Soundless

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“Our village came to terms with silence when our ancestors lost their hearing generations ago for unknown reasons, but being plunged into darkness? That’s a fate that scares us all.”

Title: Soundless

Author: Richelle Mead

Series: Standalone

Publication: November 10th 2015 by Razorbill

Pages: 272

Source: Publisher at ALA Annual

Summary from Goodreads:

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…

My Thoughts:

Richelle Mead is queen. I’ve said it before and I will say it over and over again. Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, Succubus Blues, Dark Swan, Gameboard of the Gods… each and every story she has created is full of life, laughter, and heartbreak. Soundless was no exception. Sure there were things that could have been better and things that I did not like, but the overall power of Mead’s writing was still there – and it was breathtaking.

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Soundless is about a village that rests up on top of a mountain. Fei, and all the other villagers, know only what the people before them knew. They are at the mercy of the line keeper, the man who sends them rations of food in exchange for precious metals. People in the village are beginning to lose their sight, even Fei’s sister, and with each passing day more and more people are falling ill. Their output to the line keeper slowly dwindles, and he responds in kind. One day, the line keeper withholds the supply as punishment – and soon cuts them off all together. Fei, a miraculous girl who regains her hearing, must work together with her childhood friend Lei Wei to save their village before they plunge into darkness and starvation.
Richelle Mead has this amazing power over me. I don’t know what it is – but each and every book strikes me to the core. Ever since Shadow Kiss, the third Vampire Academy novel, I’ve been obsessed with her style. Her characters are always so original and multidimensional – they are never the same. Rose Hathaway, Sydney Sage, Mae Koskinen, and now Fei. All of them have their own quirks, ticks, and overall demeanor. Fei is calm, levelheaded, and an artist. But, she also isn’t afraid to be adventurous – say, like scaling down the mountain to bring food back to her family. Fei is tough and willing to stand up for what she believes in, but she is also vulnerable, terrified, and unsure of how her actions will affect the village as a whole. She had a compelling voice, especially when she begins to regain her hearing.
Describing sound when a character has no idea what sound is, is no easy task. Mead handles it with grace and poise, as she does with everything else she tackles. The realization of sound, the process of trying to name the different noises – it was both intriguing and mind blowing. I’d never read a book like that before, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
The story itself, once again as it is with all of Mead’s novels, was fantastic. The narrative mode was captivating, the mythology was fresh and innovative, the relationships between the characters was believable, and most of all – the romance was swoon worthy. I have to admit, the fact that the romantic interest was already introduced and they already had a past was very well done. I haven’t read many Young Adult books that go about the romance that way – but it was very well done. Lei Wei… I love him, yup, I said it. He was amazing, kind, gentle, and he wasn’t afraid to fight in order to get what needed to be done, done. He was tender with Fei, but he also pushed her to be and do better.
There were some minor issues, but it mostly has to do with the ending. It felt too perfect and too rushed. I’m so used to these long, drawn out and complicated webs of plot that Mead crafts over the course of a series – so the resolution in this standalone was a little too polished for my liking. Like, no one died guys. What sorcery is this? But, anyway, I don’t think my issues would have been issues if the book was just a little longer. I think the ending needed some more space to sort itself out.
Overall, Soundless was the wild ride I was expecting and so much more. The story is beautiful, the setting is exquisite, and the characters will tug at all of your little heartstrings while they fight for what is best for their entire village. This was unlike anything else I’ve read by Mead, though at the same time, it still carried all of the little touches I have come to expect from her. Soundless did not disappoint. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a little bit of fun and new mythology in your life.

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Coming Soon: November 2015

Get ready to add these 10 upcoming young adult novels to your bookshelf! I went down the rabbit hole of Goodreads and my bookshelf to see which books our community is most excited to read and carefully crafted this list!

  1. Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

Summary:

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

November 3rd 2015 by Simon Pulse

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2. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Summary:

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?

November 3rd 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

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3. The Lies About the Truth by Courtney C. Stevens

Summary:

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.

November 3rd 2015 by HarperTeen

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4. Need by Joelle Charbonneau

Summary:

Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

November 3rd 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

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5. All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Summary:

Three casinos. Three bodies. Three days.

After a string of brutal murders in Las Vegas, Cassie Hobbes and the Naturals are called in to investigate. But even with the team’s unique profiling talents, these murders seem baffling: unlike many serial killers, this one uses different methods every time. All of the victims were killed in public, yet the killer does not show up on any tape. And each victim has a string of numbers tattooed on their wrist. Hidden in the numbers is a code—and the closer the Naturals come to unraveling the mystery, the more perilous the case becomes.

Meanwhile, Cassie is dealing with an equally dangerous and much more painful mystery. For the first time in years, there’s been a break in her mother’s case. As personal issues and tensions between the team mount, Cassie and the Naturals will be faced with impossible odds—and impossible choices.

November 3rd 2015 by Disney-Hyperion

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6. Soundless by Richelle Mead

Summary:

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…

November 10th 2015 by Razorbill

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7. Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott

Summary:

Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love.

When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families.

November 10th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

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8. Unforgiven by Lauren Kate

Summary:

High school can be hell.

Cam knows what it’s like to be haunted. He’s spent more time in Hell than any angel ever should. And his freshest Hell is high school, where Lilith, the girl he can’t stop loving, is serving out a punishment for his crimes.

Cam made a bet with Lucifer: he has fifteen days to convince the only girl who really matters to him to love him again. If he succeeds, Lilith will be allowed back into the world, and they can live their lives together. But if he fails…there’s a special place in Hell just for him.

Tick-tock.

Spread your wings and cry as bad boy dark angel Cam finally reveals his anguished heart in the epic new FALLEN novel, UNFORGIVEN.

November 10th 2015 by Delacorte Press

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9. Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Summary:

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

November 10th 2015 by Simon & Schuster

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10. Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

Summary:

A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.

November 24th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

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Waitng on Wednesday # 5

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted each week by Breaking the Spine and lets us spotlight a book that we are eagerly waiting to be released.

This weeks Waiting On Wednesday is Soundless by Richelle Mead!

Publication: November 10th 2015 by Razorbill

Summary from Goodreads:

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…

OH MY GOD!!! *fangirl screaming*. Okay… I love Richelle Mead. I love Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, and Game Board of the Gods. I am so excited for this book that it is absolutely ridiculous! Just thinking about this book coming out next month is making me squeal. Not only is Richelle Mead one of my favorite authors, her writing is absolutely astounding. Soundless, by the sound of it (haha, see what I did there?) is going to be no different. This book sounds amazing. A main character who can’t hear anything and then can suddenly hear? DO YOU GUYS KNOW HOW COOL THAT SOUNDS!?! I think I need to calm myself down a little bit, but eh, who cares? I am going to scream, and cry, and fangirl so hard when this comes out that my friends are going to commit me to a psych ward.

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An Ember In The Ashes (Original Pub Date: 05/02/15)

“The field of battle is my temple. The sword point is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”

Title: An Ember In The Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember In The Ashes # 1

Publication: April 28, 2015 by Razorbill

Pages: 446

Source: Bookshelf

Summary:

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Thoughts:

I have been waiting for this book for ages, not only is it dystopian, but the world it takes place in is modeled after Ancient Rome. After entering countless giveaways and contests, I finally got this little beauty into my greedy hands on Tuesday. I actually held off starting the book because I was so excited, how could I not be? It mixed two of my favorite types of books together and had a synopsis and cover that left me salivating. It was that feeling of fear, you know? The one where you are too afraid to start what you know will be a wonderful book because you don’t want it to be over? This spurred from the fact that I had heard it ended on a huge cliffhanger and there was no word of a sequel, in fact, there are rumors it is going to be a standalone novel. Well, I finally started it – and then I devoured it.

This fast paced story is told from two perspectives: Elias and Laia. Elias is a Martial, but not only that, he is also a Mask. The Mask’s train at the infamous Blackcliff academy and are taught millions of ways to maim and kill while their humanity is basically sucked out of them through various degrading and horrific tasks. The Masks are terrifying, let me tell you – even Elias. Elias’ perspective was absolutely amazing to read, the way he thinks through his choices, the way he forces himself to choose and then torments himself with the guilt afterwards is absolutely heart wrenching. At first, I didn’t know if I hated him or if I liked him, but he slowly dug a little tunnel into my heart and then refused to let go. By the end, I absolutely loved him. Laia is a Scholar, part of a race of people who were invaded and enslaved by the Martials years before the story began. When the book starts she is not a slave, but she also does not lived a cushioned life. She lives with her grandparents, called Nan and Pop, because her parents are dead – I won’t talk about them, I don’t want to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet. When her home is raided by a Mask and a group of Legionaries, her brother is arrested for treason and she barely escapes with her life. She seeks the help of the Resistance to get him back, and as payment for their help Laia is forced to assume the position of slave and go to Blackcliff. She is forced to spy on the most dangerous person alive in this novel, the Commandant – who happens to be Elias’ mother.

The world they live in is brutal, and it terrified me to read about it. The characters, besides the two main ones and a select few individuals, are horrible human beings. The Commandant is evil incarnate and a complete sociopath, even her own son hates her. She tortures people for the fun of it, maimed a five year old to punish someone else, and allows the students at Blackcliff to rape her slaves as long as it doesn’t keep them from their duties. This book is full of torture, child abuse, the constant threat of rape, and a brutal attempted rape as well. But it works, it tears your heart out and makes you catch your breath. The stakes are higher, you feel the fear the character’s feel because the world is so cruel. It’s hard to not grind your teeth at the unfairness because you feel so powerless to stop it.

I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book. I liked the varied cast of characters and that Laia wasn’t a typical badass heroine but a scared girl going against her every instinct to save her brother. She is no Rose Hathaway, Tris, or Katniss Everdeen – but she holds her own in a way relatable to every girl out there without some special fighting skill or super power. I loved the use of prophecies and the way Elias has to try and understand what they mean in order to do the right thing. I loved the Augurs – a bunch of hooded holy men who claim to deliver prophecies. They reminded me of the Silent Brothers from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments. I love how you never know what the hell is actually going on until it is too late. I love the suspense, the anger and frustration it made me feel – everything. I can’t even find anything to be nitpicky about while writing this review it was just that good. The writing was flawless, certain statements thought provoking, and the setting as vivid and terrifying as your worst nightmares yet beautiful at the same time.

If I had to choose one thing to sort of nag about, it was how there was sort of a love square. Not like the love square in The Host, this was between the two main characters and then two secondary characters from each respective point of view. It didn’t bother me because of the way it played into the story, both love triangles are significant enough to the plot that it was just another part of the story. The romance is not a driving force behind any of this book, so that made it tolerable. The story was so much more than choosing between two hot, drool-worthy guys. Each choice, each action, and every mistake had a cost that I would be terrified to pay. There were far bigger things at stake here, this wasn’t some book about picking between two guys or two girls – it was a brutal tale of surviving, no matter what it takes to do so.

An Ember in the Ashes made me angry. No, not angry – furious. I raged. I panicked. I hated. But I loved every single second of it. You know those rare books that make your heart pound and your breath shallow? Those books that the very thought of picking up to read makes you break out in goosebumps and want to faint from excitement? Those book where they take you so far out of your world and what you are used to that you have to remind yourself it isn’t real? For me, this was one of those books. Sabaa Tahir does not write like a debut author at all. Her writing is graceful and she takes the time to connect the characters with the readers, her descriptions are beautiful and the action scenes are powerful and aesthetically pleasing. An Ember in the Ashes was achingly beautiful despite the ending, which – with no clear word of a sequel – enraged me even more. I would recommend being fifteen, if not older, to read this book. Because of the violence, sexual assault, murders, and other sensitive topics – I don’t think this book is a good read for anyone under the age of fifteen. It has some hard hitting subjects in it, but that was the point. I can’t wait to see what happens next, that is, if we get to see what happens next.