Friday, January 26, 2018

The Never Dawn—R.E. Palmer

Title: The Never Dawn
Author: R.E. Palmer
Publisher: Front Runner Publications, 2016
Pages: 252 p
Source: Author
Compensation: None
Read: April 2017

R.E. Palmer’s The Never Dawn
I don’t respond to book review requests anymore because I am so behind in my reviews, but I was intrigued by the description of this book and the author’s assertion that he didn’t need a review written by a certain date. So, I accepted and here I am writing a review 9 months later.

The Never Dawn is the first book in a dystopian trilogy about an underground society of people tirelessly working to be able to someday return to the surface of the earth. Noah’s work is very monotonous and repetitive but he’s highly motivated to do a good job and win approval from “Mother”—the mysterious leader of the group. Noah is not really sure how his work will help, but he knows the more units he completes, the closer they’ll get to being able to go home. Noah’s faith in the system is unshaken until he meets Rebecca—a beautiful girl that makes him question everything. Together they begin to realize that things are not quite what they seem.

There have been many dystopian stories, making it difficult to find one that’s different. The Never Dawn is—it made me think about control and freedom and choice. Although you can guess what the true purpose of Noah’s work is, the twist at the end of the book is unexpected. I found myself really wanting to know what happened next—so much so that I bought the second book on my own.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Queens of Geek—Jen Wilde

Title: Queens of Geek
Author: Jen Wilde
Publisher: Swoon Reads, 2017
Pages: 288 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: March 2017

Jen Wilde's Queens of Geek

Taylor, Charlie, and Jamie have traveled all the way to the United States from Australia to attend the ultimate fandom convention, SupaCon. Charlie has a fan base of her own as a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie and was able to use her new celebrity status to get lifelong friends Taylor and Jamie into SupaCon as well. Charlie's co-star, the swoon-worthy Reese Ryan, is also her ex-boyfriend and his presence at SupaCon complicates things for the young actress. She strikes up a relationship with fellow vlogger and super cool-girl Alyssa Huntington and discovers that her crush on the internet star isn't in vain. While Charlie and Alyssa are exploring their new relationship, anxiety-prone Taylor and trusty sidekick Jamie are determined to make SupaCon the best experience ever by meeting their favorite author. Taylor must overcome her deepest fears in order to get what she wants. Jamie helps her to realize that what she really wants is him in this geeky romance. 

Queens of Geek is full of book and movie references and is a fun look at the fandom convention phenomena. Taylor's anxiety and experience with Asperger's is treated sensitively. The story is told in chapters alternating between Charlie's and Taylor's point of view, giving the reader a chance to see inside both of their minds. Queens of Geek is a fun quick read that will appeal to romance readers and self-proclaimed geeks. 


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Take the Key and Lock Her Up—Ally Carter

Title: Take the Key and Lock Her Up
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic, 2016
Pages: 336 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None
Read: March 2017

Ally Carter's Take the Key and Lock Her Up

Ally Carter’s Embassy Row series began with All Fall Down, continued with See How they Run, and now ends with this final installment. I read the first one two and a half years ago and I still vividly remember how it made me feel. I remember the tension and the stomach clenching and the suspense. Am I an Ally Carter fangirl? Maybe. Do I start out each of her books already knowing I’m going to like it? Maybe.

If you haven’t read the first two books, get that done before you attempt this one.

This is a solid conclusion to the series. Some of the tension is missing because the cards are on the table now—we know who the bad guys are and what they want. I know that at the time I read this (nearly a year ago) I gave it 4 stars, but I’m having trouble remembering specific details. Yet, I can clearly recall things that happened in the first book. I’m not saying this to mean that I didn’t enjoy Take the Key and Lock Her Up, because clearly I did, but it may not be as strong as the first two books. Things are wrapped up neatly and I would still recommend this entire trilogy.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

All the Bright Places—Jennifer Niven

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Knopf, 2015
Pages: 378 p.
Source: Library ebook
Compensation: None
Read: Dec 2016

Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places

Violet Markey is mourning the death of her sister when she meets mysterious Theodore Finch. Theodore is obsessed with death, constantly coming up with different ways he could kill himself, but something always stops him from going through with it. Violet and Theodore embark on a school project to discover the unknown natural wonders of their state. As they discover each new place, they learn more and more about each other. Theodore brings Violet out her shell and gives her something to look forward to other than just counting the days. But even as Theodore helps Violet, he falls deeper and deeper into his own depression.

I picked up All the Bright Places because I really liked Holding Up the Universe, a book I was sent to review for VOYA. All the Bright Places was just as good and difficult to put down. Violet and Theodore are both likable characters that readers will naturally root for. The writing is poignant and meaningful; Theodore’s positive post-it notes are thoughtful & insightful. Although it’s difficult to put this book down, it’s not an easy book to finish. It’s heart-wrenching and emotionally exhausting. Have a box of tissues nearby.


Goldenhand—Garth Nix

Title: Goldenhand
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2016
Pages: 368 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None
Read: December 2016

Garth Nix’s Goldenhand
It’s been over a year since I read this book and while I know that I absolutely enjoyed it and gave it 5 stars at Goodreads, some of the details are a little fuzzy. This is what happens when you tend to read a lot of fantasy—at some point they all blend together. Which is yet another reason for not waiting a year to do a review.

Goldenhand takes place 6 months after the events in Abhorsen. Lirael is now the Abhorse-in-Waiting and one of her first missions is to rescue Nick Sayre who has just been attacked by a Hrule creature—events that are described in the short story The Creature in the Case from the collection, Across the Wall. She helps him as much as she can but realizes that he needs medical attention that only the Clayr can give, so the two travel to Lirael’s former home, the Glacier. At the same time, Ferin races towards the Glacier to deliver a message to Lirael from her mother—a message with apocalyptic visions of the future. Lirael and Nick must again battle Chlorr of the Mask and attempt to defeat her once and for all.

I’ve loved all of Garth Nix’s books. Some more than others, but I honestly have never picked up a Nix book and said, “eh.” Although I can’t remember the minute details, I very much remember being so happy to be back in the Old Kingdom. I loved reading about Lirael and Nick again. This was a satisfying follow up to the original Abhorsen trilogy.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Love and First Sight—Josh Sundquist

Title: Love and First Sight
Author: Josh Sundquist
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company, 2017
Pages: 288 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: Dec 2017

Josh Sundquist’s Love and First Sight
Will starts his first day at a new high school groping a girl on the stairs, sitting on a kid in the cafeteria, and making a fellow classmate cry just by looking at her. All in all a successful day for a sixteen-year-old blind boy who had never been in a public school. Will manages to navigate high school with his cane, his iPhone, and his ability to memorize routes once he has taken them. Navigating high school friendships turns out to be a bit trickier. Will becomes friends with the boy from the cafeteria and the girl he made cry, but when an experimental surgery gives Will eyesight he discovers that they were not as forthcoming with him as he thought. Cecily, the crying girl Will is falling in love with, has a facial birthmark that does not meet traditional standards of beauty. Will insists that what Cecily looks like really does not matter, but he feels betrayed by her and their friends for keeping it from him when he could not see it. 

Sundquist writes about Will's blindness with sensitivity. Although Will is completely incapable of seeing anything in the beginning of the story--not even shadows--he is not helpless or powerless. He is flawed, not because he cannot see with his eyes, but rather because of how he responds when he can see with them. The lesson in Love and First Sight is clear and predictable, but readers will enjoy Will's journey anyway.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Keep Her

Title: Keep Her
Author: Leora Krygier
Publisher: She Writes Press, 2016.
Pages: 264 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None
Read: November 2016

Leora Krygier’s Keep Her
Maddie is a seventeen-year-old recent graduate contemplating her future. Although she loves numbers and scientific rational thinking, she has been accepted into a university program for fine art. She creates collages from photographs and unwanted scraps of material. While waiting for her pictures to be developed, the camera store she is in is suddenly flooded from a water main break. Maddie starts to panic, but is quickly rescued by a young man. Aiden and Maddie instantly bond over their frightening experience and form an interesting friendship. Maddie is dealing with emotions from her adoption, as well as the consequences of her brother's criminal behavior. Aiden is dealing with his own demons, namely the guilt over his younger brother's accidental death and the life-changing decision he is faced with--whether or not to keep his infant daughter. When Maddie learns Aiden is considering putting his daughter up for adoption, she tries to convince him to keep her.

Keep Her is a quick interesting read that will engage fans of contemporary fiction. Maddie and Aiden's relationship blooms very quickly, but throughout the novel there are flashbacks to Aiden's mission to save endangered whales that suggest that maybe Aiden's been waiting for Maddie for a lot longer. Fans of meant-to-be romance stories will not be disappointed.


Monday, January 08, 2018

Visitors--Orson Scott Card

Title: Visitors
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2014
Pages: 608 p.
Source: Library Ebook
Compensation: None
Read: November 2016

Orson Scott Card's Visitors

Visitors is the conclusion to the Pathfinder trilogy that includes Pathfinder and Ruins. There is no point in even attempting to read this unless you've read the first two.

I've seen the negative reviews of this book (and series) but I enjoyed this series. Rigg and his friends have discovered that the world is in danger of obliteration from visitors with deadly intentions. Luckily, Rigg and his friends are not ordinary teens. They each possess different talents letting them manipulate time. They put those talents to use as they frantically search for a way to prevent the destruction of everything they know and save the world.

Just like Ruins, this is not the book to read while watching TV or multitasking. You need to devote some time to this and then some more time to think about it when you're done reading. I love time travel and I'm a big fan of tv shows/movies that explore its ramifications. It helped that I've already thought about the concept of time and Riggs & Umbo's conversations about causality and the relationship between the past and the future were conversations that I've thought about. This book is *deep*. The entire series is deep. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it, but it'll take a special reader to truly appreciate it.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Ruins—Orson Scott Card

Title: Ruins
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2013
Pages: 544 p.
Source: Library E-Book
Compensation: None
Read: November 2016

Orson Scott Card’s Ruins
This is the second book in Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder series and without reading the first you’ll be lost and confused and simply unhappy. If you haven’t read the first, go ahead and do that before you read this review.

Rigg, his friend Umbo, and his newly discovered sister Param all have special powers to help them manipulate time. On the run from people who would like to prevent Rigg and/or Param from claiming their birthright, they cross the forbidden Wall between the world they know and one they can only imagine. Here they uncover even more mysteries and are not sure who they can trust. Even though they spend a lot of time bickering and being suspicious of one another, they have to work together if they are going to prevent the horror that the future brings—a destructive force with deadly intentions that’s hurtling across time and space towards Garden.

Get ready to use your brains because there is some DEEP thinking about time and cause/effect in this mind-bending sequel. This is a complex book that deserves undivided attention.

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