The Raging Ones – Review!!!

Publication Date: August 14, 2018

Rating: 5-Raging Stars!!!

The Raging Ones, by Krista & Becca Ritchie, is the first book in a new YA-scifi duology that clobbered me over the head and left me for dead. Seriously though, WOW, I was so impressed with this book. This story had everything I desire, i.e. complex characters, intriguing plot, a competition element and phenomenal world-building. I don’t even know where to begin with this so will start with the basics:

The year is 3525 on a harsh, frozen planet where society is divided into a type of caste system based on how long you will live. How is this possible, you ask? Well, in this world, every baby has a simple test performed that tells the exact day they are going to die. As you can imagine, this extinguishes plenty of fear in the world because you can take risks and know that you will not die from them (unless it is your death day). However, it also extinguishes a lot of hope as well since you know it can never be changed. People accept the social structure and focus more on just surviving in such a severe environment.

The story focuses on three main characters and we follow each of their perspectives along the way. There is Franny Bluecastle, an impulsive and hard-edged Fast Tracker (death days between the ages of 13 – 29) girl who we first meet the day before her impending death day. Court Icecastle is a tough, well-educated ‘thief’ who has a hidden and mysterious past. Lastly, Mykal Kickfall, who is a sweet baby cinnamon roll who hails from the North and was a hunter/warrior prior to falling in with Court. Court and Mykal are drawn to Franny just after she survives her death day and the drama takes off from there.

Our three main characters are linked, you discover this early on, not just in the fact that they are the only known individuals to ‘survive’ their death days but also mentally and physically. They have a bond that is unlike anything I have ever read before. It is hard to describe because it is really more of a feeling than anything – they share senses, quite literally.

I know what you’re thinking…two boys, one girl, classic set up for a love triangle. Nope. Stop right there. This is NOT that book. This is not who will she choose, who will he choose. There is LOVE but not THAT kind of love. The foundation of this relationship is M/M. Mykal and Court have an incredibly deep, unbreakable bond that goes beyond anything that you would typically find in a ‘romance’ story. Franny does become a part of this but not in a third wheel, add-on, aggressive sort of way. The dynamic between the three is equal and all-consuming and I (a non-romantic) absolutely cherished every moment of it.

As a trio, Franny, Mykal and Court enroll to compete for the chance to become employed by StarDust (think NASA meets NSA) and hopefully get one of 5-coveted slots for the Saga-5 Mission. Essentially a space mission, the first in this society for over 300-years. Franny, Mykal and Court make it through enrollment and become three of 1,024 people competing for these spots. They live in dormitories, they have rivalries, they compete in challenges and undergo training on flying space ships, surviving in zero-G environments, etc. This part of the story gave me life! I absolutely love competition/training elements in books – it is one of my all time favorite tropes in YA and this one was so well done. We meet a great cast of side characters and learn more about the world overall through their interactions with our MCs.

I am a big fan of science-fiction books and particularly YA-scifi. I read a lot of them. This one impressed me because it felt very true to the genre without weighing you down in science jargon that would make the story unattractive to the masses. They kept the mysterious, dark, smart scifi feel without making it too snobby nerdy -does this make sense? I mean, I am a nerd, I will be the first to admit that, but I like my scifi to have the power to enthrall all types of people – nerd or not.

I loved so many things about this book, I know as soon as I publish this review I will think of 50 more things I should have mentioned. This storyline to me was so unique and the characters were so well fleshed out, I am going to be thinking about this one for a long time to come. Which makes me think…how long until the next book? That ending…honestly, I don’t know how I am going to live with this cliffhanger! It blew my mind the end of this book. I cannot wait for my book friends to read this so I can discuss with somebody!  Please let that be you – If you haven’t already, please add this book to your TBR – you won’t regret it!

These authors, Krista and Becca (identical twins by the way – how cool is that?) deserve a big round of applause! That they came up with this, through a collaboration, is just so significant and I think demonstrative of their level of talent. I am really looking forward to progressing with this series!

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for providing me with an early review copy of this book. It is, so far, my favorite read of 2018 and I just had such a wonderful time with it and providing my thoughts and opinions. I appreciate the opportunity!

Review: She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

Publication Date: July 31, 2018    |    Rating: 4.5-Stars!!!

4.5-stars! She Was the Quiet One is an Adult Thriller that takes place at a private school for very wealthy kids. Let’s get this out of the way real quick – I am absolute TRASH for any story that takes place in a private school or prep school. I went into this book blind and had no idea that this was the type of story this was, so yeah, elated at that.

The plot centers around twins, Bel & Rose Enright, who after losing both parents get sent to Odell Academy, a prestigious New England boarding school (aka. playground for the priviledged) by their wealthy Grandmother. Rose, the more grounded and studious of the two, looks at this as a blessing – a place where she can reach new academic heights and strive toward loftier goals than ever before. Bel, the ‘wild one’, if you will, devastated by the recent loss of her beloved mother is more of a loose cannon and falls in with a group of ‘bad girls’ almost immediately.

The story also follows a married couple, Heath and Sarah Donovan, who work at the school as teachers and dorm heads. Their marriage is explored in detail and although perfection on the outside, holds its own troubles, resentments and buried secrets. Heath has lofty goals of his own – dreaming of one day becoming headmaster of the school; Sarah the supportive wife is left on the sidelines a lot of time.

Heath and Sarah’s relationship is definitely where the adult element comes from, there are a lot of complicated themes woven into this storyline. The interactions between the students at the school, on their own, could fit in very well in a YA Thriller; it’s when the adults and kids begin to mix that things become messy. If you are the type of reader who doesn’t enjoy teenage drama, you may find this one tedious, so just know that going in. There is bullying, hazing, general romantic drama but for me, it absolutely worked.

In my opinion, this wasn’t wickedly suspenseful – it was more that things began to unravel before our eyes at a steady pace until the final scene. I loved the format of it – which mixes in detective interviews…okay, back up…a crime has been committed, you do not know to who or by who and that is what is revealed throughout the entire story. It was really well done and I applaud the author for keeping the pace steady and engaging the whole way through!

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Adult Thrillers and I also would recommend this to readers who may be looking to transition from more YA books to Adult books, as it has elements of both. I would however say trigger warning for sexual assault, hazing, bullying and unlawful sexual contact. If these are topics that you are sensitive to please be aware before going in.

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for providing me the opportunity to read this book and provide my opinions. I had so much fun with it and definitely plan to pick up Michele Campbell’s other book, It’s Always the Husband.

Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Publication Date: January 3, 2017    |    Rating: 3-Stars

Meh. This was good. My mind wandered a heck of a lot with this – I felt like my mind was a ‘traveler’ and it was checking out of this story quite a bit. Is it the book’s fault? Is it my fault because it’s summer and life is crazy? Is it my fault because I read this one right on the heels of the first book and got burn out? I may never know because I am unhauling this series and will most likely never read it again.

This is the 2nd book in the Passenger duology and it follows a group of individuals, known as travelers, who can travel through space and time protecting or unsettling the existing timeline depending on what their ultimate goals are. This picks up a few months after the first one ends, where our two main characters have been separated and neither one knows what happened to the other. The hunt is still on for the mysterious device known as the astrolabe and we jump around to a lot of destinations and times – more so than in the first book; at least it felt that way to me. At times, it was a little hard to keep tabs on the action…

I did enjoy a couple of the new characters in this one:
The Belladonna (aka. The Witch of Prague) – yes, please. She had me at hello and Mi Lin, a sexy, badass female pirate. Again, yes, please.

They were both definitely fun new additions to the story and I liked the sections that they were included in. Particularly this ‘auction’ that the Belladonna held; just a unique twist to the story that I thought was fun and great way to bring characters from all over the timeline together into one place.

Overall, for me though, I feel like the length didn’t help the story. This book was so long for a YA fantasy at over 500 pages. I wonder if it would have worked better broken into a trilogy instead of cramming so much into this one book. I don’t know, for me, it was good but it didn’t blow me away. I didn’t love it (I wanted to!) and I actually enjoyed the first book in the duology more. I definitely will continue reading Alexandra Bracken stories though and I am glad that I read this and that I get to check it off my HUGE tbr list!

Have you ever experienced burn-out on a series, trilogy or duology? If so, what was it? Leave a comment below or connect with me through my contact me links!

Review: Nyxia Unleased by Scott Reintgen

Publication Date: July 17, 2018    |    Rating: 5-stars!!!!

Nyxia Unleashed is the second book in The Nyxia Triad. Just like the first book, I absolutely loved this and gave it FIVE well-deserved stars. This is a YA science-fiction novel that is incredibly inclusive and has a strong undercurrent of social commentary which I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed.

In this book, our MC, Emmett Atwater and the rest of the kids from Book One have now arrived on the planet they have previously known as Eden. Throughout their training, Babel, the corporation they work for, had taught and prepared them for meeting the ‘aliens’, who they called Adamites, of this planet. Once on Eden, the kids are assigned local emissaries that ultimately end up teaching them in the true ways of their planet, which they call Magnia and refer to themselves as the Imago people. They travel through the various communities of this planet meeting with the peoples and learning their history, political structure and immediate societal issues. The kids, disenchanted with Babel Corporation, after their excruciating training period, begin to realize that Babel’s goals are much more sinister than they had previously expressed. Without giving too much away, they must ultimately decide who and what they are willing to fight for.

What happens next will change the fate of worlds. We are genesis.

This novel is much darker than the first as the subject matter settles down and becomes more serious. Throughout the book I had an incredible feeling of something ominous just at the edge of the horizon. As the storyline began to unfold, I had no clue as to where it was leading. I loved learning about the Imago and experiencing the wonder of learning about their society, past and future. This story is an excellent examination of colonizing powers, indigenous populations and how people choose to treat other people.

Do we treat others with the dignity they deserve, regardless of where they come from?

There are some things a person should never stand by and watch…Pops taught me that much.

The above are thoughts of Emmett Atwater, our protagonist. Emmett is such a sweet, precious little cupcake. He is a great kid, raised but loving parents in the city of Detroit, where although poor, he never lacked for love or a strong kick in the backside, whichever he needed more. Seeing Emmett grapple with good versus evil, standing up for what he believes is right, overcoming adversity, is such an enjoyable thing to read. I loved watching him gaining strength and confidence throughout these two books and I am so excited to see where the third book takes him. He could lead a revolution, this one!

The other kids working with him are from all over the world – we really have everyone represented here – there are kids from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America, Europe, we have LGBTQ+ characters and we get to learn a bit about all of their perspectives; it’s a great thing to see in a YA book. We learn the most about them in Book One but I thought it was important to bring up again here for people searching for diverse representation in their books.

I’m an angel without wings. I’m a demon without fire.

The ending of this book was INCREDIBLE! I have no idea how I am going to make it until next April waiting for the last book in the series. (cue letter writing to publisher begging for early copy…) We are on the edge of a major precipice here – a battle of good versus evil – a battle where fates and worlds will indeed be changed. Are the kids on the right track? Have they made the right choices? Are they siding with the right people? I DON’T KNOW!!!! But I am incredibly ready to find out! If you like sci-fi, if you like diverse books, if you like books with a point, please, please, please pick up this series! It deserves all the love it can get!

Thank you so much to Crown Books for Young Readers for giving me the opportunity to read this book early. It was one of my most anticipated books of the year so I am very grateful!!!

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Publication Date: April 7, 2016    |    Rating: 4-action packed STARS!

‘You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.’

Swoon! This high stakes adventure really took me by surprise. I expected it to be good but not this good. I really, really enjoyed this and subsequently picked up the second book already. I started this one mainly because I hadn’t read a good time travel story for almost a year and it is one of my favorite sci-fi subgenres. This book had nonstop action and a scavenger hunt feel as our main characters, Etta & Nicholas, follow clues searching for an object left for Etta to find by her mother, Rose. Sound confusing? At times, I’ll admit, I felt a little lost but I think that was more due to my mind wandering due to LIFE than to an actual issue with the book.

This is the first Alexandra Bracken novel I have ever read and I am happy she has so many other books for me to choose from! Her writing style is very fast-paced and that action kept me flipping pages at a speed that even for me, seemed impressive. I finished this so quickly and am just itching to get farther in Wayfarer. Passenger left off on such a cliffhanger I can’t imagine the people who read it when it first came out having to wait for the 2nd book to be released! Literal torture and this is why I am years behind on my duologies, trilogies and series.

If you are looking for a super fast, engaging and lively adventure this could be the perfect book for you. There is some romance which although no necessarily my favorite plot element was pretty okay. I didn’t cringe once so that’s huge for me. I love Nicholas, a time traveling sailor with a heart of gold -he may actually be my first book crush this year- so cheers to that!

I really enjoyed Etta as well. She is a violin prodigy who when we meet her is under a lot of pressure to perform and live up to expectations. Once she is swept up into the unexpected reality of time travel, we really see her blossom. I thought her character was really strong and took everything in stride. At one point, she thought to herself, if my mother could do this, than so can I. I loved that self-assurance and just taking things as they come. She had no idea this whole underground world was part of her mother’s life, or part of hers, and she was able to adapt and assert herself and I thought it was great to see as opposed to a heroine who just needs to be saved!

Have you read this book? Do you have any other time travel recommendations for me? If so, please leave a comment below – I want to be sure I am not missing out on any other gems like this one!