Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★☆ (4.25)
Genre – Young Adult Historical Fiction25614492

Summary Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Initial Thoughts – I love all of Ruta Sepetys work, so when I found out she was writing another piece, I was so excited.
Plot – ★★★☆☆ It took a while for the plot to pick up. With the four different view points, it took me a while to become connected and interested in the plot line. After the first a hundred pages, the plot really picked up and I loved it.
Characters – ★★★★☆ The characters in this novel were pretty well developed, but it was difficult to get close to them with the four different view points. However, I did eventually root for all of them.
Story world – ★★★★★ This was by far the best part of the novel. Sepetys certainly has a talent for historical fiction. I was transported  back in time with this novel and I loved every second.
Style – ★★★★★  Ruta Sepetys has the perfect style for historical fiction. It’s simple, yet very descriptive.
Closing Thoughts -While the plot may have been slow in places and the characters were at times confusing, I still loved the concept of this novel. The story of the Wilhelm Gustloff told through  Salt to the Sea will stay with me a long time.
Recommendation – Recommended to someone who wants a unique historical fiction about a rarely known event in history.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

(This is the third book in The Raven Cycle series. Here is my review of the first book The Raven Boys and the second book, The Dream Thieves Spoilers below.)

★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

Summary – There is danger in dreaming. But there
is even more danger in waking up. 17378508

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

Initial Thoughts – I loved every second of this book. Maggie Stiefvater has never disappointed me in this series.
Plot – ★★★★★ I can’t tell you how many times I gasped aloud while reading this. I simply couldn’t have predicted Stiefvater’s genius.
Characters – ★★★★★ I will never get over the Raven Boys. It’s that simple.
Story world – ★★★★★ Stiefvater has painted the picture of Henrietta, Virginia so clearly, I can see it while reading it.
Style – ★★★★★  I love Stiefvater’s style and separate voice for each of her characters.
Closing Thoughts – I need The Raven King.  Right now. I can’t express how much I love this series.
Recommendation – Recommended for those that want to sob and laugh on the same page.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Using Adjectives

60 Second Advice by Anne Brees

Description adds layers to your story. Without description, your plot is just stick figures wandering in a white background. One main component to great description is using the correct adjectives.

Specific is always the best choice. Vague words will only make the blurry background blurrier. Instead of blue, say cobalt. Instead of dark, say inky. Don’t worry too much about this for your first draft. Just work on getting the words down on the page. However, once you are doing your edits, refine your word choice.

Research and consider connotation. Connotation is the emotion connected to each word. Consider the words aroma and stench. Both are essentially the same thing. They both describe a scent. However the meaning and emotional response to each one is very different.

Be aware of when too much is simply too much. Yes, you want to be descriptive. Yes, you want to catch your reader. But spending too much time describing will take away from the plot. Your reader is intelligent. Don’t spend five pages describing your character’s eye color with multiple adjectives. Pick one specific adjective, and stick with it. 

What’s your favorite adjective? 

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy25689074

Summary The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century…

Initial Thoughts – I adore the Lunar Chronicles, so I was ecstatic to know there would be a collection of short stories based on this world. This book was everything I dreamed of and more.
Plot – ★★★★★ I never wanted to put this book down. Sometimes for short story collections, it’s easy to get bored with the different plots. However, I loved learning more about all the characters through this book.
Characters – ★★★★★  In my opinion, the best part of the Lunar Chronicles were the characters. All of them were imperfectly perfect and it was impossible not to love every single one. This novel gives you a new look at each of the characters.
Story world – ★★★★★ This book offers some insight on places mentioned in other parts of the Lunar Chronicles that you never really got a true picture of.
Style – ★★★★★  I love Meyer’s style, which is perfect for the series.
Closing Thoughts – Yes. Yes. Yes. This book was perfection. I want ten more of these, please.
Recommendation – Perfect for fans of the Lunar Chronicles that don’t want the series to be over just yet.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Half Wild by Sally Green

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

(This is the second book in the Half Bad Trilogy. You can find my review of the first book here. Spoilers below. )

★★★★☆ (4.25)20814989
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy

Summary – In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run–but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

Initial Thoughts – I read the first book early this year and liked it enough to continue on with the series. I liked this book quite a bit, but it didn’t wow me quite as much as the first one did.
Plot – ★★★★☆ For the most part, the plot was pretty fast paced. However, at sometimes it lagged. I’m afraid this book might be suffering from Second Book Syndrome.
Characters – ★★★★★ My favorite part about this series is the characters. Green really has mastered the anti-heroine concept. Almost every single one of her characters are anti-heroines, but I somehow love them all.
Story world – ★★★★★ Green has a talent for describing the setting without you really realizing it. (Ahh, the mystical show not tell rule.) There are no huge blocks of describing text, yet I can see all of the settings clearly in my mind.
Style – ★★★☆☆ Too many times Green’s writing read like writing. I was never fully sucked into the story because her style wasn’t immaculate.
Closing Thoughts –  I will definitely be reading Half Lost when it is released. Hopefully this book was only suffering from Second Book Syndrome, and Green will wow me in the final book.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

(This is the last book in the Starbound trilogy. Here are my reviews of These Broken Stars and This Shattered World.)

★★★★★ (5.00)
Genre – Young Adult Science FictionTheir Fractured Light (Starbound, #3)

Summary – A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon
Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.
Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.
Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.
When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

Initial Thoughts – I’m sad to see this series end, because I absolutely loved it so much.
Plot – ★★★★★ The pacing in this novel is perfection. I never wanted to put it down.
Characters – ★★★★★ The characters are by far my favorite part of this novel. I should hate them, a hacker and a con artist. Yet I still love them both. Plus, I absolutely adored it when all the characters from the rest of the series were united.
Story world – ★★★★★ Over the course of the whole series, Kaufman and Spooner have worked hard to establish their story world. The rules and components are clear, which makes the story even more exciting.
Style – ★★★★★  Kaufman and Spooner have the perfect style for this genre. It’s smooth and simple, just right for keeping the plot moving.
Closing Thoughts  – I’m sad to see this series end and that I have to say goodbye to the characters and story world. I hope that these two authors get back together to write another series soon. 

Recommendation – Recommended for those in need of a fast paced scifi with a side of love.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

(This is the second book in the Starbound series. You can find my review of the first book here. Spoilers in the summary below.)

★★★★   (4.25)
Genre – Young Adult Science Fiction

13138734 Summary – Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.
Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.
Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.
Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

Initial Thoughts –  I absolutely loved the first book, These Broken Stars. This one started out promising, but in the end I was disappointed.
Plot – ★★★☆ The plot started off great, but along the middle it just fell for me. I wasn’t kept on the edge of my seat until the end. It was just missing that little something that makes good books great.
Characters – ★★★★★ Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner have the ability to create wonderful characters. Even though the main characters are both on the opposite sides of the war, I still managed to fall in love and cheer for both of them.
Story world – ★★★★★ It’s clear from this series just how much skill these authors have when it comes to creating haunting science fiction worlds.
Style – ★★★★☆ Both of their styles were smooth and clear, making the complex science fiction ideas simple.
Closing Thoughts – If you enjoyed These Broken Stars, I would recommend that you still read this book. I’m looking forward to reading the third book, Their Fractured Light, soon.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)