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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
Exiled - M.R. Merrick ****FINAL RATING: 4.00 STARS****CATCHALLWhen I first started reading this, I had no idea that I would love it so much. Usually I don't. I mean, yes, it sounds intriguing but I'm not going to lie, when I first read about it it honestly didn't sound like anything special. But I could not be happier to be wrong. Exiled blew me away with its sheer awesomeness. It had some truly lovable characters, and it had some seriously epic action balanced with enough emotion and drama to keep me completely invested.THE HEROCHASEChase makes an enormous and fantastic character arc throughout this book alone, and I'm sure that that's something that will continue. He starts off pretty arrogant, and he still considers himself a true hunter despite his exile. He hates demons and Underworlders, and he kills them without discretion. His first eye-opening is when he meets Rayna. The change isn't immediate, which shows good attention to detail. His turnaround is slow and realistic, and isn't overexaggerated. Chase certainly still has a way to go when it comes to arrogance, and pride appears to be his strongest flaw. Even so, his dynamism suits him and he's an extremely likable hero.THE LOVE INTERESTRAYNAThough "love interest" is far from her functioning role in this particular novel, that's still what she will ultimately be, and so she goes here. She's unique, even among the Underworlders. She has hunter blood, demon blood, and shifter blood. For the most part, though, is hasn't caused her too much trouble. She can hold her own. Basically, she is a total badass and I have a total girl crush on her. I also like that even though she's tough, she has feelings and she lets them show. She has a temper, but she doesn't let it control her.THE SECONDARIESYeah, I was too lazy to make individual headers. It happens.MARCUSMarcus is Rayna's guardian, and his most notable characteristic is that he rarely shows any emotion. He doesn't really seem bothered by anything. Even so, he's not a bad guardian. Clearly, he cares about Rayna and is a good father figure for her. I also have suspicions about him, and it's pretty clear that he has secrets. He's definitely a character I want to learn more about.TESSATessa is Chase's mother, and I really liked reading about her. Strangely, it didn't bother me that nothing seemed to be wrong with her. Obviously, we all have her faults, but it wasn't necessary to mention hers so I'm glad that they weren't. I really, really enjoyed seeing how much she cared about Chase, and impressed by the lengths she was willing to go to for him.RILEYI love reading about fathers, particularly when there's a rift between them and their children, since my own father and I don't get along at all. Riley was a really interesting character. There's a sense that he wasn't always who he is now, and even that who he's being now isn't who he was supposed to be. He doesn't seem at all like a nice guy, but he's still Chase's father.WILLYWilly is a demon that Chase rescues and against all odds, befriends. He's timid to the extreme, and suffers from stuttering. I think he does want to help Chase, but he lacks the bravery to do so. Even so, I think he has the potential to grow into a more dominant character and I'm looking forward to seeing it when he does.TIKITiki is intensely loyal, which we can see from the very beginning. From the moment he meets Chase, he's do almost anything for him. While that kind of loyalty seems questionable for obvious reasons, it somehow makes sense in the novel. Seriously. I actually think Tiki is a really interesting character. He's actually kind of funny since he's so weird by our standards.THE PLOTI love talking about plots. Particularly when they are fun and action-y.Okay, so I may secretly enjoy making fun of books that appear not to have a plot, but anyway, that's so not the case here.This plot is intense. I use that word a lot, but only when I mean it. I mean, there were some really high stakes here. At the beginning, Chase naturally has no idea what he is getting into. I really liked the way everything was revealed bit by bit so that the story unfolded in this gorgeous and beautiful way.I really like the way the connections formed too, and the way that I was continually surprised by major twists. Some things I suspected and was wrong. Some I suspected and was right. Some things I never saw coming! But no matter what happened, expected or not, everything fit perfectly into place. Obviously everything was well thought out and put together carefully. There aren't random plot holes, and it also isn't too perfect. It's about the perfect balance, actually.I also adored the way emotion was incorporated. Sometimes some plots get so into the action aspect that emotion gets totally disconnected, and I don't like that. This book was easy to connect to because Chase's feelings (mostly) became mine. There was sadness, and anger, and a desire for vengeance, along with a wide spectrum of others, each one with a reason. Though I didn't always agree with Chase's actions, I could at least understand them.You guys know the movie Total Recall? Yeah, this book kind of reminded me of that. Don't ask me why, because I have no freaking idea. The plots aren't even similar or anything like at all. So I'm probably just weird. But I loved Total Recall, so despite the fact that I can't actually justify this comment, it is totally a compliment.THE ROMANCEThis book didn't have much in the way of romance, but this is my favorite section of my reviews to write, so I'll put something here at least. Chase and Rayna aren't really shown to be explicitly interested in each other (yet) but they definitely have chemistry, which of course opens the doors for future romance. And I'm sure that you all know about my romantic-to-a-fault tendencies, so…THE WRITINGMatt's writing is awesome. I'm generally a third-person type of girl, but when first-person is executed well it can absolutely make me melt. I loved Chase's voice, and hearing his thoughts and what was running through his mind made him very real for me. I also liked the dialogue, particularly the banter between Chase and Rayna. I also the way emotion is conveyed. It isn't also stated explicitly, but it still comes across, and that, you know, is a gift. Oh! And the world-building is truly fantastic. It's unique and fun, and it was done in a believable and yet also remarkable way.THE ENDINGThe ending was very unexpected for me. There was one thing that I suspected from the beginning, but having my suspicion confirmed was just as thrilling as finding it out for the first time, so no complaints there. I also really like how a lot of the plot was wrapped up and it wasn't dragged out unnecessarily, which is probably one of the most frustrating things ever. There's somewhat of a cliffhanger, but it's not an awful one, not really. And yet it's still the kind of ending that left me reaching for the next book before I even quite finished this one.WRAPUPI think the main question here is, would I recommend this? And my answer is, absolutely! To everyone. Most of you know that I have my boyfriend read most of my books. He loved this one possibly even more than I did. So boys, girls, whatevers…read this! I am almost positive that you'll love it. Obviously not everyone in the universe will love this, because that would just be weird and unnatural, but I'm starting to ramble. Anyway, my point is that you should at least check this one out, mkay? I'll definitely be continuing this series.FINE.Find more of my reviews on Sparkles and Lightning!