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all hearthfires & holocausts

eating books. bleeding words.

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R.J. Palacio
The Chaos of Stars
Kiersten White
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Maggie Stiefvater
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Incarnate - Jodi Meadows It's rare for me to become sucked into a book immediately. Typically I need time to feel comfortable with the narrator's voice and get my bearings within the story's world--but not so with Incarnate. I was immersed from the very first page, intrigued with a storyline I'd only glimpsed on the very surface, and immediately sympathetic to Ana.In a world populated only by Reincarnates--those who have died and been reborn since the beginning of time--Ana is a nosoul. A newsoul. From birth she has been shunned by society, banished with her mother to a cottage on the outskirts of Heart. She is abused, neglected and starved by her vindictive mother, who believes Ana's birth replaced another's--Ciana's--rebirth. For eighteen years Ana lived under the iron first of her mother Li, before setting out on her own to find the truth of her origins in the great city of Heart. Along the way she meets Sam, who becomes her friend and ally as she navigates a society that resents and fears her, and an enemy that wants her dead. Incarnate is a beautifully crafted and layered story. It has everything: fantasy elements (dragons, sylphs, gods who inhabit stones), futuristic elements (gadgets, guns, etc), action, adventure, romance (oh god. so good.), religious undertones (without becoming preachy), murder, mayhem, conspiracies... I could go on and on. It is exciting and engaging, heartrending and swoony, and everything at once without feeling like one of those cluttered, everything but the kitchen sink plots.The world building is fantasic; smooth, organic, without the use of clunky infodumps or lengthy passages of exposition. It is well thought out, well-written and easy to understand. The societal structure is one I find myself still thinking about and questioning. I cannot wait to learn more in the sequel. The love story. Sam. Holy swoon alert. It is not one of those love at first sight romances with electric shocks and long drawn out stares. No, this was a bond that developed through the course of the story. A friendship that blossomed gradually, realistically until... god. The first time they kiss, you guys? I can't. It might have been the hottest kissing scene I've ever read. And it gets better from there. I was a giddy, swoony, pearl clutching mess. Sam as a character is as three dimensional as it gets. Meadows allowed him to be human, allowed him to be flawed and that made him infinitely more likable than many YA guys. He was scared in some instances, he was weak and depended on Ana to be strong. And she was. Ana is a kick ass heroine who doesn't take anyone's word for anything, who questions things and takes steps--even when they're dangerous, even when they're hard--to find the answers. And she does it alone in most instances. A truly amazing story, one of the best I've read in a long while. I am almost kicking myself for reading it early as I know I'll be waiting that much longer for the sequel. Incarnate is released January 31st and I'd encourage everyone to pick it up.