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all hearthfires & holocausts

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R.J. Palacio
The Chaos of Stars
Kiersten White
LeighAnn Kopans
Cherry Money Baby
John M. Cusick
The Dream Thieves
Maggie Stiefvater
Undying (Undying, #1)
Cyndy Aleo
Nightshade: Book 1 - Andrea Cremer The first third of Nightshade captured my attention like little else has recently. I found the characters authentic and compelling, and the world Andrea Cremer built was unique and intriguing. Even the love triangle element (which I suppose has become a requirement of YA literature) was tolerable, simply because I found both love interests equally as attractive and possible. This was not a Team Jacob / Team Edward situation where the main character's ultimate choice is so obvious you can only eye roll at the contrived angst as she tries to 'decide'.Nightshade is well-written and well-paced, which most YA is sorely lacking lately. The paranormal elements were believable and, in what little YA experience I have, unique. It was a compelling and fairly quick read, and I'm definitely looking forward to the second book in the series.Why only three stars?That has more to do with personal preference than anything else. While Calla didn't actually make a choice in Nightshade, it's pretty obvious who she will end up with. And, I have a hard time understanding why. First of all, I never understood their immediate connection. Maybe that's just me, though.As much as I liked Shay in the beginning, I don't feel that his character was every fully fleshed out. In my opinion, he was extremely selfish and frivolous with Calla's safety. Yes, of course I wanted her to be free to make her own choices, to discover who she was and why, but I didn't like the way he pushed her. Time and again she became legitimately frightened and told him what he'd suggested could mean death for her if she was caught--and yet, without seeming to take that matter to heart or even take steps to protect her, he pushed. He didn't understand what she was or the pack mentality she had. Whether the way in which they were governed was right or wrong, Calla was still a wolf, and he didn't seem to respect that most basic part of her. It was all a joke to him, a riddle to solve, a cage to let her out of. And why did he want her out? So he could have her. End of story. There was no over-arching quest to free the Guardians at large. No, it was all about Calla. He came off immature, selfish and frivolous to me. Ren, on the other hand, had depth. He was a leader, respected and understood Calla's position as the alpha of her own pack. It was obvious he had deep feelings for her, and wanted their union to be one of mutual love, respect and trust. And while the point could be made that if she'd chosen him, she would have chosen a life without choice, I believe that if she'd trusted him enough--as he'd given her every opportunity to do--and let him in on her discoveries, he would have been on her side. Two other minor things that bugged me:1) The way Calla got her panties damp every time someone touched her. I get it, you're seventeen, you're hormonal and have never been allowed a little touch. Girl, I feel for you. But jesus. Simmer down.2) It was so obvious to me from the moment Calla's mom turned white when Calla mentioned she'd been hanging out with Shay that he was to be the sacrifice at the union. But, it didn't feel like it was supposed to be obvious with the way the characters took a thousand more pages to figure it out. And I'm rambling now. I liked the book. I'll read the next. But I can't shake the feeling of disappointment. Had Shay's character been developed a little more, I probably would have been more than okay with Calla's choice.