Sunday, November 27, 2011

Must Read Monday (#7)

Fans of Fiction
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After a long weekend, it's hard to go back to work or school (especially if you've just celebrated Thanksgiving!). That's okay, we'll make the best of it! Hope you enjoy Must Read Monday!

The goal of the Must Read Monday is to find share your love of great books with others in the hopes that they'll add a new title to their To Be Read list.

Your job is to create intrigue for other hoppers. What makes your book so swoon-worthy? What do you absolutely have to mention so they'll read it?

On your post, you'll make an acrostic puzzle (think of it as an overview/book blurb type of thing).

For specific ways to build your puzzle, click here, but pretty much any style of acrostic is welcome.

When you leave comments on other posts, be sure to mention whether you're adding that book to your TBR pile, and what part convinced you to do so.

It's all about powers of persuasion, people:) You might have to think a little, but channel that inner-creative goddess (or god).

Winners of Must Read Monday week #6:

Kristan @ Lost Amongst the Shelves (Ella Enchanted)
Pam @ At Home Between the Pages (The Iron King)

Kristan did an excellent job of telling a story, including all the mythical creatures in her description. Favorite lines:  "Every girl deserves a fairy tale and sometimes the Damsel needs to save the Prince." Love a strong heroine!

Pam made hers really mysterious by describing the portal and revealing the name Nevernever. Favorite lines: "Insecurity around every corner, yet Meghan must save Nevernever before it is
Gone forever." I love that it ended with a rhyme, whether it was intentional or not!

REMEMBER: You must follow these ladies to participate this week! *I've decided to pick one winner per week from here on out.

This week's category: A book that made you laugh out loud

Here's mine:
Three sisters in
High school
Expect nothing more than another year full of bickering

Eldest April is a studious perfectionist, her eyes
Xtra sensitive when she sees a flash of red from behind the driver's seat
Their car will crash in moments, a vision shows her
Right along with her, June discovers her power to be invisible, which she often wishes for
Anyway-- in school, she'd rather be left alone
Only May is left, and she can read minds,
Ready to conquer the world by pleasing one popular girl at a time
Determined to look out for her sisters,
Intelligent April cautions them to use their powers wisely
Nagging June starts to turn friends against each other
April, depsite her best efforts, is falling for a boy who makes her lose focus
Rebel May has to be tutored to pass
Yet another course--history-- by a lame Harvard-obsessed kid geek.

Sarcasm is her greatest tool.
Even when they don't want them, their powers stay
Comedy ensues as every chapter is narratored by a different sister
Recalling the same events in a different way
Endlessly hiding secrets from their divorced mother
Together, they find
Some common ground when June's life is threatened

Off the wall antics are
Fated to follow the girls through

Any task they take on
Playing with fire, all three
Rely on their power to help them find out
Items they would not otherwise have
Learned, sometimes, knowledge that hurts



Undeniably humorous dialogue
Never-ending laughs and
Even a few good sighs for a family healed by the supernatural.

I had a super hard time on this one and it's not one of my best! But it's late and I had to cheat on the X:)

*Next week's category: A book that you're thankful someone recommended to you

What's a humorous tale that left you in fits of giggles?

  • Must become a follower to participate.
  • Follow the winners from last week to participate.
  • Grab my button to place in your post.
  • Make sure you have a backlink in your post to each weekly post I put up, not just to my website.
  • Where it says your name please include name @ blog name Ex: Jenna @ Fans of Fiction
  • Your exact post URL is the one that goes in the linky box, not your website.
  • Don't just hop around; leave comments! We all love reading what others have to say.
  • Enjoy!

In My Mailbox (#9)

Thanks, as always, to Kristi @ Story Siren to coming up with this meme so we can share with everyone how we've been blessed in books at the end of the week.

I feel like I had Christmas early! I never buy this many books, but I can't pass up a good sale. Thank you, Black Friday. Ignore my creepy eyes in this still frame below.

This vlog includes the following books that I purchased:
Tighter by Adele Griffin
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
The Big Game of Everything by Chris Lynch
Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
Gifts by Ursula K. LeGuin
Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Below are all the books for review I received from NetGalley. I'm pretty spoiled at the moment.

What's in your mailbox?
And let me know if you watch vlogs at all or just glimpse at the list of titles that are included in the video.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: Remembrance and Guest Post by Michelle Madow

Fans of Fiction is thrilled to be a stop on a book blog tour! Congrats to Michelle Madow for publishing her first novel!
It's still not too late to check out past (and future) blog stops for the Remembrance Book Blog tour. Here is the link. Kudos to Amanda from Stuck in YA Books for hosting the tour. 

Review (*The author provided Fans of Fiction with a copy in exchange for an honest review)
"New Hampshire high school junior Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England ... but she doesn't know it yet.

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie's school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can't stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can't she seem to get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, the pair of them soon find that fighting fate isn't going to be easy.
Remembrance Guest Post: Characters or Plot?"

  • Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
  • Release date: July 27, 2011
  • Number of pages: 302
  • Would appeal to: readers who are interested in the idea of reincarnation, fans of romance
*Make sure to check below my review for Michelle's guest post!

First of all, I love the idea that the premise of the book was inspired by a Taylor Swift video! Very creative and cool. Not only that, but Michelle Madow is in college and she managed to find time to write a book that she started for a class. Impressive feat.

The cover draws the reader in as soon as she sees it. I love that the mask on the cover is similar to the description of the one the main character Lizzie is presented with in the story.

Lizzie is a confused girl with a low self-esteem. Mostly because she has two boys in her life who treat her like garbage. There's the long-term boyfriend, Jeremy, who spits insults at her left and right (including a nasty one right off the bat about her hair) and she sticks with him. They say people gravitate toward the comfortable. I guess that's true in this case. Jeremy likes speed, and insists on going fast even when Lizzie is uncomfortable. There are really no endearing moments that redeem his character, and the only reason I feel other girls crush on him is because he's co-capain of the soccer team. One of his most annoying qualities is that he must get better grades than his girlfriend, especially in French, or he sulks around like it's a giant surprise that she could beat him at anything.

Drew, the handsome new senior transfer, is mysterious and complicated. One moment he gives Lizzie the cold shoulder, the next, he's flirting with her. No matter how he treats her, she can tell there's an instant connection with him. The book opens with her first flashback of their previous life together as they're dancing at the Halloween dance.

The funny thing is, even though Drew acts like a complete prick at times, I wanted to know what was going to happen with their relationship. I felt Lizzie's pain (and possession) as she watches her best friend Chelsea go on dates with him and talk about how she's falling hard and fast. It's clear to the reader that Drew and Lizzie have a bond, but Chelsea seems to live in La-La Land and not notice.

Of all the minor characters, I liked Keelie the best. She is popular, but not snotty, and a friend to Lizzie even when Chelsea focuses on her own problems. I despised Amber, which I'm pretty sure was the point. She drapes herself across Jeremy. Even though Lizzie doesn't love him anymore, I can see how annoying that would be.

Both Jeremy and Chelsea constantly tell Lizzie she's changed (and not for the better). This was a tad annoying because it was clear that they should have been the ones to change, with their self-centered ways.

It was cool that Lizzie loves Pride and Prejudice so much, but it wasn't very realistic that she'd compare most every event in her life to something from the book. I did enjoy the gift the antique shop owner Alistair gives her that dealt with Pride and Prejudice. Their connection was fun, and the information he revealed as her "spirit guide" brought the reincarnation aspect full circle.

I felt that Lizzie's mother was acting strange at the beginning (but you later learn why). Even if my mom was out having dinner, she'd leave to pick me up if it was pouring rain outside. I turned out to like her later because she surprised me. I thought her career of a psychologist was introduced a little too late to be believable. It seemed more like a convenient plot detail so mother/daughter could talk.

I do love the connection between Lizzie's playing of the song Minuet and her flashbacks. I could picture the teeny piano practice room perfectly.

The story's detailed exposition kept me from completely immersing myself in this story. Many things were repeated, like verbs (for example, "wrapped" three times within two pages starting on 202), the outside description of Lizzie's house, and the way an electric current ran through Lizzie's body when she touched Drew. I thought Lizzie overanalyzed things to the extreme. Sometimes, she repeated nearly the same thought in two consecutive sentences. Some chapters lacked action because of this, and the flow of the story's middle was slow for me.

Lizzie spends a great deal of the book worrying about what Chelsea will think when she finds out her feelings for Drew. When this situation is resolved, I didn't think Lizzie's reaction was believable because of what she first thinks after Chelsea tells all she knows in the bedroom scene near the end (sorry, trying not to give away spoilers!).

I will be interested to see what the sequel holds for all of the characters and cross my fingers for more flashbacks of Drew and Lizzie's old life together! If you want a light read with a hard-shelled male interest (who's soft and compassionate on the inside, and yeah, his crazy moods strangely lured me into reading more, and okay, he's kind of gorgeous), this is the book for you!

Guest Post by Michelle Madow (check out Michelle's cover design and book trailer blog tour contest by clicking here and go to for more information on Michelle's writing).
Thank you, Jenna, for having me at Fans of Fiction for a guest post!

Jenna asked a great question for the guest post, and I’m really excited to answer it for you all:

Did the characters of Lizzie and Drew inspire the story, or did the story create the characters? In other words, for all the writers out there, which comes first for you: characters or plot?

When I write a story, it’s always the plot that comes to me first. I’ll just be hanging out, and suddenly I’ll think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if (insert plot idea here) happened?” It’s usually some sort of daydream that I turn into a story idea.

With Remembrance it happened differently though, because the idea came to me from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” music video. In the video, Taylor sees a guy while walking through campus, and the moment their eyes connect, the scene flashes to the two of them dancing at a beautiful ball dressed in clothes that appear to be from around the year 1815. The first thing I thought was, “Wow, they were reincarnated and didn’t remember their past lives until seeing each other for the first time!” Then I thought, “Hey, that could be a cool book.”
 I told my friends about my idea, and they loved it! They kept asking me about the plot and the characters, so I started a plot outline and character bios so I could have an idea of the story before writing. The whole story (plot and characters) formed together in my mind really quickly, and I knew I had to turn it into a novel so I could share the story with others.
 Since I create the plot before the characters, I like to create characters who are not prepared for the story they’re about to be flung into. For instance, when Lizzie first sees Drew, her soul mate from the past, she’s already in a long-term relationship. This complicates the situation so things aren’t too simple for the main characters. The best stories to read are ones where the main characters have to go through something challenging for them, so it’s good to create characters who are not ready for what’s about to happen to them. This allows them to make mistakes, grow, and change as the story progresses. It’s something I always try to remember when creating characters to go with my plots.

Thank you again, and I hope you enjoy Remembrance!

Be sure to check out Remembrance on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday (#10)

It's that time again (I almost forgot!). The lovely Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read host a Friday blog hop where bloggers answer a question and discover the awesome blogs of others.

Q: It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for – blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

I totally started the blogging world blind. I went to a workshop at an OWFI writing conference, and one of the workshops was about how important it is to build connections through blogging. After looking at the blogs of some wonderful women I hung out at the conference with (Brandi Barnett, Sonia Gensler, and Lisa Marotta-all three very supportive ladies), I was inspired to start my own! It didn't look that hard:) After a few personal posts on Jenna's Blog, I stumbled across Sab's YA Bliss. From its design to her candid reviews, her blog was engaging, and I decided I had to change my blog's focus right away to also reflect my passion for reading.

There are two bloggers I really look up to: Kristan from Lost Amongst the Shelves and Sheree from Beckoned by Books. These two started blogging just about the same time as me. I've asked both of them for help on numerous occasions, and they are always there with a kind word and encouragement! They aren't just sweet to me; they comment on others' posts all the time and seriously spread joy in the book blogging community. I really wish we all knew each other in person because I bet we'd get along fabulously. Thank you both!

I'm thankful for all the marvelous ladies who've participated in my Must Read Monday meme (in addition to Kristan and Sheree)- you are all so creative and incredibly awesome! (Jinky @ Jinky is Reading, Aimee @ Getting Your Read On, Pam @ At Home Between the Pages, Susanne @ A Reader in Time, Hira @ Views and Reviews,  Donna @ The Happy Booker, Chrissie @ Once Upon a Series, Michelle @ Much Loved Books, Lisa @ Lisa Loves Literature, and Amy @ Amy's Book Den).

I'm thankful to all of my followers and commenters! There's nothing that will make your day like seeing you have a new comment, as we all know:) The book blogiverse is so friendly. I'm thankful for my best friend Ashley who also post reviews on this blog. We have the same taste in music, movies, and books.

Also, it's pretty cool that there are people willing to send out free copies of books in exchange for a review. Many thanks are extended to the publishers and authors who send their "babies" out and have blind faith that some readers somewhere will like it. You make our task as reviewers that much more thrilling.

Brenda Price, my high school's librarian, has done so much to promote my blog among faculty/staff and students! I love discussing books with her, and her enthusiasm about YA lit encourages me to continue. Thanks, Brenda, for being an inspiration!

As far as books go, I'm thankful for every book I've read. Whether good or bad, I have taken something away after the last page is turned. Without literature, a big chunk of our world would be flat. Most recently, I'm grateful for the books that have made me cry. For an author's words to draw that kind of response out of a person, it is a work of brilliance: The Book Thief, Delirium, Stolen, Mocking Jay.

Phew, that's a ton. I just acted like I was giving an Academy Awards speech or something:)
So what are you thankful for (blogging-related, of course!)?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Huge Holiday Giveaway: Justin's Book Blog

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm content, just watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and seeing the Hello Kitty blimp made my day that much more special:) I'm taking today (between making a meal, grading research papers, and reading) to catch up on some giveaways. This one is really cool.

I love reading boys' thoughts on books, and Justin @ Justin's Book Blog has some really awesome opinions! He is holding a tiered giveaway until Christmas. Following is not mandatory, but the more followers he has, the higher he will raise the prize. Right now, he's reached 300 followers, so one winner will receive $50 towards the Book Depository! The highest prize includes $100 towards the BD and 3 ARCs (including one of Everneath, which I just read- it was awesome!).

So stop by his blog if you have time today. You may be the lucky winner...
Now I'm off to dream about the smell of turkey in my house and plan my 7 a.m. trip to Half-Price books for Black Friday.

P.S. I'm thinking about ways to make my reviews more juicy but concise, so if there's anything you're always curious to know about a book that you wish bloggers would cover, let me know!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: How to Save a Life

"Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about what it means to be a family and the many roads we can take to become one."


  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Date of release: Oct. 18, 2011
  • Number of pages: 341
  • Unique elements: Told from the perspective of two girls with extremely different lives
  • Would appeal to: Fans of Saving June, fans of Sarah Ockler

Favorite Quotes:

"Her eyes are ice blue, light and clear, the kind of eyes you see on certain sheepdogs."

"There might be a pair [of gloves] in my messenger bag, but it's too dark and deserted to be standing around digging in my bag like a perfect target, asking to be bludgeoned."

"On Sunday, I wake up after noon, and if I weren't starving, I would pull the covers back over my head and stay here in my death spiral of self-loathing."

"It's comforting, in a way, to know that just because we had a moment yesterday doesn't mean every conversation has to turn into an emotional root canal."

"'He's not that tough. He won't even go into a 7-Eleven if there's a homeless person out front.'"

Families come in all shapes and sizes. We can't choose what family we're born into. Both Jill and Mandy, the story's alternating narrators, know this well.

Jill is pretty moody and rude to her mom. I'd expect that of a person who has lost a father who was just like her in personality. Her mom is also over fifty and about to adopt a baby without having signed any legal paperwork. Her life pretty much sucks, she thinks, but don't worry: there aren't exaggerated pity-party scenes.

Mandy faces her own downward spiral. She's 18, pregnant, a high school dropout. She longs for the trust that Jill's mom, Robin, has conveyed over the internet. She wants a good home for her child, so she packs up and leaves behind a home where her mom mostly cares about looks and her mom's boyfriend is not a nice man. Mandy is extremely naive and lacks people skills but also has a whimsical opinion of love. Her character has a distinct prose style and I was never confused about which of the girls POVs I was reading. Mostly, I felt sorry for Mandy, as it seemed she would be better suited for life in an earlier era (her beliefs/style had a lot to do with how she was raised though). Mandy understood specific types of crying, like the quiet kind that lasts for hours or the gut-wrenching kind that makes you want to throw up.

The romance in this book was pretty good, I must say. Even though I could have done with a little more, real life isn't always like that. The romance that is present is not overdone. I could feel Jill's anticipation while she was working a shift at Margins, waiting to see someone she didn't realize she had feelings for. As far as details, I've had enough of electrifying tingles running-up-the-arm in recent YA. This had anything but mundane descriptions.

The relationship of a comfortable, long-time couple is explored-- Jill and Dylan. Jill can be separated into two personalities; before her dad died and after. Even though Dylan is the guy who's remained loyal through a couple of breakups, they both realize they're growing apart. There is nothing wrong with Dylan. I thought he was quite considerate. It was an interesting choice that he wore eyeliner, but it's reflective of the times and it made his face stand out in my mind (just like the liner:)

I loved Ravi. Indian descent (so refreshing!). Admirer from afar. Trying to be all grown-up with his loss prevention job. Jill constantly has the urge to spill all these personal details when she's around him, something she can't do with Dylan. I mostly think of Ravi as a gentle intellectual. The author uses an old recurring yearbook first mentioned by Ravi to help Jill realize she's become another person than the smiling sophomore on its pages. In fact, she's kind of a cool person when he's around. 

What I enjoyed most about this story is that Zarr takes the ordinary and breathes life into it. Working in retail is no cup of tea, and although their weren't grumpy customers, I smiled at the mention of secret shoppers and closing early. What could have been boring exposition on high school classes were livened up with lunch scenes and bits like Dylan's band being called the Potato Rebellion. The syntax never felt awkward or un-teen-like. From Mandy's man-pleasing obsessed mother to awkward thirty-something Alex on the train, even the secondary characters were three-dimensional. 

It was extremely easy to relate to pieces of each girl's story, even though the girls themselves were complete opposites. The back and forth narration added to the depth of the story, as readers see two worlds collide and work out their differences. I had a hard time putting this one down because I needed to know the direction in which the plot was headed. I was a little nervous at the first sign of Mandy wanting to not give up her baby.

If you're looking for a contemporary read with personality, How to Save a Life is the book to pick up (plus, at random times thoughout your reading, the song "How to Save a Life" by The Fray will pop into your head).

*Thank you to Hachette Book Group, who provided me with a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Crossed

The hotly awaited second book in the dystopian Matched trilogy

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
  • Release date: Nov. 1, 2011
  • Format: ARC paperback
  • Page count: 367
  • Unique elements: Chapters alternate POV- Ky then Cassia

Ashley's Review

Favorite Quotes:

“In some ways I like the dirt. It works into every crease of my skin, makes a map on the back of my hands. Once, when I felt very tired, I looked down at the cartography of my skin and imagined it could tell me how to get to Ky.”

“And it is strange that absence can feel like presence. A missing so complete that if it were to go away, I would turn around, stunned, to see that the room is empty after all, when before it at least had something, if not him.”

“The poems and stories we shared with each other could mean what we wanted them to mean. We could choose our own path together.”

“I thought I loved her and wanted her before, but as we walk through the canyon together I realize this could be more than a new shade. A whole new color.”


Crossed, the second book in the Matched trilogy, focused on Cassia’s attempt to find Ky in the Outer Provinces.  The point of view (POV) in the story alternates between Cassia and Ky.  I loved “hearing” Ky’s take on things and knowing what he was doing.  In the last book he was such a mystery and it was nice to get a clearer picture of him.  I liked the set up of changing POV, but I found the chapters to be choppy.  I suppose there’s no way to really segway between them in a smoother manner but I still found it a bit distracting.  Sometimes I became confused about whose POV the chapter was in; I frequently had to return to the chapter title page to remind myself. 

I cannot help comparing the love triangle between Cassia, Ky, and Xander to Twilight’s triangle between Bella, Jacob, and Edward.  Cassia and Ky seem to have been brought together by fate or destiny.  They had an instant and bone-deep connection in Matched and it continues in this story.  Xander is Cassia’s best friend and is her Match.  She loves him and would be happy with him, but in a way she’d be cheating the both of them if she remained with him.  I believe that she has already chosen Ky over Xander (whether she fully acknowledges this or not) and that Xander deserves to know this and have a chance to find his soulmate as well.  I continue to be a huge fan of Ky and his relationship with Cassia.
Xander makes a surprise appearance in the book before Cassia goes off the grid.  I was excited when he showed up for his visit and wanted a reminder of his charm and wit.  His role in the book was extremely small and seemed kind of unnecessary.  His visit seemed like more of a “hey, don’t forget I’m in the book, too!”  Cassia’s memories of him seemed more important to the plot and her confusion about being with Ky. 
I purposefully didn’t read Jenna’s review of Crossed because I didn’t want any details revealed or to be influenced by her opinion.  While I didn’t read her review (and still haven’t!), I did talk to her about it.  She told me that she found it a bit boring and was a little disappointed.  I enjoyed the book more than she did and wonder if that doesn’t have to do with my lowered expectations from talking to her.  We both had been waiting anxiously for this book to come out and it may have been built up in our heads.  I agree that it was a slower plot without much action, but I thought it was sweet.  The biggest thing to me was that Cassia and Ky found each other again.  I enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the final book!


 Jenna's Review

Favorite Quotes:

"With a piece of soap the color of this month, of November, I scrub my fingers one last time."

"We're lucky there is no snow: and the air is desert-cold, a sharp, thin cold that tricks you into thinking you aren't thirsty, because breathing is like drinking in ice."

"Ky watches me with that look in his eyes, the one sad and full of love at the same time, the one he gives me when he knows something I don't, something he thinks has been stolen from me."

"'River. That's one of the words we need,' and the way he says it, the way his mouth looks and his voice sounds, makes me want to leave these papers alone and spend my days in the painted cave or one of the little houses or down by the water, trying only to solve the mystery of him."

I reread Matched again so I'd have all the little details fresh in my mind. I'm glad I did because not much from the first book is explained again. There were several memories for both Ky and Cassia that had me going, "At least I remember that part." So for anyone who didn't read the first book or read it a year ago, I wouldn't be surprised if you're left scratching your head in confusion.

As far as sequels go, this one really let me down. It felt like merely an in-between: how do we get the characters from point A to point C? This describes Cassia's and Ky's desert journey in great detail. Probably too much detail. Flashbacks help develop character motives (mainly Ky's), but the action falls short.

Because the characters are running from Society, the book takes place almost solely outdoors in the Carvings. At times the red-gold rock scenes were too overwritten. Water/rain was described as being gold and silver in flashlight beams. It did strike me as pretty the first time, but then it was mentioned again. Still, there were some phrases that captured my interest. When Cassia and Indie climb the rock face of the Cavern, Cassia thinks, "I wish the rock would hold us, cradle us back as we cling to it, but it doesn't."

Several times a sentence tried to sum up a thought or a lesson (not just at the end of chapters). Some of them were excellent, some of them just seemed placed for the sake of having the characters come to a realization. After-school special lines, if you will.
The thing I'd most anticipated was the telling of the story from both Cassia's and Ky's point of view. I enjoyed Ky's much more. I'd actually have liked it if the whole book had been from his perspective, but then the reader wouldn't have seen Cassia during her journey to find him or learned about her experiences with Indie.

I appreciated the addition of some new characters; young Eli was my favorite because he was like Cassia's brother, Bram. I also admired Hunter's dedication to his sick daughter Sarah. The story about why the farmers painted blue lines all over their arms was creative. Indie was a strong survivor and an asset to Cassia's survival, but I'm not sure I grew to like her by the end.

What I didn't expect to feel: I wanted Xander in the story more. I'm definitely not a fan of the Cassia/Xander hookup, but he was doing all this sexy whispering to Cassia when he visited her at the camp. And then you read all these hints about Xander having a secret (that went on for such a long time) and I just really wanted to know what it was. It's revealed--not to worry!

I did like that there were a few different love stories: Vick and Laney, then Hunter and Sarah's mother. There is an underlying message that not all love ends happily. Will it carry to the third book with Cassia and Ky? They had quite a few secrets. There is a part where Cassia catches Ky destroying something important to her and I felt she severely underreacted. Even after their ups and downs, somehow I can't help thinking they'll end up together.

Cassia has a view of Xander that is super similar to Bella's thoughts about Jacob (yes, from Twilight). With Xander, it's a different kind of love, less complicated; but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The passage where she thinks these thoughts seems selfish but definitely human. Comfort does not equal love. I frequently wanted to yank Cassia by the hair and scream, "Make a decision!"

Seriously, they both love you, but there's only one real choice. Even her heart knows it. The "settle" option never works.

The ending was very mysterious, an interesting lure for readers: which HE is Cassia actually planning to meet with?

I've got to cross my fingers for the third book. I need action, suspense, and a whole lot more details in the romantic scenes! I know Ally Condie has got it in her!