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Review – New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

 

New World: Rising

By Jennifer Wilson

SummaryWorlds collide in debut author Jennifer Wilson’s graphic dystopian series where Divergent meets Mad Max. 

Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words – to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls – outside of The Sanctuary – is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.” 
Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself…
The first of a trilogy, New World Rising is an epic tale of survival, instinct, trauma, and the extraordinary power of human connection.

“Savage and raw, Jennifer Wilson pulls no punches in this blood tingling dystopian.” Kimberly Derting, award-winning author of The Pledge Trilogy 

Source: I received a paperback in an Owlcrate box.

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Review:

New World: Rising was surprisingly awesome. I never really expect much from YA dystopian novels anymore and this wasn’t the starring book in the Owlcrate box, so of course I kind of viewed it as “extra” and didn’t have a lot of expectations for it, assuming it would be a mildly enjoyable book at best. 

Man, was I wrong. 

New World: Rising was really good in a way that I just don’t really see anymore in YA dystopian fiction. It was fresh. It kind of combined the aspects of post apocalypse with dystopia. Tartarus was the post apocalypse setting, the broken city taken over by tribes. A wall separated Tartarus from The Sanctuary. While we didn’t get to see the Sanctuary, it can be assumed that it’s the oppressive but perfect on the outside broken utopian society. I love that the story had both aspects of dystopian fiction. 

Phoenix was a loner who wasn’t part of any of the city’s tribes. She kept to herself, traded when she needed to, and kept access points all over the city. She survived. The comparison in the synopsis that it’s Divergent meets Mad Max is actually pretty spot on, but at the same time, I was pleasantly surprised that the book stood on its own without having to be compared to other dystopian YA novels. I loved Phoenix as a character. She was fierce, but I could tell she had a softer side. It showed when she saved a small girl without even realizing what she was doing.

The world building was superb. It was dark, gritty, and terrifying. I was caught up in the atmosphere and mystery, as well as the characters. 

If you are like me and love the dystopian genre, but it’s been nothing but disappointment recently, I highly recommend New World Rising. It’s the breath of fresh air we’ve all been waiting for.

Star 4

 

Book Blogger Hop – July 21

 

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Hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

This week’s question:

Have you ever read a book or books you would consider ‘toxic’ because of the effect it(they) had on you? If so, which one(s)? 

(submitted by Maria @ A Night’s Dream of Books)

This is a tough question because I’ve definitely read books that have made me uncomfortable or given me nightmares or been otherwise unforgettable in a way that isn’t necessarily good. But I wouldn’t really call any of them toxic because I believe that books can and should make people uncomfortable sometimes. I would never decide to only read books that made me happy, had happy endings, or weren’t controversial. 

I think Oscar Wilde may have said it best:

“As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” ― Oscar WildeThe Picture of Dorian Gray

 

Review – The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

The Impossible Fortress

By Jason Rekulak

Summary: A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.
Do you remember your first love?
The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.
The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

 Source: Book of the Month Club pick 

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Review:

The Impossible Fortress promised an amazing YA journey through 1980’s nerd and pop culture that I couldn’t pass up. I love the 80’s and it sounded like it would be right up there with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which was a huge favorite of mine that I’ve recommended many times. 

I was incredibly disappointed by The Impossible Fortress.

At first, the boys were trying to come up with ways to get their hands on the new Playboy issue with Vanna White which was a great plot device because it was the 80s, they were young, and it was a big deal at the time. They came up with pretty elaborate schemes and finally settled on one crazy one that worked out well for Will. Will was a programmer and creator of video games using code and discovered a girl hanging out at the store where the Playboys were sold who also shared the same interest. So he came up with a way to give himself a reason for hanging out with her to work on this video game contest in context with the heist for the Playboys. He used the scheme as an excuse was because she was kind of fat and his friends were making fun of him and her for the short interaction they witnessed and Will didn’t want to just admit he thought she was cool or shared a similar interest. 

The boys seemed a bit over the top about getting their hands on the Playboy and women in general, but part of the problem was that the characters were all pretty flat, so there wasn’t anything else about them that we knew. Had the author done a better job creating well rounded characters, it would’ve shown that, while obsessed with naked chicks, they were still actual people with other interests and personalities. I even feel like the book missed out on friendship dynamics that would’ve made the group more realistic and easier to love.

For the majority of the book, Will grew as a character as he began spending a lot of his time learning code and developing a friendship with Mary and even her standoffish dad who owned the store. He wasn’t as interested in the antics of his friends because he had a goal and was working towards it with someone who shared the same passion. It was a great transformation… until he completely undid all of that great character growth by being an awful friend and lashing out after being rejected. 

All of the obsession with Playboy and girls was totally fine and even relatively normal for the time frame, so I wasn’t even bothered by it. The fat shaming and offhand comments the guys made about Mary were also things I could deal with and not really get upset about because Will was growing as a character despite it and it was a thing back then. But then Will was a completely awful person by lashing out, allowing damage to property and people, all because he was rejected by Mary. And, while he did realize he was being a jerk, the book didn’t do enough, in my opinion, to really talk about the fact that he didn’t have a good excuse to lash out. There wasn’t really a lesson learned by anyone in regards to women and since the book was published recently, I think the whole “it was the 80s” excuse didn’t work anymore. The whole end just made it seem like Will messed up, but also there was a twist and Mary was pretty messed up, and everything was fine. There was this whole “boys will be boys” kind of attitude that rubbed me the wrong way and made me a bit uncomfortable. This book was pretty much awful when it comes to showing a healthy attitude towards women and by the last page, I was just kind of disgusted by everyone. 

There could’ve been a number of ways the Playboy magazine heist could’ve blown up in Will’s face and I knew it was inevitable, but the way it all went down was just disappointing and ruined a story that I was mostly enjoying. Mary shouldn’t have needed a reason to turn Will down (yes, this apparently needed to be explained) and Will shouldn’t have lashed out in a very awful way and if those things happened anyway, then there should be some sort of lesson everyone learned as a result. And since there wasn’t, at that point, I could no longer shrug it away and say “but it was the 80s” anymore.

Star 2

Review – The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

SummaryWhen all hope is gone, how do you survive? 

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. 

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

Source: I received an Owlcrate exclusive hardcover in an Owlcrate box.

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Review:

The Sandcastle Empire was a strange book. I was confused for the majority of the story, but it was so interesting that I couldn’t help but turn the pages to see what would happen next. Because I was so intrigued and constantly surprised by the direct of the story, I enjoyed the book quite a bit.

The book definitely has a LOST feel to it, along with dystopian elements. Something happened to Eden’s world and it was under very strict rule, but her main goal was to find the Sanctuary her father wrote about in his survival guide. During a moment of chaos and confusion, Eden found herself traveling with three other girls headed off of the coast with only one way to go: towards Sanctuary.

There was so much going on with the plot. The island was really strange and it became clear that they weren’t on any ordinary piece of land. Also, the group dynamics were weird because none of them could really trust each other. And then one of them went missing and the girls attempted to find her and stumbled onto all sorts of messed up things. What WAS this place?! What was happening?

And then, suddenly, there was another group of people who showed up with characters some of the girls recognized, but not quite. Who were they? What were THEY doing here? 

I loved all of the craziness.

I have to admit, things did get a little over the top with the amount of strange twists and turns and shifting alliances, but I was so hooked. The end probably had more plot holes and rushed schemes than I would’ve liked, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. From the beginning, I knew I wasn’t reading a story that was realistic or had a tie to any world I’d recognize, so it was pure fantasy and chaos that never really needed to make sense to me. I suppose I understand if you are a stickler for realistic fiction how this book would be maddening, but I thought it was kind of fun and insane. 

I would definitely recommend The Sandcastle Empire to anyone who enjoyed Lost, enjoys being on the edge of their seat, and doesn’t have super high expectations for YA dystopian novels. This isn’t the next big hit, but it was definitely enjoyable and I had so much fun flying through the pages with a confused look on my face. No one can accuse the book of being predictable!

 Star 4

 

 

 

 

Ode to Books

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Ode to Books

I have talked about my love of Bookstagram and I do have my Instagram linked, but every so often, I like to share some of the content I’ve been posting with my blog followers.

 

I just moved across the country and set up my bookshelves:

 

 

  • ACOMAF necklace
  • Hogwarts wallet

 

Kindle Paperwhite in the Springtime:

 

Books and Bookish Tattoos:

 

 

Do you take bookish pictures?

 

 

Book Blogger Hop – July 14

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Hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer

 

This week’s question:

 

What is your go-to drink and/or snack while reading? (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)

 
 
I don’t have a dedicated snack, but I love drinking hot beverages like coffee or tea and pastries. It’s kind of what I crave on cloudy, rainy, or just cold days, which is when I most want to read.
 
 
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Review – Fire Study (Study #3) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Fire Study (Study #3)

By Maria V. Snyder

SummaryThe Apprenticeship is Over Now the Real Test has Begun.

When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder able to capture and release souls spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before….

Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself and save the land she holds dear.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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Review

Fire Study was the third book in the Study series and took place right after Magic Study ended. It concludes the Study series, but there is also a spinoff trilogy that involves some familiar characters and extends this series. Yelena discovered she was a Soulfinder and so did the Council, which raised some eyebrows of concern. The last Soulfinder was power hungry and awful and Yelena’s knack for acting without thinking was a dangerous trait for someone so powerful. She was set to pair with a Magician who hated her in order for Yelena to better hone her skills. 

I really enjoyed Poison Study and gave Magic Study a lot of slack because it switched settings and was definitely different from the first book. But Fire Study tried my patience and left me feeling frustrated and annoyed. The plot was over the top and I found myself unable to care about any of the characters anymore. Fire Study could’ve bridged the gap between the amazing first book and the second book that suffered from second book syndrome, but instead, it continued along the downward spiral of the series. Not even Kiki the horse could cheer me up or make me care about anyone or anything.

The plot was full of crazy theories and plans, holes, leaps of logic, and shockingly convenient solutions. Yelena’s go-get-em attitude didn’t seem to evolve and just started to get old. Even Valek was watered down and lame, always swooping in to save the day and whisper sweet nothings instead of being the strong character he was in book one. The whole story was full of convenient actions and started to feel like one of those series where suddenly this one person has all of this influence with two warring countries in a way that makes absolutely no sense. Also, I hated that all of the good guys were always on Yelena’s side and all off the bad guys were people she just couldn’t get along with. It was so juvenile for the actual bad guys to be conveniently people that she just couldn’t seem to like or didn’t like her. That’s not how the real world works and I would’ve preferred to see the story take the path it was supposed to with her training and have her actually learn stuff instead of galavanting into the wilderness to save the day. 

The spin off Soulfinder series has much better reviews, so there’s no telling whether I’ll continue at this point, but I know it won’t be anytime soon. I have no idea what happened to the amazing story from book one, but it got so ridiculous. 

Star 2