Tag Archives: book review

Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

  • TitleThe Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1)
  • AuthorAlexandra Bracken
  • SourceReview Copy from Publisher
  • No. of Pages488
  • PublishedDecember 18, 2012 by Disney Hyperion
  • Rating4.5/5
  • Check it outGoodreads or Amazon
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Many thanks to Disney Hyperion for the review copy!

I was very, very excited to receive The Darkest Minds due to the great number of rave reviews I’ve seen for this book. In fact, I had really high expectations for this book right from the very first word printed on the page, and I’m glad to say I fell in love with it pretty quickly.

The story started at a quick pace, and I was immediately thrust into Ruby’s (the protagonist) dystopian world, where thousands of kids are classified into five colors–Green, Yellow, Red, Blue, and Orange. These kids were survivors of a mysterious disease that infected only children, and those who lived had special powers of different kinds, thus resulting into the five classifications above. On Ruby’s tenth birthday, her parents were scared enough of her to lock her in the garage and call for the police to pick her up and she got sent to Thurmond, a ‘rehabilitation camp’ for children who had brains wired differently from other people. Six years later, Ruby is still at Thurmond, except she has a secret that she has kept since she set foot in the camp when she was a child, one that could threaten her life and her chances of having a relatively normal life among the other kids and teens. After managing to escape with the help of unlikely people involved in a surprising organization, Ruby somehow gets picked up by a group of three–Suzume, (Zu) Liam, and Chubs–who have a single goal: To look for the Slip Kid, a mysterious character who helps those who have escaped from various rehabilitation camps for children with special abilities.

The plot was a wonderfully imaginative one, filled with roller coaster twists and turns, shocking new characters, and a brilliant new perspective on the government, society, and the special abilities that were dangerous enough to blow everything out of proportion. Furthermore, the way Alexandra Bracken built her dystopian world was, as a matter of fact, extremely interesting since it was laced with mind-blowing revelations and beautiful writing. Also, If I am remembering right, there were no less than four twists in this novel, and since they were all interconnected, the book never failed to surprise me again and again even if I knew that a certain twist or event was going to happen anyway.

The characters, too, were awfully endearing and brave ones, and I liked how Ruby trusted her gut despite being holed up in Thurmond for most of her life. She had quick instincts that either benefited her or made a catastrophe of everything, but she managed to keep the balance and find loyal friends in Chubs, Liam, and Zu, who took her in under their wing. One of my favorite characters is Chubs, actually, because he was a character who evolved so well throughout the novel, and despite his initial pig-headedness, he grew to be a loyal friend you’d love to have on your side. Liam, I thought, was a good love interest for Ruby, though he didn’t affect me in the way Chubs did. He was, however, a brave and selfless character who complemented Ruby perfectly, and he acted as the cutest big brother to Zu as well. Clancy was a surprising character, though, since I never expected him to actually play a part in the book, and I wish things turned out differently for him.

After reading the whole book, though, I had one question that attacked me over and over again despite my efforts to shoo it away: Wasn’t the government afraid the population would die out? Up until now, I still can’t find a plausible reason as to why they would allow such a thing, but we’ll see in the sequels.

Overall, The Darkest Minds was a fantastic read, and throughout the whole book, I felt like Alexandra Bracken was pulling the floor out from under my feet again and again until I was free-falling into the wonders of this beautiful and horrifying world she has managed to create.

 

Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

  • TitleThe Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)
  • AuthorJulie Kagawa
  • SourceWon from Mira Ink
  • No. of Pages446
  • PublishedApril 30, 2013 by Harlequin Teen
  • Rating5/5
  • Check it outGoodreads or Amazon
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

I loved The Immortal Rules very much so I was really excited to read The Eternity Cure, especially since a few of the ARC reviews I read back then were positively glowing. In fact, the Blood of Eden series is one of the best I have read so far because of that perfect balance Julie Kagawa creates between the dystopian genre and the post-apocalyptic genre–with flaming kicks of action, a tinge of romance, and the most badass characters you will ever meet.

Honestly speaking, The Eternity Cure reeled me in from page one. Ever since the ending of The Immortal Rules, I was dying to know what would happen next even though it wasn’t really a cliffhanger, and I was especially sad to leave Allie, the protagonist, on a corner of my bookshelf. So the fact that the first page of The Eternity Cure was mysterious, action-packed, fierce, and completely awesome made me believe I was in for a ride. Furthermore, every page I read had beautiful writing and scenes that could make me laugh, cry, squeal, or scream. This kind of emotional attachment was what I was looking for for so long and I got just that.

Allie, on the other hand, proved to be an even greater protagonist than the one she was in the first book, and that was a real feat since I loved Allie a lot in The Immortal Rules. She is a consistently headstrong, stubborn girl with a good head on her shoulders and a witty tongue to boot. I loved her loyalty to Kanin, despite everything, and she proved to be one of those characters you’d love to be best friends with because you know she’ll stand by you through anything, whether or not she’ll get something out of it. It really amazes me to see how she’s evolved as well. A girl who used to prioritize only herself became a girl who looked out for all the people in her life–even those who are supposedly her enemies, and even those who have betrayed her. That tiny sliver of kindness that was in Allie when she was human magnified in her vampire self and I think that’s truly the moment in time when you get completely awe-inspired by a fictional character who has twenty times more morals than you do. Plus, Allie has extremely insightful thoughts and musings, which I think can be proven in this quote:

“I could choose what kind of people I preyed on, but in the end, I had to prey on someone. The lesser of the two evils was still evil.”

This sort of personality Allie has continues to amaze me. She is wise beyond her years yet maintains a sort of youthful characteristic that can make me relate to her. Wow. Just wow.

The plot too, was very good and very precise. I loved the cat and mouse game Allie was playing with Sarren, and I loved the fact that Julie inserted in some very nice twists that contributed to the fast pace and tension of the book as a whole. I also like the new Jackal Julie presents in The Eternity Cure, and I think I prefer him much more this way than in the first book. ;) Even as a supposed villain, he also evolves alongside Allie, in his own special way. Also, you can obviously expect a lot of action in this book as Allie (and her sidekicks) wields her katana and fights to the death for Kanin, life, and humanity (and vampires!) at the end of the day. Since the new strain of Red Lung is horrific and even worse than before, you can expect a lot of tension and fast-paced scenes in the book as well, so don’t forget to check the clock while you are reading this book or you might just end up under your covers with a flashlight in hand at 4am in the morning. :)

The romance was pretty okay, and though I still think the plot could go well enough without it, I appreciate the fact that even though I believe what I said, Julie makes me long for more Zeke and Allie as well. That, I think, is the talent of a true author. You brainwash your readers into wanting more of something they didn’t need all that much in the first place.

Overall, The Eternity Cure was completely amazing, chock-full of surprises and action at every corner. You’ll long for more of Allie (and the rest of the gang) by the end of this book, and trust me, you’ll even wish for more of Sarren and Jackal. It’s just that great.

 Note: The quote above may just be my all-time favorite right now.

 

ARC Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

  • TitleIn the Shadow of Blackbirds
  • AuthorCat Winters
  • SourceARC Review Copy from Publisher
  • No. of Pages387
  • PublishedApril 02, 2013 by Amulet Books
  • Rating3.5/5
  • Check it outGoodreads or Amazon
In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

I’d like to thank Tina from A&C Kids for providing me with this ARC.

Truth be told, In the Shadow of Blackbirds is one of the few historical fiction novels I have read, so my perception and view of this genre has not yet been muddied by cliches and overused plot lines. However, I was expecting a rich plot that exposes readers into the 1900s, the war, and the horrors of the Spanish influenza that had taken so many lives from people of all ages while still maintaining the suspense and excitement of seances and ghosts from the pasts of the living. With this, Cat Winters does not disappoint.

The beginning is especially interesting, as readers get a peek into the complications of Mary Shelley’s life. Her father is in prison, accused of being a traitor to the country and she is shipped off to her Aunt Eva, who lives in one of the few places not yet infected by the flu. I loved reading about how the war and the influenza changed so many things in the lives of the people, the women especially. The transition from extravagant parties and ridiculously expensive dresses to working-class women earning a living through means that used to be horrific shows the difficulty of life for these people. It also explains why they were driven to seek out seances and ‘spirit photographers.’ Julius, the brother of Mary’s childhood sweetheart, Stephen, is especially popular for taking pictures of the living with spirits of their pasts who died mostly because of the flu or the war. However, Mary never believed in the pictures, not even when something so drastic and unexpected happens and shocks her into thinking ghosts and spirits might just exist.

An aspect of the book I liked was how Mary was so vividly attacked by dreams and spirit visitations and how these just propelled her to find out who, exactly, was responsible for the death of Stephen. Her inquisitive nature thickens the plot for the readers and shows the dark side of the people we may have trusted in the start. Throughout the book, I liked the balance of the thrill of ghosts and the horrors of war blended together to make sure readers were integrated into the world Cat Winters painted as well. Mary was a nicely developed character, and despite the doom and gloom that seemed to surround the book at every page, it was Mary who made sure twists were developed and the secrets were found out after a clever foreshadowing. There was a tinge of madness in the book as well, which was, surprisingly, the cherry on top of the cupcake. It showed the depth of the characters and explored the world that pushed these people into corners they never imagined they would be pushed into.

However, though the writing was beautifully done, I felt it quite slow in a lot of parts, and a pinch of boredom threatened to attack me in some of the pages. I could go without some events happening, and I think some scenes were too developed it almost seemed redundant, though I suppose I would prefer that over an underdeveloped plot. That part of the book took out its shine, which is why the book seemed too gloomy and repetitive at times. There was something that kept me going until the end, though, and I’m very glad I listened to that instinct because the ending revealed something so wonderfully secret yet so blatantly obvious I wanted to smack myself. I reveled in the way the author kept me in the dark and controlled my mind despite my being the reader, and kudos to her for that.

Overall, In the Shadow of Blackbirds is a well-written book which contains secrets that fit in like puzzle pieces into an exciting plot. Though it can be somewhat slow at times, the world-building is quite exquisite, and the foreshadowing: excellent.

ARC Review: Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards

  • TitlePhoenix (Black City #2)
  • AuthorElizabeth Richards
  • SourceReview Copy
  • No. of Pages368
  • PublishedJune 04, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
  • Rating4/5
  • Check it outGoodreads or Amazon
Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Phoenix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose’s Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.

The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn’t seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose’s Law, signing Natalie’s death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.

Black City impressed me a LOT. The intriguing and unique premise about Darklings and humans mixed in with a dystopian feel to it drew me in from page one. Elizabeth Richards creatively painted a world where nothing is impossible, and the supposed ‘monsters’ are the heroes. Admittedly, Phoenix was a little harder for me to get into, especially when Ash proposed rather abruptly. I felt like he was thinking too rashly and I believe it should have taken more time and bad experiences for this to happen. However, I did take into consideration the idea of ‘Blood Mates’ and though it still didn’t convince me that this was a good decision, the idea felt better once I realized how committed Darklings were to each other (or in this case, a human and a twin-blood) when this happened.

Other than that, though, Phoenix was a very good book. The action amped up more in this sequel, and I enjoyed reading page after page of battles since this proved to be the turning point of the rebellion and showed that the plot was heating up. This time, new alliances have been formed with Elijah, the Bastet boy Natalie saved in Black City. Of course, this unlikely happening brings out a new jealousy, a very confused Natalie, and a indebted Bastet, trying to hide his feelings for a certain blonde girl.

Ash developed a lot as a character in Phoenix, and the heroic action he did by voting against Rose’s Law despite the threat of Natalie getting hurt cut deep into my heart. I valued his decision to put thousands of people and Darklings ahead of his Blood Mate since this proves that Ash does have a good head on his shoulders and is a worthy face for the rebellion. Natalie, on the other hand, grew out of her shell more, as she takes more risks and tries to help in any way she can. Now, her main focus is saving her loved ones and helping the rebellion triumph. Her acts of bravery, both for the rebellion and for Ash, shows that beneath that vulnerable side of her is a girl with fire in her soul.

Furthermore, Elizabeth does not disappoint as the twists in the plot return again in Phoenix. The hints came a little stronger this time, but when it was revealed, I was still very, very surprised. I now deem Elizabeth Richards as the Queen of Twists because every little detail she thinks of is somehow a hint to the revelation to come. Her twists also tie up very nicely with the plot, and I loved the tension in the latter half of the book that led to the characters finding out about the new plot line as well.

Overall, Phoneix is an action-packed novel filled with maniac villains, (I’m looking at you, Purian Rose!) revelations, character development, a mind-blowing plot, and pages and pages of creativity that will leave you wanting for more. Will Natalie and Ash be able to sacrifice everything they value for a fight weighed against them?

 

Review: No Attachments by Tiffany King

  • TitleNo Attachments
  • AuthorTiffany King
  • SourceReview Copy from Publisher
  • No. of Pages302
  • PublishedApril 30, 2013 by A. T. Publishing LLC
  • Rating3/5
  • Check it outGoodreads or Amazon
Ashton Garrison walked away from a privileged life in order to hide from the one thing she's not willing to face. She knows she left behind a trail of pain, but in the long run, her betrayal will hurt less than the truth. She now has one goal: Live life to the fullest with no regrets and no attachments. She has high hopes that a move to new surroundings will provide the escape she desires, but what Ashton doesn't count on is how fate always seems to find a way to screw up any good plan. Sometimes, when love comes knocking, the pull is too strong not to answer. Suddenly, what she thought she wanted to escape from is what Ashton now wants more than anything.

Nathan Lockton has one mission: find his target and complete the task he was hired to do—no attachments and no emotion necessary. He's done it over and over again. What he thought was a typical lost-and-found job has turned into a life examining moment as Nathan is forced to deal with something he has always ignored--his feelings. Now faced with a decision, Nathan must choose to either follow his heart or complete the job.

Love can come when you least expect it. The question is: If the odds are stacked against you, how far are you willing to go for the one you love?

RELEASE DAY LAUNCH + GIVEAWAY

Tiffany King No Attachments Release Day Launch FINAL

Embarrassingly enough, No Attachments was the first New Adult novel that I read. From the summary, though, I was already intrigued, seeing as I was hoping that this book would be a higher level of YA contemporary–with older, wiser characters that have a certain depth to them that the teens in YA novels don’t have yet. Despite this, I was also expecting certain flaws and imperfections to follow the characters in the book as well, so that they would stay real people in a real world.

No Attachments opens up in a pub, with Ashton trying to mark off an item on her bucket list: Have a no-strings-attached, one-night stand. Her target is Nathan, an incredibly handsome man, who actually happens to have a hidden agenda, and knows exactly who Ashton is. When she introduces herself, I get a peek at her character, a bubbly, clumsy, and enthusiastic girl, with a deep past and history that she ran away from. Their interactions were adorable and cute, especially when they involved alcohol, (lol) and I felt myself beginning to warm up to Ashton, who wanted nothing but to live her life to the fullest.

However, as the story progresses, I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with Ashton and Nathan’s relationship. Maybe my inexperience in NA plays a part in this, but I also felt like both of them were rushing into things much too quickly after the initial meet-up. Hormones, I understand. But deep emotion after something so casual irked me. Granted, I liked how the author was able to delay the supposed ‘one-night stand’ and make it into something with a little more emotion, but I couldn’t understand why Nathan felt so strongly about Ashton when she was supposed to be ‘just an assignment,’ and why Ashton felt so strongly about Nathan when he was supposed to be ‘just some hot guy.’

Near the end, the plot opens up to reveal a secret, which I actually had a hunch about, that develops the story a little bit more so that the plot isn’t just about sex. This is when Ashton and Nathan become better characters in my eyes, people who are serious and committed about relationships instead of impulsive adults with a whole lot of hormones. I felt like this twist should have opened up quicker, though, since I was already quite annoyed with both of the characters before the revelation. This is quite dangerous as well, since when the climax happens too late, there’s a risk of the book being labeled as a ‘no-plot’ or ‘petty.’ I liked King’s effort to flesh out the nuances in the scenes though, and I appreciated the little things she did to evolve the plot and characters.

Overall, I would probably recommend No Attachments to frequent NA readers who love playful bantering between characters and a lot of sexual tension. For veteran YA readers who have never touched a NA in their life, though, I would recommend starting small first and reading this when you get used to the whole different world New Adult novels present.

Author Bio:

Tiffany King is the author of The Saving Angels Series, Wishing for Someday Soon, Forever Changed, Unlikely Allies, Miss Me Not and Jordyn: A Daemon Hunter Novel book one. Writer by day and book fanatic the rest of the time, she is now pursuing her life-long dream of weaving tales for others to enjoy.

She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iphone and ipad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.

 GIVEAWAY

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Links:

Twitter- @AuthorTiffany

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