Monday, April 27, 2015

Fuel the Fire (Calloway Sisters #3, Addicted Series #3.1) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Published: April 2nd 2015
Publisher: N/A
Purchase: Amazon
Goodreads: Protect your family. At all costs.
It’d take the impossible to hurt Connor Cobalt, even for a moment.
Protect your family. At all costs.
At twenty-six, his narcissistic tendencies have made room for the people he loves.
Protect your family. At all costs.
And he loves Rose. But when his love is threatened, when his greatest dreams with her are compromised — what is the cost then?
Protect your family. At all costs.
Love will guide his choices.
For the first time in his life.

I had high expectations for this book, especially since it was the latest addition to an already amazing series. If you haven't already heard on the grapevine, this series is one of the best New Adult books out there. Heartfelt emotion, phenomenonal character development, a series that is as much about family as it is about love and life, and of course, the kind of palpable chemistry that makes your head spin.

Fuel the Fire is the third book in the Calloway Sisters Series, which is a spin-off of the Addicted Series, although you can choose to only read the Calloway books. As such, it is vital that you read the first two books in this series, Kiss the Sky and Hothouse Flower before embarking on this one.

This book focuses on Rose and Connor Cobalt, or as I like to think of them, the king and queen of the Addicted gang (the central characters in the Addicted universe). They're both incredibly intelligent, loyal, and supportive. They are the backbone that holds the Addicted characters together with their combined intellect and protectiveness. The ones to turn to in a crisis, until they themselves are faced with one. This book deals with the king and queen, the leaders, as they tackle a challenge that will test even their limits.

Now as for my thoughts toward this book, it is impossible to articulate exactly how wonderfully and irrevocably I love this book, but I will endeavor to do so.

What did I love about this book? It was more a question of what I didn't like about this book. Which is an impossible question because I loved everything about it. The romance that makes your heart swell and toes curl, the banter of two people who orbit around each other, both the highs and lows of family, and the type of emotional moments that bring out the tears in any soul.

One thing that I admire the most about the Addicted/Calloway Sisters Series is how the impact of media is shown, especially social media. The truly hurtful and negative shadow that it can bring on people, its power to destroy and attack, and also the illuminating part of it. It is like real life, when things can never be erased once they spread on the Internet.

What is also marvelous about this book is family. The complexity of emotions that surround broken relationships, when lines can be crossed for the sake of family. This book never flinches away from the hard truths, no matter how heart-wrenching they can be.

Fuel the Fire deals with certain issues that have been lurking under the surface in the other books in the Addicted universe, which are  sexuality and depression. While I have to admit that there are few books out there that handle the slippery idea of sexuality, the Ritchie sisters managed to capture it realistically, bringing to light the complexity of it and how labels never fit everyone. Part of what made this book a heart wringer was this issue and how the world perceives this. In addition, the issue of depression is handled in a thoughtful and realistic manner. It was hard-hitting for this girl. I don't want to quite spoil it for you, but I will say that I cried in a rather embarrassing manner while reading the scenes that revolved around these two issues.

As is always the case with the Addicted books, at the heart of this is the truly loving and supportive family and friends that are bonded with the shared ordeals and struggles that they have faced and of course, the beautiful and romantic love between the two main characters.
Because we all have the capacity to love, no matter what form or shape it may come in.
Rose and Connor are two souls who are a match made in heaven, and this book leaves you with the impact of their love in your heart for days, weeks, months... an eternity.
How do you measure love?
Is it by the things we're willing to do? By the sacrifices we're willing to make?
One last side note about this book which is a personal charm for me. There are two characters, who are side characters in this series but hold a rather special part of my heart. It gave me visceral pleasure, the kind that makes me smile like a cheesy idiot, to see them mentioned and read about their interactions. In case you haven't read the other books, I won't spoil the names of these two, but they are maddeningly adorable, if you must know.

Now I am off to curl up in a corner and pretend the world doesn't exist because this book brings back every emotion I have towards these lovely characters who have consumed a large area of my heart.

My Rating: ★★★★★

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Published: March 9th 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Purchase: Amazon / Book Depository / Barnes & Noble
Goodreads: In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions. 
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

I was rereading this the other day so I think it's finally time to write a review for it. And I had meaning to do my first blog post, so what better way to do it than with this lovely book?

I thought I had experienced the brilliance of Melina Marchetta's writing when I read Saving Francesca, a stellar novel that reduced me to an aching mess. That was nothing compared to the emotional wreckage that came with reading Jellicoe Road. It is a beautiful novel, well deserving of its high praise, and it is at once a heartbreaking tale but also one that will warm your heart, down to the dark depths of it.

It's not the easiest book to get into, especially because the beginning is hard to understand, at least it was for me until the third attempt to start it. But it is well worth that initial struggle.

This is the story of Taylor Lily Markham, a girl with no parents. A girl with a past that she doesn't even understand. The story of love, loss, family, and the beautiful power of relationships.

See, I remember love.

She is a part of a long tradition in her town, the border skirmishes that involve the three parties of the Townies, the Jellicoe School kids, who include herself, and the Cadets. The Cadets who include Jonah Briggs. It isn't a laughing matter, but a serious one that encompasses an old set of rules and bloodshed.

This year, now that Taylor is the leader, things are going to be different. But facing Jonah, who is the leader of the Cadets, is another story altogether. With a shared past, Jonah Briggs is the last person Taylor trusted, before things went horribly wrong. I don't want to give much away but there is a story behind every past, and theirs is the kind that elicits the urge to hug the characters.

Jonah Briggs, let's say he and I didn't get off on the right foot. I was unsure of whether I was going to love him or not, but I should have had faith. By the halfway point in the book I was utterly in love with this boy. This book isn't quite a romance but the part of the book that was, I wholeheartedly loved, especially the way it unfolded.

Beside Taylor are lovable side characters, the other Jellicoe School kids, each with an endearing face that will make you long to be with them. It's impossible not to fall in love with them and the cherish the bond that holds the characters together. In particular, Raffy and Ben are the ones that feature the most and in whatever universe they truly exist, I wish them the best (highlight for spoiler-ish)
*cough* Raffy with Chaz and Ben with Justine is preferable.
"I believe in you, Taylor Markham."

And there is the question of Taylor's past, how Hannah, the one adult that Taylor can trust, features in it and so much more. It is truly a journey to travel with her, through the heartbreaking joy and tragedy that follows her.

A vital part of this story is about five characters whose intertwining lives are the heart of this story. To divulge anymore would be a crime, but all I can assure you of is that by the time all is revealed I was earnestly sobbing over them. Without them and the fateful incident on Jellicoe Road, this book would have been lost and I am eternally grateful that Melina Marchetta has the mind to write such a beautiful book.

...who set out on their separate journeys that day not realizing the tragic ironies and joys of that collision of worlds on the Jellicoe Road.

I don't often think this, but if any young adult book should be featured in english classes in high school, it would be this book. It was truly an honor to read this.

My Rating: ★★★★★