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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
Illuminate - Aimee Agresti *****FINAL RATING: 4.70 STARS*****CATCHALLEvery once in a while I take a chance in bookstores, grab a random book with a gorgeous cover, and read the blurb. If it sounds good, I'll buy it. That's exactly what I did with Illuminate, and I could not have been happier with the results! It far surpassed even my expectations and left me wanting more. It kept me out of the dark but still managed to surprise. Both heartbreaking and terrifying, it irrevocably drew me in and still hasn't let me go. It was absolutely incredible, and it made me ridiculously happy, the in best way possible! This book left me with a giddy, high feeling that still hasn't entirely gone away.THE HEROINEHAVENHaven was a fantastic and completely relatable heroine who I was instantly drawn to. Intelligent, but not over-geniusy, she was shy and sweet but had a good head on her shoulders and a good heart. I fell in love with her instantly. Sometimes, I was irritated by her constant self-depreciating remarks, but these came less frequently as the book continued on and were generally understandable, not pointless whining. Haven was admirable and strong but she had weaknesses that made her real. She was the ideal heroine.THE LOVE INTERESTSLUCIANDamn, authors are really learning to capitalize on my gray eyes fetish. I cannot freaking resist gray eyes, so of course I loved Lucian. He was unbelievable hot and absolutely charming. I love how haunted and determined he was, but also his defiance and his valor. He was an incredibly complex character, leaving me completely reeling most of the time, but in a good way! I loved trying to figure him out, see what it was that he was really up to. His final act in Illuminate is remarkably touching and left me crying my freaking eyes out. I really hope to see more of him, because I feel that Lucian and I have not gotten to know each other too well yet. But I really, really, really, want to know him better, because Agresti has already managed to make my completely in love with him.LANCELance was so sweet, and really adorable. Such a nerd, too, but in such a cute way! His character, too, developed slowly, but steadily. I felt a bit frustrated at this slow character development, especially because sometimes I could figure things out long before they were explicitly told to us. I loved how he could sometimes be bold, but at other times lacked that confidence, yet he was still essentially the same person inside. Lance was also extremely intelligent and considered to be the "architect" of their little project. Naturally, as an aspiring architect, I was absolutely drawn to this in him and am eager to hear more about him soon.THE BEST FRIENDDANTEPoor Dante. We don't get too much of his full story, but we get enough. He really gets in over his head, but is smart enough to get himself out with a little bit of help from his friends. He's fiercely loyal and most times he will do anything to protect Haven. We don't know much about his past, but I suspect that much of it will be revealed later on. I founded Dante to be an inspiring and lovely character, who was achingly real and so relatable it almost hurt.THE MENTORAURELIAShe fascinated me. I'm sure she wasn't always the way she is in this book, but I really was interesting in learning how she ended up the way she did. I was eager to learn more about her and her ways, and how she was drawn into the world of demons and monsters and hatred and souls that she's entangled herself in hopelessly.THE DEVILTHE PRINCEHe was portrayed so artfully that I could hardly find any fault with the way Agresti used him at all. Cold, cruel, and calculating, he ruthlessly goes after what he wants without any regard for the consequences. He was true to his character, never showing any vulnerability and remaining intact and a being to be feared.THE PLOTAgresti has created a beautiful world with a fantastic plot to go with it. I fell instantly in love with both. The world is gorgeous, terrifying, haunting, remarkably real, beautiful, horrid, lovely…I could go on and on and on.Sometimes, I felt it moved to slowly, but this was only once or twice. For the most part, it moved along steadily, palpably dripping with anticipation. I could not wait for what would happen next. I eagerly sat at the edge of my seat, wondering what twist would be thrown in next.I also thought that some things were glaringly obvious but weren't treated as such. However, I understand that as a reader it's easy to excuse this kind of thing because in general readers know more than the characters. Still, at times, I did feel myself getting frustrated.However, Agresti threw in enough twists and extremely unexpected events and confessions that made up for everything. Even when I thought I finally knew everything, she proved me wrong. The most gorgeous and intricate plot twists changed everything, in an amazing way!I especially loved Haven's advice-giving book, which almost seemed as if it had a life and personality all its own. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of it, and I'm looking forward to learning more about it.It was completely original, and an angel story told right. I completely adored it, everything about it. There was really nothing not to love.THE ROMANCELUCIAN AND HAVENThis romance, despite all odds, struck me as something undeniably real. Instead of being surface-level and shallow, which it easily could've been, it really felt like they honestly connected on a deeper level. The way Lucian treated her didn't hurt, either. He was always sweet. At first I actually wasn't so sure as to how it was going to work out, but I was pleasantly and pleasingly surprised. Even though it developed relatively quickly, it somehow reached touched me, and there was real and definite chemistry between the characters, which always helps.LANCE AND HAVENThis romance develops a lot more slowly, but is so very sweet. Haven and Lance really do somehow work together. They're good together, in the way that some people just are, people who were meant to be together. Lance and Haven never suffer awkward silences; they don't need to be talking to be comfortable, but fall quickly into a steady rhythm. The romance is definitely one to keep an eye on, and I really loved them together.THE WRITINGFirst, a note on typography: I absolutely am in love with the font that writes in Haven's book. It is scripty, beautiful cursive, which I am conceited enough to pretend is my own writing (my writing is slightly messier). But it's gorgeous, and I really honestly think it adds to the effect the book has. And even the few notes Aurelia writes to Haven are in a third scripty font, further embracing this typographical difference in a good way, setting it apart and making it more important.As for the writing itself? Beautiful! The description is lush and gorgeous, and Haven's voice is mature, intelligent, and real. She sounds like a normal girl for her age, yet manages to get enough information across. The style is truly admirable, and made my experience with Illuminate that much more enjoyable. I was very happy with the writing, which was additionally of an extremely good caliber. Clearly, this is a real author.However, I did notice several typos in the book. I realize this is probably not the author's fault. But still. Not even one or two, but four or six.THE ENDINGOh my goodness. I literally had no words when I finished this book. It was absolutely incredible all the way through and the ending was no different. There were some not altogether unprecedented surprises that took place and both thrilled and haunted me. It could not have been better. It's sweet and yet there's an underlying tension to it all, not all the work done. One small conflict down, a million more huge ones to go. It excited me greatly. The ending was obviously well-thought-out and probably agonized over until it was perfect. That was labor well done. There is a huge cliffhanger that left me hungry, absolutely aching, for more.WRAPUPBefore you even ask, of course I am reading Untitled, the next Gilded Wings novel. As a matter of fact, I will probably read every single future novel Agresti publishes. It was that good. I may never get over this book (in a good way!) and I am absolutely looking forward not only to future installments from this series, but future releases from Agresti.FINE.Read more of my reviews on