provided a much more satisfying explanation of why Nora felt such a connection with her.

I found myself equally drawn to the main cast of characters. Nora was incredibly easy to relate to, despite the fact that she's put through hell and back again in this book. She's intelligent, both academically and in terms of how she views the world. And Nora knows how to translate Latin, which is impressive and something that I hadn't seen in a YA protagonist before.

I made the unfortunate mistake of falling for Nora's best friend Chris, despite knowing how his story would end. His relationship with Nora was sweet to read about, and his endearing, heart-warming personality made it even more heartbreaking when the events from the synopsis came to fruition. I wasn't quite sure how to feel about the other boys in Nora's life: Max and Eli. They were certainly mysterious, charming at times and slightly creepy at others, so it was a lot of fun trying to determine if they would be guilty or not.

Overall, The Book of Blood and Shadow was a slow-building, captivating read that kept me guessing until the very end.

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner When I saw that These Broken Stars was being described as "the Titanic in space," I was expecting a love story set on an uncrashable spaceship. While I can certainly see the parallels - star-crossed lovers on board the Icarus, which is unexpectedly pulled out of hyperspace - These Broken Stars was so much more than that.

These Broken Stars is very much a character-driven story. Readers are immediately introduced to the two leads who couldn't be more different: Tarver, the young war hero, and Lilac, the spoiled daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. Both of these characters are flawed but likeable, though it did take me a little bit longer to warm to Lilac, and I really enjoyed reading their inner monologues through the dual POVs we were given. Over the course of the story, circumstances cause both of these characters to grow and change, though I was most impressed with Lilac's character development: as she learns to survive on an unknown planet, she transforms from an entitled society girl to a caring, considerate young lady that I grew to adore.

Of course, as the synopsis suggests, there is an element of star-crossed romance that is present in the story. Thankfully, it wasn't insta-love; instead, Tarver and Lilac's relationship slowly progresses from reluctant allies to a tentative friendship to a swoon-worthy romance.

At its core, though, These Broken Stars is about survival against all odds. While this may not make for a lot of action, mysterious "whispers" and unexpected twists kept me reading until the early morning. And all of these strange happenings culminated in a breathtaking conclusion that left me eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Overall, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars. This beautifully written, character driven story was unputdownable, and I can't wait to see where the story goes next.

No One Else Can Have You

No One Else Can Have You - Kathleen  Hale Actual rating: 3.5 stars

After seeing so many negative reviews of No One Else Can Have You, I was somewhat afraid to read it. After all, it's one of the books that I was desperately wanting to get my hands on - though that is partially because of the adorably morbid sweater that makes up the cover.

To say that No One Else Can Have You is weird is a bit of an understatement. In the small town of Friendship, everyone refers to one another by their first and last names, and phrases like "don't cha know" and the use of "Gah" instead of "God" are commonplace. And then there's the characters. From Kippy's father, Dom, who gives his daughter cringe-worthy nicknames like "Pickle" and "Cactus" to Sir Albus, a young girl who believes that she is a British spy, the cast of No One Else Can Have You is certainly quirky. Yet, surprisingly, I found these quirks to be endearing and amusing.

Kippy Bushman, our protagonist who has a penchant for wearing turtleneck sweaters, is just as awkwardly endearing as the rest of the cast. She's known to speak her mind, no matter how strange her thoughts may be, and tells someone twice that she likes his finger. She takes everything to extremes, and wears a utility belt armed with Ruth's notebook and a Dictophone because "preparedness is never uncool." Despite these strange habits, or maybe because of them, Kippy's voice is certainly compelling, and I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire story.

As a huge fan of Sherlock, I tend to fancy myself an excellent detective when it comes to mystery books. I can usually spot red herrings from a mile away, and I'm rarely surprised when the big reveal comes about. However, when it comes to No One Else Can Have You, the murderer was someone that I never would have expected. Hale certainly kept me on my toes, leading me to suspect almost everyone - including Kippy herself.

There was one issue I had with No One Else Can Have You, however. There were several scenes where mental illness, PTSD, domestic violence, and slut-shaming were used for comedic effect. While I understand that Hale's writing is filled with satirical, dark humour, some scenes such as Davey and Kippy pretending to be in an abusive relationship to get information made me feel rather uncomfortable about their treatment of these subjects.

Overall, No One Else Can Have You is a dark satire that would make an excellent movie. I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed it, however I definitely recommend reading a sample before you decide to go out and purchase it - after all, it has been shown to polarize readers.

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan “You can't know what it is like for us now -- you will always be one step behind. Be thankful for that.

You can't know what it was like for us then -- you will always be one step ahead. Be thankful for that, too.”


Two Boys Kissing is narrated in a completely unique fashion: instead of shifting perspectives, as I expected, our narrator is a Greek Chorus of gay men who have lost their lives to AIDS. At first it was slightly disconcerting to have an omnipresent group of narrators, however it certainly wouldn't have been as poignant and touching of a read without their inclusive "we." As the Greek Chorus watches over the eight teen characters, two things are made very apparent: the universality of being in love, and just how far society has progressed in terms of accepting homosexuality. Sure, this progress isn't complete, but considering the marvel that these men have about the fact that two boys kissing in front of the high school is largely received in a positive manner, it isn't hard to imagine complete acceptance in the near future.

I wasn't quite as connected to the eight teenage boys that the Chorus was watching over, however I still found myself rooting for them. Two boys are in the early stages of a potential relationship, with one partway through the transition from female to male. There's a healthy relationship between two of the boys, complete with acceptance from both sets of parents. One boy is only out to strangers he has met on chat sites, and fears that he is alone and unloved. Another was assaulted because of his sexual orientation. And, finally, we have the two boys who are trying to break the world record for the longest kiss. Despite this wide range of circumstances, these boys all had several commonalities: they were struggling with acceptance, love, approval, and coming out - both to their families and themselves. Their stories felt authentic and real, so it was no surprise to find out that they are: both in the people that Levithan drew inspiration from, and many others that struggle with these issues - whether they're gay or straight, a teenager or an adult.

Overall, Two Boys Kissing is beautifully written, captivating, and thought provoking - all of which I've come to expect from David Levithan's works. More than that, though, it is important, and deserves to be read by absolutely everyone.

A Mad, Wicked Folly

A Mad, Wicked Folly - Sharon Biggs Waller A Mad, Wicked Folly captured my interest from the first sentence: I never set out to pose nude. I didn’t, honestly. With this attention-grabbing confession, readers are introduced to Victoria Darling, an aspiring artist who truly takes her craft seriously. This defiance of social conventions and societal expectations in favour of following her dreams of becoming an artist quickly made me fall in love with Vicky's character. She's smart, passionate, determined, independent and headstrong, placing her in stark contrast to many of the women of that time. It was truly inspiring to see the lengths to which Vicky was willing to go to meet her dreams including marrying a man she didn't love so that she would have the opportunity to attend the RAC. Over the course of the book, Vicky grows from an impulsive, somewhat entitled young lady to a truly strong, independent young woman, and this journey of self-discovery was beautifully portrayed.

Vicky's desire for freedom to attend art school and female equality causes her to cross paths with the suffragettes, a movement dedicated to female equality and allowing women the opportunity to vote. This topic was incredibly well-researched and added so much depth to the novel. I'll admit that I don't know much about the suffragette movement, but it was interesting to compare the struggles of women in the 1900s with the struggles that women have today. It was so empowering and intriguing, and now I definitely intend to read more on this subject.

While there is a bit of a love triangle in A Mad, Wicked Folly, it takes a backseat to the themes of suppression, freedom, and self-discovery. Vicky's love interest, William the adorable police constable, captured my heart from his first appearance. He's sweet, attentive, caring, and very much a gentleman. His progressive way of thinking and his artistic sensibilities make him the perfect match for Vicky, and I enjoyed watching their relationship blossom slowly from acquaintances to an artist and her muse to a proper romance.

Overall, I can't think of a single thing that I disliked about A Mad, Wicked Folly. Between the gorgeous cover, equally beautiful prose, tenacious heroines, dreamy police constables, historical fiction setting, feminism, and art, I was completely enthralled by this story - and I already find myself wanting more.

When the World Was Flat (and We Were in Love)

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) - Ingrid Jonach Actual rating: 1.5 stars

When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was one of my more anticipated reads of 2013. Between the lovely cover, the intriguing title, and a synopsis that promised me a science fiction story based on actual theories, I was certain that this would become one of my new favourite stories... but, unfortunately, it fell rather flat and I was not in love with it.

I wasn't enamored with any of the characters in this book. None of their relationships were really developed that much, and were instead defined by labels that our judgmental main character, Lillie, doled out: there was Sylv, the slut (and while they didn't come right out and call her that, they definitely frowned upon her sexual freedom); Jo the tomboy; Melissa, the popular mean girl; and Lillie's absent mother. The only one to escape this labeling was Tom, but he also came across as rather one-dimensional.

The relationship between Tom and Lillie seemed to cover almost every cliche in today's YA scene: a mysterious, hot, new boy takes interest in a girl with self-esteem issues, they have a connection that can't be explained, and all of a sudden they're in love / soulmates . Their relationship really wasn't developed very well - just like all of Lillie's other relationships - so by the time that the "big reveal" of why Lillie was drawn to Tom came about, I didn't care enough to be surprised or intrigued.

My main problem with this book, however, was the lack of science fiction aspects. Parallel dimensions and string theory were discussed at times, but the main focus of the book seemed to be the instalove-fueled romance between Tom and Lillie. As a result, I was left with more questions than answers in regards to many of the scientific theories mentioned: if a decision can cause a parallel universe to form where you chose to do the opposite thing, does this happen with all choices? If not, how do you know which choices will do this? If every scenario has multiple potential outcomes, does that mean that there is an infinite number of parallel universes? And so on. I would love to say that all of these were touched upon more than once - and during an infodumpy conversation between Lillie and Tom, of all places - but since the scientific theories fell to the wayside once the romance began, many of them were left unanswered.

Overall, When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) was a huge disappointment. The only reason it was given 1.5 stars is because it held my interest just enough to keep me from marking it as a dnf, even though I was tempted to on many occasions.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door  - Stephanie Perkins

Given how much I loved Anna and the French Kiss, I was a little worried about reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. Thankfully, these fears were unfounded. Stephanie Perkins created another story filled with quirky, loveable characters, and adorable, heartwarming romance, but this time it was a touch more real: there's no Parisian setting and no swoon-worthy British boys (although there is a sweet, awkward one that completely captured my heart).

Lola is such a fabulous character. She dresses in themes, wearing quirky outfits and wigs transform her into a strawberry, Marie Antoinette, or whatever her heart desires that day. Lola undergoes a tremendous amount of growth, learning how to make the right decisions, even if they're hard. Along the way, she learns a lot about herself and becomes comfortable with who she is.

The boy next door, Cricket Bell, is one of my new favourite love interests. He's endearing and sweet, geeky, awkward at times, and such a real teenage boy. He's so genuinely nice and loves unconditionally, and his relationship with Lola made me loudly "awwwwww" at so many points. There seriously needs to be more nice guys in YA fiction. Or just more Cricket Bells.

The secondary characters (Calliope, Lindsey, Norah) are just as real. There's no disappearing parent syndrome in this one: Lola's relationship with her two gay dads is so sweet, and they are very much an important part of her life. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Anna and St. Clair made several appearances. Their relationship was adorable, as always, but I can't help but feel that they weren't the same independent characters that I fell in love with -- although that may be because it has been a while since I've read Anna and the French Kiss and because we're seeing them through Lola's eyes as "the happy couple."

Overall, I really enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door. Stephanie Perkins has definitely solidified her place on my auto-buy list, and I cannot wait for the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Untold

Untold - Sarah Rees Brennan

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

After the heartbreaking cliffhanger ending of Unspoken, I was expecting Untold to be filled with angst and torment, since Sarah Rees Brennan loves to torture her readers and all. Somehow, though, going into Untold with that mindset did nothing to alleviate the angst that was present throughout the entire book.

On one hand, Untold possessed many of the aspects that I loved about Unspoken. The writing was witty and engaging, and led to my e-copy of this book being filled with so many highlighter markings. The characters were quirky and loveable, and the addition of Ash and Holly's perspectives added an extra layer of character development - to the point where I absolutely love Ash as a character, and I really didn't think I'd be saying that after Unspoken.

Although I was captivated throughout Untold, in retrospect, the plot line was rather boring. There was a love triangle but, for once, my problem wasn't that it existed; it was really well-written, and I found myself kind of enjoying it. Instead, my issue was with how much precedence the romantic aspects of the story held. Instead of being centered around Kami learning to fight back against Rob Lynburn and his band of sorcerers, there was little action and a lot of romantic drama - to the point where I found myself wanting more: more magic, more about the Lynburns... more of anything that wasn't relationship-oriented, really.

Overall, Untold was not quite as strong as I was hoping it would be. The plot was not as compelling as that of Unspoken, however a combination of my immense love for all of the characters and that very cruel ending have left me eager to read Unmade when it is released later this year.

Being Sloane Jacobs

Being Sloane Jacobs - Lauren Morrill Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

Being Sloane Jacobs was a cute, albeit predictable, story that was very reminiscent of The Parent Trap: two girls with the same name and similar appearances switch places for the summer, learning a lot about themselves along the way. In this case, however, there was the added bonus of having sports (ice hockey and figure skating) be a main focus, which is rarely seen in YA fiction.

An important factor in how much you'll enjoy this book largely depends on suspending your belief a fair bit. While I was able to disregard the fact that no one would notice that the girls had switched places, there was one small part of their summer plans that I couldn't help but question: despite the fact that the girls had put years of practice into their respective sports, Sloane Emily quickly found herself scoring goals and Sloane Devon found herself able to execute jumps and turns. I know next to nothing about figure skating and the extent of my hockey knowledge stems from watching the Detroit Red Wings play in the NHL, but somehow I feel like that just wouldn't work...

Being Sloane Jacobs is told in a dual-narrative (which is separated by the cutest heart-shaped chapter breaks), allowing us insight into both Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon's lives. Both Sloanes had distinct voices, and I quickly found myself enamoured with Sloane Devon's snarky sense of humour. I didn't enjoy Sloane Emily's point of view quite as much, likely because her personality and backstory weren't as developed as Sloane Devon's. There was so much potential to fully develop both girls' characters through an exploration of the scandal that Sloane Emily's family faces, or through a closer examination at Sloane Devon's mother's alcoholism, but unfortunately these were left as surface issues.

In typical Lauren Morill fashion, there was a romantic subplot which, thankfully, took the backseat to sports, family, and self-discovery. I didn't really have any strong feelings towards either of the love interests due to the fact that each guy only had a few interactions with the Sloane they were with.

Overall, Being Sloane Jacobs was a light, fun read that I really enjoyed, despite my few issues with it.

Incarnate

Incarnate - Jodi Meadows I put Incarnate on hold months ago so when it finally became available, I couldn't remember anything about it - aside from the fact that it had a gorgeous cover, of course. So colour me surprise when I finish the book and realize that it actually isn't about butterfly people; instead, the world of Incarnate involves reincarnation, dragons, and sylphs.

Incarnate is a difficult book to review because it has a utopian setting so there aren't many bad-but-exciting events. As a result, the majority of the book is spent focusing on the relationship between Ana and Sam, most of which is spent dancing and playing music, instead of searching for clues about her existence as a Newsoul like the synopsis promised. Although it wasn't a case of instalove, this relationship certainly took over the entire plot and, since I don't know much about playing an instrument, these scenes were often skimmed over.

Instead of reading about Ana and Sam's relationship, I would have much rather learned about the world that they were inhabiting. Between the buildings that were already built and waiting for the first people, the fact that their reincarnations aren't always of the same gender, and the idea of Newsouls in general, there were a lot more questions than there were answers.

Ana, our protagonist, wasn't the easiest to like. She appeared weak and filled with self-loathing, which makes sense given the abuse she suffered. While I understood where she was coming from, her constant self-doubt and dislike it made her narrations hard to read. Her relationship with Sam (who I was indifferent about) is also very unhealthy - she finds her self-worth because of him, and is incredibly dependent on him for everything.

The saving grace of Incarnate was definitely the writing. Meadows' writing is melodic and beautiful, and the descriptions are very vivid.

Overall, I wasn't as impressed with Incarnate as I thought I would be. The idea of reincarnations was promising but poorly executed, mostly due to the prevalence of the romantic plot. I'll likely read the next book in the series though, if only to have some of my world-building questions answered.

Asylum

Asylum - Madeleine Roux

The synopsis for Asylum promised me a creepy, thrilling novel that is similar to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which I adored. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver on all fronts.

Asylum's biggest downfall was the inclusion of black and white photographs. This worked exceptionally well for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children since Ransom Riggs found the pictures and built the story around them, allowing him to expertly weave the images and the plot together. In Asylum, the opposite is true; the images were clearly staged to complement the story, and felt neither creepy or authentic. My imagination came up with much creepier images based on the text alone, which either tells you that I've been watching way too many horror movies or that the photographs were pretty unnecessary.

The characters in this book were unlikeable and inconsistent. Despite being uncomfortable in social situations, Dan quickly befriends Abby and Jordan. They become inseparable, and all share constant mood swings throughout the book. And, of course, these aren't given any explanation. I was so sure it was possession and willing to somewhat excuse their behaviour, but apparently they're just annoying protagonists. Within the group, Dan and Abby have an awkward relationship, complete with Dan being incredibly jealous of anyone talking to her -- and that's after only knowing her for a few days. All of this, combined with the fact that Jordan's character seemed pretty irrelevant and unnecessary, made Asylum a rather tedious read.

The mystery of the abandoned asylum itself wasn't that bad. The creepy asylum, unexplained notes, and hallucinations made me curious enough to finish the book, though I was disappointed to see that I had correctly guessed how it was going to end. At the end there were so many unresolved plot threads and so many unanswered questions, making room for an unnecessary sequel that I likely won't be reading.

Overall, I expected a lot more from Asylum. If you're looking for a creepy, spine-tingling read, this is not it.

The Night After I Lost You (The Lynburn Legacy, #1.5)

The Night After I Lost You (The Lynburn Legacy, #1.5) - Sarah Rees Brennan The Night After I Lost You is an excellent way to bridge the gap between Unspoken and Untold although it does nothing to alleviate the heartbreaking ending of the former - for a nine page story, this was surprisingly sad!

Through Brennan's excellent descriptions, we are able to see (and feel) exactly how the events of Untold have affected each character. Instead of being inside Kami's head like we were in Untold, we're given the opportunity to see things from Ash's perspective. It gives great insight into his character and past, showing how desperately he wants to belong and feel wanted. While it doesn't quite excuse how he behaved in Unspoken, it definitely paints him as more of a sympathetic character.

Overall, The Night Before I Lost You was a really great addition to the series. I'm looking forward to reading Untold, even if it is probably going to break my heart further.

Unspoken: The Lynburn Legacy

Unspoken - Sarah Rees Brennan Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Unspoken was, quite possibly, the perfect book for me. It was the first of Sarah Rees Brennan's works that I've picked up, and now I find myself wondering what took me so long to finally read it. It was witty, engaging, made me laugh out loud at so many points (garnering me a lot of strange looks from my family), and the originality behind the premise was certainly refreshing.

Kami Glass, our narrator and protagonist, is absolutely adorable. She's quirky, hilarious, prone to saying her thoughts out loud without realizing it, and very determined to get the perfect story for her school's newspaper. She's a strong, fun female lead, who also has a vulnerable side, making her so easy to love.

From sleepy, people-hating Angela to Kami's adorable younger siblings, the other characters in Unspoken are just as unique and likeable as Kami. And, unlike most YA novels, there is no missing parent syndrome; Kami's family is an important part of her life, and her interactions with them aren't glossed over. Jared in particular quickly won me over, largely thanks to our ability to see him through Kami's eyes. Underneath his bad boy exterior, he's vulnerable, insecure, and capable of great love and kindness. He's dependent on Kami, and their relationship was wonderfully written.

The plot, which mostly focuses on the mysterious Lynburn family and their possible connection to the weird happenings in Sorry-in-the-Vale, is engrossing and unpredictable. While there were many occasions where it progressed slowly because of adventures that Kami has decided to go on, I never found Unspoken boring; instead, I was always either captivated or entertained by the story, and found myself not wanting to put it down for any reason.

I only had one problem with Unspoken and that was the ending. Sarah Rees Brennan sure knows how to torture her readers because that was one awful and abrupt cliffhanger - and it was made even more painful by the fact that I don't have a copy of the sequel.

Overall, Unspoken was a fun, unpredictable adventure. I will definitely be purchasing and rereading it in the near future, and I can't wait to see where Brennan takes the story next.