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Waiting On Wednesday: Rivals in the City

Hi there friends!

Memorial Day weekend is such a tease.

It’s this little teeny tiny taste of summer, but you go back to work on Tuesday and you still have 9 school days left. Such a tease!

If you’re a book fan (which you probably are or else why would you be reading this blog?!) you know that these Waiting on Wednesday posts are also a bit of a tease as well! I showcase books that we’re all waiting and excited for only to remind you that these books aren’t yet released. Bummer.

Today’s is a doozy too because it won’t be released until February 2015! Rivals In the City by YS Lee

Today’s feature title is Rivals in the City, the final book in The Agency series by Y.S. Lee.

———————-

This is the fourth colorful and action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. Mary Quinn and James Easton have set up as private detectives and are also unofficially engaged to be married. But when the Agency asks Mary to take on a special final case, she can’t resist, and agrees. Convicted fraudster Henry Thorold (from book one, A Spy in the House) is dying in prison. His daughter, Angelica, is coming to see him one last time. Mary’s brief is to monitor these visits in case Mrs Thorold, last heard of as a fugitive in France, decides to pay him one last visit. But Mrs Thorold’s return would place James in grave personal danger. Thanks to the complications of love and family loyalties, the stakes for everyone involved are higher than ever. This is the final book in the Mary Quinn Mystery series. It is perfect for fans of Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series and Victorian culture.

———————

In all actuality, I haven’t yet read the other books in The Agency series, but I’ve had my eyes on them for a little while now. They all sound like they’d fit perfectly into my love for Victorian settings and mysteries! Well, now that the series is officially ending, I can go ahead and read them without worry of having to wait for the next installment. Yay! Except, that I do have to wait until the New Year. Drats!

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Hi there!

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine. It’s set aside as a time to celebrate upcoming new releases that I’m excited about. This week, I’m looking forward to Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third installment in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterI read the first book, The Raven Boys, in the series and really, really enjoyed it! I was pleasantly surprised by how unique it was among all the other supernatural fiction out there. But then I read The Dream Thieves, the second book in the series, and had issues. Maybe it was just the wrong time for me to read it or something, but we just didn’t mesh. It took me forever to finish it. With that said, I’m definitely interested in Blue Lily, Lily Blue because I’m wondering how the rest of the series will go. I really, really want it to be as good as the first book…I want to love it!

I can’t find a summary anywhere online, so I guess Stiefvater hasn’t released it yet. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for it, but I do know that Blue Lily, Lily Blue is scheduled to be released this coming October.  I’m excited to see how this one goes!

What book are you waiting on this week?

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Mortal Heart

Welcome back BookTasty friends!

I hope you’re all having a stress-free week so far! For today’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) post I chose to focus on Robin Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversLaFever’s third book in the His Fair Assassin series, Mortal Heart.

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

The first two books in this series are both really, really well written books that will hook you from the beginning. I adore the idea of medieval assassin nuns and LaFevers’ characters are just so captivating! I have enjoyed getting little tidbits about Annith in both Gave Mercy and Dark Triumph, so I’m excited to learn more about her story. I am wondering how she’ll fair as she attempts to be an assassin because she just seems so innocent and sweet compared to Ismae and Sybella!

I’ll have to ask for Mortal Heart for my birthday because it is scheduled to release in early November 2014, and my birthday is November 13. *hint hint nudge nudge*

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Waiting on Wednesday: Gods and Monsters

Hiya!

It’s time for another Waiting on Wednesday.

I have no idea how this series has snuck up on me. I wasn’t a big fan of the first book (Daughter of Smoke & Bone) but only listened to the second book (Days of Blood & Starlight) because I needed an audiobook. It turns out I really, really, really liked book two, so now I’m officially waiting on Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor.

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylorsteering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love. But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

I admit, the cover kinda freaks me out, but I need to know what happens next in Karou’s story!

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Nothing to Write Home About: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Hi there!

I’m so behind in reviews! But that’s okay. I’m going to “shrink the change”. I’m going to write one review tonight instead of focusing on the 20 I want to write, so I won’t feel overwhelmed.

A while ago, I read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive. If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

Honestly, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed this book in the end. It is such a different take on the dystopian genre that I wasn’t sure if I liked it at first. I didn’t love it, but it was entertaining.

First, I have to comment on the names. Ughhhh. Aria? Peregrine? Lumina? Paisley? Soren? Echo? I found myself rolling my eyes at times because I just can’t handle the names. I feel like books set in futuristic settings throw in these overly strange names to make up for a lack of world building. “Oh it’s the future! I know! Let’s give them weird names because it’s the future!”  Sorry. Sometimes a weird name is just a weird name.

The plot as a whole was really interesting. The whole idea of Reverie and the Realms is plausible as our society gets more and more lethargic because we’re interacting more digitally instead of physically. It reminded me of the society in WALL-E that just floats around in their little lazy-boy chairs with everything handed to them. It’s far out there, but plausible. In addition, I liked how the world outside of Reverie is so tribal. It seems like the two worlds have both reverted to the far ends of the spectrum. You have Reverie where society is so advanced that reality is virtual and in contrast you have Blood Lords and cannibals running around in the woods being chased by wolves. There was just so much potential!

Aria as a character fell flat, as did most of the other characters, with the exception of Peregrine in my opinion. I actually enjoyed learning more about Peregrine’s tribe and his back-story and I really liked the relationship with his friend Echo; the way they played off of each others strengths to do what needed to be done.

All in all, this one was simply entertaining and nothing to write home about. I think fans of dystopian YA will probably enjoy it, but I’d recommend other titles in this genre before Under the Never Sky for sure.

Author: Veronica Rossi

Publisher: Listening Library (February 14, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 9 hours and 39 minutes

Narrator(s): Bernadette Dunne Flagler

Series: First in the “Under the Never Sky” series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Under the Never Sky

 

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Decision Paralysis: The Elite by Kiera Cass

I’m always excited when there is even a spark of romance in a book I’m reading, so it’s no wonder why I am such a fan of Kiera Cass’ Selection series-romance! I recently finished the second book, The Elite and I’m craving book three!

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea. America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream The Elite by Kiera Cassof being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

I really enjoy reality type shows like “The Bachelor” (although I rarely watch it) or “House Hunters” where the characters have to choose between multiple options by the end of the show. There is something deeply interesting about observing someone else make a decision. I’m always intrigued by what factors they consider as the options are weighed and, in the end seeing what they considered to be the most important. I think this is where the main interest is for me with this series; I want to know what choice will ultimately win for each character.  Also, there is some big time romance!

The Elite picks ups exactly where The Selection (see my review) left off. America Singer is one of six contestants left in the competition to win Maxon’s affection and become Princess of Illea. America is struggling to make a choice- is her heart in the competition (with Maxon) or does it still belong to her first love (Aspen)? As someone who has a difficult time making even insignificant decisions I totally understand where America is coming from. She is enjoying herself more than she thought she would in the palace, but sometimes wonders if she is really the right girl for the job. I get this and I do love America, however I found myself very frustrated with America’s waffling throughout the story. She wants Maxon’s attention is surprised by her jealousy over the other girls, but continually sneaks off with Aspen when no one is looking. She’s hot and she’s cold. It really does just make a reader want to throw something at her! But, when I really sit down and think of it, America is smack dab in the middle of a highly stressful situation and who wouldn’t get decision paralysis if your choices had so much riding on them?!

So, America is a little annoying, but I really got into the way Cass added a little more depth to the story with all of the politics, rebellions, and dark family secrets. The story is obviously still focused on the competition of the Selection, but now there are other factors to consider which clearly add more stress to the situation. This made it much more than a YA version of “The Bachelor”. Plus we get to know a little bit more about Maxon’s backstory and his relationship with his parents, which I want to know more about. But don’t be alarmed by the addition of darker things, there is still a lot of romance going on, thanks to that love triangle America can’t seem to wriggle herself out of!

If you’re like me and you enjoy romance and a good reality-show-like vibe, then you need to get your hands on this series. The Elite is just plain romantic fun and I seriously don’t know how I’m going to wait until May to read the final book!

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: Harper Teen (April 23, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 323 pages

Series: Second in The Selection trilogy

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Elite (Selection)

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A Sometimes Predictable Page Turner: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Grumpy Cat Dislikes Valentine's DayAwww…I hope you aren’t left alone with Grumpy Cat today!

In college I devoured Philippa Gregory’s shocking Wideacre trilogy (I totally don’t recommend that series…just trust me) and The Other Boleyn Girl pretty quickly. I love historical fiction, especially when it involves some romance thrown in there for good measure. So, when I heard Gregory had written a Young Adult novel, I was intrigued. Well, this YA novel, Changeling, was at my Fall Book Fair so I knew I had to buy myself a copy…to help the kids of course! :)

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger Changeling by Philippa Gregoryin its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

Philippa Gregory’s books, simply put, are fun travels through time, nothing more and I’m pretty sure I read Changeling in a manner of days. I was hooked from the beginning when you meet Luca in his medieval prison cell.  We quickly learn of The Order of the Dragon, a real religious order specially selected and tasked with defending Christianity from it’s enemies, which of course was a big deal in medieval Europe. Luca is so ready to be rid of his charge of heresy that he accepts the “call” to this order without really knowing anything about it. So, he is sent off to travel Europe to learn about the things Christians fear.

Enter Isolde, her mysterious ladies’ maid and the nunnery she is forced into.  Enter romance (wink wink)! Also, enter the mystery.  The nuns are having strange visions, there is talk of werewolves, witches and other heretical occurrences. What the reader gets is a historcial mystery that is so engrossing you really can’t stop turning the pages! I had to know what was really going on in this nunnery!

The burgeoning romance between Isolde and Luca is interesting because it’s forbidden. Both have committed to the monastic life, although each was forced into it in different ways. Romantic love is not a possibility for them, even though it’s staring them in the face. Gah! The tension and frustration was fun, but also incredibly predictable. There is another romance brewing however, that is a little more interesting and less predictable.

Okay, so Changeling wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was entertaining and intriguing. It’s kind of like a YA Davinci Code, a page turner you can’t help but enjoy and I’m definitely down for continuing the series.

Author: Philippa Gregory

Publisher: Simon Pulse (May 24, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 256 pages

Series: First book in The Order of Darkness series

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Changeling (Order of Darkness 1) by Gregory. Philippa ( 2013 ) Paperback

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A Dreamy-Weamy Fresh Mix: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Hiya!

Those of you who have been following BookTasty for a while know that one of my favorite genres is fairy tale retellings. I just love seeing what happens when an author adds their own creativity to a classic tale. And you might even know that Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is one of the most imaginative fairy tale retellings I’ve read in a while. Cress, the third book in the series is no different…except for the fact that I kind of think it’s the best one so far!

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Honestly, the covers in this series are all so pretty to look at, especially this one! *gazes dreamily at cover*

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Okay, so book one, Cinder, was focused on the story of Cinderella, while in Scarlet, the second book, we meet Little Red Riding Hood.  Well, in Cress, we meet Rapunzel. All of these well known characters have been plucked from their traditional settings and have now been dropped into this rich sci-fi setting. Our Rapunzel isn’t a prisoner in a tower but is instead a computer hacker isolated in a satellite that orbits both Earth and Luna. How freakin’ cool is that?!

After reading, and loving the first two books, I have to say that Cress is by far my favorite of the series. First you have Cress, who I find that I can so easily relate to. Cress is a hopelessly dreamy-weamy romantic who crushes on none other than one of the criminals she’s been tasked with locating. She is the kind of girl who is so innocent and awkward that she hides in embarrassing situations and frequently imagines she is someone else. Awww Cress, I just feel like I get you and your ability to make a situation totally more awkward than it has to be and it’s why I love you! Despite her ungraceful ways, Cress is a brilliant hacker and has the ability to draw from internal strength she never could have guess she had.

In addition to the adorable Cress, Cinder and her whole crew are back. We get to see more Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf, Iko, Dr. Erland and even Prince Kai as the group moves closer and closer to stopping Queen Levana in her quest to control both Luna and Earth. With all of these characters there is a lot going on in Cress, but I never once felt overwhelmed. The action was so captivating that I just wanted to keep reading and stay in this imaginative Firefly-like world forever! There is a freshness about Cress that, partly comes from Cress herself and in part comes from the old and new characters mixing to creating exciting new storylines.

I genuinely cannot think of any major flaws, except that I really wanted this 500 plus page book to be even longer. There is so much that I want to figure out and I hated having to say goodbye to these characters, who feel like good friends, for another year before book four, Winter, is released. If you haven’t yet started this creative and fun series, please go to your library now and start reading! If you hurry you can get to Cress by tomorrow’s release day!

And a big huge massive friendly thank you to Kyle at A Reader’s Pensieve who loaned me her ARC! She’s pretty awesome, and if you aren’t familiar with her blog, you totally should be! :)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel &Friends (Feb. 4, 2014)

Format: ARC

Length: 560 pages

Series: Third book in The Lunar Chronicles

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Cress (Lunar Chronicles)

 

 

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When It’s a Struggle: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Hi there everyone!

You know how you read the first book in a series, love it and crave the next book. Sometimes you get that second book and it’s awesome. You enjoyed it just as much as the first. And then sometimes you The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvaterget to the next book and find that you’re struggling a bit. It’s just not what you were hoping for.  It’s a bit of a let down, really.

Well folks, that is what happened to me recently with The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the second book on her Raven Cycle series and I found myself having a difficult time getting through it.

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

When The Raven Boys first came out I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but then I read the book and I ended up loving Stiefvater’s unique take on the paranormal genre. It was a really enthralling read! So, naturally you’d expect me to be excited about book two, which I totally was. However, when I started reading The Dream Thieves I just couldn’t get into it. I’d read like five pages, then pick up my phone.  I’d spend two minutes reading and ask my husband a question. Distraction over distraction just kept coming up and in the end it took me about two months to actually finish this book! Was it me or the story itself? I don’t know for sure, perhaps it was a mix of the two? All I knew was that something was wrong!

In the end I think I was just bored. It seemed like the luster of Stiefvater’s creative paranormal story kind of became dull. By book two, the qualities that originally made the story unique just became a little ho-hum. So much of the story focused on Ronan trying to figure out his dreams, which don’t get me wrong are really cool, but it felt like the story just ran really, really slow. It’s almost like nothing happened for a large portion of the book! I just wanted to know more about Blue and her “curse”, and Gansey’s search for Cabeswater, but all I got was Ronan’s moodiness on full blast. The only parts of the book that were really interesting to me were all the scenes with The Gray Man. He was mysterious and his scenes were always wrought with tension because he is so dangerous and I never knew if I could trust him or not. These were the pages I turned with anticipation, in contrast to all the others that left me feeling “blah”.

Is it possible that I just wasn’t in the mood for The Dream Thieves when I read it? Yes. Is it possible that this book just wasn’t as interesting as book one? Yes. I strongly believe both factors played a role in my struggle with this book. All in all I was disappointed with the whole experience, but I know that others absolutely adored this book, so if you really read The Raven Boys and enjoyed it, go ahead and give The Dream Thieves a try. Hopefully you’d finish it in less than the two months it took me! haha

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 1, 2013)

Format: Kindle

Length: 439 pages

Series: Second book in The Raven Cycle series

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys #2) (Raven Cycle)

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The Big Finish: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Welcome back friends!

I hope everyone has been having a fun weekend. It’s been pretty rainy all weekend here in South Carolina, but it’s been nice to have an excuse to stay in and work on the blog a little!

This book was so highly anticipated by me and pretty much everyone else out there! After I finished reading it however, I had to take a break before even considering this review. I wasn’t sure how to write a review of Allegiant by Veronica Roth so I decided to just go for it!

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles Allegiant by Veronica Rothand 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.

If you’ve read this book, I know what you’re probably thinking. It’s a mixture of disappointment, surprise, betrayal, excitement, and meh. It’s like all those feelings were thrown into the little bowl of your heart and someone turned on the KitchenAid and just started going to town. A lot of people finished this book and just weren’t happy. I understand that. When all is said and done I was entertained by Allegiant. Was it an amazing finale to the trilogy? No. Did I hate it? No. For me, Allegiant just could have been stronger.

Initially, I really liked the relationship between Tris and Tobias but then somewhere in the middle of book two, they stop talking to each other and this silent trend continues into book three. Both characters are making big decisions and keeping them secret from one another. There is talk about how much they love each other and want their relationship to work, but how is that possible if you don’t talk to that person about anything? This silence kind of ruins the relationship between Tris and Tobias for me, which is sad because I want to love them so much!

My favorite thing about Allegiant was probably getting some questions about the society and factions answered, and I feel like there was so much potential to really delve into the history of the factions. When it finally got to the answers, I felt like so much of this part of the storyline was rushed. We only scratched the surface level of the “why” behind the factions. I wanted to know more about how the factions came to be and more about Tris’ mom who had all these crazy secrets.

Let’s talk the ending without giving anything away. I just knew something  big was going to happen. I knew it and then I read it. At this point I was so surprised that Veronica Roth had the guts to do what she did that I had to go back and read this specific “part that shall not be named” again. I read it about four times before I finally comprehended that what I thought had happened had, in fact, happened! And you know what? I wasn’t mad. I didn’t love it either. I rarely get angry at how an author chooses to end a book or series because it’s their creation. How they chose to end it all, is how it was meant to end, in my opinion.

I don’t question Veronica Roth’s choice of ending, but I do question the quality of the final storyline leading up to the big finish. All in all, I felt like Allegiant could have been a stronger story, I kind of wish it had been. However, if you are a fan of this series than I recommend reading Allegiant because it was entertaining and it does wrap up the trilogy in an interesting way. Just know that you’ve been warned. Get ready to be surprised and have all your feelings will be mixed up!

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Oct. 22, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 526 pages

Series: Third book in the Divergent trilogy

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Allegiant (Divergent Series)