Emerald Green (Edelstein Trilogie #3) by Kerstin Gier

emkgSo I’ve been harping on all of you to start reading the beautifully covered Edelstein Trilogie for months now (seriously those covers are GORGEOUS.) I hope you listened to me, because here comes my spiel on book three, Emerald Green, just released in the US on October 30th!  (If you’re in need of recaps of Ruby Red, book one, and Sapphire Bluebook two, just click on the titles for direct links to my previous reviews.)

From Goodreads:

Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.

She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate

As expected, Emerald Green wowed me page after page with its never-ending twists and turns.  The action, adventure, intrigue, danger, and romance that hooked me when I first began Ruby Red was definitely still present here.  Gwen’s narrative voice was just as funny as ever, but we also get a glimpse of the hidden depths to her personality.  She’s intelligent and good at problem solving.  She can think on her feet, as evidenced in several conflicts present in Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, and Emerald Green.  I also enjoyed getting to know Gideon better.  He’s always been present, but on the outskirts of the story a bit.  He steps into his own in Emerald Green and proves that he isn’t just a pawn being moved by the Elders.  He definitely becomes a character worthy of your affection in this conclusion.

The only things that disappointed me were the translations and the ending.  The trilogy was originally written in German, then translated to English.  Unfortunately, some of Emerald Green reads as if this translation is incomplete, which in turn took me out of the story at parts.  Besides that, the ending seemed a bit unfinished.  You spend three books investing yourself in these characters, their lives, their tragedies and triumphs, only to end with what I felt was a weak ending.  I don’t mean that the book ended in a way I was unhappy with, but the characters’ stories aren’t really wrapped up.  The main conflict is concluded, but there is no final conclusion to the lives of all the other characters we’ve met along the way.  Despite this, I do believe that this conclusion to the Edelstein trilogy was a fitting end to a great story.  If you’ve followed Gier’s works thus far, you won’t be disappointed in how action packed the conclusion is.  If you’re new to the series, I highly suggest that you start with Ruby Red.  It’s an adventure you won’t want to miss!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2013)
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN: 9780805092677

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Kim’s Review of Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

bjdIf you were to ask me what my absolute favorite genre to read is I’d tell you historical fiction in a heartbeat.  I love being given the opportunity to read about a period of time I’ll never experience.  I also enjoy being given the opportunity to learn what the culture of the period was.  When I learned that Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson offered me these chances and more, I instantly sent in a request to review it.

From Goodreads:

Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist.

I am completely and utterly in love with this book.  There is no simpler way to put it.  The characters, the setting, THE WRITING – it’s all exquisite.  Donaldson’s writing drew me in from page one.  I became completely mesmerized by Kate’s struggle as a woman in the early 1800’s.  Her struggle for freedom, independence, and love was written in an entirely realistic manner.  The anxiety and anger she feels over her lack of independence was clearly laid out before me.  As a reader, I felt the cage she was trapped in just as much as she did.  Kate’s struggle of trying to hide her true feelings for Henry nearly killed me.

Kate and Henry are just fascinating characters.  Henry is this beautiful old-fashioned gentleman with a (in my opinion) modern way of thinking.  He wants Kate to have her freedom and go to India, even at great cost to himself.  Their story is equal parts tragic and romantic.  Heart-warming and heart-breaking.  The journey Donaldson takes us on in Blackmoore is filled with twists and turns, humor, romance, intrigue, and above all, personality.

I highly recommend checking out Blackmoore, especially if you’re a fan of Austen, Bronte, or Gaskell.  I’m so impressed (and in love) with this book that I’m heading out this weekend to get myself a copy of Donaldson’s debut novel Edenbrooke.  

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my twentieth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my sixth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Shadow Mountain Publishing (2013)
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN: 9781609074609

Special thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for the review copy I received via Netgalley!

Kim’s Review of Sapphire Blue (Edelstein Trilogie #2) by Kerstin Gier

sbAs you may remember from my review of Ruby Red, the first book in the Edelstein Trilogie (which can be found here), I can’t get enough of the covers on these books.  What’s more, not only are the covers stunning, but so is the writing.  Gier did a wonderful job at crafting a complex story that spans multiple time periods and included interesting characters.  The cliffhanger at the end of Ruby Red nearly did me in.  Luckily for me Sapphire Blue was already available to read, making my depression short lived.

Plot from Goodreads: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

When I started reading Sapphire Blue I didn’t think this series could get any more epic,  but upon finishing this book I think it totally blew Ruby Red out of the water!  Gideon and Gwen are thrust into a dual-sided battle of words as they try to decipher who is telling them the truth about the power the chronograph will unleash.  Sapphire Blue gives a little more depth into each side’s reasoning behind their belief in what the power is, but left just enough mystery to make reading Emerald Green a no-brainer.

As I suspected, Sapphire Blue delved deeper into Gwen’s mind and her ever growing/changing feelings for Gideon.  The lack of over-the-top intricacies on the “how-to” of time traveling allows the reader to be impressed with other elements Gier presents.  The comedy of Gier’s writing truly shines in this second installment, as Gwen is given a crash course in Georgian history.  Her study of the culture and customs is rife with humorous moments, most especially her dance lessons.  I didn’t think it could get any funnier, but then she’s actually transported back to 1782 and winds up getting drunk on punch.  I became so endeared to Gwen as she struggled to do her best while dealing with the turmoil of discovering that she was a time traveler and confusion over her feelings for Gideon.

In all, if you’re still on the fence about reading the Edelstein Trilogie, take it from me that both of the books have been a delight, and it is definitely worth your while to pick up a copy of both.  Just like Ruby RedSapphire Blue left me on the edge of my seat, and it looks like I’ll have to wait until October, when Emerald Green, the third book in the trilogy, will come out.  Until then, we’ll have to find a way to occupy ourselves and not think of this incredible cliffhanger!  So, if you haven’t already, go out and read this book!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my fifth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2012)
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN: 9780805092660

Kim’s Review of Ruby Red (Edelstein Trilogie #1) by Kerstin Gier

rrFriends. I have a confession to make. I totally judged a book by its cover.  I saw the cover for Ruby Red and immediately HAD to have it.   Turns out it was a great judgement, because the book was AWESOME.  Ruby Red is the first book in Kerstin Gier’s Edelstein Trilogie, which was originally published in Germany.  

As the plot is a bit complex (time traveling!!), I’ll let Goodreads guide you through it:

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

I am honestly so surprised that I haven’t come across more people who have read this series.  This book hooked me from start to finish. It had time-traveling, secret societies, intrigue, visions of the dead, secret signet rings, mystery, sword fights and so much more.  There is an incredible amount of story packed into this book.  The time traveling element allowed for great variety of time periods to be visited, which helped set a fast pace.  Since Gwen was never prepared to be a time traveler, her quick lessons in how to time travel, as well as the history of The Guardians society (the secret society helping the time travelers), led to some great comedic moments.  There were times where I felt these moments felt stilted, which I think is mainly due to the translation (the books were originally published in German).  Other than that I think the translation is excellently done.  Gwen’s voice totally draws you in to the story and describes the woes of her life as a teenage time traveler perfectly.

Ruby Red definitely sets up what is sure to be a phenomenal trilogy.  I’m interested in seeing how Gwen and Gideon grow from here.  They’re both in their teens, yet thrust into extraordinary circumstances far beyond what 16 and 17 year-olds should have to deal with.  We’re not given too much depth with their characters, but I’d expect that to change as we travel through time with them in the second and third books.  I know that I keep talking about the future of the series and I’ll explain why.  Having already read book two, Sapphire Blue, I know it picks up quite literally after the last sentence of Ruby Red.  I think when Emerald Green (book three) comes out it’ll be more apparent that the story is one long story split up through three books.  The development of the characters will happen gradually throughout the three books since it’s one massive conflict that is trying to be resolved.  I’m usually not a fan of series’ written like this, but surprisingly the good outweighs the bad here.  Ruby Red was just too damn fun! Gwen and Gideon are, to put it simply, hilarious.

My goal before Emerald Green is released in October is to get the word out about this series.  It’s seriously one you don’t want to miss.  I hope that those of you who choose to read it out there decide to share it with your friends! This is a series that definitely needs to be shared more.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my fourth completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

This is my second completed review for the Book to Movie Challenge

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Henry Holt and Co (2011)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN: 9780805092523

Kim’s Review of Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

dragonfly2bin2bamber2bmodernAs I stated in my review of the first book in the Outlander series, I never thought someone would replace Darcy as the leading man in my life.  That was before I met Jamie Fraser.  Then everything changed.  After reading Outlander I finally found out what all the fuss was about.  I needed more.  Jamie has everything I could ever ask for, and the story of Jamie and Claire kept me captivated from the get go.  So, where do we go from here?  On to book two: Dragonfly in Amber.

As the plot is fairly complex and involves time travel, I’ll let Goodreads do the talking here:

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones … about a love that transcends the boundaries of time … and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his….

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart … in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising … and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves….

I think the most important thing to say about this series is how multi-dimensional it is, not only on a genre level, but on an emotional level.  On a genre level, this is more than just a series about Jamie and Claire’s love, it’s about political upheaval in Scotland, witchcraft and women’s rights, honor, integrity, standing up for what you believe in, and accepting the repercussions of being/doing wrong.  This is a historical fiction novel at heart, but it’s also an adventure novel, a romance novel, and a science fiction novel.  There’s so much passion in Gabaldon’s writing and storytelling that it becomes difficult to find a place to begin speaking about why these books are so amazing.  I’ll admit, the book did move a bit slower than the first in the series, but there were a good number of surprises sprinkled throughout the plot that made the book seem fresh and intriguing.  That cliffhanger at the end?  Utter perfection.  Another integral part of this book (and this series in general) is how Gabaldon is able to manipulate the reader’s emotions.  It’s like an abusive relationship: she rips out your heart with amazingly heart-wrenching scenes and then puts it back together by restoring your faith in her characters, only to then repeat the cycle all over again!  Her ability to elicit such strong emotion in her readers is one of the reasons why she is such a phenomenal writer.  I strongly urge you to not only read this book, but the series as a whole.  I’ve heard amazing things about book three, Voyager, which I’ll be sure to finish in the coming weeks.  Look out for my review!

4 out of 5 stars

This is my fifth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my third completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Random House (2001)
Paperback 752 pages
ISBN: 9780385335973

 

Kim’s Review of The Warrior Trilogy by Lara Adrian

 

……….wllYesterday was Valentine’s Day. What better way to celebrate (a day late) than reviewing some romance novels?  Last year I became entranced by Lord of Vengeance by Lara Adrian.  How can you go wrong with medieval knights? Seriously, knights fighting with swords over a woman’s honor? What wouldn’t I give to be one of those ladies?  Anyway, I chose to read Adrian’s Warrior Trilogy after Lord of Vengeance because of how fantastic Adrian’s medieval world was.  It was gritty, real, and showcased both the good and bad of that time period. And if I’m being honest, I also wanted more hot knights.

Book one of the trilogy is White Lion’s Lady. Plot summary from Goodreads:

Abducted on the way to her wedding, heiress Isabel de Lamere is unaware that the scoundrel planning to use her for his own gain is the cherished champion of her childhood: Griffin, the White Lion. Yet even as she discovers his treachery, Isabel cannot deny that Griffin lingers in her dreams, awakening the passion in her steadfast heart.

Then a twist of fate puts a price on both their heads, embroiling them in a life-and-death chase that will force Griffin to choose between his own freedom and his fierce desire for the woman who would redeem his noble spirit. But to reclaim his lost honor, the White Lion could lose Isabel forever. . . .

Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?  Griffin was Isabel’s knight in shining armor as a child, saving her from a wild boar in the woods.  From that moment on Isabel believes Griffin will grow to be the most deserving, honorable, and cherished knight there is.  When he kidnaps her off the highway ten years later and holds her  for ransom she quickly wonders what happened to him during the years of their separation.  She wonders how a boy who dwelt so much on doing good turned into this passionless, dark, empty soul of a man.  As she is forced into his company on their long journey to her fiance, she begins to understand more of the hardships he underwent during  their separation and how becoming this calm, calculating man was his way to survive.

To watch Griffin’s transformation back to the man he used to be was in a word, breathtaking.  The way he strives to become a good and honorable man/knight not only for Isabel but for himself too is a journey you won’t want to miss.  I sometimes lose interest in books where characters just change to appease their partners. What is the point of that?  I believe change to be something that should come from your own heart and mind, not those of another.  Because Adrian had Griffin transform mostly for himself  I give this work high marks!

Isabelle, on the other hand, is one of those characters that is literally good down to her bones.  She tries to see positive traits in everyone and always tries to have an optimistic point of view.  At times, this led her into bad situations and it was interesting to see how Adrian portrayed this characteristic in a negative and positive light.  It felt like a realistic approach to the character, and I’m glad that Adrian was able to give us another wonderful character to flesh out her work.  In all, this is one you definitely don’t want to miss.

5 out of 5 Stars

White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 795 pages
ISBN: 2940014447201

blbBook two of the trilogy is Black Lion’s Bride.  Plot summary from Goodreads:

Daughter of the King of the Assassins, Zahirah was trained to be as deadly as she is beautiful. When she steals into the desert camp of the English army, she has one goal: to banish the crusaders from her homeland by murdering King Richard the Lionheart. Her deceptive strategy delivers her into the hands of the enemy–and puts her at the mercy of the dashing Black Lion, Sebastian of Montborne.

Fighting for peace in a dangerous, exotic land, Sebastian never dreamed that the tides of war would bring him a mysterious beauty in need of his protection. Nor could he guess that the lady who ignites his heart is the very enemy he has sworn to destroy on behalf of his king. Caught in a deadly game of passion and deception, their unbidden love could cost Sebastian and Zahirah their lives. . . .

Black Lion’s Bride was definitely my least favorite of the three.  It went downhill for me from the start, mainly due to the problems I had with Zahirah’s character. Let’s go through what we know of her. She’s the ONLY female Assassin of her kind and is apparently one of the BEST.  Well of course she’s one of the best. Who else but the best would be given the massive responsibility of assassinating King Richard?  Yet she’s barely able to defend herself, help in an ambush, etc.  Every time the reader is given a chance to witness her abilities, she flails and fails.  While the words say she should be strong and lethal, she comes off as weak and defenseless.  Basically, this made me lose faith in her as a character, and it made my reading experience fall flat.

I found the whole ending of the book to be a bit far-fetched and unbelievable.  Between the outcome of the plot to kill the king and the big secret Zahirah’s been keeping, etc, I was asked to suspend too much disbelief as a reader.  While the details of the book fell flat for me, the writing at its base was still strong.

2 out of 5 Stars

Black Lion’s Bride by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 847 pages
ISBN: 2940014447447

lovBook three of the trilogy is Lady of Valor. Plot summary from Goodreads:

Left a widow by her cruel husband’s death, Lady Emmalyn of Fallonmour is determined to control her own destiny, until her hard-won vows of independence are threatened by the mysterious warrior sent to protect her castle on order of the king. Emmalyn is now at the mercy of Sir Cabal, a feared knight known as Blackheart.

Skilled at war and hiding a tormented past, Cabal swears allegiance to no one but himself and his country. But once he meets Emmalyn, he finds his strength tested by this proud beauty who stirs his blood with desire, tempting him to defy his king and surrender his heart. . . .

Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?  Cabal has the blackest of hearts and a soul that is as devoid of emotion as a cold winter’s night.  He is the best mercenary and soldier that the King has at his disposal, due to Cabal’s emotionless personality.  When I started reading this book, I had no idea how Adrian would make this character redeemable and worth my time.  As she slowly gives the reader glimpses into his past, he becomes less of a blackened personality and more of a mysterious puzzle.  Emmalyn’s past, on the other hand, is given to us in a rather straightforward way, and her life is an open book.  Her story, most specifically her marriage to her first husband, is devastatingly cruel.  She is a battered woman before the term was ever coined.  Years of psychological and physical abuse took a toll on her and as such, she’s hesitant to trust or reveal her heart to anyone.  These two shells of people battling to become whole once again while struggling to understand new feelings of the heart are wonderful foundations for this work.  This was a great way to end the trilogy, and I’m glad I stuck with it until the end!

4 out of 5 Stars

Lady of Valor by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 853 pages
ISBN: 2940014436823

This is my fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my second completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Kim and Sam Review Shades of Earth (Across the Universe Trilogy #3) by Beth Revis

shadesI get REALLY nervous when I start reading the first book in a trilogy.  Not because I think it’ll be bad, but because I’ve had the luck where I get sucked in by the first two books, read the third, and find myself incredibly disappointed.  This happened to me with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games ( 1, 2, 3), Tessa Dare’s Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy, and Lauren Royal’s Flower Trilogy just to name a few.  Now this isn’t to say that I’ve had bad luck with ALL trilogies, I had just enough of the above experience happen to cause a nervousness when an author announces a trilogy.

When I first heard about the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis I’ll admit I was excited at the prospect of a dystopic sci-fi adventure in space.  When I finished Across the Universe and A Million Suns my nervousness hit an all time high.  A Million Suns had blown book one out of the water for me.  I was so impressed with the new heights that Revis had taken Amy and Elder to, that I knew she had set an unattainable (in my eyes) precedent that book three just would not be able to reach.  Now that I’ve read book three, I’m happy to say that Revis has proven me wrong.  I’ve asked fellow staffer Sam to join me today to discuss Shades of Earth, book three in the Across the Universe trilogy.  I hope you’ll join our discussion below!

From Goodreads:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

Kim: I am so (x 100) impressed with Shades of Earth.  I think it’s the most beautifully written of the three and the most mature.  I don’t say mature as a bad thing (like risqué content), I say mature because we see Amy and Elder in these massively responsible roles, with the weight of a new society on their shoulders.  The people of Godspeed look to them to help transition them from “space folk” to “Earth folk.”  Not only is this massive transition happening, but people are going missing, strange animals are popping up, people are having weird reactions to the natural fauna, etc.  Throughout all of this they must deal with their own personal relationship and how it fits into their new lives.

Sam: My biggest problem with trilogies is that they tend to be a major letdown by the third book. However, like Kim, I was very impressed and satisfied with Shades of Earth. What I really enjoyed about the writing was that Revis stays true to herself as a science fiction writer. She didn’t disappoint with her beautifully crafted alien planet. Every detail that she included was purposeful and painted a clear picture of a world unknown.

Kim: I have to agree with your statement about the alien planet being beautifully crafted.  Revis’ descriptions of the flowers, the mountains, the lake, etc were exquisitely detailed.  The world visually came to life right before my eyes.  I especially liked the first rainstorm and how all the Godspeed folk thought the sky was exploding.  Their responses to things that we as “Earth folk” just “know” was humorous but also eye-opening.  It made me think, gee, if I had never been outside before how would I react to rain, snow, thunder, or lightening?  Not only was the world beautifully crafted, but the characters were too.

Sam: I was the most taken by Elder’s evolution. In this book he becomes a true leader in his own right, the one that all of his people needed and that I as a reader really wanted him to be. In the previous installments we see him training to be a leader, then trying desperately to actually be one without much guidance. When Amy shows up in his life, all of his thinking starts to change. By book 3 we see him taking what he’s learned from his leadership training and fusing it with what he now knows to be true. This book is the first time that we see Elder making his own decisions without someone prompting him. I like that way that his people seem to follow him, not just because he’s the Eldest, but because he has finally earned the title. He can hold his own now and his merit as a leader is clearest when we realize all of the sacrifices he is willing to make for those who love and respect him. I think that’s what I love most about this character.

Kim:  Ditto to everything Sam said about Elder.  I think that I’ve seen him evolve so much in the past two books and Amy so little, that I expected Amy’s transformation to take center stage in Shades of Earth.  Revis does an incredible job of maturing Amy.  Amy has seemed super selfish at times in the past two books (and in the beginning of Shades of Earth).  Here, dealing with all she is forced to, she begins to see things in a new light and begins thinking of how much she’s grown, changed, and learned.  At one point her father (now unfrozen) asks her what she’s learned during her time awake in space.  Her response (below) definitely shows a new, mature Amy.

I learned that life is so, so fragile. I learned that you can know someone for just days and never forget the impression he left on you. I learned that art can be beautiful and sad at the same time. I learned that if someone loves you, he’ll wait for you to love him back. I learned that how much you want something doesn’t determine whether you get it or not, that “no” might not be enough, that life isn’t fair, that my parents can’t save me, that maybe no one can.

I think that Amy’s transformation is due in part to two things. 1. She sees how much Elder has taken responsibility for and tries to emulate him. 2. The way her parents treat her when they wake up definitely impacts her future behavior   Her parents just continue to treat her like a spoiled brat and ignore the changes she knows have personally happened.  When her parents refuse to see the changes she’s made, that’s when I think she realizes that maybe those changes aren’t so visible after all.  Maybe she needs to work on herself just a bit more.

Sam: One theme that really resonated with me was the idea that no one is ever completely trustworthy. No matter how much Amy tries to find someone who she can confide in and really rely on, they always seem to let her down. Even Elder keeps certain truths from her in an effort to protect her. The one character who seemed to be the most likely to betray Amy and Elder, was Orion. Yet, in the end, it was his knowledge and wisdom that helped them discover the truth about Centauri Earth.

Kim: I have to agree here.  It’s the old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover.  Orion is definitely the one in A Million Suns that you just wanted to smack by the end.  The scavenger hunt (while awesome as a plot device) was so frustrating for Amy and Elder.  Orion refuses to cooperate and just help.  I found it interesting that he always made you earn the knowledge he had.  Every time I think about him, I think that he would have made a horrible Eldest.  Had he truly cared about the people on Godspeed he would have shared all the knowledge he had, instead of slinking around everywhere making Elder and Amy search for clues.  And even when they did figure out what the clues meant, he still wouldn’t be upfront. (Can you tell he frustrates me!?!)

Sam: “To be a Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light or give off darkness. Be a candle, or the night.” I am not going to go so far as to say that Orion is Yoda in this book, however, I think that Elder never would have made the choices he did if Orion had simply told him what was happening below Godspeed. I think that he had to lead Elder on that scavenger hunt, to uncover the truth. As a good leader, Elder had to choose. Be the candle to lead them all to the unknown, or, like so many Eldests before him, be the night that kept them “safe” in the shadows. Perhaps he would have been a horrible Eldest, but I think he was a pretty decent if not slimy mentor.

Kim: Damn. You’re good.

Sam: I was disappointed in the way that Amy’s parents, particularly her father, couldn’t see how much she had grown and changed. He didn’t take the time to see that she was an equal in terms of leadership capabilities. As Kim mentioned before, Amy has matured a lot on this voyage. She has completely transformed into such an intelligent woman. I think her father didn’t know quite how to handle that.

Kim: Yes! Amy’s dad was THE WORST.  When he’s initially unfrozen and finds out that Amy’s been awake for a few months he freaks. Instead of taking a few minutes and letting her catch him up on what’s been going on, he delegates her to a corner to just sit quietly.  He refuses to accept that his daughter and her teenage boyfriend could have any knowledge or authority that could help him.  He was extremely nazi-like to be honest.  I get that he just woke up after being frozen for hundreds of years, but have some faith in your daughter.  His complete dismissal of anything she said from beginning to end of the novel really irked me.  And his attitude toward Elder? COMPLETELY uncalled for.  He deserves everything he got.

Amy’s mom on the other hand seems incredibly naive.  She can’t even fathom that Amy’s father is hiding things from her and the others.  At times she reminded me of a battered woman.  Her husband’s word was law and there was no disputing it.  She focused on her research and Amy, two things that served to be the beginning foundation towards her “new” life.

Sam: I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know what it was about Elder that bothered dad so much, given the company that he was keeping. Also, mom. I think Kim said it all. She was so absorbed in her research that she couldn’t see anything that was going on around her, and there was A LOT to take in. This family just doesn’t really stand a chance for getting back together. They’ve moved so far away from each other even though they had been just inches from one another for hundreds of years.

The elephant in the room is of course, Chris. From the moment he waltzed up behind Amy’s Dad and totally stepped into Elder’s territory, I did not like him. He did NOTHING to try to redeem himself throughout the story, and in the end turned out to be even worse than I wanted to imagine. So what if he has big blue eyes, Amy! This is not the man who helped you survive for three months without any family, or protected you from ridicule, or loved you for you. This is just some guy your father is obsessed with because he’s some kind of super soldier tech guy.

To her credit, Amy does figure this out eventually. But it took far too long if you ask me. I was not a fan of her whole “what if Elder wasn’t the last guy on Earth” routine.

Kim: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.  I found myself getting so angry with Amy at multiple sections of this book. My biggest yelling out loud moment? The time she leaves Elder’s house and goes for a stroll with Chris and kisses him. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU, YOU BIG HUSSY? Elder has protected you, saved you, trusted you, shared himself with you, and basically (in essentials) given his life to you. Do you disregard the value of his love so much that you can just turn your back on him and go for midnight strolls with anyone giving you attention!? Jeez.

Sam: Absolutely! The other part, and I still don’t know how I feel about it, is that Elder just lets it go. He spies on them, gives her space, but never once makes her feel bad about blatantly flirting with Chris, sometimes RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. On the one hand I respect Elder for letting her be her own woman and trusting Amy that much. On the other hand, come on… stand up for yourself, Elder!

Kim: This is just another example of why Elder is the better guy.  He never tries to force Amy to make a decision to be or not to be with him.  I find it interesting that the people of Godspeed had no religious belief.  Interesting, because Elder has a lot of faith that things will be ok and will work themselves out.  He lets Amy have her space and do what she wants with it, knowing that his love is the strongest and will win.

Sam: I wasn’t going to go for the religious belief stuff, but since you mention it 🙂 I really loved that Amy’s faith was so strong in this series. There were so many references to her cross and her faith in something more. I think that it was that faith that helped her stay strong and really gave her something to latch on to. In this series, Revis asks these characters to have a lot of faith in things unseen. Planets and people far away. I think that Amy was better prepared to handle the faith in something unknown because of her religion. As for the people of Godspeed, I found that in the absence of religion they put all of their faith in the “Eldest” system. The Eldest was the one person who was going to make choices and decisions for them all, he was the one they looked to when they weren’t sure of their fate.

Kim: Exactly! The “Eldest” of the time became their deity and the one they looked to for guidance and leadership.  Their faith didn’t have to follow a sight unseen rule as Amy’s did.  I actually think that theirs might have been a more difficult road to follow.  If something happened that wasn’t to their benefit or how they wanted it to be, they could directly go to their “deity” and complain and wish it wasn’t so.  They could tangibly make their “deity” change things for their benefit or their detriment.  If the Eldest didn’t change it for you, the road stopped. No matter how much you “prayed” on it, it wouldn’t change. I believe that this in essence is a more difficult faith to have, because your life (and the control to change it) is completely out of your hands.

Sam: Earlier we talked about Orion’s little scavenger hunt for Elder and Amy. In that he gave them clues to try to find a deeper meaning, to uncover the truth about what was really going on with Godspeed and Centauri Earth. Ever since Revis released the title of this third book, Shades of Earth, I’ve felt a little like Elder. I am a VERY BIG fan of the Beatles so I noticed right away that the lyric wasn’t quite right. It’s meant to be “shades of life.” Why would she just go for it with the Beatles lyric in the first two and then change it up for the last book? Now, maybe there’s nothing to it, but maybe, just maybe it means something.

This whole series really centers around what it means to be alive, really living. Amy can’t really cope with life on Godspeed. To her it is too confining. She can’t run. Can’t feel the real sun on her face or the real rain on her skin. In that way, it is just a shadow of a life. For Elder, he can’t really cope with being the only one his age, groomed for his position as Eldest. His life without a true companion and confidante is a shadow of a life that he desperately wants. So there are the dark shades of their lives.

But, what about the light parts? First, Amy’s bright red hair. A color so vibrant that all at once it makes Elder come to life and he has to know her, to unfreeze her and see such a color for himself up close. Next, the adventure. A shade of life that both terrifies and excites them. Finally, their love for each other. All of these elements combined create the canvas of a life so bright, yet dark that it seems to mirror one of Harley’s haunting yet beautiful paintings. The shades of their life together. The life that they are going to create here on Centauri Earth, which is merely a different shade of the same planet they left behind.

Kim:  Fellow readers, there you have it.  Sam couldn’t have said it any better.  The Across the Universe trilogy is filled with amazing imagery, exquisite characters, thrilling plots, and above all else, depth.  Beth Revis may have written these books with the young adult crowd in mind, but she has written with such vitality that she’s hooked the adult crowd too.  This trilogy defies convention and refuses to be boxed in for a certain genre or age group.  Sam and I both highly recommend it.  There is so much more within these novels than what meets the eye.  Give them a shot and see what you make of them.

Kim’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Sam’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is my first completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Razorbill (2013)
Hardcover: 369 pages
ISBN: 9781595143990

A 2013 Reading Challenge – My Reader’s Block’s Color Coded Challenge

Color Coded 2013Are you getting tired of my reading challenge posts yet? I promise this is the last one I’m doing for 2013! I’m participating (for the first time) in the color coded challenge, hosted by My Reader’s Block!

The aim of the challenge is to read books that have colors in their titles. Looking back at my reading list for 2012 I would have kicked ass.  I’m hoping that I make it through all 9 categories for 2013!  If you’re interested in learning more about this challenge or signing up yourself click here.

Happy Reading!