Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Series: The Selection (bk. 2)

Genera: Dystopian sci-fi/Romance

Subjects: contests, love, royalty, caste systems, politics, resistance to government

Setting: California (Angeles is clearly Los Angeles) 

POV/Tense: 1st person POV (America) 

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 323 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Iléa.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.”

My Review: I love this series. I can’t believe it’s not going to be a TV show now. It could have been perfect, or they could have ruined it. At least we have the books and The One to look forward to. I hate that I waited over six months to finally read this, but TBR pile are so big. I think this was a great sequel. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was awesome and full of many twists. I kind of mad at some thing that happened, but they added to the story.
I started to doubt whether I was still Team Maxon. I like Aspen too. If I was America, it would be difficult for me to choose. I liked that we got to see more of what the world was and how it got to be that way. This dystopian is so unlike other dystopian because it’s not about survival. It is about a messed up government and one of the main characters is the prince. I just love how interesting the plot and the characters are.
I felt so emotional reading this book. I was really felt what America was feeling through her narration. She’s such a realistic and believable protagonist. She’s funny, awkward and creative. She’s kind of like me, except a musician instead of an artist. We get to meet her family again and see how much they care for her. Her maids are also really awesome and caring. May, America’s sister, got along well with them.
I really happy I read this. I don’t really understand all the bad reviews out there. Sure, The Selection, the 1st book, was better. But, the Elite was pretty awesome too. I really feel like this a is a driven story with great characters. Sequels are always harder. I enjoyed all the way and really want The One (or at least The Guard novella) now. If you haven’t read the Selection series, I recommend it if you liked Pawn by Aimee Carter, Crewel by Gennifer Albin or if the idea of royalty and dystopian put together sound interesting. This is a very unique series and all teen girl out there should read it.

Cover Art Review: I love this cover. The color’s okay, but I just love the whole photo-shoot they did for this series. The dress and the mirrors and tinsel. It’s so gorgeous.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion (bk. 1)
Genera: Dystopian Sci-fi/Thriller
Subjects: social classes, government, identity, Washington DC
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 343 pgs
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Summary/ product description: “YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.”

My Review: I read this book in one day. If my eye never got tired, I may have read it in one sitting. This book is full of twist and tons of family and political drama. It’s like The Selection by Kiera Cass in a bunch a ways, but with less romance and more action. There are unique characters and a great plot. It read as a movie, almost. The world building is completely unique, but it’s definitely well done. This book is fast and you won’t be able to stop reading. Get ready for a real page-turner.
Kitty is dyslexic. I haven’t read any books with a main character who has a learning disability. I think most authors are avid reader, so they wouldn’t usually write a character who doesn’t read a lot. Lots of people have this learning disability, but most are able to get over it by the time they’re a teen. Kitty still can’t really read of write. This is why she only is placed as a III after her test. Benjy, who was in the group home with her, and also her boyfriend, has helped her with writing and reading assignments. He’s really smart and thinks that Kitty is smart too, even if she can’t read. Kitty is clever and good at memorizing. When she becomes Masked, she quickly learns how to act like Lila.
The most unique think about this book is probably the Masking. Kitty unwillingly undergoes a plastic surgery procedure that make her look like the Prime Minister’s niece, Lila Hart. The change her face, hair, make her taller and more curvy in places. Her eyes stay the same since her and Lila have eyes that are the same shade of blue. Kitty looks in a mirrior and doesn’t see herself anymore. This story is about identity. Discovering who you are and where you belong in society. There’s a caste system based off of one test. They receive a tattoo of their rank afterward. The major question is, “Are you more than the tattoo on the back of your neck?” You should have the freedom to decide your own destiny and make you own choices. Society should choose your life for you. Life should be what you make it. The book had so really great discussion questions in the back of it in case anyone wants to use this as a book club book.
There may have been not much romance, but there was a lot more action than I expected. There was a lot of deceit between characters. Everyone has a secret. Not everyone is who you think they are, or on the side that they should be. This Hart family is one crazy messed up family. I really liked the character Knox. He wasn’t part of a love triangle, but he was Lila’s fiancée. Kitty doesn’t swoon for him because she loves Benjy and wants him back. Knox is pretty helpful and has some strong beliefs, but he helps Kitty along the way, and teaches her how to be Lila. Lila was apparently involved in The Blackcoat Rebellion, and that’s supposedly why the prime minister’s mother Augusta wanted to get rid of her. There are some major twists near the end and a really epic ending. I wonder what will happen in the second book. I highly recommend this to fans of The Selection series by Kiera Cass and fans of the TV show Scandal. It you love political intrigue and thrilling stories with lite sci-fi, then check this out.

Cover Art Review: Cool cover. I recognize the labyrinth symbol from art history. It was in a cathedral, on the floor and meant to symbolize a journey. The eye is behind it and you see the III in the pupil. I like the title and the way it’s debased.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Revelations by J. A. Souders

Series: The Elysium Chronicles (bk. 2)

Genera: Dystopian Sci-fi/Romance

Subjects: underwater colonies, Florida, love, memory, brain-washing, psychological, nanotechnology

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 350 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: MacMillan: TorTeen

Summary/ product description: “Six weeks after her arrival on the Surface, Evelyn Winters is no closer to unlocking the memories lost in her subconscious than she was when she first came. Isolated in a strange new society, Evie has only Gavin Hunter to remind her of who she once was.

But even with a clean slate, it’s easy to see that Evie doesn’t fit in on the Surface. And as her differences make her feel more and more alone, she can’t help but yearn for that place she doesn’t remember: the isolated city hidden in the depths of the ocean. Elysium. Home.

But she can’t exactly tell Gavin what she’s feeling. Not when he’s the one who helped her escape Elysium in the first place, and has the scars to prove it. Though the doctors say otherwise, Gavin believes that Evie just needs time. And if her memories don’t come back, well, maybe she’s better off not remembering her past.

But the decision may be out of their hands when Evie’s ever-elusive memories begin to collide with reality. People and images from her past appear in the most unlikely places, haunting her, provoking her…and making her seem not only strange but dangerous.
Evie and Gavin can’t wait around for her memories to return. They’ll have to journey across the Outlands of the Surface to find help, and in the end, their search may just lead them back to the place it all started…”

My Review: This has been a thrilling sequel to one of my favorite dystopian reads of last year. I loved Renegade and it was so under the radar that I didn’t know its release date, which got pushed back to November last year. I was so happy when the library got this book in that I couldn’t wait to read it. It was just as fast as I remember the first book being. It was missing some of the mystery that the 1st book had, since we already found out Evie used to be an Enforcer. We do get to see what’s been going on is the real world while Evie, Mother and everyone else were down in Elysian. There are also some freaky parts because Evie is having hallucinations and sometimes she sleepwalks.

I love the character in this series. Evie and Gavin are such great protagonists. Evie can’t remember much about Elysium or her past because her nanos are blocking her memory. She still loves Gavin, though. I don’t recall if Gavin’s POV was ever used in Renagade, but it this book it switched between both Evie and Gavin’s 1st person POV and it’s written in present tense.

We get to met new characters in Gavin’s home town. Gavin’s family, the mayor, and Asher, who used to be Gavin’s friend. Asher has big role in Revelations. He doesn’t create a love triangle exactly, but Gavin does get kind of jealous when Asher tries to help Evie. Gavin was betrayed by Asher at some point, and he kind of hates him now, but Asher want the help Evie get to the city so the can get her memories back. Asher may be a smooth talker and sometimes a jerk, but his heart seems to be in the right place. He keeps his promise to protect Evie and help her reach her destination.

The world above is kind of a post-apocalyptic/post-climate-change/post-war version of Florida. Florida has had floods and droughts in the past 40 or 50 years and its more desert like now. It’s not barren because there are animals to hunt and fishing. Much of the wildlife predators have become much more aggressive and more likely to attack humans. There’s a scene in which Evie and Gavin are attacked by a very large bird of prey, and it’s unfortunate because I love hawks, and I don’t think they’d ever attack people.

There are still towns and even cities, but they a few a far and must use horses as transportation. Evie and Gavin travel by horse, and Evie didn’t even know what a horse was. Also, many cities of people have been destroyed using bioweapons and nano-bots. The world building is very realistic and believable. It’s not over the top or cliché. I haven’t read many dystopian book set near the ocean (excluding New York City), other than Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan.

I love this series and really wish book 3 would come out sooner. This is probably a trilogy, but I’m not positive. I recommend this series if you liked also of the following: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Matched by Ally Condie, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, False Memory by Dan Krokos, or Divergent by Veronica Roth. If you like dystopian series with kick-ass heroines, this will be a series to look out for. It was completely irresistible and un-put-downable and with leaves you screaming for more.  

Cover Art Review: I like this cover, but not as much as the 1st books. The colors in the title make it not stand out against the background very well. The image itself is great. I’m not sure if it’s a photo or a digital painting. It could be a combination of both. Does it look like a photo?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce

Series: Fairytale Retellings (bk. 4)

Genera: Paranormal Romance/Fantasy Adventure
Subjects: werewolves, winter, magic, supernatural, love, rescues, retellings

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 323 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $18.00

Publisher: Hachette: Little, Brown

Summary/ product description: “Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.

But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.

If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

Cold Spell is a retelling of the Snow Queen”

My Review: This is a perfectly wintery read and I definitely recommend reading it this winter. Although, the book technically starts in October, there’s a freak winter storm in Atlanta. Snow in Georgia seems unthinkable, especially this early. Something happens to Kai’s grandma and then a mysterious girl offers Ginny and Kai a ride to the hospital. Mora is the Snow Queen and she kidnaps Kai with her mind control and cold kisses. Mora used to be a mermaid/water girl, like in the previous book, Fathomless. Kai says he doesn’t love Ginny, even though he’s loved her since they were kids. Ginny goes on a quest to find Kai and get him to love her again.

This is the best book in this series yet. Maybe it was because the time of year. Maybe it’s just because I love the whole Snow Queen story, even though this is a completely different take. I read the Stork series by Wendy Delsol, and the 2rd book, Frost, is also inspired by the Snow Queen. This book has a fun, fast adventure and it’s a complete page-turner.

I liked that we got to see another of the older Reynolds brothers. We met Silas in Sisters Red, and he had 8 siblings. Lucas is one of the older ones, and he’s married to a woman named Ella. They’re really nice and take Ginny in for a few days and that’s how she learns more about Fenris, the were-wolves. I also loved the part when Ginny end up “kid-napped” by Travellers in Kentucky. They’re Gypsies and they’re kind of Irish, because they speak some other langue to, possibly Gaelic. One character, Flannery, is a real tough girl. She’s the Princess of Kentucky, or at least the clan in Kentucky. She’s really great in a fistfight. There are other exciting and funny parts. I love the wintery road-trip that Ginny and Flannery go on in order to track down the Snow Queen. Near the end of the book they end up on an island that’s part of Michigan, in Lake Superior. I’ve never been there, but I know a lot about it. I love the great lakes, though.

This is a great edition to the series. You don’t have to read them in order, but I still suggest that you do. It’s fun to see the connections between different characters. I recommend this book if you loved the books Stork, Frost and Flock by Delsol, the Need series by Carrie Jones, the Siren series by Tricia Rayburn, Lies Beneath series by Anne Greenwood Brown, and Shiver, Linger and Forever by Maggie Steifvater.

Cover Art Review: Love the broken mirror and the title. The lines that swirl around the title are a bit tangled, but look nice. It’s all very beautiful. Wish is was metallic like Fathomless was.


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