Source: Bought from Amazon

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare | Book Review

Posted December 11, 2016 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve by Tessa Dare | Book ReviewOnce Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #1.5
Also in this series: A Night to Surrender, Beauty and the Blacksmith
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
Some wallflowers bloom at night…

Violet is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. The gentlemen aren’t beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet’s feet. He’s wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he’s not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable… Love.

A Christmas ball crasher! Guys, I love Tessa Dare’s stories. They are always so unique and swoony, and this one doesn’t disappoint at all. I’ve always been the quiet, bookish wallflower type, which is why I loved Violet Winterbottom in A Night to Surrender (review coming in January). Now I love her even more! She’s smart and sassy and sweet. She’s also assertive and strong. She’s been through a LOT. I loved the mysterious injured man, and who he became to Violet. Boy, was his entrance memorable the way he stumbled into the ball injured and delirious and fell on her lap. The mystery and conspiracy surrounding him were super intriguing, and I really enjoyed getting to know him. He doesn’t speak English, so Violet’s language expertise brings them together as she tries to figure out who he is. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say… he’s not who he first appears to be.

I think I liked this story more than the one in A Night to Surrender! I wish it were longer because I really connected with these characters and the story. I hope to see more of them in the next Spindle Cove novel so I can see what they’re up to. Definitely read this book if you plan to stick with Spindle Cove or if you’re looking for a quick romance (it can stand on its own but there’s a cameo of the characters we met in the first book so that’s fun!). Sometimes novellas feel rushed or incomplete, but this one didn’t! I loved it!


Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book Review

Posted December 5, 2016 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book ReviewJingle Bell Harbor Series: Bell Harbor #3.5
Published by Montlake Romance on October 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 111
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
As assistant buyer for the world’s second-largest Christmas store, Kelsey Parker feels like a holiday harlot. She’s contractually obligated to promote the yuletide season. All. Year. Long. And it’s taking a toll on her spirit. But when her clueless, self-absorbed boyfriend goes on their long-anticipated romantic vacation—without her!—Kelsey is beyond disappointed to find herself tromping through the Bell Harbor snow instead of lounging on a tropical beach.

Drew Hampton is considered quite a catch among the Bell Harbor bachelorettes, but when his high school dream girl, Kelsey Parker, shows up at his grandfather’s Christmas tree lot complaining about her love life, he decides it’s long past time to get her under the mistletoe himself.

As things heat up between the two, a surprise visitor arrives, making Kelsey an offer she can’t quite believe. Now she must decide what matters most, and she just may discover the key to her happiness.

This is a sweet, funny Christmas novella that’s perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit! I’ve not read any of the other Bell Harbor books, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. There’s not a lot to say about it because it’s such a short book, at jut over 100 pages. I read it in one sitting and had so much fun with the characters (Drew gives me heart eyes), the holiday festivities, the swoons, and the setting. The story did not feel rushed or compressed in order to fit into a novella. I loved Tracy’s writing and bought the rest of the Bell Harbor series because this one was so much fun. I can’t wait to read them! Consider this my seal of approval. If you’re looking for a magical dose of Christmas cheer, pick up this little gem and prepare to smile!

SnowflakeDivider


Winter by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

Posted January 19, 2016 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 6 Comments

Winter by Marissa Meyer | Book ReviewWinter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Stars Above
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Steampunk
Pages: 832
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Friends Jumping
I don’t know what to say!!! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY! I LOVED this conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles. Marissa knew just what I wanted to know and she answered all my questions and tied up all the loose ends. Boy, does she know how to end a series.

Cress and Thorne are so unbelievably cute, I can’t even handle it. Thorne is still my very favorite character in this story. He can make me laugh, he can make me swoon, and he can make me crazy. Scarlet and poor, tortured Wolf go through everything you could possibly think of and I’m amazed at their strength and their ability to push through it all. Their love was written in the stars, and I think they might be my favorite couple ever (but don’t make me choose because I won’t!). Readers are not given as much time to fall in love with Winter and Jacin, but you do anyway. I keep thinking of Buttercup and Wesley and Corey and Topanga when I think of those two. Cinder and Kai are overshadowed by the epic love stories of our other characters, but it’s so good to see them happy. And Iko… Iko, Iko, Iko… she is still hilarious and sweet and tender and flirtatious. No android will ever be able to take her place in my heart. I miss everyone already. How am I going to live without my band of misfits in the sky?

Marissa Meyer has outdone herself, and I’m almost afraid of reading any of her future works because how can she outdo herself again? (Of COURSE I’m going to read everything she writes forever.) This book is LONG, but I needed every page. Every word. I was either swooning over this romance, or screaming at that revelation, or crying over that moment, or flipping out over WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!, or cheering because YAY I LOVE THEM THEY RULE. The action is cataclysmic, the suspense unending, and the romance breathtaking. There’s so much of everything you could ever hope for and more. The tension never lets up, and you never feel totally safe until the very end. Can we all drive off into the sunset together?

Bottom line, thanks for reading my review because I have no coherent thoughts.

In summary: Read The Lunar Chronicles. 


The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke | Mini Book Review

Posted December 23, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke | Mini Book ReviewThe Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke
Published by Harper Impulse on December 19, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 108
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3 Stars
An English Girl in New York

As the snow starts to fall on Manhattan, PA Dory Mackenzie is a long way from home, far from the comforts and cheer of her cozy family Christmases back in Liverpool.

So when her boss Tyler Alexander offers to pay her pricey ticket home for New Year, Dory just can’t say no… even if she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays!

Tyler may be hiding the real reason he needs a girlfriend-of-convenience but that’s the least of Dory’s worries when she’s up against the disapproval of his high society mother, and the suspicions of his gorgeous older brother Lucas, the black sheep of the family.

There’s no fooling Lucas, and it’s not just the truth he wants to get closer to… So before the bells have even rung out for Christmas day, Dory finds herself caught up in the Alexander family’s dramas – and sharing more than just a few kisses under the mistletoe!

This book was just ok for me, which is why I don’t have much to say about it. lol. It’s a short, festive Christmas read, but I felt like the story was a little too big for the size of the book. Things moved too quickly to seem realistic to me. I liked the idea of the story–a girlfriend of convenience always ends up going crazy, and I was intrigued to see how this would work out. Tyler is a jerk, though, and Lucas (his brother) falls a little too fast. Actually, he and Dory both fall for each other really fast. They have one late-night conversation over leftover chocolate cake, and all of a sudden things get feelingsy and dramatic pretty quick. The Alexander family is not warm and fuzzy, and I never grew to like them for any reason. I liked Lucas a lot, and his interactions with Dory were sweet and romantic. There was a scene where he and Dory went looking for a Christmas tree, which was sweet. The entire story as a whole, though, was a bit of a disappointment.


Kisses, She Wrote by Katharine Ashe | Book Review

Posted December 8, 2015 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

Kisses, She Wrote by Katharine Ashe | Book ReviewKisses, She Wrote by Katharine Ashe
Series: The Prince Catchers #1.5
Published by Avon Impulse on December 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 176
Source: Bought from Amazon
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1.5 Stars
Christmas in town has never been so steamy . . .

Handsome as sin and scandalously rakish, Cam Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, is every young lady's wickedest dream. Shy wallflower Princess Jacqueline of Sensaire knows this better than anyone, because her dreams are full of the breathtaking earl's kisses. And not only her dreams—her diary, too.

But when Cam discovers the maiden's not-so-maidenly diary, will her wildest Christmas wishes be fulfilled in its pages . . . or in his arms?

Hmmm. Well, this is a tough review to write. I did not really like the first book in this series, I Married a Duke, but I’m a sucker for historical Christmas romances and bookish characters. I decided to give this one a try, and I ran into the same problems I experienced with the first book. I was bored. The background details and politics and cultural explanations were boring. I felt for Jacqueline and her major crush on Cam. What girl hasn’t this happened to? However, I got very tired of reading her “erotic” journal entries about him. In this time period, what woman would write those kinds of things and then leave her journal out in the open for anyone to happen across? Cam read it, and became so hot and bothered by it that he wanted her even though she never struck his fancy before. I felt like this was a pretty weak plot line. Everything that happened between them was a result of his invasion of her privacy. There was no intrigue or attraction between the two of them, only Cam’s sex drive and her obsession with his looks. Jacqueline is supposed to be shy and proper, but it didn’t take long for her to throw all that away. There was no romance here. Plus, the entire story significantly lacked Christmassy details. This could have taken place at any point during the year and nothing would have really changed. Needless to say, I’m pretty disappointed.


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente | Mini Book Review

Posted August 20, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Middle Grade / 4 Comments

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente | Mini Book ReviewThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making Series: Fairyland #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 10, 2011
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 247
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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1 Stars
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.
 

This is one strange little book, with language I’m not sure I would have understood at age 11 or 12, which is the age I would recommend this book to. I think it’s too young for teenagers, but I don’t think I would have liked is as a tween, but I was not a fan of fairy tales at that age. I’m sure I would have liked the wyvern’s (dragon) humor and the cute illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, though. As an adult, I found myself being bogged down by purple prose (and too much of it!) and so many details that I was unable to actually keep track of what was going on.

The writing style is very pretty and ornate, but too much so and the language is too advanced for the age group the book is marketed to. September’s voice is very strong and dynamic, but she does not act her age (12) because of the way she talks and the way she acts (she uses an advanced vocabulary, but at the same time is naïve enough to run away with the Green Wind). There were too many details and it was so overly stylized that I found myself spacing out and losing focus. It made me tired. I also felt that referring to September as being “Ravished” was a bit odd and sexual. Overall, I just wasn’t a fan and am not sure who I would even recommend it to because it does not fit into one specific age group.


The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross | Novella Review

Posted July 3, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross | Novella ReviewThe Strange Case of Finley Jane Series: Steampunk Chronicles #0.5
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 1, 2011
Genres: Alternate History, Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 83
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3.5 Stars
Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined.

My Kindle copy of The Girl in the Steel Corset has this short prequel novella at the beginning, and I had no idea what I was reading until it was over and it was time to move into the full-length novel! I was a tad annoyed that I was not told I was reading the novella, but I can only assume it will be helpful as I move into The Girl in the Steel Corset at a later time.

I think I was fortunate with this novella, even though I was annoyed I was reading it instead of the book (The Girl in the Steel Corset was a required reading for my YA lit course, and so I was frustrated that I had spent 83 pages on the wrong book. But oh well. Moving on.). The Strange Case of Finley Jayne was actually pretty entertaining and has a plot that it not too big or too small for the book. It felt just right to me. We were not rushing through events and details, but it also did not feel like an unnecessary addition to the series. The characters are well developed even though 83 pages is not long enough to get attached to any of them. I like Finley, and am intrigued by her story. I also liked the writing style, and feel like this book was a nice introduction to the series. I know some people read this novella after Steel Corset, so I’m not sure which was the better option. Regardless, I enjoyed it and am planning to read The Girl in the Steel Corset soon.

So. Do you like this series? Have you read this novella? I’m curious how it relates to Steel Corset because I read a review that says that the events in this books are never referenced in Steel Corset, and that Steel Corset contradicts some of the events in Strange Case. So is it even worth reading it in the grand scheme of things? I’d love your opinions!


Fairest by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

Posted June 25, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 6 Comments

Fairest by Marissa Meyer | Book ReviewFairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Stars Above
Published by Feiwel and Friends on January 27, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Retelling, Science Fiction
Pages: 222
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3.5 Stars
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

I’ve never really been a fan of the villain in any story because I don’t usually like the villain! Sure, there have been some exceptions to that rule, but I really wasn’t sure I wanted to learn about Levana and her excuses for being such an awful person. But I love Marissa Meyer and The Lunar Chronicles, so of COURSE I wanted to read Fairest. While I did not love it as much as the full-length novels in this series, I enjoyed Levana’s back story, I feel prepared to read Winter, and I also learned quite a few things about Cinder that surprised me. Bottom line, this book was certainly worth reading! So if you’re on the fence as to whether or not you should, definitely do it. You’ll learn things and more pieces will start to fit into the puzzle.

Levana is EVIL. I mean wow. Pure evil. At times I felt bad for her, but she is seriously a psychopath. I felt bad for her. She went through a lot in her youth, and all of these things helped shaped her to be a ruthless, evil witch she is. She had a horrible upbringing. We hear the heartbreaking story of why she must hide behind an artificial glamour, we hear her experience with being rejected by the man she loved, and her inner feelings and compulsions are brought to light. It’s a very interesting character analysis, and it adds a lot to the story, giving it more of a solid foundation. I do like knowing the why’s and how’s of any situation, and this book gives you that. I’ll never feel like Levana is justified in her actions, but at least I know why she is so crazy.

As always, Marissa Meyer’s writing is flawless and I loved being immersed in this world once again. I’m even more excited for Winter now!


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher | Mini Book Review

Posted May 6, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher | Mini Book ReviewThirteen Reasons Why Published by Razorbill on October 17, 2007
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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0 Stars
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

I have not reacted this negatively to a book in years, and I was so unbelievably upset by it that I had nightmares. I disagree with all this book stands for, and would not have even finished it if I were not reading it for a class assignment. Bottom line, I feel like this book glamorizes suicide. It makes it look like it’s ok to kill yourself. I was so mad at Hannah the entire time, and my opinion of her and her decision grew less and less as I heard her snide voice and her petty justifications. She killed herself because people were mean to her (in sometimes awful ways, yes.), and instead of confronting them she went and killed herself and then blamed them for it. She did something much worse to them than they did to her by blaming them for her death. It seemed like a revenge suicide—like she killed herself to get back of them, and it just made me mad. People don’t kill themselves for reasons. They do it because a switch has been triggered in their brain that makes them feel like it’s a necessity. It’s a mental thing.

If I set my opinions and feelings aside, I can agree that the writing was done very well. The author inserts Clay’s thoughts and actions as he is listening to Hannah talk, which is unique and real. I enjoyed being in the moment with him. Clay cares deeply, and his thoughts seem very accurate for someone who has his hands tied and is unable to help. Hannah’s voice, while sarcastic and rude, is very much like an argumentative child who is mad at everyone (which is basically what she is). They both portray emotions that are brought out in the reader, and I was very convinced. There has GOT to be a better book out there about suicide, though, because this one is pretty awful in my opinion.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey | Book Review

Posted February 9, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey | Book ReviewThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave #1
Published by GP Putnam's Sons on May 7, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Survival
Pages: 457
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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5 Stars
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

**This is one of the books I chose to read for my YA literature class**

I’ve been very excited to read The 5th Wave, and am so glad I finally had the chance! It’s a very exciting books that I loved so much more than I thought I would. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Rick Yancey has created a very convincing post-apocalyptic setting, taking place right here in the United States. He really took his time giving us all the details about what the world is like now, what the aliens have done so far (in the first four waves of human extermination, essentially), and what life is like for the few remaining humans on Earth.

2. Everything seemed so frighteningly real to me, that I was completely engrossed. Yancey has convinced me that this can really happen!

3. The writing style portrays so many different emotions: Cassie’s heartbreak when her brother is taken, her skepticism as to whether or not to trust Evan, her fear at being alone, her sorrow over losing her family, and her determination to survive.

4. In that same vein, Rick Yancey did such a good job at getting into the head of a teenage girl. I kept forgetting a man wrote this book! Cassie’s voice is quintessentially female. I particularly loved the part of the book where Cassie woke up in a strange guy’s house, all cleaned up and wearing new clothes. Her inner thoughts are hilarious when she realizes a boy saw her naked. She reacts exactly the way any girl would, and I loved her for it.

5. I loved all the characters. Cassie is a wonderful heroine, who has the courage of Katniss Everdeen. She’s also got a pretty great sense of humor. And she’s a girl after my own heart because she is dragging books around in her backpack as she fights off aliens! Evan is mysterious and kind and caring. He’s a very dynamic character, and he’s constantly being torn in two directions. I love Cassie’s little brother and the people he encounters on his new mission in life. I felt very connected to everyone, which makes sense because they are fighting for their lives. True humanity comes through in these situations, and the characters were so real and relatable because they’ve got nothing left to be but themselves.

6.This book is non-stop action and excitement! Then there’s a little romance and some violence and some survival scenarios… It’s pretty gripping, and I had a very hard time putting it down.

My Favorite Quotes:

– “But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.

– “How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

All in all, this is one LONG book but I didn’t even care. I didn’t want it to end! I was so amazed by the situation and captivated by the characters’ stories that I could not put it down to go to sleep! The 5th Wave has everything a reader could want and even some things you might not realize you wanted in the first place.

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