Book of the Month – The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Yet again, one of my favorite young adult books is being brought to life on the big screen. This month, it’s The Maze Runner by James Dashner.


“‘If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.’
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Jen’s Review

I read The Maze Runner forever ago, but even now, years later, I still remember how exciting, adventurous, and suspenseful it was. I also remember how I never stopped asking myself, “What the heck is going to happen next?”.

In a way, The Maze Runner reminds me of Lord of the Flies, except it has a maze, a girl, and oozing, creeping creatures that attack in the night! Oh, and there’s a tiny world-wide plague that gives people zombie-like symptoms, which makes things even more tense and crazy.

I will warn you: if you decide to read The Maze Runner, then you should prepare yourself to read its sequels, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. There are way too many unsolved mysteries at the end of book one to feel fully satisfied. But, that’s okay. As a whole (yes, I’ll admit, there are some ups and downs to all three books), this is an entertaining series that’s full of action and intrigue. And, in my opinion, they’re totally worth reading.

Mazerunner_minhoquoteSo what are you waiting for? Run out and read The Maze Runner before the movie hits theaters on September 19th!

Jen’s Rating 

5 Star

And for those of you who’d rather “see” the synopsis, here’s the trailer for The Maze Runner. Prepare to hold your breath for the next two minutes!

…Just remember: Read the book BEFORE you see the movie!

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Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

13104080Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi 


it’s almost
time for war.
Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.
She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.
Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.
In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.”

Jen’s Review

Overall, Unravel Me was fine okay good. Did I love it as much as Shatter Me? Unfortunately, no. Shatter Me was better. A lot better.

In the first book of the Shatter Me series, the protagonist, Juliette, was uncertain, fragile, and scared. And in this sequel, she was uncertain, fragile, and scared. And I’m betting she’ll be uncertain, fragile, and scared in the third book, Ignite Me.

Yeah, obviously I’d hoped wanted expected to see more character development with Juliette in Unravel Me. Her “I’m so scared and weak and useless” mindset quickly became frustrating. And what made it even more frustrating was in every chapter, she’d make some kind of vow to be “stronger” or “nicer” or “happier” after a pep talk/lecture from her friend, Kenji, or Omega Point’s leader, Castle…but then she’d encounter her boy toy, Adam, or she’d accidentally hurt someone, and she’d fall right back into her ol’ weepy, self-loathing ways. I hate to say it, but the only time I liked Juliette in this book was when she turned into that “monster” she feared. Then, she was cool insane badass.

On the plus side, I still worship praise adore Tahereh Mafi’s writing style. I can’t tell you how many times I’d re-read a sentence/paragraph for its sheer beauty or imagery. “My fists are full of unlucky pennies and my heart is a jukebox demanding a few nickels and my head is flipping quarters heads or tails heads or tails heads or tails heads or tails.” Mafi truly has a magical touch (no pun intended) with words.

I also loved many of her secondary characters, especially Kenji and Warner. Kenji is just plain fun. In fact, he’s probably my favorite character in this entire book. Strong, daring, hilarious. Kenji rocks. However, his many “Ugh, Juliette! Will you stop whining/crying/beating yourself up/making out with Adam?” moments highlighted Juliette’s many faults.

As for Warner…


Unlike most, I fell in love with Warner in Shatter Me. I sensed there was more to him than lunacy cruelty bloodlust. And there was! In Unravel Me, we discover many of Warner’s humanistic emotionally scarred delicate layers. However, as much as I love love love Warner, I don’t love love love his involvement in the love triangle with Juliette and Adam. It’s too reminiscent of Bella, Edward, and Jacob…Okay, quick side rant: Juliette is blindingly beautiful. Adam is blindingly beautiful. Warner is blindingly beautiful. Everyone is blindingly beautiful in this book! Why? And why does that beauty overshadow more important qualities like personality? I just don’t like it when a protagonist has serious emotional/personality problems, yet she’s desired by all because she’s “hot”.

Well, anyways. I know it may not seem like it, but I did enjoy this book. Yes, it’s flawed, but yes, it’s good. And yes, I’d recommend it. And yes, I’m planning to read the third book in the series, Ignite Me. But, if you LOVED Shatter Me, all I can say about Unravel Me is:

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

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Book Review: Fractured by Teri Terry

17269399Fractured by Teri Terry


“Perfect for fans of the dystopian settings of The Hunger Games and Divergent, the gripping second installment of the Slated trilogy is a riveting psychological thriller set in a future where violent teens have their memory erased as an alternative to jail.

Kyla has been Slated—her personality wiped blank, her memories lost to her forever. Or so she thought. She shouldn’t be able to remember anything. But increasingly she can—and she’s discovering that there are a lot of dark secrets locked away in her memories. When a mysterious man from her past comes back into her life and wants her help, she thinks she’s on her way to finding the truth. But this new knowledge lands her in the middle of a tug-of-war between two dangerous adversaries, and despite her misgivings about both of them, she’s forced to choose a side for her own protection.”

Jen’s Review

Overall, I enjoyed this sequel to Slated. In fact, I’d say I enjoyed it more (a rare occurrence in the land of trilogies). Why? Fractured was edgier, sharper and, in my opinion, stronger. I’m still in love Teri Terry’s concept of wiping away memories and giving criminals a clean slate, and I’m thoroughly enjoying her mysterious plot. All of the questions I had from book one are starting to get answered, and each answer is intriguing and satisfying…Though, to be honest, they’re not always surprising. There were twists and turns in Fractured I was able to predict a mile away. But no worries. They were still fun to experience!

My only ongoing complaint are some of the characters. In Slated, I forgave Kyla’s passivity for being a slated; passivity is a common side effect of the memory wiping operation. In Fractured, however, my forgiveness began to wane. I understand Kyla’s need to be cautious and wise, and I get she’s on the quiet side, but it came to a point when I wanted her to act up–act out! But every time she was about to, she’d fold in on herself yet again…I wish she’d at least have had someone to confide in–her “mom”, Aiden, Tori. Someone to open up and talk to without fear. I grew weary of living inside her head. I wanted her thoughts to be verbally expressed and bounced around with someone else.

I also continue to have concerns about Kyla’s main love interest, Ben. Simply put, I feel no emotional attachment to him. He’s, well, dull. One dimensional. And, I hate to say it, flaky. Which made Kyla’s ongoing infatuation with him irritating and tiresome. Why does she feel so connected to Ben? Because they like to run together? Because he’s good looking? Because he was the first person she felt safe enough to confide in? Because she’s a stronger person than him and thinks she has the power to control him in the future (that is starting to become the only logical answer to me)? I’m disappointed Teri Terry has chosen Ben to be “the one”. She offers up so many other juicy potentials for male leads (Aiden, Mac, KATRAN!)

Speaking of Katran…He is, by far, my favorite character of the series. And he’s hardly in it! I found myself searching for his name on each page, praying it would pop up. When it did, I’d give an internal cheer and gobble up the too few paragraphs he was featured in. Katran is so interesting, so addicting. Violent, yet sweet. Vicious, yet gentle. Why is he this way? Is there hope for him to be a better man? Does he love Kyla? Why? What is their history?…These were the questions that flew through my mind whenever he’d appear. And they were questions that went–mostly–unanswered. To be honest, I’m feeling on the bitter side of life right now with how Katran’s character was handled. I wish, wish, wish Teri Terry would’ve given him more page time. A bigger role. I wish he was the “Ben” of the story.

Anyways, as I said before, I enjoyed this book. I did. I know I have some problems with a few of the characters, but that doesn’t stop me from highly recommending the series. It’s fun, different and fast-paced. I’m looking forward to reading its final installment, Shattered, when it’s released this spring.

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Fractured here.

Book of the Month – December

7488244Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

I began skimming through my Goodreads “Read” list, searching for a warm, festive book for the holiday month of December…and I realized I don’t read too many “ho-ho-ho!” and hot cocoa-worthy books. So, I went with the angel-themed story/series, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (to honor the angel at the top of my Christmas tree, of course…Bit of a stretch? Maybe, but oh well!). This is one of my favorite YA series, so hopefully you can enjoy it too!


“In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.”

Jen’s Review

A reliable friend recommended the Unearthly series to me last winter. To be honest, when I saw the cover I wasn’t all too eager to read it. It just didn’t “wow!” me and it had a juvenile edge to it that made me wary. But, I decided to trust my friend and gave it a chance. And I’m so glad I did, because I ended up falling in love with it. I devoured Unearthly in just a couple of days, and went on to devour its sequels, Hallowed and Boundless. The plot was fun and enticing, the characters memorable and endearing, and the pace fast and thrilling. It’s a story filled with the perfect amount of humor, action, emotion and, yes, romance.

Now, I know there are quite a few paranormal/angel themed stories out there, but this is one you won’t want to miss! Give it a try (don’t let the cover deter you like it almost deterred me!).

I feel like Cinderella sitting in the middle of the road with a pumpkin and a couple of mice, while Prince Charming charges off to rescue some other chick.”

Read more about Unearthly here!

Book Review: Horde by Ann Aguirre

10596724Horde by Ann Aguirre


“The epic conclusion to the USA Today bestselling trilogy.
The horde is coming.
Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.
Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.
This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.”

Jen’s Review

Overall, I’d say this was a fitting, satisfying conclusion to the Razorland Series. I have to admit I found the first half of Horde…hmm…I’m still not sure. I can’t say it was “boring” or “slow” as there was plenty of action. But it wasn’t exactly thrilling or exciting, either. It was missing that special something–that “I can’t put this book down!” feeling, which is something I definitely want to feel while reading a book, especially a final one in a great series. Maybe it was because the majority of the plot revolved around Deuce and her sidekicks traveling from town to town with the occasional Freak skirmish? It became slightly redundant. Travel, travel, fight! Travel, travel, fight!

However, the second half of Horde made up for its mediocre start. Although it was filled with more traveling and battling, the characters became more interesting and engaging, the plot’s temperature heated up and pulled me in, and that “I can’t put this book downfeeling sprang to life. Thank. God. And, without giving anything away, I appreciated how the story ended. It was, in my mind, perfect. Thank you, Ann Aguirre!

All in all, I’d recommend the Razorland Series to those who enjoyed other dystopians like Hunger Games, Under the Never Sky and Legend

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Horde here!

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

17383918Allegiant by Veronica Roth


“One choice will define you.
What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.”

Jens’ Review

**Warning: I do my best to stay away from spoilers, but since this is the third and final book of a series, I might slip. So beware!**

Let me start off by saying that I enjoyed Allegiant much more than InsurgentBut I didn’t enjoy it as much as DivergentI think this is a common trend with trilogies. First book rocks. Second book drags. Third book rocks and drags.

Unlike its predecessors, Allegiant went back and forth between two POV’s: Tris and Tobias. Overall, I enjoyed this updated format. In fact, I wish Veronica Roth had written the first two books this way. The varying perspectives added a deeper dimension, propelled the story forward faster, and gave the reader a break from Tris (who, lets face it, can be borderline unlikeable at times). My only complaint about this new format: I kept forgetting if I was reading from Tris or Tobias’s POV. Because it’s written in first person, and because Tris and Tobias are so similar, I’d end up reading entire chapters thinking I was inside the others head. Friends of mine have also complained about this issue. I think a simple solution would’ve been to add Tris or Tobias’s name at the top of each page, or even use the strategy of Marie Lu’s Legend with different font colors.

**Okay, I’m going to tread into Spoilerville here. I must. Sorry.**

The ending. Wow. Just…wow. I’m sure many people will disagree with me, but I liked it. I thought Tris’s fate made perfect sense and fit the book’s theme of “choice”. And, come on, this was never a happy series. Death and despair and WTF-just-happened? moments were always the norm. I’m still trying to figure out if I liked how Tris died. At one minute I think, “Well, it makes sense”, but then the next I think, “Really? Gunshot? Really?” I suppose I’m leaning towards the “Well, it makes sense” side. Just like the death serum, Tris made a choice to get shot. Even though she knew it would mean death if she lunged for the button to release the memory serum, she did it anyways to save those she loved. I liked that.

I must applaud Veronica Roth for having the guts and boldness to kill off her main protagonist. I’m so used to YA series ending in a shower of glitter and flutter of butterflies. Even Hunger Games had a sorta happy ending, with Katniss and Peeta building a life together. But Allegiant ended horribly realistically, and, in this case, logically…At least Veronica Roth gave the reader a sliver of satisfaction by taking us a couple of years into the future with Four to see how he’s dealing with Tris’s death and how the world Tris died for is faring.

Even so, it was a bittersweet ending to a bittersweet series.

Jen’s Rating

3 StarRead more about Allegiant here!