The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

the darkest minds

“We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.”
Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

 

Goodreads Blurb

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

 

Review

I haven’t started a new Dystopian series in awhile.  I’ve had this book on my shelf for at least a year, maybe more. But I’ve followed Alexandra Bracken on Instagram for awhile now and the first book I read of hers was actually Passenger, and I really liked it. I thought it was a little slow in the beginning but I loved the story line and the ending.

While following Bracken on Instagram I saw her post a few stories talking about how The Darkest Minds is in production right now. I had not heard that it was going to be a movie until I saw her posting from the set one day. I think she has a cameo in the movie. IMDB says Mandy Moore and the girl who played Rue in The Hunger Games are going to be in it. I think the girl who played Rue is actually playing Ruby, the main character. Pretty cool! So naturally I had to pick up the book then and read it. I can’t have the movie coming out before I read the book! It’s pretty thick but I finished it in about 4-5 days.

The story is fast paced and I enjoyed the characters. It did seem a little cliche only because I read a billion and one Dystopia novels in the past few years because they got so popular but I would not think it was cliche if I had read it 2 years ago. I just got a little burnt out on it I guess. But not enough to deter me from reading it!

The story had elements of a Dystopian but it also kind of reminded me of X-Men. All the kids between certain ages like 8-18 or so developed these abilities. And if you didn’t develop these abilities, you contracted an illness called IAAN that killed you. And 98% of the population of kids between 8-18 have died rather than develop special abilities. Some can mess with your mind in different ways and effect your feelings, some can move things with their minds, others have crazy photographic memories and are good analytically, and then some can control electricity. Each ability is labeled with a color in the book, so if you can move things with your mind you’re a Blue and if you can control peoples thoughts or dreams you’re an Orange. And some of the abilities are more prevalent than others.

Anyway, the government doesn’t know what to do with these kids now. They are a danger to society in their eyes and instead of creating programs to help them they basically make these concentration camps and keep the kids in those. They take them from their families and make them work and live in these sad living conditions and none of the officers are nice to them. And some of the colors that pose bigger threats (such as Orange and Red) mysteriously are taken away from the camps and the other kids have no idea where they have taken them. Did the government decide to kill them? Did the government decide to try and use them as weapons? That’s something we still don’t know really.

Early on in the story, Ruby and another boy get liberated from the camp. They both had been posing as Greens even though they are Oranges. They used their abilities right when they got into the camps to stay undercover. And the officers don’t allow the kids to use their abilities so there is never a way to really check what color you actually are after you’re sorted unless you get caught using them.

They are liberated by a woman posing as a doctor but who is actually a part of the rebel group called The Children’s League. They say they just want to help all the kids, even though they’re only rescuing Oranges at the time, but you find out they want an army for themselves and not everything is black and white with them. They may be doing some good but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in The Children’s League.

Once Ruby figures this out she runs off and finds a small group of kids surviving on their own looking for a camp of kids that supposedly have a powerful Orange that helps connect people back with their families. But just like everything else in this story, nothing is black and white. Like most Dystopia stories, the characters must grow up and realize that the world is full of grey areas. And what trading one evil for another means.

I went and bought the second novel, Never Fade, yesterday. I am very excited to continue Ruby, Liam, and Chubs story. However, I did take a little break from reading fantasy. Crazy! I know. But it’s summer and I wanted a summery read so now I am currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. It’s a cutesy, college romance about two Indian students are pushed together in an arranged marriage by their families. The boy, Rishi is all about it because he appreciates tradition but the girl, Dimple just wants to focus on college and becoming an App designer. It’s been a quick, happy read so far. I’m a little more than halfway done with it.

What are some of your TBR summer reads? Any good recommendations?

 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

 

Lady Midnight

 

Goodreads Blurb

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

 

Review

Edgar. Allan. Poe. I love Poe. I took a college class over his stories and his theme of ratiocination at Texas State and it was one of the most interesting classes I ever took. I love his stories and I love his poems so much that I teach “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven” every year to my 7th graders during our poetry unit. So the fact that this story is parallel to “Annabel Lee” made it so much better for me. And each chapter is titled from the lines of the poem.

I really enjoyed how Clare dipped into the morbid romance of this story. It was different than her past plot lines in The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. She is really good about diverse plot lines. Yeah, there’s always teen romance and everyone is usually coupled up but she’s gone from Jace and Clary thinking they were siblings and dealing with those feelings, Jem, Tessa, and Will being in a tragic love triangle to Emma and Julian being stuck in a Parabatai bond and not being allowed to be romantically involved. I’ve enjoyed all of their stories.

It took about the first 80-100 pages to get into this book because I hadn’t read a Shadowhunters book in quite some time. Probably two years or maybe even longer. I devoured The Mortal Instruments late in high school and in college and was behind on the Shadowhunter game so I didn’t really have to wait on reading any in that particular series. I was more caught up with The Infernal Devices. And I picked up Lady Midnight in Austin last year when it first came out but it sat on my bookshelf forever. Mostly because it’s so ginormous. I didn’t want to read it during the school year because of the size. It’s hard to stay invested in large books when I’m working during the year so I saw the big ones like Lady Midnight and the Outlander books for summertime.

I also had recently watched the first season of The Shadowhunters series on TV and it was alright. I was wanting to watch the second season but it felt too cheesy so I think it put me off of Shadowhunters for awhile.

I will be purchasing Lord of Shadows sometime though. I’m not sure if it will be before or after the baby is born in September though. I put myself on a book buying ban in order to help save money for us to move and for baby stuff. And those books are over $20 when they come out! Sheesh! Too much.

I know many people really liked Tiberius the best out of all the characters in Lady Midnight but I think my favorite was Mark. Ty is cool, and quirky but he still seems pretty weak. I think he will grow more in the next few books. Maybe I’ll change my mind about his character then. I’ve always been a sucker for a good faerie story so I loved reading about The Hunt and how he was adjusting back to Shadowhunter life after being stuck there for so many years. I loved the Wicked Lovely books in high school. And now I love the Sarah J Maas series A Court of Thorns and Roses. The faerie genre has never been too big so I love when I find good faerie stories. I like the idea of the different courts and how there’s all different kinds of Fae with different abilities. It’s all very seductive and unique.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. It was nice revisiting an old favorite world. I gave it 4.5/5 stars. What did you think about it?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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Goodreads Blurb

Hailed as “a classic. . . . humorous, full of warmth and real invention” (The New Yorker), this beloved story -first published more than fifty years ago- introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond.

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . . .

 

Review

I picked this up as a summer read because I’ve seen so many book reviews talk about how it is one of their favorite children’s book from their childhood. I had never heard of it until recently. Coincidentally, my mom and some of her friends created a book club for their kids this summer and this is the first book they are reading and discussing so I decided this was the perfect time for me to start it as well.

It’s a very quick read. There are tons of illustrations which really help you visualize the world in which it is set. It reminded me of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s very out there and silly. I gave it 4/5 stars. I may have enjoyed the book more if I was reading it as a child.

I think the book teaches some great lessons to kids. You first meet the main character, a boy named Milo, he is a grumpy, ungrateful boy who complains. But once he goes through The Phantom Tollbooth, he meets different eccentric characters like Tock the dog who is part clock, and takes time very seriously and the Humbug who is a more obnoxious character who is a bug and leads them on their journey. Equipped with a tiny car and two unlikely allies, the gang must travel through Dictionopolis and Digitopolis in order to coerce two rival brother-kings to agree to bring back Princesses Rhyme and Reason the Kingdom of Wisdom to help straighten out the Kingdom.

The kings are ridiculous and make up silly rules based on words and numbers and how to speak and such. Both kingdoms are very nonsensical and Milo shows them why their world cannot function this way. Along this journey, Milo is learning the lesson mindfulness and of stopping to think. Back in his reality he had decided that he was tired of thinking and problem solving. It was just too much work! School was a bore! But here he gets see what the world would be like if everyone thought that way and he gets to be the stand in rhyme and reason until he saves the Princesses and returns them.

Once he returns them to the Kingdom of Wisdom, Milo must say good-bye to his new friends, but returns with a newfound appreciation for what he has and for the use of common sense instead of being lazy.

And not to sound like an old, cynical teacher, but I think this is a great book for 5th/6th graders to read these days with technology being so prevalent in everyday life now. I have two younger brothers in elementary school and I see how their life is driven by technology now. In some ways this is great and prepares them for the future, in other ways it’s gotten in the way of them learning proper social skills and often makes them dependent on their devices for everything. As a 7th grade Reading teacher, I have students coming into my classroom every year who still do not know how to use a Dictionary. They have no idea how it works, what alphabetize means, the difference between a Dictionary and a Thesaurus, etc.

And a big reason for this is that they can just look up everything they don’t know on the internet. They don’t have to have the skill of alphabetizing because they don’t need to know it in order to look up definitions on Dictionary.com. Which becomes a big problem when testing comes up and they still don’t fully understand how to utilize a Dictionary. It’s scary. I think this novel can help teach a lesson to these technological kids on why it’s still important to value knowledge and know how to problem solve in the real world.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

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Goodreads Blurb

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

Review

I had to wait a few days before I started the review for this one. It was an emotional roller coaster.  Maas has become one of my favorite authors since I started reading her novels last year. The first one I ever reads was Throne of Glass. I fell in love instantly. With her world building, her characters, her twists and turns, the fantasy of it. And I also love how she sticks to the New Adult genre more than YA. Most authors are usually fearful of dipping into New Adult. It can be interpreted a little more controversially.

But it never hold Maas back! Her books are daring and emotional. They’re packed with so much adventure and suspense. I would say they’re at the same level of adventure to rival that of J.R. R. Tolkien.

In this third installment of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Maas does not disappoint. All of out favorite characters are still there. Feyre is stuck at the Spring Court in the beginning playing the role of the helpless girl who had been kidnapped by the big, bad evil guy splendidly. However, you can tell Lucien does not fully believe her story. While in the Spring Court she is trying to dismantle Tamlin’s court inconspicuously without anyone knowing as a form of revenge. Even with Hybern sending Jurian and the twins, she pulls it off with flying colors while also exacting revenge on Ianthe for throwing her sister to the wolves.

From there is when the story begins it’s adventure. Feyre ends up having to take Lucien back to Velaris with her in order to save him which works for him since he has been mated with her sister Elain. He wants only to be near her and to help her heal. Neither of Feyre’s sisters are coping well with the adjustment of becoming Fey. Elain is now a Seer and can see premonitions of things to come and Nesta has stolen some of the Cauldrons power. *Which pisses off the king and the cauldron.* She is now a main target for Hybern so that they can restore the cauldron to what it was.

Together the Velaris fam bam must come together in order to save all of the courts and the humans across the wall from Hybern and the forces he’s acquiring. In order to do that, they must find reinforcements in the unlikeliest places, such as the Autumn Court and from afar. I don’t want to spoil too much so I don’t want to say who else they look to for help.  I enjoyed all of the new characters that are introduced in this book and I really hope they are all in the next one. And this book made me look differently at some of the older characters.

I have a feeling there will be another war brewing in the next book against the queens. And all of faeriedom.

I gave this installment 5/5 stars (just like all of her other books). I started reading the last third of the book slowly because I didn’t want it to end! I know the next Throne of Glass novel comes out in September (right?) but I hate waiting so long between books! Such bad book hangovers.

Happy Reading 🙂

Warcross by Marie Lu

*I received this ARC at TXLA 2017 this year. This is my honest review.*

warcross

Goodreads Blurb

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

 

Review

I have been reading so much lately. I’m 21 weeks pregnant right now so I know once September comes and the baby gets here that I won’t have the time anymore. At least not for awhile, and when I do have the time I will most definitely be too tired or to busy for reading. I was so sad when Warcross ended. I read it fairly quickly because I enjoyed it so much and because I went and bought Sarah J Maas’ new book A Court of Wings and Ruin two days ago and it’s been staring me in the face ever since.

I gave Warcross 5/5 stars. I’m not really into the whole hacking, computer science stuff normally but I LOVED this book. I liked the plot, the main character Emika, and the fact that she’s a bounty hunter of sorts. It reminded me a little of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. She’s young, tech savvy, witty, and a badass? AND has rainbow hair? So cool.

I tried listening to Ready Player One, a little earlier this year  with my husband on a road trip to and from Broken Bow, Oklahoma and I just couldn’t get into it. We picked that book on Audible more for him than for me. I thought why not try it? I hadn’t read anything like it before. But it turned out to be a little too hardcore video game nerdish. I just couldn’t relate because I’m not a gamer. At least not since 2002 when I was obsessed with playing Spyro and Megaman on my Play Station 2. But that’s been a hot minute.

Warcross was much easier for me to relate to. I enjoyed the romance, I enjoyed how strong and independent Emika Chen is, the fact that it’s a Marie Lu book because, hello? She’s awesome. I’m actually reading Legend with my 7th graders right now too so I’ve been surrounded by Mari Lu lately.

It felt like a Dystopia society as well as a cyber-hacking book. Everything in the world in this book is technological. There’s hardly anymore waiters/waitresses because robots are taking those jobs, people exchange loot in the video game Warcross like it’s actual money, you can change your surroundings to look how you want, and you can connect to people and feel their feelings. It’s crazy!

Basically, Emika gets caught hacking into the World Championship of the game and accidentally glitches herself into the game where everyone and their mommas can see her. This catches the attention of the creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka, who so happens needs an expert hacker for a job. From there he flies her out to Tokyo, offers her the job but also enters her into the championship.

The ending of the book definitely takes a turn. I feel like it was a little expected but that doesn’t make me love it any less or any less excited for the next one. It will be interesting to see how the relationships made in Warcross are going to change. Because after the end of the book, there’s no going back. I don’t want to give too much away since the book doesn’t come out until September.

The Nethergrim by Matthew Jobin

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Goodreads Blurb

The people of Moorvale put their faith in the legend: The knight Tristan and the wizard Vithric, in an epic battle, had defeated the evil Nethergrim.

That faith is shaken when livestock go missing, only to turn up as piles of bones. But it’s when a group of children disappear that they know for sure: The Nethergrim has returned.

Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell.

Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine.

Review

I give this one 2.5/5 stars. It was a slow start but I got into it by the middle of the book. I enjoyed the high fantasy genre and it reminded me a little of Lord of the Rings. The main character Edmund was really hard to like until the end of the book. In the beginning he just seemed weak-willed and not a leader. But he eventually grew as the novel went on. And I feel like he grew for the right reasons. Not just for the fame and glory or catching The Nethergrim.

I think I would like a prequel to this book better. I enjoyed all the stories about the knight Tristan, the wizard Vithric, and of Katherine’s father, John Marshal in his youth. I enjoyed it more than the actual plot line.

It threw me for a loop how the forst half of this book is completely middle grade level. But then once the second half of the book starts it gets a little more graphic, therefore seeming more Young Adult. I think it just seems more like a kid book in the beginning, the characters, the description, all of it… and then BAM! There’s gore and blood and all kinds of dark morbid things going on. It just didn’t seem consistent. It made hard to get through because my mindset had to change halfway through it.

I’m not sure if I’ll purchase the second book, The Skeleth. The Nethergrim definitely ends on a cliff-hanger but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I wish I had more to say on this book. I loved the cover of it and the whole high fantasy aspect of it but it left me feeling confused.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh Parallels with Disney’s Mulan

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***I was given this ARC at TXLA this year, and this is my honest spoiler free review.***

Goodreads Blurb

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

 

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Review

4.5/ 5 stars! I love everything Ahdieh writes. Her books are rich with culture so they’re perfect for diverse readers. The only thing I struggled with in Flame in the Mist, was some of the Japanese language she incorporated. There’s to be a glossary included in the completed books but I received an Advanced Reader Copy so the glossary and all the extra stuff in the end was not printed yet. I had to google several different terms but that’s okay, it was interesting to learn about feudal Japan! I can’t say that I’ve read many books set in that time period and culture.

That’s the second thing that caught my attention about this book. The number 1 thing that caught my attention that it was of course written by Renee Ahdieh and I loved her other duology The Wrath & The Dawn and The Rose & The Dagger, a retelling of 1,001 Nights (Arabian Nights). Reason number 2 I was intrigued was because Mulan has always been my favorite Disney Princess. I was stoked right when I found out about this retelling! Mulan is so kick-ass. I really enjoyed all of the parallels between the two. It is it’s own story of course. Mariko is very similar to Mulan but their journey’s are different.

For one, Mariko is almost assassinated on her way to marry her betrothed and her twin brother sets out to hunt her down and bring her home. In Mulan, Mulan’s father is drafted to fight the Hun. And if I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure Mulan is Chinese not Japanese. In Mulan, she does not have a twin brother. Just the dragon that mistakenly gets sent to protect her, Mushu and the lucky cricket her grandmother gives her when she tests to become a bride.

However, there are some parallels such as they both infiltrate a camp full of men, where women are not allowed. The punishment of being found out is death. I also noticed that the fashion seemed very similar between the two. Mariko and Mulan both had to chop off their hair in order to fit into a top knot.

Both stories had fantasy elements in them. They both had romance in the storyline. And there was a scene in both where both Mariko and Mulan almost get found out in a hot spring while they’re bathing.

I would also have to say that the themes in both are similar even if their storylines are not. Mulan was trying to protect her handicapped father from having to go off and fight again and Mariko was trying to find out who had tried to take revenge on her and her family. Mariko and her brother both slowly start to figure out that their father is not the best of men, but they both want to protect their family at all costs. Especially each other.

I don’t want to give too much away before the book comes out so I’ll leave my review right there. I will say I am very excited to get my hands on the next one though. I haven’t heard if it will be a series or another duology from Ahdieh but I’m excited either way! I want to know what becomes of Mariko and Okami’s fate.

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And here’s a picture of all the books my mom snagged at TXLA 2017. And guess who got first pick? ;]

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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“It takes only a split second for life to go horribly wrong. To fix the mess, I need a thousand things to go right. The distance from one bit of luck to the next feels as great as the distance across oceans. But, I decide in this moment, I will bridge that distance, again and again, until I win. I will not fail.” -Sabaa Tahir, A Torch Against the Night

Goodreads Blurb

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

 

Spoiler Review

I’m not sure if I liked this book more of the first one, An Ember in the Ashes. They’re both so awesome that I rated them both 5/5 stars. I hate how we have to wait until 2018 for the third book to come out! I’ll have to reread A Torch Against the Night before then. I’m really bad about forgetting what happens in books because I read so many throughout the year. I read for pleasure and with my kiddos at school so I start getting plot lines and characters all jumbled up.

I liked the switch in dynamics with the characters in this second book. It was as if each one was out of their element and you had to watch as they tried to adapt to their new lives. Not that their lives were great in the first book because everything was horrendous. From Laia becoming more independent and growing into her power, to Elias being an outlaw on the run and becoming the new Soul Catcher, Helene adapting to her new loyalty of being the Blood Shrike, Marcus as Emperor and dealing with his brother’s death, etc.

I knew from the get-go this was going to be more sad than An Ember in the Ashes. It’s one of those books that tells you how it’s going to end and then fills you in afterward on how they got there. I hated knowing Elias was doomed. Be it death, or stuck as Soul Catcher. Both destinies are tinged with grief. He always has to sacrifice so much. They all did in this book. Laia lost Izzy and her brother was not the same, Keenan betrayed her, Elias had to choose death or a lonelier version of death, Helene lost 3 of her family members… the list goes on.

Bu I feel like the plot is building up to something way bigger than what it already was. Like a Sarah J. Maas novel. Almost every character has been turned into a dynamic character. I though Cook and Izzy and Marcus were just going to be static… but everyone has grown and changed in some major way.

I’d love to be the sort of author that could accomplish all of that on top of awesome world building. No wonder it’s taking her so long to finish the books! They’re so intricate.

I hope someone buys the rights to make this into a movie at some point. It has the potential to be fantastic if it’s done right. I could totally see Theo James playing Elias. I know he’s not as dark as Elias is supposed to be but their characters, Elias and James’ as Four in Divergent, seem similar.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa

Goodreads Blurb

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
 
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review

I read this book in a matter of days. This is the first novel I have read by Tahir. I’ve followed her on Instagram for over a year now just because she’s hilarious but now I love her even more because of this book!

I remember there was a lot of hype when this book came out but I haven’t heard much about it since A Torch Against the Night (the second book) released. I’ve had it siting on my self for about a year now and sometimes I have my husband help me pick out my next read and this was the one he picked because he liked the cover.

I feel in love with this book about 80 pages into it. Don’t get me wrong, it was fast paced from the get-go but you don’t really understand what’s happening until the backstory has been explained. It was set up almost like a pilot to a TV show.

I quickly fell in love with Elias Veturius. I like his tough, but troubled personality. He’s like the most perfect man ever! Another thing I noticed that was unique about these characters was that not all of them were young adult age. I think the novel still is considered a YA just because Laia is 17 but Elias is 20. Usually author’s stay away from characters in their 20’s because it makes the book easy to label as a New Adult versus Young Adult and supposedly the audience isn’t as big for New Adult. It is growing but I don’t think it will ever be as popular as YA.

I ordered the second novel, A Torch Against the Night, a day before I finished the book because I knew I was going to have withdrawals if I didn’t get my hands on it quick. After doing a bit of research, it looks like this is going to be a set of 4 books but the third installment isn’t expected to be released until 2018. 2018! Why must we suffer so long without it!? I’m sure Mrs. Tahir is very busy with her kids and husband but the readers are suffering!!!!

I have yet to reach the end of the second book but I have a feeling it’s going to be sad and leave us with a cliff hanger.

I give this novel 5/5. If you haven’t picked it up yet I highly suggest that you do. The Greek/Roman style world is new and exciting compared to anything else out there and you will instantly fall in love with Elias and Laia.

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Every Hidden Thing

Goodreads Blurb

Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth-century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt, it’s the “rex,” the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.

But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. And if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.

As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. Their flourishing romance is one that will never be allowed. And with both eyeing the same prize, it’s a romance that seems destined for failure. As their attraction deepens, danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light and forcing Samuel and Rachel to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry, and with it a new life together, or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?

Review

This was a really refreshing read. it was a stand alone novel and it was different than any other novel I have read. I loved the Western setting to it. In the beginning the story starts off in the city but then Rachel and Sam end up running into each other with their father’s on a train headed West towards the Wyoming area. Worried that they may be after the same boon, remains of a t-rex they try spying on each other to see if the other is spying on them.

Along the way, what goes from friendly competition turns into friendship and eventually sparks fly. Sam is drawn to Rachel’s beautiful eyes and her general “I-don’t -give-a-crap-what- people- think” attitude. And Rachel finally gives into her emotions and falls for how carefree and open Sam is. They are polar opposites and it makes their relationship witty and cute.

At first you think this is just a happy, carefree novel but then the teams come across harsh land and wild Native American’s who are not fond of the white settlers coming in and digging up their home and artifacts. The story takes a dangerous turn.

What starts out as such a cute, adventurous story about flirtation and ambition takes a turn about 3/4 in. After Rachel and Sam get caught talking without supervision, her father threatens to send her back to her Aunt on the East Coast where she will have to be taught to be a proper lady. Rachel’s dream is to go to University and become an established paleontologist like her father so this is the complete opposite of what she wants to do. Marriage is not even on her radar.

After finding out she is to be sent home, Rachel and Sam concoct a plan to marry so that they can become their own team and hunt for the t-rex remains without their father’s bickering and taking all of the glory.

They think the hardest thing is surviving the wild West and the Natives but it turns out, marriage and sharing a destiny is even tougher. Sam becomes irritated because he may lose all the money to be had with finding the rex and also lose a way to send Rachel to University after he’s promised to help get her there.

Rachel becomes increasingly unhappy because Sam is working so hard that their relationship ends up on the back burner and she feels like she’s given up her family and all of the luxuries that come with her father’s money for Sam.

You will have to read to see how the book ends and to see if they’re relationship makes it out in the wild wild West. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything. I give this one 4/5 stars. It’s rare that I find a standalone novel that I enjoy. I find it hard to be invested inthe characters in the story line usually but this one was so different and fast paced!