Book Review: These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive — alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth. 

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My Review:
These Broken Stars was a good adventure of twist and turns, a new planet, and budding love, and I look forward to reading the remainder of The Starbound Triliogy.  At the start of the book I almost felt like I was back on a cruise ship with all the different decks, entertainment options; but I felt the book really took off once Lilac and Tarver landed on the unknown planet.  As for the characters, I really enjoyed Lilac and Tarver’s relationship, it was fun at the beginning with each of them trying to display disinterest and indifference, and then growing into fondness with obvious attraction into something more.  In the end, I think the best aspects of this book was the world building and the story line/emotional roller coaster that the authors takes you on.

Rated:  PG 
Genre: Young Adult
Rating:  3.5 Stars – While I did love the world building, the travel time/time between action seemed kind of lengthy

Book Review: The Kiss of Deception – Mary E. Pearsons

Title:  Kiss of Deception (The Remant Chronicals – Book 1)

Author: Mary E. Pearsons
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love. 

My Review:
Kiss of Deception is a little bit hard for me to rate, because while part of me felt just a bit “eh” about the whole thing, another part of me could NOT.STOP.THINKING.ABOUT.IT.  I love the concept, the story of a young adult standing up for her rights and even wants and need; but then having to face the consequences of those actions. Lia was a strong and growing character, and I felt like I grew right along with her – I felt the injustice of an arrange marriage, her confusion as she was starting to discover her gift, and then her devastation at realizing the chain of events that has followed as a result of her running away.  The LOVE TRIANGLE (yes, of course) was beautiful, I was trapped between Rafe and Kaden, and had a very difficult time “choosing” a side, because throughout the first half of the book, both boys kind of made my heart melt.  All of that sounds great, so I’ll tell you what was wrong;  this book felt like it just draaagged on forever without a whole lot of action, and even that little bit kind of felt flat to me, which could have been the result of how long it took to get from Point A to Point B.

Rated: PG
Genre:  Young Adult – Dystopian, Romance
Rating: 3-Stars

Book Review: The Jewel – Amy Ewing

Title: The Jewel (The Lone City Series, Book 1)

Author: Amy Ewing
Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

My Review:
In a cross between The Selection by Kiera Cass and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, The Jewel is a story with a class system and a bit of rags to riches (Selection), where the rich need something from the poor in order to survive (Birthmarked) and of course forbidden romance (both); this book was right up the dystopian-lover’s alley!  While I enjoyed this book, I cannot say that it was among my favorites.  The relationship between Violet and Ash seemed to fall short for me for some reason, perhaps the “passion” moved too quickly?  The politics are what kept the book interesting rather than the romantic interest, which is a bit unusual, however I was invested in plot and wanted to know what exactly what was going to happen next.  And in true ‘series’ form; the cliffhanger, while wasn’t a big shocker given the foreshadowing, left me sitting on the couch with mouth hanging open thinking, “Nooooo….”

Rated:  PG
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Dystopian
Rating:  3 Stars

Book Review: Ignite Me – Tahereh Mafi

Author:  Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Dystopian, Fantasy
Series:  Shatter Me – Book 3
Synopsis (from Goodreads):   Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

Review:  I’ve been meaning to write this review for a while now.  I probably finished the book a month ago, and you know…life.  Anyhow, first off, let me just say I really do love this series.  I’m about ready to go ahead reread all three again, just for the fun of it.  The story, and the characters were just so good.  I loved the premise; I mean dystopian meets X-Men, who wouldn’t?  I found myself drawn to read Ignite Me in a way that I haven’t really been experiencing as of late.  You know how it is…you put down the book because it’s been at least an hour, and you have kids and a husband to pay a little attention too, but twenty minutes later you find yourself right back in the same spot with the book again.  It consumed me more than I consumed it.
So yes, I loved Ignite Me.  Just loved it.  I love Tahereh Mafi’s writing style, and the characters she created.  I love the world – well, that’s relative; I love reading about the world, I wouldn’t want to live there though.  I especially loved learning a bit more about Warner, or Aaron rather.  It felt so indulgent to get so much background on him after the first 2.5 books, but I soaked it all in.  I loved that there was some emotional rollercoastering going on as well.  There were parts where I, myself, felt near to tears.  That’s good.  I like that.  As long as the main character didn’t die.  Then I don’t like that!  😉
There were, however, parts that I didn’t love so much.  It was more an aftertaste than anything.  Like when you start to drink something and it’s so wonderful that you finish it in that first taste, but then after you’ve sat there for a bit you discover that it wasn’t quite as good as you thought it was?  Hmm…that sounds a little harsh.  Let me elaborate….but first a warning, if you haven’t read this book and don’t wish to know details about it…stop here.
So typically I’m all for the first guy that is presented as the love interest in a triangle such as this.  Perhaps it is because it is the first person that the author makes me fall in love with, and I hate the idea of this conflict of emotions.  However, after their encounter in Unravel Me, I knew Warner was the guy.  There was just something about him in that book, not to mention Destory Me,  that makes you just want him to win.  And then you start reading Ignite Me, and it is just reaffirmed over and over again.  Tahereh Mafi is an expert at writing these wonderfully delightful and passionate kissing scenes, and these tense moments between boy and girl that make your knees weak and your heart thump.  I’m sure this is a large part of her appeal as an author…(plus the superhumans!).  But then there is Adam.  Adam who was so wonderful in Shatter Me, and patient and loving.  And that shower scene!!!  He loved Juliette, that is so hard to forget.  When you start to read Ignite Me this is what you remember; the Adam who loves Juliette.  But what you get is a very angry, unrelenting, careless person.  I kept waiting on some kind of reconciliation (not for he and Juliette to get back together, but an acknowledgement of their behavior and the love that they did share).  I waited on him to be reasonable.  I waiting on his own happy ending. Something!  And you get tastes of things.  Maybe a new love interest?  (But no details.)  A fresh start with his new family?  (But no details.)  I felt so, incomplete without the second half of this book (at least I felt like he was the second half of this book from Shatter Me getting some kind of closure too.  It sort of drove me a bit crazy.
The other thing that kind of got to me was the ending.  Here we’ve worked up to this battle.  It’s been 2 (and then some) books now, and the struggle has been long and harsh.  So the time for the final battle has arrived, and not only does everything go almost exactly as planned, but Juliette walks in and although she does get lost on the ship, and has to battle with an unknown secret weapon, she easily takes everyone down and it’s done.  I was sort of waiting on the other shoe to drop.  Surely something is going to happen…nope.  Warner comes climbing up out of a pit, and they all live happily ever after.  The end. 
In short;  I think, maybe perhaps…the third book was rushed. 
Would I recommend this series?  Yes. I loved it.  For your teenager?  Eh, probably I don’t know.  The scenes are right on the edge.  And there is some sexual content….think Twilight, they work right up until that moment and…fade out, next scene.  So, that part of it is all implied.  But it’s still a mature book.

Book Review: Unravel Me – Tahereh Mafi

Author Site: Tahereh Mafi
 Form:  eBook, Nook
 Genre: Young Adult – Dystopia, Romance, Fiction

Synopsis (from Goodreads):   
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

My Review:  I just finished reading this book literally 5 minutes ago, and I can tell you that I have a myriad of emotions to go along with it.  I devoured this book.  I can’t believe I held off as long as I did to read it, except I was hoping it would end up on the libraries downloadables (since Shatter Me and Destroy Me are both there).  So while waiting, I re-read Shatter Me, then read Destroy Me, waited another week and finally bought Unravel Me.

So one, teenage angst + mentally unstable = a little bit much for me.  Adam was WAY over the top with his feelings, but it seems to be the theme of these books.  Everyone FEELS every little word, emotion, thought as if they were taking some kind of “feelings steroid.”   It makes for good reading though, I suppose.  I mean, if my husband would confess to the type of love as Adam…and Warren apparently have…well, geez, I’d be a puddle of goo on the floor too.

So, here we go with the love triangle, which I think is horribly unfair.  Tahereh Mafi sort of has me going for the underdog in this one, which is unusual for me.  I’m usually pretty straightforward.  However, the unfair part is this; you CANNOT have your characters say things like “I’ve loved you forever,” and “I’ve always loved you,” and have these heart wrenching encounters, and then turn around and have mixed feelings.  (Well, I guess you can, I it is.  She did it.  It’s definitely possible.)  But you all get what I’m saying, right?  I just..I can’t…I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I guess I like the big red bow.  And I’ve already admitted to a desperate hate for love triangles.  NEW THEME AUTHORS…PLEASE RELEASE US FROM THIS STUPIDITY!  🙂

Why am I being so mean to this book?  I love it.  I already said I devoured it.  Every word.  Okay…one more complaint.  I really hope Juliette does not go back to wishy-washy in book three.  This back and forth is giving me mental whip-lash.  Do you want to fight, are you strong, or do you want to cower in a corner and cry and feel guilty about every little last thing in your life.  Again…teenage angst.  Arg!

Okay, so despite the angst, and the back and forth, and the triangle….I have to say, I think I just must love Tahereh Mafi’s writing.  It seems like too much, but I find myself wanting more.  I find myself just wanting to eat it up or finding a spot to hide and just live there.  That doesn’t happen very often.  Another bonus for me, I think the last book that made me flush was Clockwork Prince – and it’s been over a year since that came out (even though I’ve read it 5 times – the first time is always the best).  The book just barely stayed on this side of decent…but again, I was gobbling up ever last drop!

Thank you, Ms Mafi, for your words and your story!  Despite my complaints, you still earn the full 5 stars, I mean…really.  I imagine I’ll be re-reading these again before book 3 is released.

Partials – Dan Wells

Title: Partials

Author: Dan Wells
Rating: 5 stars
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Form:  ebook
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.
When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.
Combining the fast-paced action of
 The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival
I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian future books lately: Hunger Games, Matched series, Divergent series, Under the Never Sky, and Eve to name a few. Partials is more post apocalyptic dystopian. It’s only been 11 years since a war and a plague has destroyed almost all of humanity. The first thing I liked about this book is the lack of the love triangle. There’s a little romance but the main character, Kira, is already established in who she likes. (I think who she likes will change in the second book, but I will say no more, spoiler).

A similarity this book shares with the other ones I mentioned is it’s about Kira discovering who she is. She’s a very headstrong character who does not let go of her beliefs, similar to Katniss. I like the relationships Kira has with her friends. Everything is very realistic. Her relationship with her boyfriend is not perfect and it wasn’t love at first sight. The situations the characters kept getting thrown into kept making me forget they were 16-19 years old. Kira is 17 and a nurse’s intern. She did salvage runs and already knew how to use a gun as well as any soldier.

The book was a little slow at first but towards the middle it starts to pick up. There’s quite a bit of action and political intrigue. Of course in all dystopian future novels the government has something to hide. What Kira finds out though, I’m not sure even the government is aware of it. The ending was slightly predictable, but not completely. There were enough twists that made me go, what?

I definitely can’t wait for the second book and Mr. Wells was kind enough to give us a novella in the fall to make the wait bearable. The novella is called Isolation and is more about the time before and during the war. The next book in the series is called Fragments.

Review by: Stephany

The Selection – Kiera Cass

GENRE:  Young Adult – Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
FORM: Audiobook

SERIES:  The Selection Series

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

REVIEW:   The Selection ended up being a surprisingly good novel. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, except a beauty contest for a prince. Really, the story started out sounding a little bit like the biblical story of Esther, but that is when you are expecting a snobbish, arrogant prince; but once you get to know the characters, particularly America and Prince Maxon, the story itself really starts to take shape. From the beginning it is very obvious that there is going to be a love triangle – but because of the way this story plays out, it’s easier to accept than what happens in most of the Young Adult novels I read; where girl is totally in love with Boy A, then something happens and she falls on Boy B. For this story, one boy sacrifices his love because it’s what he feels is best for her. The way it’s laid out, you can see where it seems like he’s making the right decision, even when your head is screaming, “nooo!”

There were no great feats of action, or major events in The Selection – in that way the book might actually seem a little bit dull. There were a few attacks by rebel camps, but since the action was outside and America was inside, you didn’t actually get to “see” it. The main plot of the story was pretty much about the selection process, what the girls were doing to impress the prince, and what events, interviews and dresses might end up on TV., etc. Even America, and her internal struggles didn’t even seem all that captivating on their own – it was the typical struggle between boys, and her true feelings, and doing what is right. This book is not really a “new” concept.

The characters are what makes this story. Each of the girls in the selection have their own personalities, and in the end, with a few exceptions, you actually like all of them. America is a very strong character. She’s got a good foothold on reality, and doesn’t run around doing a bunch of reckless things that aggregate you to pieces. She wants to do what is right, and that war between what is right and what she wants isn’t as petty as it has seemed in other books. I think Kiera Cass has created a very strong leader in America, she’s able to think on her feet and make good decisions. Not to mention her mild sarcasm, and obvious way with knowing how to say just the right thing. Prince Maxon is very sweet in his innocence. He made me smile more than once, and truly is the perfect mix of regal, and royal, as well as typical self-conscious teenage boy. Then there is Aspen, the boy that ranks below America on the cast system, but whom she has been secretly dating for two years. He is another very strong character, with morals and doubts of his own. Honestly, in this love triangle, there doesn’t seem to be a “best choice.” Both boys are equally appealing and very strong characters. I know my favorite, and I know who I think America may end up with, but really the book could take many directions, and I’m looking forward to seeing which way it actually goes.