Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes // AN EPIC BEAUTIFUL FANTASY

12954620Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1), by Morgan Rhodes                         Publication: December 11, 2012, by Razorbill                                               Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure                                                   Pages: 412                                                             Format: Paperback                                             Source: Purchased                                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

 

MICHELLE’s Thoughts:

I’ve been hesitant with high-fantasy since Sarah J. Maas’s unstoppably perfect Throne of Glass series came into my life. I’ve been afraid that I won’t feel that way about a book ever again, specifically in the same genre. When I purchased this, it was mainly for the reason that everyone was talking about it, the hype and the assassin-like cover intrigued me. Morgan Rhodes’s books should’ve entered my life a long time ago, I’ll tell you that.

Falling Kingdoms is a read that hit me like never before. It’s enchanting, brave and heart-warming. Rhodes causes readers to fall in love with each and every one of the characters, even if a bad streak of evil is in their personality. Though I’ve never read Game of Thrones, it is highly compared to it which definitely shows that I’ll love George R.R. Martin’s world as well. Even though I’m on a book buying/borrowing ban, I can’t stop myself from requesting the sequel of this book to fly into my hands. I’ll be reading it soon. *smiles*

“If you want something,” Tomas had always said, “you have to take it. Because nobody’s ever going to give it to you. Remember that, little brother.” (27)

Every character in this novel is fighting for themselves and their kingdoms. There’s no extra, forbidden romance that brings everyone together. At least, not so far. If something does come up in the next novels, I’ll still be a hardcore fan because it hadn’t sprouted up in the beginning. Rhodes has created three kingdoms that all lay on one chunk of land, separated by controlling borders: Limeros, Paelsia and Auranos. In each, we have a main character who has some kind of role in the book’s plot.

Cleo: Princess Cleo is basically the new Celaena Sardothien from ToG. Cleo’s super badass and can fit the role of being the new queen of Auranos. And hey, she’s able to fight and kick people’s butts—bring them down, basically. Although some have noted that she’s completely annoying and eerie, I’d state otherwise. She impressed me from the start and when her perspective came around in Auranos, I looked forward to it the most. She’s there for her sick sister, trying to believe in magic although it might be kind of impossible for her in her situation, and she needs to help the people whom she loves. I ship her with Magnus, OR Jonas… somehow Rhodes will make it work.

Jonas: Here we have another character who fights for the people who he loves. Jonas lost his brother in a careless accident caused by Aron, the man who Cleo’s going to marry, and Cleo was a bystander. Jonas is one of those independent guys who stays by his words, y’know? He threatened Aron and Cleo, saying that he’ll kill them, and he tries to do whatever it takes to find them and bring Auranos and its throne down. Then he discovers that his land, Paelsia, as well as the north neighbours, Limeros, have signed a deal and they’ll start a war together. Our little teenager Jonas WAS PART OF THIS WAR. That’s a cute “prince” if you ask me.

Magnus: So this is the ladies’ man, and obviously everyone’s favourite. Some may feel that it’s kind of strange that he has an obsession with his little sister, Lucia, who has a secret that can bring his family down (that has to do with elementia magic) and he’s more overprotective of her than ever. That’s an adorable big brother, if you ask me. I fell in love with each of the male interests, by the way. I don’t care what’ll happen because it’ll all somehow work out.

“Magic will find those with pure hearts, even when all seems lost. And love is the greatest magic of all. I know this to be true.” (248)

Things kept getting messed up for each of the characters, though even as a reader, I felt like I was always kind of there for them? I mean I know it’s kind of strange, but I felt that I could relate to these characters, and it happened so easily. I felt like sobbing to the fullest extent many times while reading, and I had an impeccable reading experience throughout. It’s a slower read to get your mind into, as there’s tons of facts about the land and magic that you’ll need to understand to continue reading, but I loved every minute of it, from start to finish. If I could’ve, I would have finished it in one sitting, I promise you. I bet that it simply just depends on your reading speed and what you’re usually used to. Rhodes’ writing is fantastic, fantasizing and like a pinch of pixie dust; You’ll feel its power and magic.

So what am I, magical reader, expecting from the next book? More plot twists, suspense and hell-yeah-awesome action scenes. Rhodes’ interpretation of an action scene taken in a fantasy world is kickass. You must expect everything: the swords, assassin-like moves and hiding, as well as appearances of enemies. I already read a snippet of book two and I can’t believe what’s happening. Rebel Spring is going to kill me, once again.

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Falling Kingdoms ruined my life, but in a remarkable, grand way. It’s one of those reads that you’ll be reading other reviews of for hours, trying to see other people’s opinions and summaries so you can get that special touch again. And—get ready for a Morgan Rhodes book haul the next time you head out to your bookstore/library. YOU NEED ALL OF THE BOOKS.

so let’s discuss. would you rather be: a princess/prince who has to marry a murderer but has all of the jewels and pretty stuff, a person who is a great fighter and is loved by tons of people but who has gone through a horrible loss, or a person who can play with magic but is always at risk of being killed? morgan rhodes plays with my head and i can’t stop thinking about these possibilities!

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Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson // A Beach Read Incorporated With the Maximum Amount of Feels

Second Chance Summer, by Morgan Matson                                                    Publication: May 8, 2012, by Simon and Schuster BFYR                                               Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                           Pages: 468                                                     Format: Paperback                                   Source: Gifted                                               Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

I can’t take it anymore. I have to spill it out. I have to bawl, make fun of myself secretly since I’m SUCH A NERD, and fangirl. Fangirl until there isn’t anything else left of me. Morgan Matson, you have rocked my world for the fourth! time with this beautiful piece of art and literature that is too amazing to just call “a book.” Second Chance Summer is racing, mesmerizing and unlike anything I’ve read before. I hope you like to get hit with nonstop tears and sadness because she just did it. It’s marvellous.

Second Chance Summer is a wild ride that I am SO fortunate to have read about. Books like this don’t show up in people’s lives often, and I just can’t stop thinking about this “world” that the main character, Taylor, has us in. Her summer life in Lake Phoenix is like the dream I’ve always had—not the sad stuff, obviously, but the summer days by the lake, making friends that you’ll miss everyday when you’re not with them, and feeling like you’re in a different place for a little while. If I could pick any place in any book that I’ve ever read to visit, this world definitely would be one of them, just to be there for the characters and understand what it’s like to have a summer fling. Hah.

“What was the point of trying to run away if people were going to insist on reminding you of what you were running from?” (10)

Taylor Edwards, Morgan’s teenage protagonist, is a clear replica of many girls, including myself. When I read her story, I imagined myself in her situation and I promise you that I’m sure that I would do the exact same things as she did. We’re kind of connected, to be honest. *winks* Taylor was relatable, easy-going and just so awesome. She had feelings, not like as if she was some kind of clone who walked around and pretended to feel things. This is like a story of someone’s life, so realistic and inspiring. There’s loss, love and just about everything many people eventually feel in their lives when the right time comes. It’s a life lesson filled with themes that not every novel gets into, sadly.

I keep talking/typing about loss, sadness. Morgan wrote about that with so much passion. Taylor’s father has cancer, and her family is about to spend one last summer with him in the place that he loved the most, Lake Phoenix, where they have a summer house. I guess that you don’t realize how life can fly by until the moments where you need more of it the most, right? Taylor is instantly brought back into the times of hatred and memories that she wouldn’t like to get back into, but she’d do anything for her role model, her father. She has a former best friend there, Lucy, and her first crush, Henry, who lies behind.

I say that this is a beach read, but it isn’t at the same time. First off, you’ll look like a maniac crying on the beach in public where you should really be laughing around and giggling like the cute person you are. THIS HAS FEELS, FOR THE FIFTEENTH TIME. You have feels, everything has feels and your eyes will just water up and explode. You can’t help it. No other contemporary author other than Morgan will make you cry the same way, feel things the same way. It is pretty easy-going at times, but the cancer thing just made the mood way more intense.

“His arms were around my back, pulling me closer, and I looped my arms around his neck and ran my hands over his jawline, suddenly not able to stop touching him. And while we kissed, up there among the trees, the rain tapered off until, at long last, the sun came out.” (358)

Can’t you see how descriptive this novel is? The writing? The plot? Everything about it is perfection and 5/5 gazillion stars. No flaws, people. A second chance summer definitely beats the old first chance, first love kind of thing, because no in NO WAY was this any kind of instant romance between Taylor and Henry. In fact, it was magical and precious. I love romances where one of the characters will help the other in ways that are definitely not understood to the regular being. It’s a deep romance that is intense and crazy, but not in any ways that would make me frown. HENRY IS FICTIONAL BOYFRIEND #1. I say that in every review, but this time it means a lot. Agh.

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Second Chance Summer is the first and only chance I’ve given this book because it used it up and impressed me to the maximum. It’s one of those books that you’ll find yourself thinking about at the sweetest, easiest moments, like if you’re falling asleep at night or simply sitting in Math class on a Thursday morning. At first, when you look at it and read the summary, you may think that it’s a cliché, easy-going novel, but TRUST ME, it’s so much more than that and I’d need years to explain it. It also needs 1000 more pages because I can’t get enough of it. I’m sure about that.

who is your favourite contemporary author/writer? do they make your heart jump with feels as morgan does for me? do you enjoy stories about second chances and summer? (my favourite season of them all.)

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This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales // One of the Most Touching Stories

This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales                                Publication: September 17, 2013, by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR                                             Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                   Pages: 288                                         Format: Hardcover                           Source: Borrowed                                                 Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

 

Michelle’s Thoughts:

I’ll tell you this: it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to relate to a book and its protagonist so much. Sure, I can find the odd laugh or two in relation with other books, but Leila Sales has given me that opportunity where I cried, even bawled, reading about Elise’s experience and love for her talent. So in that case, let me write a letter to Ms. Elise Dembowski to celebrate her gorgeous, satisfying and unbelievable story.

Dear gorgeous dj elise,

Remember when you spoke about this back in the day?

“I had worked so hard, wished so hard, for things to get better. But it hadn’t happened, and it wasn’t going to happen. I could buy new jeans. I could put on or take off a headband, but this was who I was. You think it’s so easy to change yourself, but it’s impossible.”

That quote hit me like never before. I felt you, I understood everything you had gone through to help yourself. Although I’ve never been suicidal or plan to, your sense of loss in the world, trying to find yourself and what you love to do was something that speaks to me. My life situation isn’t has horrid as yours has been, but I bet that we can speak to each other and understand each other. You’re totally a new favourite character, but you felt more like a friend in the end.

I’ve had so many friendship issues. I never have been able to find the right group of friends for me, people who understand me and have the same likes and hobbies. When I joined the book blogger community, I found that sense of hope, just like you did with DJing. I love music too, so we can talk about that. But you’re simply fabulous, and I can’t even explain how much everything hit me. I felt your pain, your tears and your happiness.

Thank you for giving me the feels and all of that, seriously. I’ll definitely be buying a copy and will be rereading it for years to come. Your story is a classic, my friend!

nOW ONTO MY ACTUAL THOUGHTS OF THE PLOT AND WRITING. i’LL JUST LET YOU KNOW FROM HERE THAT IT’S ALL PERFECT. ALL THE STARS FOR EVERYTHING.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book like this. Something with everything you feel is so perfect? It’s 100% for all. Leila Sales has never impressed me as much ever, and now I’m thousands of times even more eager to read her future works, including her newest and upcoming, Tonight the Streets Are Ours. Sales hits on the right amount of everything: romance, friendship, family and passion. It’s my first time ever reading about a talented DJ, that’s for sure!

Sales doesn’t make love seem like it’s perfect or that it happens instantly. There are twists and turns given when readers realize the realism of fiction. This is the most contemporary a book can get. The ending shocked me, but it stayed real and blew my expectations in the best way. You don’t always expect the best things to happen to characters once their story is over. Although I must admit that as a protagonist, Elise deserved all of the best for her future. Now we’re caused to think and wonder about what happened next. 

“Does this seem weak to you? Could you have done better? Fine, by all means, do better. But you don’t understand this: sometimes when you are worn down, day after day, relentlessly, with no reprieve for years piled on years, sometimes you lose everything but the ability to cry.”

So after everything, I firmly believe that This Song Will Save Your Life can save one’s life. Elise went from being suicidal and cutting herself without any friends to a girl with a strong view of talent and happiness. It spoke to me like never before. Leila Sales has featured an extraordinary view on a high school experience, and it certainly fit mine more than ever.

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Would you possibly like your life to be written on a 300 paged document that everyone else is fanning over? That’s the question that I would’ve loved to have been asked beforehand, before picking up this stellar masterpiece of a novel. And I would’ve answered yes without any questions asked. In a way, this book did kind of save my life. It’s unique, true-to-the-heart and just perfect. Elise will leave you wondering what happens next in her story, and about yours as well.

So I just can’t get this book out of my head, for obvious reasons. have you ever been stuck in a situation like elise’s? you don’t have to go deep into it, my friends. but i can tell you that i have, and leila just understands teenagers unlike any other writer. did you ever feel that way about a book? that it just speaks to you and your life?

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The Cage by Megan Shepherd // I’m In a Glass CAGE of Emotion

The Cage (The Cage #1), by Megan Shepherd                                      Publication: May 26, 2015, by Balzer + Bray Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia, Science-Fiction, Romance                                     Pages: 400                                           Format: Hardcover                         Source: BEA/Publisher                                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Michelle’s thoughts:

Where have you been all my life, wonderful novel? Megan Shepherd is a brilliant writer, seriously brilliant. From her Madman’s Daughter trilogy, which I’m just about finished reading excluding its final novel, to this, she keeps impressing me every time and I can only expect a 5 star read from her. Let’s just say that this rarely occurs in my bookish ratings. The Cage was terrifically head-pounding and left me speechless. Bear with me, fellow Shepherders, because we’re in for a wild ride after all.

Lately, dystopias haven’t been my exact favourite genre of novels as they once were. Authors seem to be using the same kind of ideas over and over again, in different settings, political views and with different character personalities, of course. When I grabbed a copy of this, I kind of already knew that it is promising. It sure is. It promises you a read that has similar traits to The Maze Runner, but nothing completely like it. Imagine you wake up and discover that you and five other humans have basically been abducted by aliens and are stuck in a cage for the remainder of your lives, possibly. That’s only the start where this begins.

“You might have grown up in a rich-girl bubble, the gap-toothed girl had told her, but in here you have to learn the rules of the real world. First off: never trust a stranger—especially one who comes offering help.” (10)

So Megan actually hands us a variety of perspectives: different characters who simply have a total divergent view on where they’re at. Some believe that the Finders (the strange aliens who claim to be keeping them safe) are not doing any harm, while others, specifically Cora, the girl most likely featured on this astonishing cover and who’s technically the main character, believe that they have to get help, trying to be released and escape. Of course they want to escape. There are five other teens who have been held captive, one, who which is released in the middle of the book. The rest are: Nok, Rolf, Leon and Lucky, and Cora finds some kind of connection between Lucky, but she realizes that he knows too much about her past. The Finders have three rules, and the six held in captive must follow them all by twenty-one days, or they’ll be taken away, presumably death.

Oh I’m serious all right. Did I mention that this book may hold one of the most bold love-triangles in modern YA history? After reading, I sat there, thinking, “what the hell just happened?” because readers certainly never expect a romance between two people who actually have been together in the past (in a way) and a girl and an alien. WHAT?! The thing is, Shepherd delivers the idea of an alien (a Finder) so awesomely. They’re not green and gooey as we all expect them to be, and they’re certainly not UFOs. Cora and the others describe them as: bronze and without pupils, basically. You’ll have a horrible time trying to decide which guy is perfect for Cora…

Cora has a wonderful, unique name as well, just like the book is. With a hint of contemporary and mystery from her life on Earth, she is very, very badass. I do wish that we had been able to hear more of her life in juvie, but it’s pretty nice of her that she took the blame for manslaughter, which was all her dad’s fault. I don’t know if I would’ve done it, but in a way, fate has placed her on this foreign planet when all of Earth could be destroyed. O_O Karma’s probably a factor for tons of the events here, too.

Remember me mentioning how the dystopia aspect was done perfectly? Well let me just say it again. When reading, I kept wondering how Shepherd was able to conquer this idea in just a matter of 400, gorgeous pages. The different biomes and habitats found on the weird planet just made the story tens of hundreds of times more interesting. It’s like traveling to different places on the Earth, in a matter of acres. They had to make some kind of escape, or the book would’ve been plain boring and wouldn’t focus on anything. Shepherd’s writing is mad, wicked and freaking stunning. I’d actually read about Cora and the crew over and over again until the sequel is about to be released.

“This couldn’t be her life. Four walls made of endless trees and mountains and a ceiling made of limitless sky, and a man with black eyes who thought giving her the stars could make this world real.” (199)

You know how many quotes I have sticky notes in? 8. That’s actually a ton for me, and shows how unique this story is. How much depth there is in the writing. How touching it is. Whoa. And when the romance actually kicked in and readers got a sense of what was yet to come (after the taking-food-away incident), things got even more thrilling. Although Cora hadn’t admitted it yet, she kind of fell in love with Cassian. Picture a lonely alien who never has felt love or kissing before, until he saw her. Let’s just say that Cassian will play mind games with you readers, until you discover the truth in the end, though I bet that there are still an endless amount of questions that will be answered until the trilogy (duology?) will be completed. I just wish that I could have all of the books, pronto!

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I declare that I’m officially obsessed with this book. I’d seriously make a Tumblr account and post all of my wacky theories on there of what is yet to come and the reason why everything makes sense… or why it doesn’t. The Cage explores romance (in a love-triangle format without any instant affection), a broad sci-fi subject matter which not even the best scientists can conquer, and awesome characters. All of the plot and time spent on different events made total sense. I’m a fan of Lucky and Cora together and I WANNA SEE THEM GO BACK TO EARTH TOGETHER. Can those underground ocean ways bring them back to their *SPOILER* destroyed planet? *SPOILER*

do you think you’d survive in some cage like this? what role would you grasp to have? i’d be the chick who makes the escape plan. *JOKES* I’d get the food, definitely. Would you make friends with the alien creatures who captured you? What about fall in love with one of them?

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