Like These? Try These…. Hunger Games & Divergent

Here are a few, hopefully not overdone, suggestions for books you might like if you enjoyed The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. The Maze Runner  by James Dashner is pretty obvious, so I didn’t include it in the chart. Another series people usually suggest is Matched by Ally Condie and although I loved the first book I really did not enjoy the second or third book in the series.

LTW - Hunger Games & Divergent

If you did enjoy The Maze Runner series I would also highly recommend James Dashner’s new series. The first book is called The Eye of Minds:

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Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.
And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team.
But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Shadow of Night by Kelley Armstrong – Book Review

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I’ve been waiting for this book to be released and picked it up as soon as I saw it appear on the shelf at work!

Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong is the sequel to Sea of Shadows, which is about twin sisters who have to flee after their village is decimated and find themselves on a journey, with an attractive warrior and a criminal, to figure out what is behind the supernatural attack. I loved the first book, Sea of Shadows, and would rate it with 4/5 stars, and the second book turned out to be even better.

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Empire of Night was yet another epic adventure, bringing in new otherwordly beasts that were easy to picture with Armstrong’s description. The twins, Ashyn and Moria, travel to new parts of their realm, allowing the reader to experience more of their world. I enjoy that Kelley Armstrong doesn’t just leave the rest of the series to be told from the capital, but keeps the sense of adventure going.

Yes, there is romance mixed into this fantasy series, but it is very well done. I’ve found some fantasy and dystopian YA authors don’t create a great balance between the plot of the book and the romance the main character experiences. It can sometimes feel a bit ridiculous that these characters are in life threatening situations, and instead of thinking about saving themselves they just dream of their ‘true’ love.  Is anyone with me when I say there was way too much lovey dovey poetry in the sequel to Matched by Ally Condie?

I appreciate that Armstrong wrote both Ashyn and Moria intelligently, not pining after guys who hurt them or guys who aren’t interested in them. The love stories in this book also don’t overwhelm the rest of the plot, they didn’t make me roll my eyes or want to put the book down because of some outrageous decision a character makes due to love ( I once threw a book onto the floor at how mad I became at the main female character’s romantic choices).

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How I felt reading Crossed by Ally Condie and Deny by Sara B. Larson because of
the stupid romantic choices of the main characters

This book was very enjoyable, with intelligent and strong female characters. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the final installment in this series, and will be checking out more of Kelley Armstrong’s other books.

Rating: 4.25/5

For Fans Of: Graceling, Fire, or Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore; Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas; and Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – Book Review

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So it’s official. I’m addicted to this series. I simply must find out what happens in the end!

For a lot of series that I’ve read, the first book is usually the best in the series, it’s the one that gets you hooked. You then muster through the rest of the series with mild excitement, finished with disappointment. You will not find that with this series (well, at least so far I haven’t, but there is still one book left to read). The Evolution of Mara Dyer, the 2nd book in the Mara Dyer series, was even better than the first book.

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The Evolution of Mara Dyer delved more into both Mara and Noah’s family history, and had more interaction in general with their families. Some series remain entirely focused on the main characters, so I’m happy that this one gave me more insight into the main characters’ siblings and parents. I enjoyed how the book delved more into Noah’s point of view, and getting to experience the way he views things and how he thinks was one of my favourite parts of the book.

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This whole series seems to be about maintaining suspense and only revealing information slowly throughout the books, so I’ll keep my review short and sweet so as not to reveal too much. This book was incredibly suspenseful, and at times very creepy. I ended up staying up until 3am to finish it, I just couldn’t put it down!

For Fans Of: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, The Diviners by Libba Bray, and The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

Defy by Sara B. Larson – Book Review

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Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

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[Minor Spoilers]

I was extremely excited to read Defy by Sara B. Larson when I picked it up at work. I love mistaken identity plots, especially when it involves a gender twist. One of my favourite Shakespeare plays is Twelfth Night, or its modern day version She’s The Man, starring my favourite childhood actress Amanda Bynes.

I love the inner dialogue that you get to read in this kind of mistaken gender identity book, and really understand the day to day struggles they go through to hide who they are. Defy started off well with ‘Alex’ ,aka Alexa, fighting off her feelings for a fellow guard to maintain her ruse and protect her life. The beginning was a good mix of the excitement from her guard duties, her intriguing ability to best everyone at sword fighting, and the undercurrent of possible romance. I understood and respected her decisions pre-kidnap, as they were intelligent and rational.

Unfortunately once Alexa, Rylan, and the Prince were kidnapped this balance basically went to shit (excuse my language). Alexa became so focused on her romantic feelings that her romance is practically all that’s focused on for the last 2/3 of the book. She doesn’t seem to want to figure out why they were all kidnapped, or ask questions as to why the prince is so calm about the kidnap. She seems to be completely resigned to the idea that they can’t escape and therefore doesn’t even try. She instead varies between makeout sessions and intense romantic talks with one of the two boys (pssh, I’m not telling you who) the whole time they’re kidnapped.

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At one point she is even making out with said boy while the other boy is laying right on the other side of her (because of course all three of them have to share a tent,  whyyyy?). Now I get that you might get carried away in the heat of new romance, but not with someone else laying right next to you (unless she just did like 10 shots of tequila????). The whole love triangle plot just ended up getting really weird for me.

In the end I did not enjoy where this book took Alexa’s story. I believe it focused too much on her super weird love triangle, which led her to irrational and frankly stupid decisions. Her character was not developed very well and I don’t feel like I saw her grow as a person, which I don’t always find necessary in a story, but in the case of a girl who’s been pretending to be a boy for years and is now finally able to discover who she is as a woman? Ya, there should probably be some growth. I had to force myself to finish this book and would probably not recommend it to anyone looking to read a fantasy teen read, unless you mostly want romance.

If You Enjoy Mistaken Gender Identity Plots:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

The Disreputable History of Franky Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Pirates! by Celia Rees

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

Red Queen Cover

I know, I know, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But, come on! We all do. What I love in a book cover is when it stops you in your tracks and seems to call out to you, “Pick me up! You know you want to feel my beautifully embossed cover and discover my secrets.” This is still and incredibly hard feat to do though. So when I see a cover that makes my heart jump in excitement, and my fingers itch to pick it up I always know that my wallet is in trouble.

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The Cover of Red Queen written by Victoria Aveyard is simple, yet beautiful. It speaks to my love of symbolism, contrast, and white space. Even reading through the blurb once you can already feel how representative the cover is of the story. Not only does the cover image tie into the intense struggle between the red and silver blood lines, but it connects perfectly with exact quotes from the book. You know a cover has done its job well when you finish a book and just sit and think about all the ways that the design truly represents the plot, the characters, and the struggles they go through.

Red Queen Quote

Red Queen does have a stunning aesthetic, but it was also an extremely addictive read. Set in a dystopian ‘other world’ with magic/superhuman abilities, it’s the perfect combination of fantasy and futurism. I fell in love with Mare, the protagonist, the second I fell into her world. A strong female character, Mare stays true to herself and her cause despite the pull of a love triangle in the book. For anyone looking for an intense and fast-paced read, this is great.

Red Queen Quote

For Fans of: The Hunger Games, Legend, and Throne of Glass