Fuse - Julianna Baggot

The first book in this trilogy, Pure, was one of my surprise favourites of 2012.  I remember picking the book up, not sure what to expect, and I was absolutely transfixed by the story.  When I picked up Fuse from the library, I was expecting to be captivated in the same way, but also a little hesitant about whether my sleep-deprived brain could handle a dystopian novel (after my struggles to get through Going Too Far, I was starting to think that I might be on a contemporaries-only binge for a while, at least until Marko starts sleeping through the night).

But Fuse captivated me just as much as Pure did.  And I loved it.

The story line picks up right where Pure left off.  To avoid spoiling anything for anyone who hasn't read Pure yet, I won't talk about the plot at all, but just say that Julianna Baggot's writing sucked me into the story and refused to let me go.  As I said in my bookish resolutions post earlier this year, I wasn't too sure how much reading or blogging time I was going to have with a newborn on my hands, and when I picked up Fuse, I was a little intimidated by its size (400+ pages).  It took me a little longer to read than my usual speed, but I still feel like I flew through the book, reading a page or two whenever I had a spare moment.  Even though that's not my usual style of reading (I'm usually one who prefers to sit down and read for an hour or so at a go), I found that this worked quite well for this book, mainly because Julianna Baggot's writing is so beautiful that you almost have to savour the words for a little while before moving onto the next section.  In fact, I had a Twitter conversation about this aspect of the book: I want to purchase a copy of these books, just so that I can reread them in the future and savour each and every word.  Here's an example:
I feel like we weren't made for each other. We're making each other--into the people we should become.
Fuse is a spell-binding sequel to Pure, and I might have enjoyed Fuse just a tiny bit more than Pure (and I LOVED Pure a heck of a lot).  I'm so excited to see what the conclusion of the trilogy will bring!
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Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols

A few months ago, I asked my Twitter friends which book I should start with if I wanted to dive into Jennifer Echols' work.  Several friends immediately responded, professing their love for Jennifer's work.  Since my library didn't have any of her books, I chose the two titles that my friends recommended and added them to my Christmas wish list.  My wonderful sister-in-law gifted me not just one of the titles, but BOTH.

I started reading this book towards the end of January, after I had to return Days of Blood & Starlight to the library since it was too heavy for my carpal-tunnel riddled hands.  The size of this paperback made the book easier to hold, but I still only managed to read the first six chapters before Marko's arrival.  It was a little surreal to dive back into this book, with such a life-altering experience in between the moment that I started the book and the moment that I tried to re-enter the story and piece together what had been happening.  It is perhaps for this reason that I didn't love the book as much as I had hoped to, but I'm still sure that I will love Jennifer's work after I read another of her books.

I did enjoy Meg's character, and her relationship with John.  She was edgy and bold, and I found myself drawn to her angst, wondering what made her such a daredevil.  (I'm just now realizing that her character was much more interesting than Parker's in Cracked Up to Be, which I recently reviewed.  Even though they're both "bad girls," Meg's character was intriguing, whereas Parker was just plain annoying).  What did annoy me a little about this book was the extended sexual tension between Meg and John.  From the very beginning, I could tell where the story was headed, and I found myself wanting things to hurry up and get moving.  Maybe the story would have been stronger if there hadn't been so many ride-along nights, since I found that each ride-along just flip flopped back and forth between "he likes me, no he hates me, no maybe he likes me ... I like him, no he annoys me, no maybe I really do like him..."  Perhaps this is how the teenage mind really does work when it comes to sizing up a boy (and I just can't remember or identify with that) but it definitely dragged on a bit too long for my taste.

With that being said, the rest of the story was very well done.  Jennifer definitely paints a great story with intriguing characters that are well-developed.  Although this particular story wasn't my favourite, I definitely have high hopes for Such a Rush and I'm sure that she won't disappoint!
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Mini Review Catch Up

I know that it's been ages since I last posted a review here -- to say that life has been busy would be an understatement!  Life with Marko has been utterly wonderful; he's the perfect baby, and has even been gifting us up to five hours of consecutive sleep each night ... we feel like the luckiest parents in the world!

I've slowly been getting back into reading, especially now that the feeling's coming back into my fingers (yippee!!) and just finally finished the book that I had started prior to Marko's birth (review to come on that one shortly).  But, in order to play catch-up, I thought I'd post a few mini reviews of the books that I finished in January / early February, and didn't have a chance to review before Marko's arrival.  So, with no further ado, here goes...

Cracked Up to Be - Courtney Summers
I actually reviewed this one towards the end of January; however, during the process of writing my review, my internet connection timed out and I lost the whole thing.  Oops!  I really enjoyed the other two books that I read by Courtney (Some Girls Are and This is Not a Test), but something about Cracked Up to Be just fell flat for me.  I think it was mainly Parker's character -- I never found myself identifying with her, or empathizing with her in her struggles.  The way that she behaved towards everyone around her grated on my nerves and, even when I found out WHY she was behaving the way she was, it still didn't justify her actions for me. Basically, without spoiling anything, Parker used to be the perfect high school girl -- great student, captain of the cheerleading squad, dating the most popular guy in school, etc, etc.  And then she becomes the complete opposite -- barely passing her classes, drinking at school, in trouble with the admin, and basically being a royal pain in the butt to everyone around her, including her former friends.  I kept reading because I love Courtney Summers' books SO MUCH but, even by the end, I found that this one didn't live up to my expectations.  I still have one more of her books to read and my fingers are crossed that it's a better one!

How to Save a Life - Sara Zarr
After I read Sweethearts in almost one sitting over the Christmas holidays, I was excited to read another Sara Zarr book -- and this one had received great reviews too.  I listened to this one on audio as I drove to and from work for my last couple of weeks, which was great as it still gave me an opportunity to read when I wasn't reading much in the way of print books, due to my tingly fingers.  I loved everything about this story.  The characters were amazing and the narration on the audiobook was phenomenal (I absolutely LOVE when audiobooks use a different narrator for each voice in the story and Mandy and Jill were each narrated by a different actress, which was great since if I jumped into the car mid-chapter, it was easy to remember whose chapter I was in the middle of listening to).  Plus, the storyline of the book was so relevant to what was going on in my life -- I remember Mandy talking about feeling the baby kick, and being 38 weeks pregnant and I was just going "Yes, yes, yes -- I totally know how you're feeling!"  Plus, the relationships between all of the secondary characters, and the emotional struggles that each character goes through, and everything about this book is just so PERFECT.  Sara Zarr has become one of my new favourite writers, and I'm so excited to read another of her books!
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