20345202The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1) by Melissa Grey
Expected publication: April 28th 2015 by Delacorte Press
Pages: 368

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
"She had gone to the library in search for hope, but what she'd found instead was a child. It would take her many years to realize that the two were not so different after all."
Thank you Delacorte Press for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

How to start a review of a book one loved so much? I was already convinced of Melissa Grey's writing and talent after I read the magical and haunting prologue. I knew this book was going to be different from other young-adult novels I'd already read, and I was right. The Girl at Midnight is highly entertaining, highly original and is worth all the hype surrounding it.

I felt like it was love at first sight with literally everything in this book. Starting off with the world, I applaud the author for creating such an enchanting and mysterious world. As I was already sold from the very beginning, it didn't take long before I completely lost myself in the world and the epic battle between two ancient races. Everything was wonderfully done, especially the two races themselves. I have a weak spot to discover entirely new beings. Vampires, werewolves and zombies are currently too overused and I longed for something unique to become obsessed with. That was done when the Avicen and the Drakharin were introduced. Two human-like races, one with feathers and the other with scales. I couldn't help myself to not be fascinated by this idea that was delivered just perfectly.

Because of the plot revolving around this mysterious legend of the firebird, it suited the world and the overall tone of the book just perfectly. The beginning immediately left me craving for more. I flew through the pages in order to know more, and I wasn't disappointed. Page by page, bits and pieces of information were revealed which led to long reading sessions. The story itself was build up very nicely. Through Grey's beautiful writing style, it gave me a clear and vivid imagine of everything, it also left a lot of space to fill in with my imagination. I did have a bit of a struggle with the plot around two hundred pages in. By then I'd already seen a lot of the world, but the characters themselves didn't do anything in order for the story to continue. They traveled to places without anything really happening. It made it easy for me at times to set the book down. However, the more I got to the climax of the book, the more things started to fall back into place. Action jumped in at times when it was needed, combined with a smart twist at the end.

There's no denying my love for almost every single character in this book. Apart from characters you're supposed to dislike, I found myself a protagonist, a love interest, side characters and a villain I couldn't help but love. Starting off with the main character, she's that kind of young-adult character that kicks ass. Being a pickpocket, she's used to danger which makes her a bit reckless, but also a very fearless and brave character. Throughout the story she makes smart decisions and doesn't back down for a journey. What I adored about her character was the ordinary things she does. Despite the world she's used to, she's just a normal teenage girl who tries to maintain a rather normal life.

Despite my fondness for the first love interest, I fell head over heels for the one who came next. This might feel a bit like a love triangle, but it is nothing like that. Both myself and the main character forgot the current boyfriend very easily when the Dragon Prince stepped into the picture. Being the "immortal" being he is, he was such a complex yet a fascinating character. Every character in this book is, really. As soon as they set off on their journey, some romances and friendships start to develop. I'm guilty to again falling in love with every one of them. Because everyone was so complex and different, it therefore made their relationships also truly interesting to read about. Even the villain herself, who felt to me like a vicious and twisted version of Daenerys Targaryen.

The Girl at Midnight is the start to a series I cannot imagine where it would head to next. All I know for now is that I'm in.

Feature & Follow is a weekly blog hop, hosted by Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. The purpose of this is to eventually gain more followers, but to also meet your fellow bloggers and to have fun. This week, however, I've been chosen as a featured blogger! Honestly, I feel like I cannot put my happiness into words. Just, thank you.

How to participate?
1. Follow both Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.
2. Follow the two featured bloggers of the week.
3. Leave your name on the original #FF post via linky tools
4. Create an #FF post on your own blog.
5. Visit as many blogs as you can.
6. Say hi or leave something else in their comments.
7. You follow them, they follow back.

This week's question:
Have you ever read a book you thought you'd hate but loved? Or vice versa?
- Suggested by A Great Read

I have so many books that turned out to be huge disappointments for me. Allegiant by Veronica Roth tops my list, but also Summer & The City by Candace Bushnell after loving the first installment, The Carrie Diaries. Other books on that same list are All Fall Down  by Ally Carter, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Panic by Lauren Oliver and Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.

Fortunately, my reading life doesn't only exist of bad books and disappointments. There were moments when I really wasn't in the mood to read a particular book, and I just forced myself into reading it. Books like The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma and The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani surprised me in a very good way. Also, after reading Shatter Me, I hadn't expected anything good of the sequel, Unravel Me. In the end, it turned out to be amazing and was my absolute surprise of 2013.

GFC bloglovin

Preferably both, but choose as you like.
I don't have a comment section, but I'll follow back as soon as I see it!

18052136In Time (The Darkest Minds, #1.5) by Alexandra Bracken
Published: Disney Publishing Worldwide
Pages: 89

Don't miss this exciting short story that connects The Darkest Minds to its much-anticipated sequel, Never Fade.

Gabe's life has been devastated in the wake of the economic crash. The only option left for someone like him to escape his tragic past is to leave his small town behind and to attempt to become a skiptracer. This already almost impossible task is made all the more difficult by his first score, a young girl who won't speak, but who changes his life in ways he could never imagine.
“Because she knows what it's like to live in a world of black, and black, and the tiny bit of white, but when she escaped it, she didn't find the rainbow of colors, the dresses, the singing, the dancing. She only found ugliness.”
Upon starting In Time, I already found the point of view to be very well-chosen. It was so interesting and even fascinating to see the whole situation from a "normal" person's point of view. Although my love for him wasn't great at first, it was easy to sympathise with him in a way. Gabe is someone who just so happened to be the victim of the whole situation. He had no control about what was happening in the world, and that's what made him stand out. He wasn't the kid with special powers being hunted down, but the one who hunts.

Some excellent character development and a very unlikely friendship were my two highlights of the novella. The change in his character was brought so well, which redeemed the dragging plot. This development was slow, but by paying attention you could see all the way through how much he softened because of the "freak". It eventually made my heart melt, though it may have had something to do with this adorable little girl I already loved from The Darkest Minds.

The ending left me in an absolute state of shock. I still don't know what happened. It just ripped my heart open and left me me with tears in my eyes. Yes, it hit me right in the feels, but that's what I love in a good novella. Yes, it does not have the best plot of pace, but In Time remains highly-recommended for every fan of The Darkest Minds out there.

10576365The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Published: December 18th 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Pages: 488

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

When I finally decided to start reading The Darkest Minds, it was already three years after it first had been published. In most cases, it doesn't affect my opinion on a book. However, when a book is being surrounded by so much hype ever since it came out, it surprisingly does. This wasn't the amazing action-packed dystopian I needed it to be.

Despite my several issues with this book, there were still some very good things that made me rate it three stars. For example, there is no denying my love for the haunting world. Author Alexandra Bracken made it fit perfectly into the dystopian genre by using common elements such as diseases, evil governments and mysterious abilities. I thought I'd grown tired of these kind of books a long time ago, but Bracken proves me wrong. Although it took a while for me to finally settle into the world, it came across as believable. I love that about a dystopian. They are, after all, books where the world is an absolute focus and must be done right.

Unfortunately, there's always two sides to a coin. Even if my issues with the world are very limited. Starting off, I had quite some trouble with figuring out what each colour meant and what they exactly did. Call me retarded, but I did not think it was a smart choice to name abilities after colours, as I kept struggling with them until halfway through. Another personal matter, was the rehabilitation camp. This close relative of the concentration camps was by far something that added some darkness and serious topics into the book. It was simply captivating, but also controversial at the same time. I may have had some trouble with it just because it was so unexpected, to say the least. Let's say I'd seen enough to get a perfectly clear image of Ruby's tortured past.

I never expected to dislike Ruby as a character, even if I do. Because all the hype surrounding the book, I thought loving her would be easy because of her bold attitude and strong personality. Nothing like that happened. Ruby turned out to be nothing but a weak and whiny character. I hold no grudges against weak characters, since they are most likely the ones who surprise you in the end. I hope she will fit into this category, as I was mostly irritated with her in this book. She kept complaining and getting hurt, and believing she's the biggest "monster" of them all. After discovering bits and pieces of her past, I get where she is coming from, however it still does not qualify as an excuse for whining all the way through the five hundred pages.

The other characters started out quite meh for me. They were kind of thrown in there like I simply had to deal with them for the rest of the series. As the story progressed, my opinion changed very quickly. All the layers of their personality started to show, revealing who they really were underneath. In the end, they are just scared kids on the run, looking for a future together. It was really a journey for me that paid off. All the others, ranging from side characters to love interests, surprised me in a pleasant way. Depth was brought to their characters through backstories I loved. In the end, I couldn't help but fall for the characters they really were. I adored the dynamics between the trio. Bracken made it really believable and showed me many times how much they cared for each other. Their strong friendship was the light touch to this book I absolutely needed. Clancey, on the other hand, was a real twist to this book. Without giving away too much, I'd suggest you keep your eyes out for this character. He's intriguing, mysterious, and a pleasant surprise.

The overall pace and plot of this book, weren't all too great to be honest. Instead of the action-packed book I'd expected it to be, it was nothing but a bunch of kids who traveled around and didn't do much. It wasn't until the second half that things started happening. Though some of the action-scenes were still a bit on the annoying side, a lot of my issues regarding the plot and pace faded away. No one was still doing anything, yet it didn't feel like that anymore. Tension started to build up slowly but steady, and I found myself more and more interest in what would happen next. The ending left me open-mouthed, which is my main reason for continuing the series. It holds some strong potential, and I have to find out myself if it is really worth it in the end. For now, I do think so.

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