Review: Breaking Damian

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Series: The Fallen Emperor #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Synopsis: Nothing happens by chance. Nothing is as it seems.

The Gauntlet: Intersection point of surrounding four cities and a melting pot for four Houses in which arithmencers are divided according to how they can manipulate electromagnetism.

Damian knows little about the culture and the way of life in each city, until he turns out to be an arithmencer and is expected to join the House his father leads.

But when the emperor who has been ruling over the cities for two hundred years disappears, the delicate balance between the Houses begins to shift.

More and more, Damian finds power and responsibility thrust upon him for restoring equilibrium to a world falling apart.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

* I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review *

This book surprised me. Now that I’m completely finished with it I can honestly say that I really did enjoy this book, but there are only a few things that kept it from being a four or five star rating.

The first thing was the overall world development. While I was intrigued by all of the different “powers”, which were giving me series Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes, they were never explained in a way that made complete sense. Even at the end of the book I was still hopelessly confused, interested, but confused. The same goes for the locations and where exactly everything is supposed to be occurring as the world feels somewhat dystopian or otherworldly, but is never completely established. I just kept feeling like I was reading a sequel or that I had missed out on a prequel that included important information that I needed to understand this world.

Unfortunately the characters suffered a similar fate in that their personalities just never seemed to move past a very basic level. I loved their abilities, but they’re not the kind of characters I just want to know more and more about, which is what I look for in well-rounded characters. Melissa was the only character I really came to like throughout the book and her fate is left very open-ended at the finish. Damian, the main character, just felt a little stilted throughout and I couldn’t figure out whether he was meant to have a romance with Melissa or Coral, or they were just friends. Coral I just wanted to smack for how naive and babyish she was considering how powerful and instrumental she could’ve been.

The thing that made this book surprising and interesting was that right around the end the book really hit its stride. The action got better, the suspense was much more powerful and I finally felt like I was invested in what was going to happen to the characters. And the multiple twists the author pulled at the end were very good. Maybe even enough to reel me in for a sequel.

Overall I see a lot of potential in this series, I just felt like there was something missing from this first book. More character development, a little stronger world building and some clearer context and exposition would really help this series along. I’m glad I got the chance to read this though and it is definitely an intriguing read.

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Review: July Lightning

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Series: Bad Bloods #4
Release Date: May 01, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Caleb has been called many things: a patient, a musician, even a prostitute…now he has a new name—son. After his identity is uncovered, Caleb bands together with the family he once rejected in order to save the city of Vendona. But it won’t be easy. Enemies wait around every corner—and so do harsh realities. With Violet and Kuthun by his side though, nothing seems impossible. As Vendona sits on the verge of an economic collapse and a massive hurricane threatens the city, Violet and Caleb must show its citizens how to overcome decades of hostility and division to save themselves.

Standing or not, a sea will rage, a wall may fall, and all will depend on immortal pain and sacrifice.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review:

* I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review *

“But once said, words lingered in the air, in the heart, in the very memories we wanted to forget.”

Unfortunately what happened in the first duology set where I didn’t like the first book but loved the second didn’t happen with this second duology. Actually the reverse happened. Now this book wasn’t horrible, but it just didn’t deliver what I was hoping from the first book.

One of the things I’ve always liked from Thompson is her use of lyrical or poetic language when it comes to the descriptions of the Bad Bloods powers and abilities. Since we can’t see or experience them it helps to understand them better through the things we can experience here. But in this second book I felt like the language almost went too far, delving more into the purple prose realm. Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing and what the characters are doing can still be understood, but unfortunately I ended up having a lot of trouble grasping what was really going on with the settings and what exactly was happening at different points in the book.

This was especially a problem with Violet. In the first book of this duology she was such an exciting mystery and I was looking forward to learning more about her in this second book, but by then end I was left feeling more confused about her than ever. Her character didn’t feel resolved at all, if anything I felt despair towards her ultimate ending.

This was true for most of the characters as well, their endings just didn’t feel satisfying. Like I stated in the last review, I wasn’t really interested in the relationship between Kuthun and Caleb and somehow their relationship turned into a love triangle/threesome with Violet which only made it more complicated and tragic in the end. Caleb truly felt mostly useless the entire book, he couldn’t do much of anything compared to the Bad Bloods and so I felt like his character was more filler, which made no sense since he was supposed to be a main character. Serah’s fate was very sad considering she was such a bright character to begin with. And *spoiler* after discovering that Robert had been dead from a shot in the back and buried in an unmarked grave, I just feel so disappointed that more wasn’t explored with him.

I know it seems like there are a lot of things I didn’t like about this book but there were several things I did like as well. I was glad that Daniel and Serena returned to their old selves and were featured a little more near the end. And although I wished there would’ve been more of Adam and Catelyn I was happy to see the little bit there was. In the end the characters from the old duology still shined the brightest. Although I wouldn’t have minded more of sweet little Plato and honorable Frankie. And even though the overall plot didn’t speak to me this time around I was still impressed with how well everything connected together in the end.

I do want to mention that I really loved the covers for this duology, they are so stunning! And I liked how Thompson chose to stick with the weather theming for the titles, it really helps to tie the series as a whole.

As I’ve said before I’m a lover of happy endings and the Bad Blood series is definitely more for the lovers of the bittersweet ending. I still think Thompson’s writing is great and if she puts out more duologies in the Bad Bloods series I’m sure I’ll want to read them, sometimes things just don’t turn out as you would hope. Overall this book was a heart ripping, head twisting journey and I’m glad I got to experience it.

Reviews of the Bad Bloods Series:

#1 – November Rain

#2 – November Snow

#3 – July Thunder

Review: July Thunder

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Series: Bad Bloods #3
Release Date: April 10, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Links: Goodreads / Amazon

Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Violet has been called many things: a bad blood, a survivor, an immortal…now she has a new name—citizen. But adjusting to a lawful life is not easy, especially when she must live under the rule of the same officers who justified the killings of her flock only eight months earlier.

Segregation of bad bloods and humans is still in effect, and rebellious Violet steps into a school where she is not allowed. When the police get involved, things deteriorate quickly, sparking a new revolution at the wall separating the Highlands from the outskirts.

That’s when Caleb steps in. He might appear to be an average sixteen-year-old bad blood, but he has secrets, and Violet is determined to figure them out. Caleb knows who’s attacking the wall and why, but his true identity remains a mystery—and how he relates to Violet could shake the threatened city to its very core.

Together or not, a storm will form, a rally will start, and shocking truths will be revealed.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

* I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review *

“Every tragedy went much deeper than the surface sadness.”

I have to say it’s been wonderful journeying back into the lives of the Bad Bloods with this book. I would like to thank Miss Thompson for inviting me once again to review her book, coming back to these characters and this setting has been an emotional, thrilling ride and I enjoyed every page turning second of it!

My favorite thing about Thompson’s writing is her ability to really flesh out the characters without spelling everything out exactly. She leaves just enough mystery for the characters to still be interesting and her lyrical language really helps with that. Her books are completely character driven. I said that in my review of the first book in the series, I think. To understand how the story comes together you have to understand that these books are all about family and the love these characters share for each other. Truthfully the reader is also left feeling like an outsider looking in on something special, you get to know the characters more as they discover themselves, which is really an awesome thing to have in a reading adventure and as writer is a great accomplishment to create.

When I finished the last duology in this series Violet was a character I was interested in getting to know more about. I’m so glad that one of the main POVs in this duology is from her. She is such a complicated character and her powers are so undeniably interesting and frightening. This book just added to the wonderful mystery that is her character. Even after all that is revealed in this book there is still so much more I want to know.

Caleb was a wonderful POV character as well, although I do feel I’ve got some warming up to do when it comes to him. I did like that he and Violet are in many ways so different and yet so alike. The unfolding of their relationship was so interesting, I’m not sure if it’s completely romantic in nature, although I’m sure that is probably were it’s going to go. I could’ve done without his weird romantic tension with Kat and Kuthun. I thought his playful banter with Kat and his brotherly/confidant relationship with Kuthun were fine without the tension, it felt unnecessary. I also didn’t really like the job he had in the book but I get that people have to do some horrible things to survive sometimes, although I don’t know why he wouldn’t be trying harder to escape it, especially after what Nuo inadvertently revealed about her life there (and she’s a character I’d love to have a duology about). I did really enjoy the twist regarding Caleb at the end though, I’m excited to see how that and his other “predicament” resolve in the next book I’m sure the author has a really good solution up her sleeve. I think I’ve still got some warming up to do when it comes to his character.

I was also happy to see the return of old characters from the last duology this time around although I did feel very bad for Daniel as I felt he was getting the short end of the stick a lot. He’s just trying to help everyone but sometimes goes about it the wrong way and it was sad to see Violet and Caleb be so against him. He was my favorite character in the last duology so I’m a little over protective with him haha. And I wished there were more of Serena and her sisters as well, I liked getting to know Serah but it was sad almost to see that she and Serena aren’t as close as I thought they might be. Also I’m still scrabbling every time Robert is mentioned as I want so badly for him to come back.

This book definitely had more interesting Bad Blood abilities than the last duology in my opinion as well. Frankie’s ability was my favorite, if only everyone had that ability the world would surely be a better place. I couldn’t fully wrap my head around Nuo’s ability, but the gist of it gave me serious chills. I admire Thompson for coming up with so many different abilities and the complexities behind them along with fitting the characters personalities to match.

Moving the plot forward towards a new political movement was a smart idea and I like that the book moves along at a steady pace. Everything that happened made sense and nothing felt rushed or out of place. I ended up finishing the book in one day because I simply couldn’t put it down!

Overall another fantastic addition to the Bad Bloods series and a marvelous start to a new duology. Wonderful writing, captivating characters and a story that will reel you in until the last page, these Bad Bloods may have a tendency of breaking the rules, but their stories are way too good not to read.

Reviews of the Bad Bloods Series:

#1 – November Rain

# 2 – November Snow

Review: Myths of Mish

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Series: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles #2
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Links: Goodreads / Amazon

SynopsisHansel and Gretel Herrscher survived the witch in the woods, but the experience has made Hansel paranoid for the past ten years. He sees dark magic at every turn. When Gretel has a marriage arranged to a much older man, and Hansel discovers he’s about to be sent halfway across the galaxy, he knows something sinister is afoot.

Wilhelmine Nordon has plenty of experience with Hansel’s quirkier side. So when she catches him and Gretel running away in the middle of the night, she follows to keep them from getting killed. The siblings have never left the capital of Mish on their own, so they need a babysitter. Except when she’s discovered, Hansel gives her his usual cold shoulder, and Gretel secretly begs her to take them back.

The problem is, Hansel’s paranoia turns out to be well founded, and they’re all being hunted.

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

*I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley by invitation from Curiosity Quills Press in exchange for an honest review*

“You should never compare yourself to other people. When you do, all you see is their strengths and put them against your weaknesses. It’s not a fair comparison.”

Hamstead has done it again with this addition to the Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles. I simply couldn’t put this book down. Her ability to create the most captivating characters, imagery and world is just astounding.

Going into this book I didn’t know what to expect as it had been awhile since I read the last one and I wasn’t sure whether this was going to be a sequel, or something else. Well it turned out to be more like a prequel, where you get to learn more about how the different kingdoms came together in the first place. I really loved getting to know more about the individual kingdoms and some of the legends and lore that surrounded them.

I’ll be honest in saying that while I know the basic story of Hansel and Gretel (you know, two little kids go into woods and almost get eaten by evil witch) I don’t know much past that. So it was great to read Hamstead’s new spin on it. Also I feel like there might’ve been a twist on The Little Mermaid in there somewhere as well, which was fantastic. As an author she does a marvelous job of weaving these new stories and making them believable in these worlds.

The characters she creates have such excellent depth as well. In the beginning Hansel was starting to grate on me after awhile being so overtly rude to Minna and acting like a little child on the playground, always so paranoid. But by the end of the book I was just as in love with him as Minna was. And it takes great skill as a writer to make a reader change their mind about how they feel about a character over such a short span, so serious kudos for that. I think part of it had to do with that adorable faux-play scene near the end, so adorable! And I’m so happy that she always keeps the romances passionate but chaste at the same time. Gretel was cute and I liked her added sweetness and the lighthearted aspects she brought to the book, but I did want to slap her for being almost too naive near the end, but as always it all came together and everyone fit perfectly, including Rune who was such a quirky, awesome guy.

I only have two nit-picks about this book, but they’re not really anything that changes my opinion overall. My first one is that I’m not a huge fan of the cover this time around, I get why that’s the cover after reading the book, but the last cover for Princess of Tyrone was so stunning I just wish I could love this one the same.

Also, the pacing of this book did feel a little rushed compared to Princess of Tyrone, but I think that fit this book better as the circumstances called for a faster pace as the characters were under more constraints. My only wish would’ve been for the ending to have been dragged out maybe a couple of chapters more, I felt like the action was pushed through pretty quickly and there could’ve been more added to it, but overall it was still done wonderfully.

I’m so excited that I got invited to read this. It’s hard to find fairytale retellings that are done well, and done so consistently, but Hamsead has delivered a stunning book not once, but twice now so I look forward to reading as many books in these Chronicles as she wants to write!

Read my review of the first book: Princess of Tyrone

Review: After Impact

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Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

SynopsisAvalon wakes up from a 100 year old cryosleep in a new habitat with few memories and lots of questions. At first, HOPE (Humanity’s One Plan for Escape) habitat appears to be a well-oiled machine, preparing 5,000 carefully chosen inhabitants for a new Earth. However, a medical assistant named Ilium reveals that certain members of the habitat have been falling ill from a mysterious virus they were inoculated against. Soon, HOPE habitat’s tranquil illusion is shattered as Avalon plays a perplexing message left by her father. If Avalon is to survive this dangerous new environment , she will have to find the strength to navigate a habitat enveloped in secrets.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Review:

*I received an e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

“Stuff is happening so fast. I just woke up and I’ve learned I am all alone.”

So I’m going to try to make this short and sweet because I absolutely detest writing reviews for anything less than a 3 star rating. I don’t like giving lower ratings to any book. I know the author poured their heart and time into this work and it pains me to write a review that is probably going to sound super negative. As far as a debut book goes, this isn’t horrible, it just isn’t for me either.

The characters lacked depth, and there was no real growth to speak of over the entirety of the book. Avalon as the main character was uninspiring and there were points in the novel I actually really disliked her. It made no sense that she was a prodigy and yet was so easily distracted by wanting the attention of a boy. Ilium was so one-note as the “protective” male figure and it was hard to enjoy their romance when he had feelings for her literally a day after she got out of her pod. The same can be said for Kael, who had the potential for growth from being the shallow character he started out as, but the moments he could’ve had to be a great character were completely wasted. All of the side characters were basically useless filler and I don’t think they added much of anything to the story except to advance the plot conveniently. And the villain in this first book wasn’t scary in the least, I just kept waiting for something more scary to happen.

The plot of the virus started out to be interesting, but then it just dovetailed into a hundred other ideas that by the end of the book I was so confused as to what genre this book was actually trying to be. Science Fiction? Dystopia? Fantasy? Romance? Sometimes the use of multiple genres can work if done right, Outlander is the perfect example of that, but in this case everything just got confusing to the point that I didn’t even know what the characters were fighting for anymore. The plot made leaps I couldn’t follow, characters appeared out of nowhere and things were never explained that needed to be. *Since writing this initial paragraph the author did explain to me that she intended for this to be multiple genres: mystery, dystopian and light romance.

I did have problem with how the characters spoke and how the language read in the book, although the author did explain to me that this is because of their high IQs and she wanted the styling to be almost like Big Bang Theory. But I still felt a lack of exposition of settings or even just expanding on how a character felt about a certain situation, maybe it would’ve been helped by a dual POV or by using first person narrative instead of third. I felt like I was left to guess at a lot of things until there was just a tiny tidbit of information, which was never enough or came to late for me to really be invested anymore.

Overall this book just felt unfinished.  I wish the plot wouldn’t have felt rushed, the characters would’ve been given more time to grow and be fully fleshed out individually and I could’ve gotten to know the habitat and just the general settings more. In the end I didn’t feel interested in the characters or the story, which is a shame.

The one thing I can say about this book is that the concept the author was going for when it started is a good one. Of course by the end I was completely confused, but I’ll put that aside to say that going with the starting idea of the habitat with a certain amount of people and a virus that could kill them was interesting, it reminds me a lot of “The 100” which I really like. The class systems were interesting as well and I think that was a hidden gem where the character development could’ve really been utilized, but when the fantasy elements and all that other stuff stared coming in, it lost me. Go back to those core story ideas, that’s where the treasure is.

Review: Defy the Stars

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Release Date: April 04, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

SynopsisNoemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

* I received an e-ARC of this book through a NetGalley promotion from the publisher*

“If you could pay a debt of honor without it costing you anything, you wouldn’t have really repaid it, would you?”

You ever read a book and when you finally put it down you feel like something about this particular book has just changed you in some way? Well that’s how I feel about this book. This book is equal parts enchanting and challenging, thrilling and heartbreaking, in all the best ways. I’m going to try and not give too much away because honestly I think this is one of those rare books you just need to read and form your own opinion on, but I just want to mention a few things that made me love this book so much.

Let’s start with the characters. Noemi and Abel are two of the most well developed characters I have read in a long time. The way that the author was able to make me fall in love with both of them individually is just amazing. By the end of the book I was rooting for both of them, completely separate of their romance together. Which, I was also rooting for by the way. The romance of these two is definitely a slow burner but in the best possible ways. We as readers get to know Noemi and Abel as separate people first and understanding how they interact with each other and how they relate to the conflicts of their world is so important to their overall relationship. This is probably one of my favorite book romances right now, it was just so well executed.

The impressive thing about the characters in this book is that it’s not just the main characters that get personalities and characters arcs. The secondary characters feel just as important and fleshed out in the narrative as the main ones do. I personally can’t wait to see more from Ephraim, the quote at the top is from him.

The world-building is great, of course it is still set in our world, just in a super distant future. But that’s what makes it great, I enjoy books where I can actually envision everything that’s happening and this book makes this so easy. The technology and advancements described make sense, no matter how disturbing. Having things like the creation of artificial life to prolong our own and space travel to colonize other planets because we’ve destroyed ours are very current topics so the author was smart to use those as themes/plot points in the book.

What really helped was the almost third person narrative that switched between Abel and Noemi. It kept the pace flowing but gave glimpses into how the two characters saw things differently and especially how Abel was changing as the novel progressed. Every time they would do something in the novel I never felt like I was missing a piece of the story, all the details felt complete, from how the characters felt to where they were located to the accuracy of how the ships were being flown. I particularly enjoyed the space travel aspect when it was just Abel and Noemi together in the craft visiting the different planets, I hope there’s more of that in the sequel.

I also want to point out that I wasn’t expecting this book to have religious elements but it definitely did. This wasn’t a religious book but I could completely see religious themes pervading the novel and I was more than delighted to find that when religion was brought up it was handled well, not forced, and written in a very honest way. And even though I disagree with the idea that a soul can be created artificially, especially in a world where God exists, I loved what the author presented in having humans be so disastrous and selfish at attempts with creating life because, let’s face it, that’s exactly what would happen.Truthfully that was probably what affected me most about the book, the way the author wove authentic faith messages into a secular science fiction book.

It takes a talented writer to make you come a away from a book feeling like you’ve learned something while still having fun, and Gray accomplished that for me with Defy the Stars. I may be reading too much into the book, and I still may have given too much away in this review when I didn’t want to, but I really want to encourage everyone to read it, believe me of many of the books I’ve read, this one will be worth your time.

And as always, once you’ve read the book I’m up for discussions and general fun chats 😊

 

Review: Carve the Mark

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisIn a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“I am sharp as broken glass, and just as fragile. I tell lies better than I tell truths. I see all of the galaxy and never catch a glimpse of it.”

I really did enjoy this book. What drew me to it the most was that I had read somewhere that the author was inspired to write Cyra because she knew people who had experienced chronic pain. Cyra looked promising as a character in a new way, she represented the chance for a character to be strong and powerful but also experience suffering and even after all the reviews I’ve read to the contrary, I think Roth accomplished exactly what I and so many others needed to see in Cyra as a character.

Cyra’s pain is a gift. Now before you go beating me up and telling me that pain isn’t a gift, I get where you’re coming from. From having been through life disabled and in pain ranging from mild to severe over the years, I understand. But what I also understand is that it has made me a stronger person. Having to go through trials and hardships (even if they are permanent) teaches us things about ourselves we could have never known without them. Without going through the pain her currentgift caused her, Cyra would’ve never developed the other strengths she needed to overcome Ryzek and her own emotional pain. By having the physical pain of her gift to overcome she had something to focus on, which made her become a better fighter because she felt powerless to control her gift, it made her a more compassionate person as she felt the suffering of others through her gift, even if she caused it through being forced by Ryzek, and didn’t want to hurt anyone. In that way her currentgift was a “gift” because it empowered her to realize how strong she already was as an individual person. It just took Akos coming into her life to really open up what she already knew. He showed her that adversity doesn’t have to make you a monster.

Cyra’s brother Ryzek is a fantastic foil for her character. In his avoidance of pain, he shows that when you avoid pain at all costs it actually makes you the thing you hate most. Ryzek didn’t want any pain to touch him, he was afraid of it and didn’t like witnessing it, but his avoidance of pain to himself only made him a completely sadistic and malicious person, just like his father, he lacked any empathy, which you gain through understanding pain and experiencing it yourself. His attendant, Vas, couldn’t feel pain at all but that made him nothing more than a glorified servant and in the end it was his undoing because he had never learned to deal with pain and that was a fatal weakness.

I liked that the author showed that Akos’s strength wasn’t really in his size or how well he could fight, but in his inherent compassion for others, which is what Cyra feared he was going to lose the longer he was trapped with her and Ryzek. Although she may have thought Eijeh was a lost cause, she admired that Akos never lost the love for his brother, something she could no longer feel for her own. And his compassion towards her when everyone else treated her like something to be feared helped to open her up to show him kindness and, ultimately, love in return. Their dynamic together and slow-burning romance was my favorite part of the book. I’m excited to see how much more it develops in the sequel.

The world building was so-so, considering how long the book was I still had trouble picturing things clearly and figuring out where and what exactly was being described. That being said I really liked the over all sci-fi feel of the world and the diversity among the planets and how they operate, it would be amazing if there were some more sojourns in the next book so we can get a peek at the other planets.

The side characters were great, I liked Jorek a lot and was a little disappointed that he and Cisi didn’t have a thing. I kinda wanted Isae just to be on her own, she struck me more as the awesome standalone cool chick, I liked her more right when she was introduced than I did as the book was coming to a close and she became the panicky, whiny one. Teka was a great character, I liked that they kept her around as one of the more prominent members of the renegades and I’m hoping she’s featured more in the next book. I’m interested to see where they go with Eijeh and what exactly Ori did to him, that was an interesting sort of twist right at the end there.

I really want to know more about the fate-favored and what exactly that means because the whole concept was really interesting and of course with the big reveal with Cyra at the end there’s bound to be some shake-ups in the next book. I already have a couple of theories on how the fates of each of the characters are going to work out, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

So overall this was a very in-depth, wonderfully complex read and I’m glad I decided to plug ahead with it in spite of what others had written. I thoroughly enjoyed it, Cyra really resonated with me as a character and I applaud Roth for going through with writing a character inspired by something as divisive as pain. I look forward to the next installment.

 

Review: Nerve

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Genre: Young Adult, Thriller

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisARE YOU PLAYING THE GAME OR IS THE GAME PLAYING YOU?

Vee doesn’t know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an anonymous online game of dares. But whoever’s behind the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her with lustworthy prizes and a sizzling-hot partner. With Ian on her team, it’s easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another. At first it’s thrilling as the Watchers cheer them on to more dangerous challenges. But suddenly the game turns deadly. Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare, or will they lose NERVE?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

“I’m not the girl I thought I was either. I don’t know who I am.”

Full disclosure here, I actually watched the 2016 movie version of this before I picked up this book, I know, shocking, but in a weird way I’m glad I did because I can confidently say that the book and the movie are almost NOTHING alike so I could enjoy them as completely different pieces of material.

I was excited to read the book because I ended up really enjoying the movie. It was a simple but thought provoking movie so I thought the book would be even better of course because it would likely get more into the characters and the backstories than the movie did. If I’m honest I probably enjoyed the movie more, but again, I would say that they were truly like two different stories all together.

My favorite part about this book is of course the fact that you can draw so many comparisons to real life. It’s funny how a lot of the books we relate to the most, like The Hunger Games and this one seem to stem from what we fear our world will become in the future.

The characters were easy to root for, although I can understand why some other reviewers were saying that Vee felt flat at times. I think the pacing made her thoughts feel disjointed, although her humor was fantastic.

“How thoughtful, audience. I’ll have to remember to send you thank-you cards, laced with anthrax.”

And even though I sometimes wanted to smack her just a bit for how shallow she seemed, everything made sense through the lens of a young girl who feels like she’s been overlooked.

The insta-love really didn’t bother me all that much, it never seems to anymore, I guess I’ve gotten used to it as a trope now and honestly if it’s done well I don’t tend to care. The “relationship” between Ian and Vee was handled well enough that it wasn’t completely eye-roll worthy and added a nice amount of light heartedness in the tense circumstances they were under. I’m so glad the author chose not to delve into a love triangle with Tommy because that could’ve easily been a train wreck. Luckily I was super happy to see the direction the author went with his character, super surprising and a really good twist.

My biggest peeve with the book that made the movie so much better was the resolution with NERVE in the end, now I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t read the book or watched the movie, but for me I just felt that the way the book ends is sort of anti-climactic after everything that happens. It’s a really good suspense ending, but what the movie did was so much more satisfying. That being said, the movie ending wouldn’t have made any sense given that the plots were 100% different between the two.

I do want to mention that while I did enjoy this book I do feel that the dares were very intense for a young adult novel, and I would not want to see teens doing any of those things in real life. But part of enjoying fiction is the hyper-realism where the characters get to do things real people would never engage in so I’m letting things slide in the narrative that would be completely outrageous in the real world.

Overall a well written, gripping, page turning till the end read, I recommend this book to anyone who wants something fun and interesting to delve into!

 

DNF: A Hope at the End of the World

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis: In the chaos of World War II, Polish teenagers Helena and Luzyna Grabowski have lost everything. Without parents or a home, they are shipped to a refugee camp in Persia, where the days ahead hold only darkness. When they hear that orphans are being selected for relocation to New Zealand, Helena is filled with hope—until the officials say they have a place only for her younger sister.

On the morning she is to be transported, Luzyna fails to join the chosen group, and Helena takes her place. But the horrors of war—and her guilt at abandoning her sister—follow Helena on the journey across the sea, as a man from her past preys on her fear and remorse.

Though the people in New Zealand embrace her, the traumas Helena has suffered threaten her peace and blind her to the devotion of James, a charming, heroic young Allied pilot. If Helena can let go and dare to hope again, she may finally step out of the long shadow of her past to find a future made whole—a new community, a new family, a new love.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Normally I don’t rate DNFs but I did get 50% through so I decided to rate what I did read, that is what my rating is for…

Review:

*I received this book as a Read Now through NetGalley from AmazonCrossing*

Full disclosure I only made it through 50% of this book so please take this review for what it is considering I did not finish the book.

I will admit, this book did not pull me in at all. I kept going hoping that it would pick up at some point but it just didn’t.

The main character Helena felt too one sided and boring to me, she betrays her sister, horrible things happen to her and then all she thinks about is these horrible things and ending her own life. Now don’t get me wrong, I get why she would be a somber character, but I’ve read about somber characters before without them making me feel miserable as well and all Helena makes you feel when you read this book is misery.

Even when she meets James I don’t even really feel a pull to his character at all. Most of the characters are just too one-note.

I was looking forward to this book as I really like WWII books and with the romance plot it seemed like a good mix, but I couldn’t get past the dreary first half. Even if the book picked up later there really wouldn’t be much of it left when the first half drags it down so far.

I will say that this could be a good read for someone interested in New Zealand life or culture back around that time period because while I was utterly confused I’m sure there are some people who would enjoy the cultural context in which the book is set.

So overall I thought the book had a good premise and had lots of potential, but in the end I just didn’t feel like it was the right choice for me to continue reading.

 

Review: Unspoken

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Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance, Mystery

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

SynopsisCharlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.  The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She’s changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.

She’s never said a word–to the cops, to her doctors, to family–about those four years.

A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn’t find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened. And her silence is what has protected her family for years.
Bryce Bishop doesn’t know her past, he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather’s estate–and that the FBI director for the Chicago office made the introduction. The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her. But nothing else is working in his favor–she’s decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she’s willing to forego a huge inheritance to keep her privacy. She’s not giving him much of an opening to work with.

Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved, has only opened another chapter…

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

I’m honestly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book. That might sound funny given I gave the book four stars but hear me out…

The book starts off VERY slow, I agree with a lot of other reviewers who say there is a lot, if not too much emphasis on coins and all of trading or whatever else had to do with the money and property Charlotte was dealing with. In the end it all came together to work with the mystery/crime plot, but it was sort of an arduous trek listening to pages and pages of something I still don’t understand. If you love trading and handling coins you won’t have a problem and maybe these sums of money won’t seem grossly unrealistic to you, but there were times where I was rolling my eyes and wondering if the author was stretching the truth a bit to make the dollar amount fit what she needed for the characters in the end.

I get also how it was hard for people to relate to the main character Charlotte. But in context her aloofness made sense and I felt much closer to her as a character by the end of the book, through Bryce, which I think was the ultimate point. Bryce became her conduit to open up and connect with life and so her character and story unfolded more as she was with him.

Truly the reason I stuck with this book was for the romance between Bryce and Charlotte. Although extremely slow going and still somewhat bittersweet in the end, I really enjoyed seeing them develop and grow. You never get a complete picture of the trauma Charlotte went through, and while that bothered me at first it made sense more as the narrative went on because you realize that even she can’t remember it all and that her future should be dictated by more than what her past horrors have been.

In all honesty I think the author has done an excellent job of capturing the subtle beauty that comes from slow growing relationships here. What comes from patience in a marriage, friends who really care about each other and trust in God even when we don’t understand his ways. I’m glad I decided to stick with the book and I encourage anyone who may be having a rough time with all the coin jargon, it’s well worth the extra pages to get to the real heart of the story, just keep reading.