No Vain Loss is the epic finale of the spellbinding and fascinating YA sci fi trilogy No Ordinary Star by M.C. Frank. I absolutely loved this fast paced, beautiful and emotional story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other.
This futuristic YA trilogy takes place in the year 2524, when the world is a cold place in all its meaning: There’s no emotions left in human, men and women are separated, there are no families, food does no longer exists but are replaced by pills, everything is controlled. Humans can live for 300 years with no disease, no illness and no need to sleep. Even Christmas is forgotten!
In the first book, No Ordinary Star, we are introduced to the world and two main characters, Felix (“tin soldier”) and Astra (“match girl”).
Once I started to understand the world described in the book and got to know the two main characters I just loved it! I absolutely adored both of the main characters and each of their unique personalities. With a world on the brink of war, Felix and Astra are about to set a flame to everything they know. Everything that everyone knows. And it all begins with fixing a clock.
The second book, No Plain Rebel, picks up where the first book, No Ordinary Star, left off, with Felix reading the story of the tin soldier to Astra and uncovering the secrets held in the Clockmaster’s hidden library.
This second book is more focused on Felix, even though Astra was still a main part of the story. While No Ordinary Star was more of an introduction and left the reader with a lot of questions, much more happens in this one and many questions get answered.
I really loved that this book gave a more understanding for and a better explanation of the world and the reasons behind people's actions. I also love the warming and beautiful developing relationship between Felix and Astra and that the get to take their time to get to know each other, and how natural it became for them to spend time together, even though in this world woman and man live separated.
The book reveals new information to the characters about their backgrounds and the truth about the real world. Alongside Astra and Felix, we begin to see what they have missed in their lives, and learn the horrible truth of the history and future for the One World. In the book Felix starts to find himself and understand what it truly means to be human. Astra also developed along with Felix, discovering the true human joys in life, and learning to trust others.
In No Vain Loss, this series comes to its graceful ending. It picks up where No Plain Rebel left, directly throwing you right into the action.
In this epic finale, we are at the brink of the war and watch as everything unfolds around us and learn new truths. Just like the two other books, it’s a fast-paced story (this one is even faster!), beautifully written and with unexpected plot twists. The plot remained completely unpredictable all the way until the very ending and held so much emotions, joy and hope, heartbreak and sorrow, and love. M.C. Frank sure keeps the readers on the edge of their seats! My head was spinning and my heart was pumping with all the emotions I kept going through not wanting to believe what was happening or just being thoroughly pleased with the events unfolding. This is one of the rare occasions where a sequel is even better than the first book!
I absolutely love how Felix and Astra so clearly have grown up in this series. They are so much more mature in this third book than in the first one. Following them throughout the series makes you feel so proud when you see how far they have come in this final book. I also love how their relationship unfolded, and how they develop such a high morale and integrity, in a world where no such things have previously existed.
One of the things I love most about this series is that it is so much about what it means to be human and human emotions. This is a hearthwarming and beautiful story about courage and integrity and about doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is.
I recommend this unique, magical and emotional series with all my heart!
Find out more about the No Ordinary Star trilogy and the author here: M.C. Frank
My reading tips this week is the amazing Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the sequel to the addictive, action-packed and intriguing Six of Crows. Believe the hype, this series is just as amazing as everyone says!
What makes this series so amazing is the characters. The story is told from multiple character’s third point of views. I absolutely loved how brilliantly Leigh Bardugo created a web with so many layers, when each characters added his or her piece, but still kept the main story together. I absolutely fell in love with all of the six main characters. They were so unique and interesting, mean but kind, bad but also good, and the all added so much depth to the story. And they all had troublesome pasts that helped you understand how they’d ended up in this band of thieves, but you also got to know about their dreams for the future and their hidden feelings and thoughts, which made you relate to, and love them, even more.
This book made me feel even more in love with the characters and the dynamic between them. And the plot was amazing yet again. Also in this second installment it kept you on edge with worry and anticipation all the way to the end.
One thing I did not like though was a sad thing that happened in the story (will not say more to not spoil anything), but it really upset me. Besides that this book was everything I wanted it to be. I loved the way some of the romances evolved and also a very happy family discovery that was made.
Overall I love this series and recommend it with all my heart.
Find out more about Crooked Kingdom (and Six of Crows) and the author here: Leigh Bardugo
I am so in love with this book, I can’t even put it into words! Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is one of my all-time favorite books ever! My first feeling when I finished it was that I wanted to turn back to the first page and reread it all again right away. Now I need to read everything that Becky Albertalli writes, I don’t ever want to leave her wonderful universe.
This is such a beautiful addictive love story, it’s so honest and real and full of diversity, charm and feelings. I can’t put into words how much I love this book, I am completely blown away! From the very first page, the story just pulled me in and I could not put it down. I read it feverishly and finished it in one sitting, immediately wanting to go right back at re-read it all again!
I love everything about this book; the story, the characters, the beginning, the ending, the writing style, the humor, the emotions, the… everything!
The story is so charming and sweet and just pulls you in. In brief, it’s about sixteen-year-old Simon who has not yet come out as gay, but is trying to figure out how and when to tell his secret without the big drama.
“Sometimes it seems like everybody knows who I am except me.”
Instead, he shares his thoughts and feelings with his email friend “Blue”. The relationship with Blue grows more and more serious, and Simon soon wishes to know his real identity. But when the emails falls into the wrong hands, Simon gets blackmailed by his class mate Martin to fix him up with Simon’s friend Abby, and Simon’s life starts to get even more complicated.
The way Becky Albertalli writes is simply amazing. This is such a fast read, I felt like I was flying through this book (even though I tried to slow down, not ever wanting it to end). I loved the way you got to know Simon and Blue via their email correspondence and I also really enjoyed the mystery element of trying to figure out Blue’s real identity (even though I have to admit I kind of guessed at an early stage…).
And the characters, Simon, Blue, Abby, Leah and all the others, I don’t even know where to start… These characters are what made the story! I adored every single one of them as the story unfolded. Simon is quirky and sweet and has so much humor, sarcasm and sassiness you just love him immediately. And his friends were so amazing; sweet, fun and supportive. I also have to say something about his parents. The way Becky Albertalli portrayed them was so refreshing, that she allowed them to be both supportive and flawed, that their need to make a big deal out of something and be super-supportive and open-minded actually was the thing that kept Simon from coming out to them.
About ‘coming out’, Becky Albertalli really nails it when she makes Simon turn this around and say things like
“I actually hate when people say that [they feel secure in their masculinity]. I mean, I feel secure in my masculinity, too. Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight”
“Don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default?”
I could go on forever about how wonderful and amazing this book is, but all I really want to say is… READ IT! Just writing and thinking about it now brings on a big smile all over my face and makes me want to pick it up and re-read it right away.
Also, I so much want to eat Oreo now...
Find out more about Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and the author here: Becky Albertalli
My reading tips this week is a book I read some time ago, but that I’ve kept thinking about a lot since; the beautiful, gripping, sad and lovely Before I Die by Jenny Downham. This book is both heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time, with a cute love story.
Before I Die is the story about 16-year-old Tessa who is dying of leukemia. In her struggle to come to terms with her fate, she creates a bucket list of the things she want to experience before dying. The list of things Tessa wants to experience is a mix of really silly ones (like committing a crime and becoming famous) and more desirable things (like experiencing love and not limiting yourself but forcing yourself to say yes to anything for a whole day). It’s this list and the way Tessa follows it, that makes this book so unique and something else than just a sad book about a dying teenage girl.
At first I hoped that the title would not turn out to be true and that there would come an unexpected twist to the story, but that hope was effectively dashed only a few pages in to the book. But despite the title, this is not really a book about death, but about life and about living your life to the fullest.
There were so many things about this book that I loved, like the writing, which always had a touch of humor, the cute love story, and Tessa’s family. Jenny Downham does a wonderful job of bringing your emotions to the surface, without making the story melodramatic in any way. I especially loved Tessa’s dad, he was just amazing, sweet and loving, even though Tessa most of the time treated him like crap. I didn’t always like Tessa herself though. She was a bit too selfish at times (which I guess could be understandable under the circumstances, but some of the things she did really made me cringe). But still, you want her to have everything she’s being denied because of her leukemia. Especially love. So when she gets it, it totally breaks your heart.
Overall, this is a heartbreaking book in the best possible way. It's beautiful, gripping, sad and at the same time hopeful. It’s one of those books that will stay with you and make you think about your own choices and the way you live your own life.
Find out more about Before I Die and the author here: Jenny Downham