Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

The day she breaks up with her boyfriend, Ezra, Kady’s planet is invaded and she has to dash to escape on a spaceship. Pretty soon, they are being pursued by the same corporation that attacked their planet. But that’s not all – there are multiple ominous occurances on her ship

What I Liked

  • This is definitely the best book I’ve read this year! I’d tell you to go read it right NOW, but you actually probably want to set aside time for this one. Once you pick up this book, you will not be able to put it down. (My friend definitely warned me about this, but I didn’t believe her. I had to pretty much pry the book out of my hands to go get food. And even then, it barely happened. :)) So set aside eight hours or so and grab some snacks.
  • The action! As I said above, this book is un-put-downable. Every time you think things are starting to make sense, something occurs to up the tension. What you think is the focus or a problem, isn’t always the case when you find out the bigger issue.
  • The format of the book is unique. It’s told almost like an FBI or crime report – through any transcripts, documents, video footage, emails, etc. the narrator could get their hands on. This is one book you want in person, not as an eBook or audio book.
  • The main character is great at IT – which I feel you don’t see very often in books, at least not done very well.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Not much. It was a fantastic book!

In Conclusion

Go read this!

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This review contains spoilers for the first book in this series, Talon. You can see my review for Talon here.

Summary

This is book follows Ember Hill, who has now gone rogue with the mysterious (and motorcycle-riding) Cobalt. In addition to avoiding Talon, who ruthlessly punishes dragons who go rogue, she also wants to rescue Garret. The only problem is that he’s on trial at a high-security camp for St. George – the centuries-long enemy of all dragons.

What I Liked

  • Sometimes, Ember is pretty bad-a**. There are some great scenes and action sequences in this book that I could play out in my head like a movie. She keeps fighting regardless of the obstacles thrown her way.
  • It was really interesting to see the world from the rogue perspective, as opposed to the “I’m a hatchling owned by Talon” perspective we got in the first book.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Love triangle. Just tell me who to root for, and I’m game! Give me two options and I’m hesitant to through myself into the emotions/actions of the main character.
  • This one didn’t have as much tension as the first one. Don’t get me wrong, the action was great, but for a while they are just wandering and almost just looking for trouble. And I’m not a fan of those types of books. (Stone in the Sky is another example of a book that does this.)

In Conclusion

Another great addition to the Talon series. If you like the first one, you’ll probably like this one too. 🙂

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This is book follows Ember Hill, a dragon disguised as a teenage human living on Crescent Beach. She has moved there with her twin brother, Dante. She is tasked with learning how to assimilate with humans before she is assigned her permanent position with the dragon organization, Talon.

This book also follows Garret, a human trained to hunt dragons. Shoot now, ask questions later. He is sent in undercover to uncover dragons and eliminate them before they cause trouble for the humans.

What I Liked

  • Did you read the summary above? Dragon. Dragon Slayer. Need I say more?
  • This world was just so imaginative. Grounded in the world I know, but with these whole new worlds within it. Talon, the dragon organization, has its own unique intricacies and politics, which were really cool to discover as Ember discovered them. St. George, the dragon slaying organization, is similar to any military organization, except steeped in centuries of history.
  • This book kept me on the edge of my seat. I read it on breaks, at lunch, and any free minute I had until I finished it. I can’t think of many more specific things, but the tension between the two main characters (Ember and Garret) is enough to keep you going!

What I Didn’t Like

  • I didn’t understand her desire to rebel. She often wanted to get free and fly, but I couldn’t quite see why. I guess this could just be because I’ve never been a dragon though so…
  • Sometimes she makes stupid decisions. But it’s not a really big issue.

In Conclusion

If you like dragons, or fantasy, or Julie Kagawa (Iron Fey series anyone?) then this book is for you! The book takes place over a summer, so there’s not really any high school drama – I know some people avoid those books.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

Book Review: Undeniably Chosen by Shelly Crane

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This is book five in the Significance series by Shelly Crane. It follows Ava, the daughter of the main characters in the first four books. In this series, a certain group of people called Virtuosos (who are mostly human, but with some extra powers), find their soulmate by “imprinting” when they touch. Once they have their soulmate, their Significant, they go through a period of time before they Ascend and gain their power. Ava has grown up in the Jacobsen clan – a close-knit family that has good morals and stands up for its beliefs. Her significant, Seth, grew up with the Watsons – the antagonists from the first four books. The books very much follows the idea of star-crossed lovers.

What I Liked

  • I don’t know why I’m obsessed with this series. I love the idea of soulmates. (So if you know any great books with a soulmate AU, let me know! I want to read them!) And although there are a ton of things I don’t like with these stories (see below) I just keep reading them…
  • Seth is a firefighter, which brought some unique challenges we didn’t get to see with the original characters (Ava’s parents).
  • The star-crossed lovers thing was also a very intriguing idea. This also lent itself to some interesting plot points that we haven’t seen yet from this society.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The grammar and the writing. Oh. my. gosh. For a while I though these books were just self-published eBooks, for which it would be understandable if they weren’t well edited. But apparently she does have an editor?! If you are her editor and you’re reading this – please go read a book by Jeff Gerke. I’d suggest 50 First Pages or How to Write Christian Fiction. Then problems such as the following could be avoided:
    • Telling and not showing
    • Treating the reader like they’re stupid. (Stating “I knew this was such a significant moment in my life” is unnecessary. If the scene was written correctly, we the reader already know that!)
    • Restating the same things over and over and over again. Unless of course it’s an important detail, in which case it’s only mentioned once and never again.
  • Ava is supposedly attending university. But the way it is described sounds a lot more like high school… Are there universities out there with bell schedules? And a lunch time that everyone has?
  • While I understand that he first four books are romances following her parents, it is still incredibly weird the way in which Ava describes her parent’s romantic life. “Hanky panky would have been had” is something I would never imagine a teenager saying or even imagining about her parents.
  • Twenty years or so have passed since the last book ended. However, nothing much seems to have changed. Either in the human world or in the Virtuoso world. And that was weird too.

In Conclusion

If you can get past the sloppy writing and poor grammar and you’re weirdly obsessed with the soulmate AU idea like I am, then read this book. Otherwise, it’s not for you.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is book two in the Tin Star series. It follows Tula Bane as she works to assert herself and her values against the evils in space. Her home in space, the Yertina Feray, has now become a hub for a new source of galactic currency – the alin. Thanks to all of the extra traffic, Tula attracts some unwanted attention and finds herself travelling the galaxy, reaching out to aliens she knows.

I really wanted to like this book – but it left me feeling so-so. In the first book (which I loved), Tula Bane is a kick-butt character who uses her wits and creative manipulation to become a (somewhat) respected citizen on the Yetina Feray. In this book she does a lot of sitting and letting other people do the work. I expressed my frustration to my writer friend, who said “Ahhh. She’s losing agency.” And that’s exactly why this book bothered me. Instead of taking control of her own fate, things just sort of happen to her and around her. Yes, the events may be exciting, but she’s not the one participating in them. There’s also a nice section of the book where she’s pretty desolate and hopeless. Which isn’t necessarily a problem by itself, but combined with the agency problem, makes the story weak.

Another dislike is that, as the reader, I had a hard time believing in the author’s assertations about Tula’s leadership skills. Of all the things that happened in the story, we didn’t get to see Tula’s leadership skills in action (much), we were just told she had them.

That being said, there were some good things with the story. I did enjoy following the romance(s). It’s the first time since Stephenie Meyer’s The Host that I’ve actually rooted for an inter-species relationship. I also loved the galaxy and and the aliens within. The aliens species were creative and I enjoyed how the author conveyed their different cultures and communication styles. We see a lot more of this in the first book, but I still though it was strong in this one as well. We also get a deeper look into different cultures (the wanderers and pirates) who are mentioned in the first book, but never really elaborated upon.

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Book Review: Taking the Cake by Lisa Papademetriou

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is book two in the Confectionately Yours series. It follows Haley, a middle schooler, as she deals with friends, ex-friends, crushes, and her family. This book follows her throughout the fall, as she deals with Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I know I’m technically to old to be reading a book at this level, but I really enjoy reading about Haley and her adventures! This was another sweet installment in the series. Just like the first book, there are a couple of recipes (including gluten free ones) included.

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Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is by far the best book I have read in a long time!!

Juliet has recently lost her mother. Since her mother’s death she’s dropped out of her favorite activities, including photography, which she can’t bring herself to do any more. Declan has his own past drama, and masquerades at school as a troublemaker. While serving community service at the cemetery he finds one of Juliet’s letters to her mother – and writes back. From there the book follows their correspondance and journey as they deal with their situations.

The summary above looks sort of sad, but this book is beautiful. Anyone can tell you that I don’t like to read (or watch or talk about) sad things – the last book I read was Scooby-Doo, if that’s any indication! Bridgid Kemmerer has a great way of writing about something sad in a way that you feel for the characters, but don’t feel depressed yourself. I loved the way she wove the two stories together and how the interactions in real life versus on paper occurred. There were plenty of surprises that are discovered throughout the story. (Did I mention that I read this book entirely in one sitting? It’s that good!) I’m not sure what else to say about the book except “Go read it!” It’s a work of art. 🙂

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