The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

This novel follows the descendants of four fairy tale villains and one of the Kings of the original fairy tales. Yes, they are the same characters from Disney’s Descendants and Descendants 2.

Synopsis

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

-via Goodreads

Review

Okay, so you guys know about the hype surrounding these books. I mean hello, there’s two Disney movies. And yes they are the same characters, just not in the same light as we see them in the movies.

Honestly, this whole book felt like a prequel to the Descendants movie. It’s as if only just now get to meet them. And gosh do I feel sorry for the V.K.s. But it does explain why they were super close in the movie.

Can we take a moment to appreciate the characters not mentioned or even seen in the movie? There were so many. We even got to see the Forbidden Fortress. Come on Disney!

Ben and his parents are a bit more complicated. We do get to see Ben deal with the intricacies of taking over his father’s job. And we don’t see much interaction. And Ben, his feeling that way makes perfect sense, is this why he makes that declaration???

My main question is: was the movie inspired by the ending of this novel or was the second book a way to elaborate on the ending of the movie? Let me know what you guys think down in the comments section.


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The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

I’ve mentioned this series about 50 or 60 posts earlier in Pawn. Now I get to write a post on it! YAY!

Synopsis

Every girl who had taken the test has died.

Now it’s Kate’s turn.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom – and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld – and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy – until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride and a goddess.

If she fails…

Review

You guys, I really love Greek Mythology mixed in with fiction. One of those examples is Percy Jackson and the Olympians. But that’s a post for later.

This story is basically something that happens after Persephone decides that she is done being Queen of the Underworld. But the premise for this story is a bit different. It’s set in the present, close to the deadline Hades, i.e. Henry, gave the other gods to find a new queen.

This whole series is focused on Katherine “Kate” Winters. She’s really the only hope Diana, her mother, has to make sure Henry doesn’t fade. This is because she feels guilty about the whole Persephone thing. Kate, in turn, is a little hurt and resentful because she feels like she’s someone’s replacement and not her own person. I get it actually.

Okay there’s a reason it’s called Test. Kate has to do a series of tests, as mentioned in the synopsis. Does it really take six months to do seven tests?  Really? Nope. They literally could have tested Kate in like 2 months realistically. But that wouldn’t have been as entertaining and wouldn’t have allowed for the romance between Kate and Henry.

Speaking of which. Let’s discuss Henry. He’s kind of mysterious and very melancholy. As Kate gets to know more of Henry, we, the readers, do as well. I honestly LOVE Henry! He’s so sweet.

You know who really surprised me though? James and Calliope. Those two are definitely something else. There’s a betrayal and it turns out one of them is the one that’s been killing the other girls. Geez someone lost their marbles. Honestly, I really wasn’t expecting it.

I have a love-hate relationship with the ending. Sure, it ends how you’d expect, but the fact that James kinda takes over her 6 free months, i.e. The Goddess Hunt, makes me a little upset because of the whole betrayal thing I mentioned earlier.

It’s been awhile since I last read this novel. And it’s honestly still one of my favorites. I really, truly, do hope you enjoy this novel.

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Still Star-Crosses by Melinda Taub

There’s a show based on this novel. I started watching the show before I decided I wanted to read the book. Needless to say, it was a good novel.

Synopsis

Soon to be an ABC TV show by producer Shonda Rhimes! Still Star-Crossed follows the aftermath of the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet, as mysterious figures in Verona are determined to reignite the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets.

In fair Verona, enemies still walk the streets.
Two news hearts. Same two families.
The fight to the altar is about to happen.
All. Over. Again.

This homage to the classic Shakespearean tale of Romeo and Juliet will have readers pining for a star-crossed love of their very own.

-via Goodreads

Review

Okay, I actually loved Romeo and Juliet when I read it my first year of high school, like 20 million years ago (not really). It’s only been about 6 years. I always wondered what happened afterward. I have a compulsion for wanting an epilogue to what happens to the other character.

Onto this novel.

It focused on Rosaline Capulet and Benvolio Montague. And there’s trouble brewing in Verona. And apparently, it has to do a lot with what Romeo and Juliet did. But some  really don’t want peace.

There appears to be a bunch of love triangles, obviously since it’s a drama.

Anyway, if you have seen the show, the book is pretty much the same. Well, kind of. If you haven’t seen the show on ABC or read the novel, go check it out, it’s actually pretty great.

So the differences between the book and the show… as we know, most of the time TV tends to age the characters. They’re in their teens in the novel. That’s actually one of the more common differences in books and book-based shows.

Another is the whole Ghost thing going on with Lord Capulet. Then again, it’s TV and you got to keep things interesting.

But yeah not much that different. I’m honestly not shocked by the ending of the book. It’s a romance, hello. Actually, I didn’t enjoy Prince Escalus being manipulative. That was a crappy move Escalus.

So I totally would go on about the book like I normally do, but it has been a few months since I read it.

Hope you enjoy.

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Shadow Kiss (VA #3) by Richelle Mead

What I love about Richelle’s work is that it’s never what you really expect.

Synopsis

WHAT IF FOLLOWING HER HEART MEANS ROSE COULD LOSE HER BEST FRIEND FOREVER?

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

Rose knows it is forbidden to love another guardian. Her best friend, Lissa – the last Dragomir princess – must always come first. Unfortunately, when it comes to gorgeous Dimitri Belikov, some rules are meant to be broken…

Then a strange darkness begins to grow in Rose’s mind, and ghostly shadows warn of a terrible evil drawing nearer to the Academy’s iron gates. The immortal undead are closing in, and they want vengeance for the lives Rose has stolen. In a heart-stopping battle to rival her worst nightmares, Rose will have to choose between life, love, and the two people who matter most… but will her choice mean that only one can survive?

-via Goodread

Review

So, it’s almost Rose’s birthday. She and Dimitri kind of understand each other a little bit better. Especially after the events that transpired in Spokane. And while her training must go on, she is still trying to recover emotionally from what happened then. It doesn’t help that she thinks she is seeing things, particularly a person.

Rose throws a tantrum, but really not surprised with all the emotional turmoil she’s experiencing. Adrian is definitely more involved in this novel, but not the way he wants.

Rose and Christian do some bonding, and do some pretty awesome stuff together. Even if they refuse to admit it, they’re very similar. There’s a lot more drama and Rose’s sanity is definitely questioned.

The Royal Brat Pack are back at it with their whole secret society. Idiots. They were the cause for the tragedy that ensued nearer to the end of the book. And it caused Lissa to go dark, which in turn meant Rose went extremely wild. I guess that’s how their bond works. Thank goodness for Dimitri though.

So tragedy strikes because no one remembered the wards after the whole event with Lissa. So now more people are in the hands of Strigoi, what’s a girl to do? Convince her mom and the love of her life that she knows exactly where the Strigoi are and to do a rescue mission.

There’s a lot more. But honestly, my heart just can’t take this ending. It’s worse than the whole Frostbite ending.

Even though Richelle had this twist of events, after everything that happened, I will continue to love and hate this particular book. But it was definitely entertaining and sad.

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

To be honest with you, I only bought this book because of all the hype the show was creating before it was released on Netflix. That being said, the book did not disappoint.

Synopsis

You can’t stop the future.

You can’t rewind the past.

The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Via Goodreads

Review

If you have already seen the Netflix Original show, the only differences between the book are: Hannah’s parent’s involvement, the lawsuit, and how long it took Clay to finish the tapes.

If you haven’t, disregard everything I just said. This is a type of novel every young adult or parent should read. Yes it does deal with difficult topics like bullying, suicide and rape, but the main point of the novel is to show us readers that every action does have a consequence. It also shows us that a person can appear to be fine but there are so many things going on in their minds that we can never really know how they’re feeling.

I don’t think the novel fully captured what the people that caused Hannah to feel that way were going through. I’m sure they behaved a certain way because there were other factors.

As a young woman, just a few years out of high school, this novel was particularly difficult because yes there were two rapes that transpired during the novel. That was hard to come to terms with because that happens so frequently yet is under reported for fear of being blamed and even worse shamed for something that isn’t their fault.

Jay Asher created various situations that could occur at any given moment, in any city, in real life. While it is a fiction novel, it is very realistic in these situations. We hear about an accident caused by a drunk driver all the time. We sometimes participate in the ostracizing of a classmate and don’t realize that what we’re doing is wrong.

All this being said, I also don’t think that Hannah placing the blame on those twelve people was by any way okay. She was isolated and had no support. She also had a condition that does affect thousands of people every day: depression. For anyone to say otherwise doesn’t understand it. The counselor and teachers, as much as they try to help, often don’t recognize the signs or are improperly trained to help someone in these situations.

It isn’t really a novel that is easy to get through. It’s very dark and the themes are very adult-like, but I feel that young people, particularly middle schoolers and high schoolers, show read this and have real conversations with their parents about what is going on in their lives.

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The Siren by Kiera Cass

“I’d waited an eternity for this. I’d have waited all over again if I had to. I was meant to kiss this boy, designed to be held by him. All the careful postures I held melted away, and I pulled him closed. We were stars. We were music. We were time.”

You better get your tissue box ready if you are going to read this book, because I don’t know how many times I actually shed tears. I love this book and this author. Now without further ado, here we go.

Synopsis

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Sirn ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their death. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t risk spending the rest of her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude … until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny … and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

Review

I don’t know where to start with this book. It’s a romance novel and my poor little heart can’t handle it. By now, you all know that I’m a hopeless romantic, so this novel just solidifies that claim.

The most we know about her when the book starts is that she was from a prominent family when they died and she became a siren. Flash forward eighty years, and it seems that she’s a little depressed from what she is forced to do. Her “sisters”, the other sirens, don’t understand her coping mechanism, which I agree is a little morbid but whatever helps I suppose.

Then she meets Akinli and things change. She’s happier and actually wanting to live a life, but doesn’t want to put him, and her sisters, in any danger. So she decides to leave, causing her to fall completely into a depression. Most of the book is her fighting her depression.

When she couldn’t handle it anymore, she accidentally put everyone and herself in danger. Before anyone could do anything about it she ends up escaping and finding her way back to Akinli, and his family. They’re so sweet and amazing. And then all the stuff happens BECAUSE OF ONE WORD!!!

Then the whole Padma and her parents and the other girls! OH MY GOD!!!!! Yeah they do something huge and it’s totally against Her rules. Oh, before you ask who She is, she isn’t a real person but she does play a huge role in Kahlen’s life. Also, I’m not going to say who She is, you’re just going to have to read the novel.

Then the whole Kahlen suddenly becoming sick, and then the huge reveal that someone else is sick, WHAT?! That really was sad. And HER keeping pertinent information to save both of them, sorry but selfish much?

In the end, everything works out and the two can finally be together without Kahlen forgetting how much she loved Her. All-in-all, everything works out. And the story is really easy to get into. I highly recommend this novel.

 

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

You should probably know that one of the main reasons I read this book is because it is being made into a movie. I can now honestly say that I am really excited for the film adaptation. So let’s get to it.

Synopsis

With this stunning debut novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver emerged as one of today’s foremost authors of young adult fiction. Like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, Before I Fall raises thought-provoking questions about love, death, and how one person’s life can affect so many others.

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

Named to numerous state reading lists, this novel was also recognized as a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Daily Beast, NPR, and Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by Fox 2000 Pictures. (via Goodreads)

Review

As you can guess, the story follows 17 or 18-year-old Samantha “Sam” Kingston. I’m not entirely sure her age is actually stated. (This is mostly because I was still emotional over the ending of a different book I finished a week before. Also, I read Hard Rules a couple of days later and you can read my review for that as well.)

Like I mentioned, the book follows Sam on the last day of her life. I really didn’t get that it was seven times until I observed that there were only 7 chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue. It was an interesting concept that Ms Oliver attempted with this book. Personally, I think it worked. Several of my friends said they were reminded of Groundhog Day, I have not seen it so I don’t know.

While I have read If I Stay by Gayle Forman, this particular novel made me questions if there is something we could do after our deaths to change the outcome or ask forgiveness for the things we did. It also reminded me of the fact that we never know when our last day on this earth is, so we should learn to value the things we have that we don’t really think about.

Sam was an interesting character. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the character developed so much in such a short period of time. Quite honestly, it was a bittersweet moment reading about the day she spent with her family or when she finally realized what Kent meant to her. I almost lost it when Kent told her about the accident and who died on her sixth day reliving the day of her death. And by lost it, I do mean I started bawling my eyes out. I did cry, who wouldn’t? It’s such a heart-breaking moment because you realize that that was how she died.

Honestly, it was such a beautiful book. I’m actually having a hard time not crying right now as I type this. Sure the whole topic of death and suicide, yes there was a suicide in this book as well, is kind of morbid, but there were some moments where I couldn’t help but laugh.

I’m going to stop here because I know that if I continue, I’m going to spoil something. So I really hope you do decide to read this book, before you watch the movie. It was a sad story, but it did have some fun moments and it had such great character development. I highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it.

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