Monday, January 11, 2016

Surprise: I've moved to Wordpress!

Head on over to Stacks Waiting on Wordpress and check out my revamp!!

Surprise, everyone!

With the new year, I decided to revamp my blog. When I decided to remodel, I also finally decided to  take the plunge and transition from Blogger to Wordpress. Which means I will no longer be using this blog. So check out my new one over on Wordpress!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

Susan Dennard has made me fall in love—with the characters, the world, the magic, the politics, the chemistry, the writing, everything. I was completely torn between wanting to devour every word and wanting to savor every word. I don’t really know what to say. I’m a little in shock.

For those who are unfamiliar with Truthwitch:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Dennard wove together such a fantastic tale. I honestly think that this is going to be the next sensation in fantasy. I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but I’m definitely sensing a new classic in the leagues of the more recent Throne of Glass and the timeless Lord of the Rings. The world created in Truthwitch was truly captivating. Between the fantastically imaginative take on “elemental” magic and the suspenseful tangle of politics, I was sucked in.

I loved the magic of the novel. It was such a unique and thought out interpretation of elemental magic. It was like Avatar: The Last Airbender, but with a twist. There are general groups of magic—Aether, Air, Water, Earth, Fire, and Void. But, within each group, there are more specific types of witches. For example, both Safiya and Iseult are Aetherwitches. However, Safiya is a Truthwitch and Iseult is a Threadwitch. I loved the intricacies! Though the world was definitely overwhelming at the beginning, as expected with such a well-developed world, it was easy to catch on and get caught up in the story.

The politics were edge-of-your-seat interesting. I was constantly scanning through every mention of every character, trying to puzzle together each person’s allegiance. Every chapter revealed a new clue, snapping a piece into place. I loved trying to figure out everyone’s individual plans. It was also so interesting how the Witchlands were loosely based on the real world. If you look on the map, Venaza City is in Italy—it’s clearly an iteration of Venice. The Marstoki people were definitely more Turkish, both in their location and in their style. It was so cool to make those connections!

But to the most notable part of this book… God, the characters. Dennard didn’t just write the characters; she actually created them. I literally feel like Iseult, Safiya, Merik, Aeduan, and everyone else are sitting here with me as I write my review. From the first paragraph of the first chapter, the characters were enchantingly real. They had so much personality and so much individuality. And, sweet Lord, that chemistry. The relationships that Dennard created were heart-capturing. I loved the Thread-Families and the variety in the relationships that the Threads fostered. There was the to-death friendship of the Threadsisters and Threadbrothers, like Iseult and Safiya, as well as Merik and Kullen. There was the deep-seeded love of the Heart-Threads, like Ryber and Kullen. And then there were the constantly developing and changing Threads—which I won’t go into, for fear of spoilers. But, guys, so good.

I also really admired the romance of the novel. I don't know if you noticed, but I didn't labelTruthwitch as a romance. I only labeled it as fantasy. Yes, there was romance and it was absolutely swoonworthy. But it wasn't the main focus. It was a slow-building, realistically developing relationship. It took a backseat to the friendships at play in the novel, which I found amazingly inspiring.

I adored Dennard’s writing. She is truly gifted. I felt the voice of each individual character whispering in my mind—no lie. The characters were so well-developed and so unique. Just by the writing, I could tell whether it was Iseult or Safiya talking. I literally felt like I was in the Witchlands every time I cracked the book open. Dennard is definitely a Wordwitch because—wow. Magic is honestly the only explanation.

Overall, Truthwitch definitely deserves a whopping 5 stars. Susan Dennard created the perfect start to what will surely be an amazing fantasy series. Let’s just do a quick recap of all of the characteristics that Dennard absolutely nailed:

1. Strong characters (particularly women)
2. Inspiring female friendships
3. Badass action scenes
4. Swoonworthy men
5. Riveting world
6. Nail-biting politics
7. Undeniable chemistry
8. Unique magic
9. Beautiful writing
10. Distinct voices

Basically, you better get your butt in gear and preorder this book that will surely sweep the fantasy genre off its feet. Go.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Format I Read: Kindle
Pages: 464
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

Okay, this book was freaking splendid. Absolutely fantastic. I devoured it. I'm basically drowning in work and stress (with the mental breakdowns to prove it), but I couldn't put this book down. I've been meaning to read it ever since people started going gaga over the third book (The Immortal Heights). And now I finally got around to it. God, it did not disappoint.

To those who aren't familiar:

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

Just a heads up that this review is going to be absolutely wretched for two reasons:
1) I haven't written a review in 108432 years because college life is freaking hard.
2) I'm giddy over this book.

Guys!!!! This book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to have to break it down into parts to review it because otherwise I'm just going to be gushing and crying over it.

The characters were absolutely perfect. Titus and Iolanthe had such amazing chemistry. They were so real and believable. Even when Iolanthe was being a silly, shallow little girl (focusing on jealousy instead of the life-or-death situation at hand), she completely acknowledged it. It made it endearing and heartwarming instead of annoying and frustrating. I honestly can't find a single flaw in their portrayal. Of course, they did have flaws (as the best characters do), but that made them all the more captivating. They were perfect, charming leads. I honestly couldn't have asked for better main characters. And the romance was gradual and seamless. It was utterly realistic. Thomas perfectly captured the slow and painful development of their relationship, the ups and downs of the partnership. It was fantastic.

If I could scrounge up a complaint about this book, this is where it would be. Honestly, I can't really explain the world to you. I know that there are elemental mages and Atlantis is the enemy. Other than that, the details are pretty vague. I don't know if it's because I was so eager to find out what happened next that I didn't pay enough attention or if it's because the world really wasn't explained enough. Also, one of the big reasons I may not have understood it as well as I should have might have been because I read it on the Kindle. Sherry Thomas included a ton of amazing notes in the back of the book that you could flip to as you read. They seem to be super relevant to the story: an awesome resource for worldbuilding. So if you read a physical copy of the book, your experience with the worldbuilding should be much better than mine! But even in my case, it didn't detract from the story itself at all.

I loved the world! I feel like Thomas could make five million prequels and still have more to talk about. There was so much depth to the world and so many facets to it. I want to read more about everything mentioned, from the January Uprising to the potion books. With that, the Crucible was utterly fascinating and one of my favorite parts of the book. It was literally captivating. I want a copy right now. The Crucible itself was like a whole other world in and of itself. I also loved the jumps between the mage world and nonmage world. It was super interesting to see the contrast there, and I really enjoyed the way Thomas toyed with that.

Do words count as an element? Because if so, Sherry Thomas is a word mage. Or a mind mage of storytelling?? Are these things??? Because they should be. And Sherry Thomas deserves those titles. The writing was amazing. However, there does need to be a disclaimer here since I literally sucked this book down. Which means that I didn't get to fully embrace the writing. I have every intention of rereading this baby later and relishing in every single word, don't worry.

The plot was flawlessly developed. It was simultaneously simple and complex. It was complex in that it was multi-layered with twists and turns. But it was simple in that it wasn't too overwhelming. I felt that I could, if necessary, boil the story down to one core plot. The relative straight-forwardness of this main plot balanced out the disorientation of the worldbuilding. It made it easier to follow the story and jump into the world, since we had that core to latch onto. It did wonders for the story. Not to mention how creative the plot was. Thomas put such a unique twist on something that can be so monotonous and overdone (elemental magic).

With the logistics: a 4.5 rounded up to a 5!

In conclusion: please go read this book right this second because you will not regret it and it was so cute but also so exciting and so action-packed. I gasped multiple times and my heart stopped a couple times too. But then I aww'd and hugged the book to my chest a couple times. And also laughed a couple times because THE CANARY. And basically, yes to this book. A million times yes.

Someone go buy me the next two books please?

(And seriously more apologies for the poor quality of this review. I haven't written a review since summer because college is literally so overwhelming and exhausting. But I had to write one for this book.)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Soundless by Richelle Mead

Title: Soundless
Author: Richelle Mead
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 272
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

There is nothing more satisfying than finishing an amazing standalone novel. There's something about the perfectly packaged story of a standalone that just leaves you so content. Honestly, I have the loveliest feeling in my heart right now. I feel like I can move mountains and change the world. I feel that good--Soundless was that amazing.

For those who are unfamiliar with Soundless:

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

Since reading the synopsis and seeing the absolutely gorgeous cover, I've been coveting this book. Luckily, I got it in a spontaneous galley drop at BEA this year. As I read this book, I savored it--I let it muse in my mind, spreading the relatively short book out over four days. I'll have you know, this is not something I normally do. I'm a "devour the book in one sitting with no regrets" kind of girl. But Soundless was just different. There's something about Mead's writing that just makes me want to drown in her words. I really don't know what it is about Richelle Mead's books, but I just want to wrap myself up in her stories.

The characters were fantastic. Fei was such a great main character. She had imagination, she had passion, she had compassion, she had spirit. She was well-rounded and real. I really loved her. Though I didn't always agree with her decisions, I respected her. In addition to having a strong and contemplative heroine, Soundless also had a completely swoonworthy hero. Li Wei was strong and realistic, but also romantic and creative. He was hard and soft, tough and kind. His romance with Fei was lovely and natural. I felt like their relationship was perfectly balanced with the story!

The only character I didn't like was Zhang Jing, Fei's older sister. I felt like Zhang Jing played the role of Prim to Fei's Katniss. She was the weak sister who evoked all of Fei's protective instincts, driving every single action Fei made in the book. The relationship just didn't click with me. I felt like Zhang Jing was ungrateful and shallow, while Fei was stifling and smothering. Their relationship just wasn't natural. Perhaps if Zhang Jing was younger and more helpless, it would've been more believable. Unfortunately, it didn't strike as much of a chord with me as Fei's relationship with Li Wei.

The world that Mead created was also fascinating. I loved the culture and folklore that coated the story. Though the fantasy element was peculiar, it was still interesting. You see, Soundless was only really a fantasy in theory at the beginning. It was fantasy in that we didn't know what was causing the deafness, so it must've been magic. What else could be causing the loss of the villagers' senses? However, in the last twenty or so pages, the Mead cranks up the fantasy. I loved how it all came together with the folklore. It made so much sense and was really satisfying!

I just really think that Soundless is a perfectly balanced book--it's a perfect, quick bite of brain food. It was short and sweet. Like a roller coaster, the ride was brief but exhilarating. And, like a roller coaster, the wait will be well worth it. The book achieved the charming balance between romance, adventure, mystery, fantasy, family, and culture. Mead mixed everything together and popped out a fresh standalone that will earn a place in your heart.

Overall, Soundless earned four well-deserved stars in my books! Mead, the queen of the series, was astoundingly successful in this fantasy standalone. I definitely recommend pre-ordering it if you enjoy diversity, folklore, and short reads!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

Title: Signs Point to Yes

Author: Sandy Hall
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

This book is a short, sweet read that has perfect summer vibes. I read Signs Point to Yes way back in June, when I was drowning in dystopian fantasy that I just couldn't seem to finish (An Ember in the Ashes, Snow Like Ashes, etc). This was the perfect breath of fresh air that I need to get me out of my funk. I'll be real with you: Signs Point to Yes probably won't win any awards for depth, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a great read!

For those who are unaware, Signs Point to Yes is Sandy Hall's (author of A Little Something Different) second novel. The synopsis is as follows:

Jane, a superstitious fangirl, takes an anonymous babysitting job to avoid an unpaid internship with her college-obsessed mom. The only problem? She’s babysitting the siblings of her childhood friend and new crush, Teo.

Teo doesn’t dislike Jane, but his best friend Ravi hates her, and is determined to keep them apart. So Teo’s pretty sure his plans for a peaceful summer are shot. His only hope is that his intermittent search for his birth father will finally pan out and he’ll find a new, less awkward home. Meanwhile, at Jane’s house, her sister Margo wants to come out as bisexual, but she’s terrified of how her parents will react.

In a summer filled with secrets and questions, even Jane’s Magic 8 ball can’t give them clear answers, but Signs Point to Yes.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hall's sophomore novel. It was fluffy, fun, and quirky. Yes, the characters were a wee bit lacking. The only thing that Jane ever seemed to do (beside moon over Teo) was write fan fiction. Sure, she was adorkable, I guess. But she was just a little too awkward to be realistic. The dialogue was painfully embarrassing, and the exchanges between Jane and Teo made me want to bash my head into a wall because of second hand embarrassment. But it was all dealt with so well that I loved it. Everyone in the book was just so frank! Jane would say something dumb and acknowledge how dumb it was. I thought that was adorable. The writing style, the dialogue, and the characters just really clicked for me. It may not work for everyone, but I really enjoyed it, nonetheless!

Beyond that, the characters also had some interesting depth. I loved the college debate between Jane and her mom. I really appreciate the books that are beginning to argue that college isn't the only route to go after high school. It's so refreshing to see that perspective, to see people actually talking about how there are other options. I also really enjoyed the Margo storyline, though it was very small. It was cute, but also real. We got to see both sides of her bisexuality--the giddy "OMG I think that girl likes me" and the panicked "what if my parents disown me." I thought that was very interesting and I loved her character. She added a little something extra (or a little something different--see what I did there)!

In addition to my love for Margo, I had an undying love for Teo's little sisters. Keegan, Piper, and Rory were an absolute riot. By the end of the book, I so desperately wished that I had younger siblings. They were such great comic relief, while still managing to give you that bubbly "aw" feeling. Honestly, I really loved all the characters (for their actual character and personality), other than Jane. I didn't hate Jane, but I didn't love her either. But I adored everyone else--even Ravi, who's a total brat. Every conversation with Ravi--whether it was between Ravi and Teo, Ravi and Jane, or Ravi and Margo--made me giggle. Another one of the minor characters that really stood out was Jane's dad. He was absolutely hilarious. I swear, I laughed in all of his scenes.

Actually, I laughed in almost all of the scenes! If I wasn't laughing, I was definitely grinning like an idiot. Signs Point to Yes was just one of those feel-good books that makes you want to skip around in the sunshine and chase rainbows. It was fluffy enough that you could ignore the handful of flaws that it had. Definitely a must-read if you're looking for a couple of laughs and a tickle in your tummy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title: Illuminae 
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Format I Read: ARC (Hardcover--eep)
Pages: 608
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

Guys, Illuminae is literally going to redefine the world of books as we know it--it is absolutely revolutionary. I'm honestly astounded by the magnificence and ingenuity of this novel. I'm still reeling, so excuse me if this review is gibberish.

My experience while reading Illuminae was unparalleled. I did a buddy read with Aila (@ One Way or An Author) and we gushed over every other sentence. I'm not even exaggerating about that. We started it at around 8pm on Friday night, stayed up until 1am, and finished at 3pm on Saturday. We could barely put it down to eat and shower--not kidding. I actually wrote all about Aila's and my emotions in my mini-review, which I posted back when I first finished the book in July. You can check out our frantic, mildly incoherent, and jittery reactions (no spoilers) here.

For those who are unfamiliar with the absolute masterpiece that is Illuminae:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

First of all, the book is absolutely beautiful. The ARC is a hardcover work of art. I'm absolutely serious when I said that it's a work of art. I wanted to spend hours on each page. I was stuck with conflicting temptations: I wanted to read the book as fast as possible to figure out what happened next, but I wanted to savor each and every word and take my time. Eventually, the suspense won and I devoured the book. This book was more than just words--it was an entity, in and of itself.

I really did not think I was going to like Illuminae this much. I didn't think that it would be possible to become attached to the characters or immersed in the story if it was just told in a bunch of impersonal documents. Yet, within the first few pages of the interviews, my heart was in the hands of the authors. They then proceeded to inflate it and make it gush with swooning emotions, and then they proceeded to crush it into smithereens with dismay and agony. Yeah, these authors are damn powerful. I swear, they're magicians.

The story itself was such a fantastic blend of genres. You get the suspense and action of science fiction (and I'm talking about science fiction, like throwback to when science fiction was edgy and completely pure, not watered down at all). You get the swooning and the angst of a romance. You get the mystery and puzzle of a thriller. And it's all completely seamless. You find yourself yearning for any snippet of conversation between Ezra and Kady. You find yourself gnawing at your fingernails as you try to figure out who could die next. You find yourself flipping through all the possibilities and all the possible intentions of each character. You find yourself completely captivated.

The characters were unbelievably likable--lovable, even. Like I said, within the first few pages, I was already attached to all them. Everything they felt, I felt. Every time a new character was introduced, even a minor one, I found myself loving them, hating them, feeling them in my bones. I don't know how many times I said "God, Kady is such a badass" or "Ezra is so swoonworthy" or "God, James is hilarious" or "What the hell is Torrence thinking" or "Byron is a freaking genius" or "AIDAN is so creepy." Kaufman and Kristoff made me feel more deeply for these characters than I've felt in way too long. They were charmingly real. They found humor in a miserable, chaotic situation. They refused to buckle under the destruction surrounding them. They held an undying loyalty for their loved ones. They were amazingly complex. They were characters that stick with you and haunt you long after you turn that last page.

The plot was so perfectly constructed. The conflict was so complicated, yet so simple. It had so many details and factors that came into play, yet it all seemed so clear at the end (the end is such a whammy, guys). There were just so many layers to the conflict, so much complexity. I'm not going to go more in depth, for fear of spoilers. But honestly, Illuminae was anything but ordinary. It was one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read.

I honestly don't know what else to say. This book has genuinely left me speechless. This is the best book I've read all year. It deserves all of the hype it's been getting because it is literally going to change history. I'm not exaggerating. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created a new wave of literature, and I'm so glad that I got to experience it.

This is one book that you MUST pre-order. Honestly, you need to pre-order it. Like right now. Go. Go pre-order it.

Okay, so I'm assuming you've pre-ordered it at this point. Good job! You're going to thank me later, trust me. Enjoy the sweet agony of Illuminae, everyone.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Masked Truth
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 320
Genres: Thriller, Contemporary
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

I honestly don't know how to write this review. I'm still reeling from that wild ride. Wow. I'm quivering, shaking, absolutely dying right now. The Masked Truth deserves every single one of those five stars--it deserves more than just those five stars.

From the first page, Armstrong yanked you into the story. I was immediately immersed in the world and characters she created. The book starts with Riley's every day worries: the date she's missing to babysit a little girl, thanks to her scheming ex-best friend. It's all so trivial. Riley even opens the prologue with, "If there's anything more tragic than spending your Saturday night babysitting, it's spending your Saturday night babysitting after canceling a date with the guy you've been dreaming about all year" (ARC 1). However, Riley quickly gets doused with ice water as she witnesses the murders of her babysitting clients. The first chapter then opens with the same line, but adding, "You stupid, stupid girl. You had no idea what tragedy is" (ARC 7). And I was hooked.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Riley is diagnosed with "situationally related anxiety and depression leading to post-traumatic stress disorder." Her life is turned upside down. She ends up at a weekend therapy camp in an abandoned warehouse with five other trouble teens and two counselors. Oh, and three masked men with guns. The group is held hostage, but things go awry, as expected. People start dying and blood starts running.

Luckily, Riley isn't alone in her desperate quest for survival. Her partner in her escape attempts is Max, a guy with whom she had previously attended group therapy sessions. She knows him as the sarcastic Brit who rarely shares anything about himself. But it seems that he's hiding the diagnosis to a mental illness that will tie him to the "crazy" stigma forever: schizophrenia. Max hides this diagnosis, but it gets more and more difficult to differentiate between what's real and what isn't...

For those who prefer the Goodreads synopsis to my scrambled introduction:

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to find out that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

Like I said, from the start, I was attached to the characters. Riley was an incredible heroine and main character. I found no flaws in her. She was realistic, she was strong, she was kind, she was brave. She was everything I aspire to be. And her "issues" were so well-written. I really felt her guilt, her belief that she was nothing more than a coward who hid under the bed with the little girl while the Porters were murdered downstairs. It was eye-opening. As the story goes on, you're reminded how easy it is to believe other people are heroes (like Riley believes in Max's bravery), but not to believe in yourself. Riley just fit as the perfect heroine.

And then there's Max... oh, Max. Max was brutally real (in case you haven't noticed, I loved the realism of this novel). The writing style that Armstrong used in his chapters perfectly captured the chaos he fills within and the way that he fights his illness. The scattered thoughts and frazzled comments conveyed the struggle he goes through every day. It was so amazing to read something so spot-on. Armstrong dealt with the mental illnesses in the novel in the most real and open way, starting such a serious discussion about such an important topic. She reminded the world that schizophrenics aren't schizophrenics; they're people with schizophrenia.

Even the minor characters--like Brienne, another girl trapped by the monstrous men--sucked me in. I loved how everyone had a story, a background, a personality. Even stuck-up rich kids like Aaron had depth. Everyone was a person; everyone was real. That was so fantastically refreshing. I didn't feel like any character in this novel was just there to serve as a plot device. Everyone had a meaning, a purpose, a personality. That was so astoundingly impressive.

And the plot... wow. The Masked Truth was the perfect example of a hold-your-breath, grasp-your-chest, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. I loved the twists and turns that it took, especially at the end. It both started and ended with a bang--truly captivating, page by page.

I honestly cannot recommend any novel more than this. If there's a single book that you preorder in 2015, I ask that it be this one. It deserves each and every one of these five stars. Congratulations to Ms. Armstrong for writing such a fantastic, real, and entrancing novel!