REVIEW: ILLUMINAE

SUMMARY

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

THOUGHTS

This is just going to be a bunch of gifs, because what can you really say about a book this good?

So then, I’m sitting there, nearing the end of the book, and I kid you not- for the last 150 pages or so, this was my expression:

But then, just as all was winding down, the final blow was delivered, leaving me feeling like

So that’s that. Illuminae one of the (if not THE) best book I’ve read all year. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

ARC REVIEW: INHERIT THE STARS

SUMMARY

Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

THOUGHTS

I’ll be completely honest- I didn’t remember a lot about this book when I started it and since I hadn’t heard a lot, I didn’t expect much in terms of ‘Everyone says I’m going to love it!’

All of that was blown away.

The writing was amazing- not in the fantasy-elegant way that we’ve been seeing a lot of, but clean, fast, and engrossing. The characters- oh, my heart. Each one was round, dynamic, and nothing you could call stereotypical. There was good and bad in each of them, and you never could quite tell which was going to take over in any given situation.

Every time I thought the plot was going to veer in a direction that most stories of this kind do, it changed, twirling off into a completely different universe and making me excited and surprised all over again.

The romance is understated, subtle, and presses ever closer before you realize it, because you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the other shoe to drop on Eagle and Asa. Gosh, Eagle. Imperfection and wonder in a gorgeously damaged being- but not damaged like you might think. I won’t ruin the surprise, but don’t think that it’s another of those messed-up relationships where the girl still loves the guy even though he’s awful. No, the romance sets the background and keeps everything in motion even when you don’t think it will, and has that sort of quiet tension without 80 pages of teenage angst. I loved it. LOVED IT.

Inherit the Stars is a book I’m already eager to read again, and if there’s no more, I’ll be crying, for sure. I’ve fallen in love with the characters, the universe, and the potential for greatness only hinted at in the first book. Five stars, wholeheartedly.

Release Date: December 8, 2015 by Running Press Kids

I was provided a digital ARC of this book before the release date through NetGalley and Running Press Kids, but this in no way affected my review of the work.

REVIEW: THE LEVELLER

SUMMARY (GOODREADS)

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

MY THOUGHTS:

Baby Review:

This book was like taking a vacation. The plot wasn’t too deep, the characters didn’t have some deep-seated angst or hatred for the world, no one was emotionally scarred, and it made me laugh. Perfect for easing yourself out of a reading slump, which is where I’ve found myself for the past two weeks.

PLOT:

I’ll be perfectly honest in telling you that I found the plot to be pretty far-fetched. I mean, I really don’t know a lot about science, but I didn’t quite connect all the pieces of why they were able to hold people captive in their own mind, and I would have liked to know more about the Black and why it messes people up , eats walls, etc. But then, if I had been given all those extra details, it wouldn’t have been as easy and as light to read. As it was, the plot was quick and airy, the reasons never quite as important as the action, and that was totally fine for me. I wish they would have gotten through all the introductory settings more quickly, but I understand that they were needed to introduce all the characters that did end up playing an important role as opposed to just being funny side friends. That could also just be me- I’ve never liked setting books up and all the general interactions of characters, so when a short book spends too much time on them, I tend to get impatient. However, I was glad not to be loaded down with all kinds of extra information that kept me from enjoying the details and frankly, the rest of the book. At the end of the book, when the bad guy is revealed and the problem is resolved, I felt that it was a little bit too quick, everything resolving itself in a matter of pages, but It didn’t feel…wrong. It was just a quick ending to a quick read, nothing too deep and there is absolutely no problem with that, to me. It wasn’t a mystery, it wasn’t a thriller, it was just a plain old good read.

CHARACTERS:

Obviously, with such a small book, you don’t get a lot of character development. Nixy was a decent heroine, feisty in her own right, and I appreciated her frustration as I can relate to being annoyed with a video game you just can’t seem to beat. On the other hand, I found it a little bit ridiculous that a teenage girl could do what so many ‘MEEP-O men’ (and women, as was so pointedly added in the book) completely and totally failed at, and ended up emotionally scarred from, to boot. Nixy Bauer is totally calm when professional adults come back and have to be treated for PTSD? That’s going a little bit too far.  I mean, there’s something to be said for mental fortitude, but really? She came out unscathed? No. Nope. That was the only major problem I had with the writing of The Leveller.

Wyn was a charmingly bland character. All the right features in all the right places, perfect smiles an Cuban good looks, but he didn’t really strike me as worth dying for. Or risking my life for. I mean, especially not for such a piddly sum as five grand. Not when his dad’s a billionaire+ and I need to pay my way through college! That would pay for like, a semester at an OKAY college where I’m at. But back to Wyn- His name works really well with the story- Wyn and Nixy, fighting for their lives! I liked that about this book: there were lots of well-chosen names. Wyn was one of those, but nothing else about him made an impression on me. He was just kind of…there, but I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t spend much time of character development.

Nixy’s friends, Moose and Chang, were actually key players in this novel, surprisingly enough. And I really liked them. They’re the kind of people I always used to hang out with, smart and funny and goofy as all get-out. That little plot twist at the end was pretty good, I’ll admit, and even if you *TOTALLY SAW THAT COMING*, it was a pretty solid ending to the story. Everyone ended up pretty much safe (except that one girl- I really would like to know what happened to her).

OVERALL:

I liked the book. It was kind of cheesy (the MEEP? Nothing will lower your terror impact more than saying MEEP all the time) and very light, but I appreciated the lack of complex interaction as a stepping-stone for getting back into my heavy-duty reading. It wasn’t as realistic or intense as Jen Alexander’s Aftermath, but that didn’t mean it was a bad book. I give it a 3 of 5 stars, and yes, I would recommend it to a friend who needs a quick read.

Goodreads | Amazon

Questions? Comments? Books you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

WoW: THE LEVELLER

WAIT FOR ITTTTTT…..

It’s Wednesday! And you know what that means: another book on my to-read list! I’m trying to pick books that aren’t too far off so if you think they sound good you won’t have to wait long, and here’s this week’s pick, coming to our shelves June 23, 2015:

Cool cover, right?

OFFICIAL SUMMARY:

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

WHY I’M EXCITED:

First of all, the names. Nixy and Wyn? THOSE NAMES ARE SO COOL AND THEY SOUND AWESOME TOGETHER. (Yes, that was internet shouting, sorry.) And this Nixy girl sounds super, super cool. I’m a huge fan of this genre- real-life video games that turn deadly? YES, please! I loved Jen Alexander’s book The Aftermath that was released last year, but this one sounds even better. With a little bit of gaming romance, this one os shaping up to be a real winner.

Questions? Comments? Books you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA

“If they didn’t take you seriously, they would never see you coming.”  

OFFICIAL SUMMARY:

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

MY THOUGHTS:

Did that synopsis confuse you as much as it did me? I mean, it sounds kind of interesting, right? But all those new words and the whole Reduction premise seem so confusing. I’ve read Peterfreund’s other books (most of them, anyway) and they were

Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t get any less confusing. The entire book, I struggled to keep straight the Reduced, the post-Reduced, the terminology- everything. I liked the book, when I did understand it, but I feel like I missed out on a lot of important plot points that could have made a really big impact- that could have made me love the book- because the backstory was explained in such a roundabout way.

The characters I liked. They were dynamic, they changed, they served a purpose, and especially Persis didn’t give up her purpose because ‘that there Helo is pretty cute. He’s my mortal enemy, but whatever. My country doesn’t matter anymore.’ That was refreshing. Persis was a strong lead, and I really liked her personality and the fact that she was willing to sacrifice her reputation to serve a greater cause. Most heroines won’t do that, at least not to this extent. And the princess regent was also not swayed by what her friends thought- a true depiction of what a ruler should be. So I really did enjoy the character interaction when they weren’t talking about all the details of Reduction and forced Reduction and whatnot.

As for the length, normally I like a good, long book, but this felt like forced length. Too much time was spent on describing the math and science of the genetic mutations- and that’s big, coming from me, because I love the details of things like this. I usually want to know the logic behind the genetics, but this time it fell flat to me- too much roundabout explaining and never a solid, direct, ‘This is what happened.’ So that was a problem for me, but to others, maybe it was great. I’m just one person.

Overall, I might recommend this book to a select few people that I think could enjoy the details and the deep world-building that was done (impressive, but confusing) but to the general public, I would say to find another book that isn’t this intense. It’s not a light fluff read, and you should only read it if you’re ready to really put thought into it.

WHAT TO WATCH:

This was a solidly clean read. The only thing that I would even consider is the fact that the descriptions of the Reduced and the violent lengths the Galateans are willing to go to for their revolution. Other than that, I can’t think of anything that I found objectionable to my sense of morality. Kudos to Diana P. for that!

Questions? Comments? Books you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

UNINVITED

“Prove them wrong.”

Official Summary:

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

My thoughts:

     I wanted to really like this book, and for a while, there in the middle, I really did. The beginning was slow, a little too much high school drama for a book that promised action and thrills, but I thought it painted an interesting portrait of what could potentially happen in our future- if science isolates a gene that marks people for something they may not become, but it’s easier to keep them all quarantined, what would society become? So yes, I did like the new perspective. But I found the characters lacking- Davy, at least. She keeps thinking that her world will go back to being perfect, and even though it’s intentional- I know Jordan wanted to portray someone who never expected it adjusting to the lower class of society- it drags on a little too much. I love Sean, but the romance seems rushed and confusing- borne of convenience, not of any real attachment (which may be a correct assumption- in the summaries of book 2, Unleashed, that I’ve seen, Sean isn’t even mentioned and a new love interest appears) and is kind of shallow for what it prompts Davy to do. I suppose I liked it, even though as I think back there wasn’t a lot keeping me reading, but I won’t be revisiting the series for later books and I won’t give much thought to Davy and Sean after this.

What to Watch: (SPOILERS)

     The violence is probably the most prominent thing to be careful of in this book. There is death, people are beaten, all to show how the gene affects people- say they’re a monster, and they’ll become one. Davy kills a man when Sean’s life is threatened, and there are numerous occasions of violence throughout the book, especially when Davy her friends are sent to a training camp where the government is trying to mold their genetics into killing machines for the military instead of just violent kids on the street.

     This novel did include some romance, and Davy and Sean’s kissing gets pretty heavy sometimes, even though nothing happens. A girl in the cage with Davy is taken advantage of by the teacher frequently, for ‘protection’ from their peers, and the teacher tries to make the same ‘arrangement’ with Davy, which she refuses.

     As far as language goes, there were a few occasions, but not too many.

Honestly, I didn’t love this book, and I’m not dying for more, but I did like the fact that it was a realistic fiction from the near future- I could easily see this situation (or one like it) taking place here in the United States- or any modern country, for that matter. Of course, it’s always your choice what to read, so read on!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

FAIREST: LEVANA’S STORY

“Maybe the princess could save herself.”

My Rating: PG-13 for some sexual themes, violence, disturbing images, and just plain craziness.

Official Summary: (From goodreads.com)
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

My thoughts: Levana is psycho. I mean, we knew that before, with all her scheming and the insanity that is the Lunar Queen, but this book draws out just how twisted she really is. It was much darker than the previous three books, with little humor and a lot of painful realizations. It’s almost difficult to read, and I’ll admit that I nearly put it down at a few points and didn’t pick it back up because I was so uncomfortable. But that just goes to show how deep Levana’s insanity really goes, and has been so deep since she was just fifteen years of age. Anyway, I never put it down, and while it was horrifying in places, it was also a very eye-opening read, letting you see the reasoning behind Levana’s cruelty and solving the mystery- finally– of what she really is behind the glamour and the veil.

What to Watch: (SPOILER ALERT)

There are a lot of sexual references in this book. Channary loves to flirt and makes many comments about it, Levana is obsessed with an older man and eventually marries him after his wife’s death, and there are many instances where it speaks of them ‘going to the bedroom’ or engaging in sexual activities, even when there are no graphic details. There is kissing, too, which is unsurprising considering the characters go farther than that.

As far as violence/disturbing images goes, there are some, as mentioned. Channary is very cruel, and used the bioelectric manipulation to hold Levana in a fire, scarring her very badly. The ability to know the inner workings of Levana’s mind is in itself a disturbing fact, because her twisted obsession with Evret Hayle goes beyond a childish crush and into a dangerous delusion. And she does not know where the line is, brainwashing Hayle into a mindless drone and forcing him into romantic situations, and finally marriage, all the while believing that he loves her of his own accord.

They do drink some wine (or their equivalent), but there is no drug use and no foul language in this book, which is at least one plus.

Of course, the decision is always yours what to read or leave on the shelf, but I hope this helped in your decision, or at least left you a little more enlightened. I did like this book, but not nearly as much as I enjoy the full novels- Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. It was a decent filler for the wait for Winter, though, out in the fall of 2015.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

AVALON

“Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy.”

https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1371481016l/17149396.jpg

My rating: PG-13 for some suggestive wording, a spot of language, and violence throughout.

Official Summary: Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon’s cult hit show Firefly.

My thoughts: While it took a little while for this one to catch my interest, once it did, I was swept away. Holy moly. This book…When it says it’s a match for fans of Firefly, it isn’t kidding. I love that show, and I loved this book. It picked up fast, and no one can trust anyone, leading to all kinds of betrayals and twists just when you think everything is finally going to work out. The writing is gorgeous, descriptive enough to give you a complete picture but not so detailed as to bore you with the never-ending sci-fi talk. While it does take some getting used to, what with the new terms that always come with a science fiction novel, it ultimately is a wild joyride of action and weird happenings in the Bermuda Triangle- of space.

What to watch:

     As far as language goes, there was very little cursing, and that only happened in the most dire of situations.

     As far as romance, one of the ruses they use to sneak by guards is two crew members in ‘passionate embrace’, and there is a touch of romance with the leader and another girl, but it’s nothing too extreme, just kissing, and most of the detail is what they’re thinking (even though it’s slightly cliché- “hearts beating in harmony” and so on). There are some suggestions from the bad guys about putting the girls in a brothel, as a threat to the main character.

     The biggest issue in this book (if the small amount counts as an issue) was some of the violence. The main character works for the cruelest man around, and he is willing to torture anyone to get what he wants. That includes our hero, and there are some mentions of child abuse by someone who is supposed to be good. There’s a lot of fighting, shooting, and some killing, including a few semi-graphic deaths of influential characters in the story.

     Overall, I thought this was a great read, and I recommend it for anyone, not just lovers of science fiction and interstellar pirates. But of course, everyone reads what they want to read, so go for the gold, whatever that gold is to you!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!