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Winter Mini Reviews

Hey y'all!Grace here, slightly more alive by the end of the term. We have less than two weeks left until I leave for spring break, and I could not be more ready to get out of this winter! It's been a hard one.I've scaled down a lot this semester just trying to get through it, so a lot of my daily routine has involved class, running, and then reading. I've caught up with some series I missed and gotten back to that 2011 mindset of just inhaling genre reads. (I'm still a sucker for paranormal books.)With that being said, I wanted to share my thoughts by discussing books that I first read when I was starting out blogging, almost eight years ago. Highlighting some ones that are still notable!Series:Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 1, 2006Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

I forgot how much pacing means to a book series. If an author can pace well -- perfectly proportioning intrigue, character development, and action, it makes a world of difference. Ally Carter is honestly brilliant in her plotting, and her writing punctuates it all to make it all feel larger-than-life. One of the most exciting and cinematic series I've ever gotten the privilege of reading.Series: Fallen by Lauren Kate | GoodreadsRelease Date: December 8, 2009Publisher: Delacorte Press

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.Get ready to fall . . .

Okay, so Fallen was a book that I LOVED when I was younger. When I first read it, I was blown away by the dark atmosphere and the twisted world of the fallen angels. Lauren Kate nails the Gothic vibe. I still adore it, having gone back, but the writing and the love story were weaker than I remember them being. Luce doesn't have much of a personality. Still, it's a solidly escapist read. Also, this is one of my favorite book covers of all time.Series: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 14, 2014Publisher: HarperCollins

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now.

I genuinely forgot how incredible this book is. When I first reviewed it, I saw it as a modern day Gatsby set in a picturesque boarding school atmosphere. I called it "subtle and winning." Flawed characters, family secrets, and an undercurrent of wistfulness make for a stunning, powerful read that also feels gentle. I will champion this book forever. Intoxicating.Series: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 23, 2014Publisher: Poppy

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

The branding for this book does it a disservice, I think. The title, coloring, and "love triangle" focus undermine a coming-of-age that's poignant and affecting. It has a main character who I genuinely wish I could be best friends with. Self-aware, mature, thoughtful. Also, the framework of this book (small town girl catapulted to fame) include plenty of decadent scenes that also satisfy a craving for a fun read. I wish I could better capture in words how expertly curated this book is, and how full-bodied and distinct the experience of reading it is. Gorgeous.

What books have y'all rediscovered?

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Novel:Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor | GoodreadsRelease Date: April 8, 2014Publisher: Little, BrownFormat: HardcoverSource: Bought

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera's rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited - not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as - from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond - humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

I'm not as big on fantasy as I used to be, because so much of it feels repetitive. Daughter of Smoke and Bone a few years ago pierced my veil of trope-induced numbness because I'd never read any fantasy as inventive or intoxicating: Prague, a blue-haired girl who collected languages and stole teeth, the monsters themselves. Not only is the concept phenomenal but the writing and masterful plotting embellish the narrative in all the right ways. I thought I'd lost the ability to be caught up in a book that claimed larger-than-life stakes or bargaining with the fate of the universe.Although Daughter of Smoke and Bone came out a few years ago, each book is so esoteric that I couldn't read the finale until I'd gone back and reread them (which I hadn't managed to do until winter break of this year.) My history professor actually inspired this, because it was one of the few YA books she's read. I'm notoriously awful at finishing series, because I don't like grappling with the emotional impact of endings.This series is based on another world, Eretz, with portals into our mortal one. In that other world, there are angels and chimaera, who have battled each other for control. Although the angels dominate, the chimaera have always had a secret: they have a resurrectionist, who can recreate their beastly bodies using a pain tithe and teeth.Enter Karou. For years, she was just a human living in the mortal world, running errands (stealing teeth) for the chimaera family she visited often. But when she discovers that she's actually a resurrected chimaera whose forbidden romance with an angel is largely responsible for the war, her entire world shatters -- even more so when the angel she loved slaughtered her chimaera family. Now, she lives with the chimaera army, trying to stop the angels from invading the human world -- their next target.Each book in this series has done a marvelous job of complicating the previous ones -- introducing characters and new threads that are distinct and full-bodied. Laini Taylor's style includes clever cliffhangers at the end of each chapter and deft pivots between a range of voices, so my attention never wavered. The overall effect is cinematic. The tension and plot twists display such talent. All in all, it's a stunning series for a whole host of reasons and I'm amazed by Laini Taylor's ability to pull it off.The third book (spoilers ahead!) begins post-angel invasion, and circulates through a ton of characters' narrations. A pleasing omniscient narration also neatly tied up loose ends and lent a storybook-like air to it. There's Eliza, the secretive scientist locked in a bitter rivalry, who's running away from a recurring nightmare. Akiva, our passionate angel trying to end a fierce civil war. His sister Liraz, stony and unshakable. Karou and Zuzana. Jael and Razgut. The pure range of personalities, and how they mesh and compliment each other so well, adds such volume to the story, which is exciting on its own anyways. Taylor has a knack for knowing when to switch narrations so that it's always fresh, and that skill magnifies the delicious tension underlining the whole book. She can also drop whole voices entirely, and isn't afraid to kill off characters, ensuring that you'll be yanked around emotionally the whole time.The chimaeras and the angels tentatively join forces, but everyone in their makeshift army is uneasy. Karou's bruised and somewhat traumatized by her experiences with the leader of the chimaera army. But she's still the resurrectionist, building bodies to resurrect fallen chimaera soldiers who can best the angels.It's hard to put into words exactly how much there is in this book -- so many plot threads, characters, and scope. It's fully OTHERWORLDLY, and that's the magic of it. It will sweep you up and swallow you. It goes back into the history of the characters, building up a stunning mythology. It has humanizing moments of painful conversations and regrets. And it also has the action: the failed plans, the complications, the fighting.Because of that, the character dynamics are complicated and overwhelming in the best possible way. Although it's intense and full of life-or-death situations, there are also moments that are funny and tender. I loved that my heart was always racing, and that the plot twists were never ending. It was one of the best series endings I've read in an outrageously long time.The prose is absorbing and beautiful. The characters are complex and their relationships even more so. I became personally attached to the distinctness of each voice that Taylor used -- so, so many people. Additionally, the cleverness of the plot cannot be overstated.I don't throw this around easily, but this is an epic series. I'm astounded by how well thought out everything was. It would take nothing short of brilliance to craft this narrative. It's a lot, and so the pacing could lag a little at times, but Dreams of Gods and Monsters is an unquestionable success for me. It's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of read.

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand

Novel: Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 2, 2018Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)Format: HardcoverSource: Bought

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.Who are the Sawkill Girls?Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

I've been looking forward to this read for a while. It was one of my top picks from ALA 2018 this summer, and I also featured it in my October releases spotlight. Still, Sawkill Girls is one of those books I wanted to own in hardcover. As someone who flat out refuses to order print books from Amazon, I suffered in my small town (which doesn't have any good bookstores.)Within a few pages, it was worth the wait. Claire LeGrand's fierce setting and bloodthirsty premise make for an engaging read right away; throw in some twisted character dynamics and some stunning language for flavor. The Rock itself has a persona, and it reminds me a little of The Scorpio Races.The plot begins with Marion, who introduces herself as a "mountain," suffering through the recent death of her father. As a way of dealing with their grief, her family uproots to the money-saturated Sawkill Rock. Once there, the charismatic pull of the Mortimer family is obvious over the rest of the island. Their horses are beloved, and their daughter Val has a magnetism that draws everyone closer.A magnetism that Zoey, the tough and noble sheriff's daughter, keeps trying to tell everyone isn't normal. Thora, her best friend, wouldn't be missing if not for having become best friends with Val. But as everyone keeps telling her -- including her ex-boyfriend and best friend, Grayson -- everyone on the island has a connection to the Mortimers, so she has no definitive evidence.But when Marion's sister, Charlotte, gets tangled up with Val, and Mairon starts hearing voices, their paths collide in ways that make it clear that whatever force is on the island is only getting stronger.For one, I'm weak for books with weird, alluring characters. Additionally, Val was complicated, and so I actually ended up loving her. The Collector (bogeyman) and her mother beat her down, but she's also so desensitized to the killings. She's morally gray, and beyond well-written. The book revolves around the Mortimers, and everything else that happens is an offshoot of that.I feel like most supernatural books like this -- that feel straight out of a horror movie -- tiptoe around the subject a little too much, but Sawkill Girls plunges straight in. People die, and disappear. Val knows about it. Ensue shenanigans.Sawkill Girls doesn't hold back with the violence. The bogeyman feeds, and the aftermath isn't made into a euphemism. The taken girls suffer; the narrative mentions body parts, screaming, and plenty of gory details that make it even more painful to read about girls fighting back against the monster.Zoey and Marion were both great characters as well, for different reasons. Zoey was angry and outcast, but also pretty normal and relatable. Plus, her relationship with Grayson was confused but built on a ton of affection and history that was appealing and well-developed. Marion was grieving and tough, but also down-to-earth and accessible. Each of the points-of-view feels distinct but fits with the tone of the book.The lore and the pacing are executed phenomenally. On one note, the magical bits of it are folky and all-encompassing -- my favorite. The setting feeds the atmosphere which feeds the language. And normally, with books like this that are so writing-heavy, it feels like the plot or logic goes to the wayside. With the exception of some scatteredness at the end, the narrative itself was pretty tight. Towards the end, spots of it could feel a little too drawn out.The tone of the book does change. It's always dark and sinister, with a lot of mysticism. In some patches, it gets brutally harsh. Still, the language softens it and captures a lot of the island persona. ("Place as character" is one of my favorite tropes.) Towards the end, it gets a little whimsical, and I lost hold of the plot. Still, the character dynamics, prose, and setting were enough to keep me rooted to the story.The bogeyman was terrifying. The force described was powerful and threatening, but never felt flat. Its behavior was always unhinged, and unsettling, and the verbs used to describe the creature made it really potent. (Weird compliment, but I'm going to roll with it -- LeGrand's control and precision of her language really shone in this regard.)I will note that although it's a powerful feminist narrative -- and has gotten a lot of praise for its queer relationship, as well as its girls-fighting-with-girls focus, which is awesome -- it could occasionally feel a little too aggressive in that regard. We get it, men are evil. Also, certain elements of the plot felt too heavily manipulated to fit this theme, which seemed to disrupt the flow of the story.Overall, I loved Sawkill Girls. It was so up my alley -- chilling, malevolent antagonist; a gripping supernatural mystery; complicated, morally gray characters who were all equally engrossing; stunning writing; place as character. Its quick pacing paired with the thoroughly dark, saturated atmosphere made it an escapist read. It reminds me a lot of Stranger Things meets The Babadook meets TheGraces, with some possession thrown in for good measure. Huge fan.

review, uncategorizedGraceComment
One Day in December by Josie Silver

Novel: One Day in December by Josie Silver | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 16, 2018Publisher: Broadway BooksFormat: PaperbackSource: Bought

A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick“Get ready to be swept up in a whirlwind romance. It absolutely charmed me.” —Reese Witherspoon“Josie Silver writes with a warmth so palpable her characters sneak their way into your heart and stay for a long time.”—Jill Santopolo, New York Times-bestselling author of The Light We LostTwo people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

Although I'm not a love-at-first-sight human, and I tend to hate its occurrence in my book choices, I somehow thought that One Day in December would be different. My review's likely going to sound as if I hated it -- which I didn't -- but I did have a lot of criticisms. I actually thought it was a rather pleasant read, and I'll likely recommend it to those looking for a surface-level way to spend a few hours with a festive book.First of all, I should talk about the structure of the book. One Day in December takes place over a few years, with each chapter conveying an important moment, or turning point, in Jack and Laurie's relationship. Although I can see why Silver chose to do it that way, it felt a little scattered. Huge gaps of time, and then short bursts.Additionally, she tended to go by topic, instead of pacing out different subplots over the course of the book. You'd get a couple chapters about an accident, and then another few chapters about her dad, and then another few chapters about a particular relationship. Because of the strange lapses in time, the heavy focus on one topic felt a little unrealistic. I doubt Laurie would have happened to be dissecting this exact moment months later, and just conveniently have an update for the reader.Because of the gaps in time, and the topic-oriented organization, the pacing was pretty bad. Things unfolded in one burst rather than over time, and it was hard to keep my head in the book.All in all, I think my problem with One Day in December was just that the writing felt weak. Every choice that Silver made felt convenient, but not realistic. For the record, I enjoy fairytale romances and holiday romances and whirlwinds -- ones that aren't too close to reality, but a nice form of escapism. But I could never quite root for our starring couple because whatever reality in which they operated just felt so, so far removed from the reactions that normal people had to certain scenarios.Every wrench and every conflict thrown in their path was too obvious, and some subtlety would have been appreciated; additionally, with the exception of searingly obvious tropes, not much seemed to happen. For example, the phone rang with an accident involving one of the characters twice, and the cutoff of the chapter was meant to be suspenseful but we'd already seen the device used before. They didn't really have that many issues, and so the middle of the book dragged.Basically, the plot revolves around Laurie and Jack catching a glimpse of each other on their commute and feeling suddenly, grippingly in love. Jack attempts to board the bus but misses it, and both reflect for months, and years on that mysterious, alluring stranger. The concept of a fantasy person isn't particularly unrealistic; neither is the hope that they might magically solve all your problems if they might only fall in love with you. But the language surrounding it, the bizarre certainty Laurie and Jack had about each other, ultimately fell flat, particularly because it's supposed to take place over years. I'm somewhat disappointed in the potential of it all.Once the two actually meet and engage with each other, they don't really seem to notice that much about each other. Jack mentions once that Laurie makes everyone feel special, and talks about her dark hair and kindness. Laurie mentions Jack as being witty and ambitious, but largely just refers to him as the boy on the bus. While they're clearly attracted to each other, and ultimately end up having history because of their proximity and friendship, the descriptions don't add enough to the passion or the conviction that they have about ending up together. Their relationship is vague: "pure magic," "supposed to be together," etc,. but not much explanation as to why. Laurie also dates a man named Oscar and I actually rooted for them the whole time.Laurie, as a character, was likable enough. Her confusion and wavering was genuine, and so her reactions weren't quite as off-putting as that of other characters. Because we're often in her head, we do get quite a lot of info-dumping. She's telling us the story the whole time without actually living it.Jack, honestly, wasn't that nice or good to other people. He was so wrapped up in his own desires and pity party that there wasn't that much of a reason to root for him -- or for them to get together.Both of them were complicated enough as people, experiencing a wide variety of emotions over the years during which this book takes place. But their relationship was too flat.A line that I read in a review says that One Day in December reads like a thriller because of secrets and "heart-aching betrayals." But really, it's just a missed-communication trope that seems carried too far, and without the writing finesse to back it up. I suppose I'm just frustrated because it had the potential to be SO good, but Silver always took the easy way out. Having characters actually work through something would have been much more difficult as an author but so much more satisfying as a reader.In any case, I don't really buy into the praise, or why this one is getting so popular. It's cute, but there are much cuter books with better pacing, plotting, and writing. It was too convenient, and its "twists" were too familiar. I enjoyed the festivity and still found the read endearing, but I don't think it was executed as well as it could have been. Anyone who knows me would characterize me as a romantic, as someone who gets swept up in daydreams. But even I'm too practical for this one.However, although I've just spent a thousand words ragging on it, I can still see a good amount of people enjoying it. If you want to kill a few hours and get yourself ready for Christmas, or just want to see two people fighting to be together, it fills a niche that might satisfy what you want from the holidays.If you're like I am and see yourself not enjoying this one, check out Miss You by Kate Eberlen for a similar, slow-build romance about missed connections and two people drifting towards each other over the years.

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Novel: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 7, 2014Format: HardcoverSource: Publisher

Danger is hard to resist in this sexy thriller from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.Britt Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there…and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

Becca Fitzpatrick is an electrifying writer. She has a masterful grasp of pacing, which just blows my mind. Because of that, her books always feel tense to the nth degree. Additionally, she has a keen ability to make action feel edgy without being overly gritty or grotesque.Because I know her solely from her paranormal fare, it took me awhile to pick up her take on a mountaineering thriller. It wasn't until this fall that I took the plunge because of its chilly wintery atmosphere and also I needed an action-packed read that I could binge.I started it a few weeks ago but ended up reading the majority of it on a Friday night, curled up with a glass of wine. It's an easy one to read in one go because the atmosphere is so sharp, and you don't really want to relinquish that at any point.The main character isn't particularly likable, but it actually feels right for the unsettling nature of the book. In the first scene, Britt asks her dad for money, goes barefoot into a 7/11, and then dumps Slushie on her ex's car. At the very least, she doesn't seem all that mature. She's used to getting what she wants -- not in a materialistic way, but in that she's grown up privileged.Still, the narrative is rooted in such a normal sounding perspective that Britt doesn't seem like a brat although she makes some questionable choices. Throughout the book, it becomes more evident why she acts certain ways with Calvin and Korbie -- although they still seemed to have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. That being said, Fitzpatrick's books all have a strangely mature quality -- perhaps because of their darkness -- so it somehow balanced out Britt's immaturity.Korbie and Britt's relationship was weird. It's very clear immediately that the two aren't the actual definition of friends, although they have a strange loyalty to each other in some regard. At the very least, they have shared history -- detailed through the flashbacks that Britt uses to comfort herself when she's shivering alone in the woods. Korbie and Britt work together in a way strictly because they are so distrustful and transactionary in their friendship.Add Calvin, Korbie's brother and Britt's ex, in the mix and there's enough simmering already. Veiled resentment, confusion, and a messy end to a relationship. I've mentioned this before but I love when writers tackle relationships after they're over. The nostalgia and the negativity in Black Ice functioned well with the high-stakes thriller aspect. I talked a few months ago about 16 Ways to Break a Heart and the toxicity of their old relationship felt very similar. With that being said, I think the old flame aspect would have been a lot stronger if Fitzpatrick had given us more positivity to hold onto. But I'm glad she chose the "ex" storyline, because it fit well with the tension between history and recovery that seemed to be a fundamental theme of the book.In that vein, I wish that Becca Fitzpatrick had made her ex and best friend more redeeming; the reader never really got to understand WHY Britt kept these awful people around aside from shared experience. The pacing of those flashbacks was great though because they did provide brief flashes of warmth amongst tumultuous survival narratives.I hadn't expected the action to start so early in the book but it was roaring by the time Britt and Korbie got onto the mountain. In hindsight, I would have actually loved a little more mountaineering rather than just survival scenarios within abandoned cabins. But the rest of it was executed well.Mason was a fantastic character; he was unpredictable, but always acted in a way that felt authentic to what his personality would be. It constantly kept me guessing, which was pleasant as a person who usually figures out the mystery right away. Because Britt has also proven herself to be a little idiotic when it comes to boys -- and frustratingly dependent on them -- it made the question of whether or not he was a good guy that much more compelling. (It's definitely romance-heavy, and so the middle is a tad slow, but survival scenes still pack a punch.)Fitzpatrick makes her scenes pop. Certain images are seared into my brain and that's my taste in regards to books: memorable. It follows all these satisfying tropes while still feeling inventive enough in regards to details -- so I was ultimately happy with it. Also, she's not afraid to be a little gruesome -- to dig a little deeper into the "thriller" part of the narrative. By the end, I felt exhausted.The imagery was stunning, the mystery was enough for me, and the winter atmosphere drenched everything. Character-wise, I wasn't a huge fan of Britt, but that ended up not being much of a deterrent because Mason was so intriguing. It was surprisingly addictive, and it's a great pick for curling up in a warm blanket on a chilly December night.