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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
Shift - M.R. Merrick *****FINAL RATING: 4.60 STARS*****CATCHALLI actually ended up loving Shift even more than I loved Exiled, which is saying something. It also got five stars, which is also saying something. I really, really loved this one, you guys. It was awesome. There was excellent character growth and the plot actually moved forward, which is more than I can say for some books. Basically it was an excellent second book. I also really like the title because it can be taken literally or…not. And depending on which way you choose to take it there are vastly different meanings.THE HEROCHASEChase continues to grow as a character much as he did in the last one. He's still prideful and arrogant, and more than a little impulsive. He doesn't always think before he does things and he clearly has a temper. Even so, while I don't condone what he does I can see that he doesn't do things simply to be cruel. Though I don't always like his arrogance, which he still has an abundance, we all have our faults. Plus, he is definitely getting better at learning to control it.THE LOVE INTERESTRAYNARayna still has the same awesome attitude that made me adore her in the first one. I love that she isn't afraid to stand up to Chase and call him out when he's being a jerk. At the same time, she can be sweet. Rayna is incredibly stubborn, and sometimes she needs a little pushing to do the right thing, but she isn't difficult only for the sake of being difficult. She's unconditionally loyal to Chase, which I also like, but she still gets upset with him.THE SECONDARIESI was feeling too lazy to make individual headers today…MARCUSThere's a revelation about Marcus in this book that I had actually suspected but that Chase didn't, and it was really interesting to see that. Marcus don't show much emotion, but I think that he's actually incredibly passionate and just has learned to hide it. I still want to know more about him for sure.RILEYRiley is kind of a jerk, but I think that's the point. He doesn't seem like a good man, let alone a good father. But even Chase notes that he wasn't perfect, but that he wasn't always like this, that he's changed. And when you hear something like that, you can't help but want to hear more about the why. Although he's not a likable character, he's a very interesting one.WILLYWilly learns to stand up for himself and others in this book, which I love. He's not just the underdog anymore! He's willing to face down dangers for Chase and he really starts to find his own place in the world as well. I didn't care for him too much before, but I really like the direction his character was taken in, and as far as I am concerned character arcs are always a win.TIKITiki is still completely loyal to Chase, and will do anything for him even when he doesn't want to. He'll put himself in incredible danger. I don't know. He's not from this world, so he often acts odd and is very unusual. Still, I feel like we didn't get to know him as much as I would have liked to, so hopefully that gets rectified.CHIEFChief has an actual name that also starts with a C, but for some reason I can't actually remember what it is, so whatever. Anyway, I think that Chief is a spectacular character. At first, I wasn't sure what to make of him. How true were his intentions? Does he really want to help? I couldn't be sure, and needless to say I was definitely suspicious.JAXI have something a secondary character fetish, so it happens a lot that I'll randomly latch onto some character who appears maybe three times and decide that they are the awesomest person in the book. Not even making that up. But anyway, the point here is that I really, really like Jax. He's not an important character for most of the book, but by the end he is and I'm sure we'll see more of him, which naturally I am happy about.THE PLOTOne of my favorite words these days is spectacular, and it happens to apply here. This book is, in every sense of the word, spectacular.Chase is the Protector, but it's not entirely clear what that means yet. Even so, we can see that he's changing, and I mean in things regarding magic mostly, without getting too spoiler. Unusual circumstances surround him, and highly irregular occurrences also. I actually really want to say more on this, but I hate making spoiler tabs because they screw me up on my blog. And it would get way to spoilery to not use one.This is just wonderful. I enjoy the way everything works out. It's very complicated, but it's also not so complicated that I can't understand. It isn't oversimplified, and there are complicated lines of loyalty and hatred that make up ties and breakages. I like the interconnections and seeing how everyone interacted with each other. It added a certain depth to the story.What else I liked is the background. There's always something we don't know. Usually more than one something. There's definitely history in most of this, and hidden motives that we can't begin to guess at.We get some awesome new characters in this book, with their own complicated background, both villains and heroes. And each has their own piece to contribute. It's a very tangled web of intrigue and also of sacrifice, as many of them have to decide just how much they're willing to give up.There's a ton of action, so that meant that I was never bored. I turned the pages of the book at an insane rate. I didn't want to stop reading it. It enthralled me. Thrilled me. It kept me interested and throughly entertained.What I'm trying to say here is that this thing was conceived from awesomeness.THE ROMANCEThere is more romance in this book than there was in the last one, so that just kind of makes my heart happy. I love the chemistry between Chase and Rayna, and moreover, I love that it isn't instalovey at all! There is way too much of that everywhere these days and so it was refreshing not to see it here. I love that it was given time to develop. I expect there will be troubles ahead, since, you know, there always are, but, well, you know. They'll work through them, eventually. But what's a little love without a little war? NOTHING. (Okay, so I've clearly been reading too much Shakespeare lately.)THE WRITINGLike Exiled, shift is told in first person from Chase's perspective. His outlook on the world is an interesting one, and I love being inside his head. His actions are often brash, and he doesn't think them out fully. But being able to see his thoughts as he does questionable things certainly makes him more likable than he would be otherwise. Also, I really like the way everything is described. Whenever a new place is visited, it is described so vividly that I can practically see it, and I love when I can picture myself in the same place as in my books.THE ENDINGThe ending was perfect. I really, really loved the way it ended. There was definitely a certain level of happiness and security, and I was glad to see that a large piece of conflict has been resolved, yet of course the main conflict got only more complicated. But we're left knowing more than we did before, and it definitely spiked my desire for the next book. I enjoyed this ending also because it was fairly upbeat. That's not always something you see, and so it wasn't just fun to see it here, it was different.WRAPUPSo, I recommended this series after the first book and now I can recommend it even more confidently. I loved this one even more than the first one, and everything basically only got even more fantastic. So, I think you should go pick this up, like, ASAP. Pretend for life depends on it or something if that helps. I am, of course, totally in love with the series, so I would read the next book no matter what.FINE.Find more of my reviews on Sparkles and Lightning!