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Sparkles and Lightning

Hello all! I'm Annabelle, a (currently inactive but soon to be back) book blogger with a thing for red roses and rain and fictional boys.

Currently reading

The Hobbit or There and Back Again
J.R.R. Tolkien
Civilization and Its Discontents (The Standard Edition) (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud)
Sigmund Freud, James Strachey, Peter Gay
The Problems of Philosophy
Bertrand Russell
Dark Triumph
Robin LaFevers
Dark Matter Heart
Nathan Wrann
Temptation (Harlequin Teen)
Karen Ann Hopkins
Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl
Beautiful Redemption - Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia ****FINAL RATING: 3.90 STARS****CATCHALLWow. My first thought after finishing this was, what a stunning finale to the Caster Chronicles. I feel like I've been reading these books for years. They're so fantastic and gorgeous. This series just…wow. I mean, wow. I'm speechless really. Was this book perfect? Of course not. But I loved every moment of it nonetheless. It made my heart ache in a good way. I've become so connected to these characters, to this universe, that I have really found a home in it no matter how cliché that sounds. Beautiful Redemption was gorgeous and breathtaking and most certainly went out with a bang.THE HERO ETHANEthan is, of course, our hero. He's changed so much from the first book. He used to dream of escaping Gatlin. Now the only thing he wants is to get back to it. Before he met Lena, he was just a typical boy. Now, he's a strong young man. I loved seeing him change, and he continues to change in this novel. He is forced to mature still more. If he wants to return to Lena, he must stay strong. Ethan definitely has some issues. We all do, of course. He can be impulsive, but he's also sentimental in a good way. He has feelings and a heart, and though that doesn't always make life easy for him, it also helps him in more ways than one.THE HEROINE LENABecause Lena narrates a part of the story for the first time, we get to know her more intimately than ever before. She's a lot like Ethan, which isn't surprising, since half the time they seem to be the same person. Even so, she's also starkly independent and very strong even on her own. She'll do absolutely anything to get Ethan back, even if it seems completely insane. Insane doesn't matter to her—he does. She does think about her magic an awful lot, but at least she knows when not to use it, and I guess that makes sense.THE FRIENDSLINKLink is fantastic. Easily my favorite character in the entire series. He has the most amazing an awesome personality. Sure, he's a bit arrogant, but that's just part of what makes him so darn lovable. He thinks of things that no one else would ever think of, and by sheer luck and a strange conglomeration of circumstances, his plans somehow always seems to work. He also says the most random and weird things, which of course just make my entire life.RIDLEYRidley is Lena's cousin, but I didn't feel like making a separate header, so whatever. She's a very, very interesting character. She's Dark by nature. That much has always been clear. But it's also very clear that she cares for Lena, and she cares for Link. She seems constantly at odds with what to do with herself even though she usually tries in the end to do the right thing. I love how she changes throughout the books especially.XAVIERXavier is an entirely new character that we meet in this book. There are several, but Xavier is by far my favorite and in my opinion the most important. When we first meet him, we're not supposed to be sure what to make of him. He is many things in more ways than one and a complete enigma. Eventually, though, I really came to love him. He's a shockingly complex character and I really wish that we could have gotten to know more about him.THE PLOTAnd now for the most lengthy part of my review. Let's discuss the plot. There is so much good that I have to say here. Of course, there's also a bit of bad. But clearly I loved this novel, so I imagine I have mostly good things to say.Well, there was definitely excitement to this plot. Somehow, even without making everything move at a million miles an hours, the action in this book in still heart-poundingly intense. When I'm reading this book I'm desperate to keep reading so that I can find out what's next. There's a certain level of anticipation that's achieved here and that can count me among its prisoners.It seems like no matter how much we find out, no matter how much information to gather, there is always more that we don't know. This added still more suspense to the novel! I was reading to find out not only what was next, but to find out more. I loved the way the information was slowly spilled to us, revealed to us smoothly, in milky transitions. I loved finding out more, tying everything together just a little more.Still, this book had less good v evil. Not totally, but in general, there was more focus on Ethan's journey to return to Lena and Lena aiding him than there was with Caster corruption and such, and I was sorry for that. It ended up leaving some things too open-ended for my taste, which naturally I was sad about.Also, some things were just way too convenient. Like, some things just worked out way too nicely. It was completely unrealistic and made no sense and just kind of ticked me off. It all felt very rushed and contrived and just didn't seem very genuine. I wasn't buying it.Even so, overall, like I said, fantastic. I really, truly did love this. It brought both joy and sadness to my heart, drug me onto an emotional roller coaster and decided not to let me go. There are some intensely emotional moments to balance the action and the info, and some of them were definitely tearjerkers.THE ROMANCEEthan and Lena have such a sweet, soft kind of chemistry. It sparks, but it's also obviously not going to fade anytime soon. Maybe never. You can feel the love between them. When they're together. Even when they're apart, which they mostly are in this book. But at the same time, while it's clearly the most important thing to each of them, it doesn't really ever seem to control them or dominate them. It's a large part of their lives and who they are, yes, but it does not define them. They love being together and hate being apart, and when apart all they want is to find their way back to one another, but they still stay strong.THE WRITINGI've always loved Kami and Margaret's writing. Their descriptions, especially, are lovely. Absolutely lovely. I love the way they describe the worlds their characters inhabit, and the gorgeous places around them, so vividly and completely. It's like I can picture myself really there. And I practically can. What my main problem here has always been is that Ethan's voice isn't very masculine. He sounds so feminine a lot of the time. It's gotten a little better, but that first impression is hard to erase. However, unlike the the other Caster Chronicle books, we also get Lena's point of view in this installment. Not only is her voice gorgeous, but it was nice to have that change. Even if her voice sounds suspiciously like Ethan's. That may be the point.THE ENDINGMy sappy and sentimental heart has a thing for sentimental endings, and so by default I do too. And this ending just made my heart so so so happy. There was so much sweetness to it! And of course, it was desperately romantic. But there's more to it than that. There were sacrifices that had be made. There are always sacrifices, serious, permanent ones. And I love that this ending embraced that too. There's happiness, but there's also heartache because endings are never perfect.WRAPUPI certainly had my ups and downs with this series. It wasn't perfect, and I was often frustrated by it. Even so, over all of that there was an overarching enjoyment that made me unable to keep from loving these books. They're achingly real, and I recommend them with all my heart. If you love magic, especially, you'll probably love these. I myself will definitely be reading future works by both Kami and Margaret. And maybe if we're lucky, they'll even work together again someday.FINE.Find more of my reviews on Sparkles and Lightning!