Reviews, YA, ya contemporary, YA Dystopian, YA Fantasy, ya romance

ARC Review: Refuse (Recoil #2) by Joanne Macgregor

Refuse (Recoil Trilogy, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Everyone wants Jinxy, except the one she loves.

In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror.

Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.

Refuse is the second book in the Young Adult dystopian romance that began with Recoil. This much anticipated sequel is filled with romance and heartache, shocking twists, and a thought-provoking examination of freedom, fear, loyalty and identity.

My Review:

SO back in May I was read and reviewed the first novel in this trilogy, Recoil, and really enjoyed what Joanne Macgregor brought to the table. It was quite a realistic dystopian story. The same can be said for the second novel in this series as well.

Refuse starts exactly where Recoil left off. Jinxy is sort of in hell. She has to convince the government that she isn’t some spy working for rebellion. She also has to decide which side of the fight she is on and who she can trust.

Macgregor’s story telling definitely improved with this novel. In a series like this the first novel is the setup and has to introduce you to a lot of characters and plot, but the second one is always better. You can dive right into the story, get to the nitty gritty of the characters and really focus on their decision-making process and character growth. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will just say this, I really enjoyed watching Jinxy grow as a person. In the first novel she was young and naive. In Refuse she has grown up. She sees the world for what it really is. She sees the government and her missions for what they truly are. She understands that her actions have larger consequences, effect more people, more families. She understands that not everyone can be trusted and that you should listen to your gut when it’s trying to tell you something isn’t right.

The follow up to Recoil really brings the themes of right and wrong to the forefront of the story. Nothing is black and white and the gray area is very hazy. It does not do to always assume your government has the best interest of the people in mind. You should always be watching and questioning.

Definitely check this novel out.  There is cliffhanger after cliffhanger that will keep you wanting more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

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Reviews, YA Dystopian

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

My Review:

I acquired The Winner’s Curse through a book trade with the wonderful Leah over at Southern Bred, Southern Read Book Blog. This series has been all over my twitter feed and my best friend told me to give it a try. I’ve gotten book recommendations from her before and have loved everything I’ve read. So when this came up for trade I was like sure, why not. Whelp, I finished it in one day- mostly due to the fact that I was a provisional judge for the Maryland Primary and had 15 hours of me sitting and waiting for people to vote.

I really enjoyed the story Rutkoski told through Arin and Kestrel. Characters weaved in and out of each other, like a carefully plotted dance. One knowing exactly where to step and when to step, the other following those steps, but not knowing where they ended, what would happen.

Starting out, Kestrel seemed like a very one dimensional character. She didn’t care about much, was rude to people, and tried not to think. But as the story progressed I watched her unfold into this very conflicted, complex person. She was, all at once, narcissistic and self-sacrificing. There were times when she could only think about herself; in other instances, she thought only of others. These moments a disbursed sporadically throughout the book and help contribute to her final decision at the end.

Arin, on the opposite side of the story, knew how to press Kestrel, get her to speak to him about subjects and information that would help him. And Kestrel, being the naive thing she is, freely spoke. Watching Arin’s plot unfold, while his heart grew to feel for Kestrel, was heartbreaking, because in the end, his decisions drove her away.

They played a game and neither won.

I can’t wait to read the next two in the series and see where Kestrel and Arin’s decisions take them. Though, I have a feeling it will only lead to more heartache.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Dystopian

ARC Review: The Island by S. Usher Evans

The Island (Madion War Series, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Prince Galian is third in line to the throne, but prefers his place as a resident at the Royal Kylaen Hospital. When his father urges him to join the military to help reclaim their colony, Galian is forced to put aside his oath to Do No Harm and fight a war he does not believe in.

Across the great Madion Sea, Captain Theo Kallistrate dreams of a day when she is no longer bound by conscription to fight for her country’s independence. But when the Kylaens threaten, honor and duty call her to the front lines to fight off the oppressors.

When an air skirmish goes wrong, both Theo and Galian crash on a remote island hundreds of miles from either nation. Grievously injured, Theo must rely on Galian’s medical expertise, and Galian must rely on Theo’s survival skills, to live another day in a harsh and unforgiving terrain.

Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive? Or will the war that brought them to the island tear them apart?

The Island is the first in a new romance trilogy by S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series and Empath.

My Review:

The concept of this story is one I’ve seen on numerous occasions- enemies stranded together somewhere, forced to rely on each other for survival. It’s not a new concept and I don’t think S. Usher Evans really put a new spin on it.

Right from the start I did have a difficult time reading it. There are two POVs the story is told through and they switch off far too often for my liking- it happens many times within a chapter.

I did enjoy the plot. It is simple and easy to follow. Theo is a stubborn captain in the Raven military. Galian is the prince of Kylaen, a naive man, who is forced to join the military by his father. They both fight and crash on a deserted island, where they are forced to rely on each other. They both have stereo-typical views of the other, but because Galian is also a doctor, and through his mentor, he understands that Theo is more than an enemy. Over time they come to esteem one another.

Without spoiling, there are events that take place that confirm Theo’s thoughts about how Kylaenians treat Ravens. These events also open up Galian’s eyes and he can finally admit that Kylaen is not the best place, the war is being fought for unacceptable reasons, and the treatment of it’s people by his father, the king, is repugnant. He vows to protect Theo, if they are ever rescued, and to stand up to his father regarding the wear and the Kylaen prison Mael.

There is romance; the affection Galian and Theo feel is deep and they prove that nothing will keep them apart. But it’s also inadequate in my opinion. And I do think it is because of the POVs shifting to quickly, so often. Each time a major event takes place in the book, you see if from both sides… which I don’t necessarily need. There is a way to see two character from one person.

Overall, decent plot, but quite predictable and no new twists on this trope.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thank you to NetGalley and Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing for giving me the chance to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion.

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Reviews, YA Dystopian

Book Review: The Rose Society By Marie Lu

Written by Liz Brooks

good reads summary:

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

review:

I’d like to preface this review with some information.

The Rose Society is the second book in the The Young Elites series (currently listed as a trilogy). I went into The Young Elites with my eyes open and my heart ready. What I wasn’t prepared for was how I would feel when I finished the novel. Despondent is the best description I can give you. But maybe that is how Marie Lu wanted me to feel. IDK. So venturing into The Rose Society took courage.

Below is my review. If you haven’t read The Young Elites do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go read The Young Elites first.

The Rose Society has great action scenes. The plot progresses quickly. There is character development… even if it is backwards (it felt backwards). You also read multiple POVs, but are mainly told the story through Adelina Amouteru.

We meet the tall-tale Magiano, whom I love as a character. He is creative, determined, and resourceful. I don’t feel like he is using Adelina as a means to end like The Daggers did. I believe he is one of two characters who don’t want or expect anything from her other than friendship (or maybe more?). Violetta is the other character. She is a character I have come to understand and appreciate. She is pure of heart and only wants what is best for Adelina.

Thanks to Marie Lu, I have come to hate The Daggers and what they represent.

My feelings about Adelina Amouteru are complicated. She is penumbra. She is surreptitious. She is abominable. She. Is. Villainous.

Overall I feel.. flabbergasted. Hoodwinked. Thorny. My heart was ripped from my chest. I felt limp when I finished the book. I wandered around my house, lost. I felt like Adelina felt at the end of book- waiting for something to hit me… but it never does.

I will pick up the 3rd Young Elites book when it’s published.

rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Special Review, YA Dystopian

ARC Review: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

pawn
Disclaimer: Thank you Harlequin TEEN and  NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion.

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Review:

This book was almost the death of me. The main reason I was able to finish Pawn because I ended up listening to the audiobook instead of reading the galley I received. I bought the Audiobook (it was only 5.95 on amazon) and downloaded to my phone and it was the only thing I listened on my long commutes to and from work.

Let’s talk about KNOX. I don’t know exactly how I feel about him. Gosh he is such a tease, but also at times he would get soo broody and moody and under my skin. But if I had to choose between Benji and Knox, well of course I prefer Knox. And since I mentioned Benji let’s talk about him. First, I know that I was initially influenced by Kayla (The Thousand Lives) to not like him. I was waiting for him to mess up. The only thing he did wrong at the beginning was the whole “Omg you’re gonna be a prostitute and another man cannot possibly have sex with you before I do so let’s have sex right now”. I was over here shaking my head and going “UH NO. YOU JUST DID NOT GO THERE.” After that he isn’t really there much so he couldn’t really mess things up much more. It also bugged me that he wasn’t more jealous about the whole Knox is going to have to marry Kitty, and that all he will ever be is Knox’s assistant, while watching the two of them be together.

Cecilia did throw me off a little though. I was hoping she would be kinder to Kitty, being masked and all, but making her be her puppet instead as opposed to Daxton’s, she really isn’t much better even if the end justifies the means.

Kitty. Oh Kitty. What a mess did you get into. She isn’t my favorite protagonist. I would have LOVED to see something in Knox’s point of view because to me that boy is still a mystery, but ah Kitty could be really annoying at times. I get why she does what she does, but omg that still doesn’t make it any better.

A character that had me fooled was Grayson. He seemed so timid and little when Kitty interacted with him at the beginning, but towards the end I finally saw him how he really is. He is fully aware of what his family does and it is a shame what he has had to deal with it everyday. I can finally understand his obsession with all the inventions. It keeps him busy and doesn’t get involved in the family drama. Also I couldn’t believe that Daxton was masked. Where the heck is he and why did a 5 replace him? Dear Lord this just got more convoluted and intense. Honestly that was the moment in the story that got me hooked. Too bad it was 70% into it. After getting through 70% of the book, you get thrown so many twists and turns that it leaves you feeling… numb. So much happened at the end, I have no idea how to process it.

I can’t say this is one of my favorite dystopian series, but I will say that it manages to hook you and now I really want to read Captive.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Dystopian

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Marie-lu-legend

Goodreads Summary:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

My Initial Thoughts:

I really can’t write anything here this time… Why? because it’s been so long, I have no clue what I had initially thought.

Review:

(WARNING: TONS OF SPOILERS BELOW!)

One year. That’s how long it took me to read this book. Why? Not because it was bad, but because of the FEELS.

Metias was my favorite character until Ms. Lu killed him off. I read a few more pages after that and stopped. I was furious. It took several months of convincing on behalf of Kayla, and me [sort of] getting over Metias’ death to the point that I was able to continue to read Legend.

Oh my gosh, the action… it was so good! I was at the edge of my seat the entire time. And when June decided to help Day escape, OMG, I was biting my nails because of how anxious and stressed I was. I almost couldn’t take it. (This is where I questioned my sanity and told myself I was crazy for putting this book down in the first place all those months ago.)

What really surprised me was Metias leaving a blog behind for June to find. Metias seemed like such a goody-good that in no way did I think of his death as fishy at first or that he would do such a thing. And. Oh My Word, I couldn’t believe that Thomas killed Metias… he killed his own best friend! Now that was a twist I did not even see coming. Apparently, I didn’t see a lot of things coming.

I had all this stuff I wanted to talk about, making this review more analytic and well thought-out, but this review has now boiled down to me just fangirling and I shall be okay with that. 🙂

Legend is a great first book, and darnet, I cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviews, ya contemporary, YA Dystopian, YA Paranormal

Mini Book Reviews #1

I’m starting a new series on here which I’m calling Mini-Reviews. Clever name right? Yeah, I know. I’m a genius. (The sarcasm is so strong.) The reason I’m starting this new series is because there are some books that I’ve read that I have things to say about them, but not enough to dedicate an entire post on them. Each Mini Review post will have 3 mini reviews. Here we go!

Mini Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

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Kayla over at The Thousand Lives almost threw the book at me and said READ IT! I, like the good best friend that I am (see what I did there) did, and let me tell you I’m glad she said I had to read this book. I fell in love with summer again. The last time I was in love with summer was the year 2012. I truly cannot believe this is Emery Lord’s debut novel. The writing is impeccable and wonderful. I loved the main characters voice and the sass, oh my, I freaking loved the sass. Also, Matthew is the perfect boyfriend. Can he be real, please? If you are looking for a heart-clenching [in a good way] summer contemporary, then this is the book for you. 100% recommend this book to anyone.

Rating: 5/5

Mini Book Review: Coldest Girl in ColdTown by Holly Black

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Vampires + Holly Black = perfection. What amazes me about this book is that it is a stand alone. I had never read a book that can build a new world, has all of the background information, action, plot twists, and just everything that we crave that is normally given to us in trilogies and series, in ONE book. Yes, you read that correctly. Holly Black does it all with one book. The ending satisfied me. This book does vampires justice and makes me sigh happily. These vampires can beat the crap out of any sparkly vampire’s butt.

Rating: 5/5

Mini Book Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

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I saw polandbananasbooks book talk of Altered a long time ago and have been wanting to read it since. I went over to Kayla’s one day and saw that she had it in her possession. I of course begged her to let me take it home with me and she did. This book was not what I was expecting, and boy it was wonderful. I screamed, I jumped, and it stressed the heck out of me. The twists, the action, the science fiction nerdy-ness of it, I loved it all!

Rating: 4/5