Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

 Title: In the Afterlight
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Released October 28th, 2014
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 3.5/5

Spoiler-Free Summary

 Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.


Spoilers Ahead! 

Although In the Afterlight is a bit long for my tastes at 535 pages, the side characters and descriptions make it bearable. Once again, the side characters are my precious babies, and if you've read my posts on the previous two books you'll know how much I love Chubs. I totally could see Chubs and Vida getting together so when it finally happened I felt triumphant that I successfully predicted that ship.

For some reason, Ruby doesn't appeal to me all that much. I don't know what it is about dystopian books and their heroines. Even Liam wasn't particularly likeable to me. It's all personal taste, though, so you may feel way different than me about it.

I will probably stay away from YA dystopian novels for awhile because I just find them bland. There always seems to be these stretches of inactivity, where the main character spends all her time brooding away. In the Afterlight was no exception here, and I found it very predictable. For me, it was obvious after the first or second time Ruby couldn't figure out how she had gotten somewhere that Clancy was controlling her. I think Ruby should have been able to come to this conclusion much sooner than she did. Wouldn't you be awfully suspicious if you blacked out several times? I just find it unrealistic to blame something like that on stress.

Speaking of unrealistic, some of the things that Liam and Cole said felt odd coming from a teenager. It's just hard to imagine a teenager giving nicknames like "darlin'" or "gem."

Overall, it was alright, but nothing special as far as dystopian books go. When I really love a book, I don't want to put it down, but with this series I had to force myself just to sit down and finish it.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

It pains me to say that I didn't particularly care for this book.


Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Released October 22nd, 2013
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 2/5
Read it if you really want to finish the series, but prepare to be disappointed

Spoiler-Free Summary

Insurgent is a 2012 science fiction young adult novel by American novelist Veronica Roth, the second book in the Divergent trilogy. As the sequel to the 2011 bestseller Divergent, it continues the story of Tris Prior and the dystopian post-apocalyptic version of Chicago. Following the events of the previous novel, a war now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. While trying to save the people that she loves, Tris faces questions of grief, forgiveness, identity, loyalty, politics, and love (Summary from Goodreads).

Spoilers Ahead!

Oh boy, where to begin. This is simply the way I felt about it. You may find yourself loving the book, and that's totally okay.

I'm not sure how to exactly pinpoint why I felt Allegiant was so dull. Let me first say that it all depends on your personal preference.  There was some action, I guess, but I didn't feel anything. No excitement, nothing. Any connection I felt with the characters in Divergent was gone. Here's why I feel this way:

  • The writing was boring. Everything was boring. The descriptions just didn't paint a vivid picture in my head. I felt like I was reading something I wrote, which isn't good (there's a reason I read books and don't write them).
  • There was petty drama. Tris was acting like a self-righteous know-it-all. Her arguments with Tobias felt weak, like it was purposely put in just to cause conflict with their relationship. The fact that she was okay at first with sacrificing Caleb was strange. Even if my brother did something like Caleb, I don't know if I would ever think about sacrificing him. Obviously, she ended up sacrificing herself for Caleb, which I felt was more like her character.
  • I didn't like the plot. It just didn't feel well thought-out. The whole conflict between the "genetically damaged" and "genetically pure" felt like it came out of nowhere. I think there was great potential to do something better than that.
  • The ending didn't really bother me so much as the fact that I really didn't care that (BIG SPOILER) Tris died. There was a shock-factor, but I honestly just wanted to finish the book at that point.
On a slightly more positive note, here's my top moments (notice only two).

Top 2 Favorite Moments

  1. It's kind of weird but I liked the part when Tris and co. first entered the Bureau. I liked seeing (reading, rather) their reactions to all the things we "real" people see normally, like airplanes and Coca-Cola.
  2. It was also nice when Tris and Tobias finally forgave each other and the petty drama was over. Tris finally realized that Tobias was broken and needed support.
So obviously I was disappointed with Allegiant, but you might find that you love it, so give it a try.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Blitz and Giveaway! Two Moons of Sera and Moon Dust by Pavarti K Tyler


I am hosting this book blitz on behalf of YA Reads.  Scroll down to check out the giveaway!



Title: Two Moons of Sera
Author: Pavarti K Tyler
Genre: Science Fiction, Romantic Fantasy, Young Adult
Released: March 23rd, 2015
(Book 1)

Summary

This Science Fiction & Fantasy story explores the clash of cultures, prejudice and war, and the promise of love and peace.

In a world where water and earth teem with life, Serafay is an anomaly. The result of genetic experiments on her mother’s water-borne line, Serafay will have to face the very people responsible for her mother’s torture to discover who she really is. But is she the only one? (Summary from Goodreads)

Why It Interests Me

The entire fact that this book has people who live in water definitely peaks my interest.

Purchase from Amazon here!


Title: Moon Dust
Author: Pavarti K Tyler
Genre: Science Fiction, Romantic Fantasy, Short Story
Released: March 23rd, 2015
(Prequel)

Summary

Evolved Publishing presents a short story from the multiple award-winning author of White Chalk and The Sugar House Novellas. This story, a prequel to the novel Two Moons of Sera, is the perfect quick break from your hectic day at less than 14,800 words.

Science Fiction, Romantic Fantasy, Short Story

Nilafay spends her time beneath the ocean's surface either swimming in the depths or in the artificial atmosphere of the Domed City. Despite the rules of her amphibian race, she longs to explore the world above. On the day before her wedding to the Sualwet man of her dreams, Nilafay finally wanders too far and learns just what the others had been warning her about. (Summary from Goodreads)

Purchase it from Amazon here!

Moon Dust will be free March 23rd through March 25th!

Giveaway!

Handmade vintage bookmark and themed bracelet



a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Author

Award-winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is usually found with Doc Martens strapped on over fishnets, and a girlish giggle as easy and likely as a throaty guffaw. She is an artist, wife, mother, and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director, and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry at several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters, and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity, and penning her next genre-bending novel.

Follow her at www.PavartiKTyler.com.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Blitz & Giveaway! Family Secrets by Kat Nichols



I'm excited to participate in my first Book Blitz & Giveaway! I am hosting this blitz on behalf of Xpresso Book Tours.  Scroll down to the bottom for the giveaway!




Title: Family Secrets
Author: Kat Nichols
Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult
Released January 8th, 2015


Summary


An orphan by the age of sixteen, Sophia Morganthal now lives with her best friend and struggles in a world with no relatives. Midway through her Senior year, Sophia finds herself flying across the country to live with a family she never knew existed. She ends up with more questions than answers when she discovers that not only does she come from a long line of witches but that she must be initiated within the year to prevent a battle for coven leadership.

Feeling more alone than ever, Sophia finds her solace in books. The journals of past initiates provide her with more than she ever wanted to know and make her question the path she’s on. Amidst all of the upheaval in her life, Sophia also finds one source of happiness – Connor. The last thing she needs is more complications, but Connor is the only person who makes her feel wanted for herself and not for what she stands for.

As Sophia learns more about herself, and what being initiated into Blackthorne coven really means, she must answer the ultimate question – would she give up everything for her family? (Summary from Goodreads)

Why It Interests Me

It's been awhile since I've read a paranormal book, especially one with witches.  The story itself looks interesting, as well.  I'm all for those books with characters that discover their powers and awesomeness.

Author Interview


Tell us about Family Secrets?
Family Secrets is a young adult, coming of age story with a magical twist. Sophia moves to Illinois and her whole life is turned upside down. She meets family she never knew she had and finds out she comes from a long line of witches. She deals with family issues, meeting new friends and a cute boy at school, all while studying to pass her initiation. 

How did you come up with the idea for Family Secrets?   

Believe it or not, Family Secrets came to me in one sitting. We’d just formed the Rebel Writers and NaNoWriMo was about to start, so I decided to sit down to plot out a book. I locked myself in my bedroom and just put pen to paper. It took a couple hours, but when I was done I had a very basic idea of what would happen in Family Secrets.

You’ve mentioned the Rebel Writers. Who are they and how have they influenced you? 

The Rebel Writers is my writing group. We met as fans of indie author Rachel Higginson, who I love, and we all decided we’d write our first books together. They are amazing women and talented authors. If not for them, I never would have finished my first book, let alone have other books in the pipeline. We got so lucky. They are my best friends and my sisters. Cheesy, I know!

Why do you like writing YA books? 

I know I’m generalizing here, but for teens, everything is new or fresh, like the tingles of first love and the devastation of first heartbreak. All of the emotions are felt so keenly and powerfully. It seems like they experience things on a grander scale and I enjoy delving into those emotions when writing. 

Purchase from Amazon here!

Giveaway!

I am hosting this giveaway on behalf of Xpresso Book Tours. This giveaway starts March 20th and ends March 30th. I will then notify Xpresso Book Tours of the winner. The ebook will be sent out after April 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Kat Nichols was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. The youngest of four children, she'd been known to play for hours with only a cardboard box for entertainment. Her imaginary friends had friends... and family... and even little cities to play in. As she grew older, she began to put some of these stories down on paper, rather than keeping them in her head. 

Writing a novel had always been a dream for her, perhaps an item on her bucket list, but it wasn't until she joined a writing group with other aspiring writers that she finally got to work.When not writing, Kat is reading or driving her son to and from practices and wishing she was reading.It depends on the day. 

Kat still lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her wonderful husband, their hilarious son and their sometimes adorable and sometimes annoying cat.

To learn more about the author, please go to www.katnichols.com.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Alright guys don't hate me.  I liked the book but I really didn't love it.


Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Released May 1st, 2012
Borrowed from Friend
Rating: 3.5/5.0
Read it if you liked Divergent. You might like it more/less than me depending on your personal preferences

Spoiler-Free Summary

Insurgent is a 2012 science fiction young adult novel by American novelist Veronica Roth, the second book in the Divergent trilogy. As the sequel to the 2011 bestseller Divergent, it continues the story of Tris Prior and the dystopian post-apocalyptic version of Chicago. Following the events of the previous novel, a war now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. While trying to save the people that she loves, Tris faces questions of grief, forgiveness, identity, loyalty, politics, and love (Summary from Goodreads).

Spoilers Ahead!

Overall, there were enough exciting scenes in the book to keep me interested, but I have to say the majority of it was lacking something.  Here's the deal: I kind of had overly-high expectations for Insurgent because I truly enjoyed Divergent.  I was hoping it would be just as fast-paced and action-packed as Divergent, but alas, I was disappointed. It wasn't bad, I just felt like it didn't capture my attention.

I have mixed feelings.  I can understand that Tris would be upset about shooting Will, and obviously upset about loosing her parents.  But I thought she was more strong-willed.  Personally, I thought the whole self-sacrifice thing was a little out of character.  After all, she always felt she wasn't as selfless as other Abnegation members.  Would she really sacrifice herself when she has people to care for like Christina, Tobias, and her other Dauntless friends?  On the other hand, I think about how ambiguous my own feelings would be in her situation.  If I lost both my parents and felt unending guilt for killing my best friend's boyfriend, I suppose my outlook on life would also change drastically.  So although Tris really bugged me throughout this book, I can understand where she's coming from.

Another thing that annoyed me was that they basically ran around to different factions with no real plan in mind, learning nothing new.  From the beginning, we knew that there is some sort of important information that Jeanine is holding secret, but we don't find out until the very end.  To be honest, the middle just felt like filler to me.

On a more positive note, I liked the cliffhanger ending.  I have friends that told me they hated the ending, but it was the kind of action I've been looking for throughout the entire middle of the book.  I like those "WTF" moments.  

Also, referring to my previous review on Divergent, I am happy that I was wrong about Christina possibly hating Tris for killing Will.  It was nice that they made up.  It didn't feel rushed, either.

I've decided to add a portion to my reviews with my top 3 favorite moments from the book.

Top 3 Favorite Moments

  1. I thought it was hilarious when Tris acted high after being given serum by the Amity towards the beginning of the book.  That whole scene with her and Tobias was adorable.
  2. I got all kinds of Tris/Tobias angsty feels when Tris falsely promises Tobias she wouldn't go to Erudite headquarters to sacrifice herself (but I didn't like Tris' choice).
  3. I got Harry Potter flashbacks at the point where Peter gave Tris paralyzing serum rather than death serum.  It kind of reminded me of Malfoy's mother protecting Harry at the end of Deathly Hallows.

Overall, I liked it.  I'm looking forward to seeing what changes they make in the movie adaption.  Now, onto Allegiant!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I'm taking a break from The Darkest Minds trilogy to read the Divergent trilogy before the new movie Insurgent comes out March 20th.  I saw the Divergent film last year so I knew most of what was going to happen in the book, but I'm so happy I read the book because there is just so much that a movie cannot capture in a book-to-film adaptation.


Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Released February 28th, 2012
Borrowed from Friend
Rating: 5.0/5.0
Definitely Recommend

Spoiler-Free Summary

Divergent is about 16-year-old Beatrice who, like everyone else at 16, goes through a test to see which "faction" is best suited for her.  Factions include Amity for the peaceful folk, Abnegation for the selfless, Erudite for the smart, Candor for the honest, and Dauntless for the brave.  Beatrice was born in Abnegation, but doesn't feel like she is as selfless as the rest of Abnegation.  She looks forward to the test to tell her where she truly belongs.  But when the results turn up inconclusive, known as Divergent, she is put into a dangerous situation.  Those who are Divergent end up dead.  

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves...or it might destroy her. (Summary from Goodreads)

Spoilers Ahead!

Once again, I am so happy I read Divergent.  The best thing about books is getting into the mind of the main character. Although Tris proved to be brave, she still felt all the emotions like fear, guilt, and embarrassment I would expect myself to have in many of the situations she faced.  I could tell she really loved her family, and it was nice to know that the tattoo of the birds was for them, which wasn't explained in the movie if I remember correctly.  I liked that when she joined Dauntless, she still thought about her family and often compared her values from Abnegation with those of Dauntless.  I liked that the transfers would talk about their previous factions, as well.  It reminded me a lot of when I started college last September, and everyone I met seemed to go on and on about their old schools.  I could relate to Tris, especially when she first joined Dauntless.  She was kind of a goody-two-shoes not used to the disorder of the Dauntless lifestyle.  I could also relate to her struggle of being short, as I am myself only 5 feet tall.

Another strength of this book was the cast of characters.  I got attached to Christina and Will, as well as other characters that weren't in the movie.  I actually felt really sad when Will died, and it has me wondering if Christina will blame Tris and become a sort of enemy to her in Insurgent.  I also felt Tris and Four had some great chemistry going on between them. While I didn't get any "feels" or make any weird dying cow sounds during their scenes together, I still thought the relationship was great and not cheesy at all.

Finally, although I saw the movie, the book was so action-packed that I never got bored, probably because the book was very different than the movie.  Typically, I don't read a book after seeing its movie because I get bored knowing what will happen in the book.  However, the writing was great and I could experience what Tris was feeling. In those moments of tension I found myself reading like lightening to see what happens next. The good thing about seeing the movie first is that I can envision all the characters looking like the actors from the movie as I'm reading the scenes.  Overall, I enjoyed the transformation Tris went through to become stronger, both physically and mentally.  Insurgent should be extra interesting for me since I don't know what to expect.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken

I have finished the second book of The Darkest Minds trilogy.  I'm still numb from the ending! 


Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Released October 15th, 2013
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 4.0/5.0
Definitely Recommend If You Liked the First Book

Spoiler-Free Summary


Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children's League call Ruby "Leader," but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children's League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America's children-and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts-has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future-and who now wouldn't recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam-and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart-she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself? (Summary from Goodreads)

Spoilers Ahead!

Never Fade starts off with a nice action packed scene where we meet some new characters, Vida and Jude.  In the beginning, I really disliked them because Vida was just plain mean, and Jude was like that annoying little brother that won't stop talking.  I thought these characters would be unimportant (plus, I was really missing Chubs' presence).  Boy, was I wrong.  By the end of this book, these two really grew on me just as they grew on Ruby.  In fact, one of my favorite things about this series is the unique personalities of the characters.  The more I learn about these characters and the little things they do, like the way Liam says "darlin" or Vida's f-bombs, the more I can imagine them as real people.  I could practically feel the characters growing this bond between each other.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the hilarious dialogue between the characters, especially Chubs and Vida.

I think it is also worth mentioning that Ruby is really going through a transformation in this book.  She's had to deal with a lot of crazy stuff, but she manages to become a strong leader in the face of everything going down.  We've seen her be fiercely protective in The Darkest Minds, and that trait is even more apparent in Never Fade.  She's definitely one of the most admirable characters I've read.  She and Liam really remind me of Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games.  We see Liam through a good portion of this book unable to even take care of himself, and Ruby doing anything she can to keep him safe.  It can be kind of annoying when Ruby blames herself for others getting hurt.  I just want to yell through the book "it isn't your fault!"  

Also, for some reason I liked Liam more in this book.  I mean, he's just so sweet to Ruby, even when he wants to be mad at her.  My heart did backflips all over the place when Liam told Ruby he loved her but didn't know why (since she took all his memories away).  It was just adorable and I could feel his frustration.  These painful ships are always the best.

Now, I don't know what this says about me, but I actually didn't feel anything when Jude was declared dead.  Apparently, I am a soulless person.  Part of me might have expected someone would get killed off, what with all the new characters introduced in this book.  I try not to get too emotionally attached when there's a lot of characters involved (maybe I should read Game of Thrones).

I rated this 4/5 because I did start to get antsy for the book to end in the second half, but I think that's just because it's over 500 pages long.  However, I do appreciate the time Bracken takes in her descriptions of the scenery and what Ruby is feeling.  It didn't feel rushed like it does in a lot of other YA books I read.  For me, this series was really good for taking an hour off to get lost in another world.

All in all, I enjoyed this sequel and all the funny dialogue from Chubs (my fave character) and Vida.  I wish Chubs was a real person, because I could totally imagine him and me doing "old lady" things together like knitting and watching Downton Abby.  So, now that we know Ruby has documents with the supposed cure for IAAN, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the final book.


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