Review: “The Darkest Minds,” Alexandra Bracken

Review: “The Darkest Minds,” Alexandra BrackenThe Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
Written by Alexandra Bracken
Published December, 2012 by Disney Hyperion
488 pages
Genres: Dystopian, Psychics, Survival
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five-stars

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 initially looked like a daunting read, but I shouldn’t have been worried. I flew through this book in less than 24 hours, carried along by the fast-paced plot and non-stop action. Alexandra Bracken has mastered a particular art of storytelling – one that combines interesting and emotion-filled characters with an intriguing and intricate world. (more…)

Review: “The Sweet Far Thing,” Libba Bray

Review: “The Sweet Far Thing,” Libba BrayThe Sweet Far Thing (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #3)
Written by Libba Bray
Published December, 2007 by Simon & Schuster
819 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Witches
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five-stars

It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

Though incredibly long, The Sweet Far Thing still remains a fantastic and to a fantastic series. Gemma’s story comes full circle – the stakes are higher and danger threatens. If you’re a fan of the previous two books, you won’t want to miss the conclusion.
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Review: “Rebel Angels,” Libba Bray

Review: “Rebel Angels,” Libba BrayRebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #2)
Written by Libba Bray
Published August, 2005 by Simon & Schuster
576 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Witches
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five-stars

Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain...

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

Rebel Angels has always held a place in my heart as my favourite of the ‘Gemma Doyle’ trilogy. I was so eager to re-read this book and knew that it wouldn’t disappoint the second (or third!) time around. If you thought A Great & Terrible Beauty couldn’t get any better, prepare to be proven wrong.

Buddy re-reading with Hanna @ Luminous Words
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Review: “A Great & Terrible Beauty,” Libba Bray

Review: “A Great & Terrible Beauty,” Libba BrayA Great & Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)
Written by Libba Bray
Published December, 2003 by Simon & Schuster
403 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Witches
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five-stars

It's 1895 and, after the death of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped from the she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true. Gemma finds he reception a chilly one.

She's not completely alone, though... she's being followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her mind against the visions.

It's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds as she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy, timeless group called The Order. Her destiny awaits... if only Gemma can believe in it.

It’s been six years since my last venture into the ‘Gemma Doyle Trilogy’ and I couldn’t wait to re-read the series from a reviewers point of view. Years on, the first installment still holds an exceptional amount of magic. With it’s complex characters and relationships, poignant writing and mixed sense of wonder and danger, A Great & Terrible Beauty survives the test of time and firmly holds on to its position as a personal favourite.

Buddy re-reading with Hanna @ Luminous Words
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Review: “Secret,” by Brigid Kemmerer

Review: “Secret,” by Brigid KemmererSecret (Elementals #4)
Written by Brigid Kemmerer
Published January, 2014 by Allen & Unwin
375 pages
Genres: Elemental, Fantasy, Romance
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five-stars

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He's trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won't get in to college. He's trying to keep his brother's business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He's trying to keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel - or he fears he'll lose his family. And he's trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his 'girlfriend's' partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.

This was the Elementals book I had been waiting for. From the very beginning, Secret had me hooked. Nick Merrick has always been my favourite brother and his story didn’t disappoint. With shocking twists, alliances and plenty of pulling on the emotional heartstrings, fans of the series will not want to miss the latest installment.

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