Book Review: Knight Assassin by Rima Jean

Book Review: Knight Assassin by Rima JeanKnight Assassin by Rima Jean
Published by Entangled Teen on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 242
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn’s mother at the stake for witchcraft. When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem's court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother’s condemner. But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don’t miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?

Book Review:

Featuring a female assassin with magical powers, KNIGHT ASSASSIN has a lot of elements that I normally like. But for some reason, I wasn’t able to get into the book. It just didn’t click for me.

Zayn has mysterious powers she can’t control, powers that make her faster and stronger than others. She and her mother are not welcome in their village, and keep to themselves. When she rejects the marriage proposal of an important man in the village, her mother is burned at the stake, accused of being a witch. Zayn herself is raped by Guy de Molay, son of the lord of the land.

Emotionally and physically abused, and without her beloved mother, Zayn doesn’t know what to do. She just wants to die. But before she can do anything, she’s rescued by Junaid, an Assassin of a heretical Islamic sect. Because of her rumored abilities, Zayn is given the opportunity to train as an Assassin. Thirsting for revenge against Guy, she goes for it, becoming the first female Assassin.

Although both Christianity and Islam play a role in the book, the author doesn’t shove religion down anyone’s throats. In fact, Zayn is not religious at all. Take the Dome of the Rock — both religions find it important, and fought over it. Zayn can’t understand why anyone would kill over a rubble-filled spot. In a time (~1180) where people were extremely religious, it was refreshing to see a main character who wasn’t. Zayn really only joins the Nizari Isma’ili so she can gain the skills she’ll need to kill Guy.

The romance wasn’t a big portion of the book, which I liked. Zayn has no use for men after her rape, and she didn’t really care for them before, either. She wanted to be independent, not shackled to any man in marriage. But she runs into Earic Goodwin, a Saxon Knight Templar, while trying to accomplish her assassination of Guy. She vaguely knew Earic when they were children, and almost the minute she sees him again, she starts thinking she loves him. I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them. I wish they had stayed friends, and let the romance come along in the next book.

At 242 pages, KNIGHT ASSASSIN isn’t too long, but it read like a longer book for me. I think this was because of flashbacks, which the author would use whenever an important event from the past came up, such as Zayn and Earic’s first meeting.

I did like that the book was set in Syria and Jerusalem. It’s good to have a fantasy/historical romance that isn’t set in medieval England. However, I didn’t get a good sense of the world, other than the types of food they ate. I also wanted to know more about Zayn’s powers. I’m still confused on what they actually are. I’m guessing that will be explained more in the next book.

Overall, KNIGHT ASSASSIN was missing something for me. It was okay, but flawed.

Socialize with the author:

Rima Jean:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy

Book Review: The Boleyn Bride by Brandy PurdyThe Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy
Published by Kensington on February 25, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
From carefree young woman to disillusioned bride, the dazzling lady who would become mother and grandmother to two of history's most infamous queens, has a fascinating story all her own. . .

At sixteen, Elizabeth Howard envisions a glorious life for herself as lady-in-waiting to the future queen, Catherine of Aragon. But when she is forced to marry Thomas Boleyn, a wealthy commoner, Elizabeth is left to stagnate in the countryside while her detested husband pursues his ambitions. There, she raises golden girl Mary, moody George, and ugly duckling Anne—while staving off boredom with a string of admirers. Until Henry VIII takes the throne. . .

When Thomas finally brings his highborn wife to London, Elizabeth indulges in lavish diversions and dalliances—and catches the lusty king's eye. But those who enjoy Henry's fickle favor must also guard against his wrath. For while her husband's machinations bring Elizabeth and her children to the pinnacle of power, the distance to the scaffold is but a short one—and the Boleyn family's fortune may be turning. . .

Book Review:

I was drawn to THE BOLEYN BRIDE because while I have read many Tudor books, both fiction and non-fiction, I haven’t read anything about Elizabeth Boleyn, mother to Mary, George, and Anne. So I went into this book hoping to learn about her, as well as gain an understand of who Elizabeth was.

Purdy’s version of Elizabeth is not a sympathetic one. Elizabeth could aptly be described as a mean girl — she’s gorgeous, the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the land, and thinks everyone is beneath her. She expects her father will make her a good marriage, to someone with power, money, and looks. So imagine her shock when she’s married off to a merchant and expected to be his broodmare. She flies into a rage, breaking her maid’s nose.

Elizabeth never gets over her anger at being married to Thomas Boleyn. Granted, Purdy’s view of him is not so nice either, and so I did feel sympathy for Elizabeth being forced to marry him and be used for nothing more than bearing his children. I also didn’t mind that Elizabeth wasn’t a nice woman — she had numerous affairs and barely cared about her children until they were older and “interesting.” It was refreshing to see an outspoken woman who did what she wanted, using her position and husband’s absences to please herself.

My big problem with THE BOLEYN BRIDE was the author’s style. I felt like I was a spectator, as Elizabeth recounted events as if she were writing a memoir. Also, when sentences are twenty plus words long, my eyes tend to glaze over. A few longer sentences are fine, but there were so many of them in this book. I ended up feeling that the book was double the length it actually was. Lastly … whenever Elizabeth described her long-time lover, Remi Jouet, she called him “doughy,” like newly baked bread. Um, that doesn’t equate as sexy in my head.

THE BOLEYN BRIDE didn’t work for me because of the author’s writing style, and because after finishing, I don’t feel like I really know Elizabeth at all. Once Anne comes into the picture, and Henry starts chasing after her, the book switches to their story, with a little input from Elizabeth on how she felt about her daughter marrying the king and then Anne’s downfall. Basically, a standard Tudor historical fiction book.

Socialize with the author:

Brandy Purdy:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

Book Review: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth KiemDancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem
Published by Soho Teen on August 13, 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
2 Stars
Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's prima ballerina: an international star handpicked by the regime. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears.

Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn. Marina struggles to reestablish herself as a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother's “gift,” and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they'd left behind.

Now Marina must navigate the web of intrigue surrounding her mother's disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can—and can't—trust.

Book Review:

DANCER, DAUGHTER, TRAITOR, SPY is a book I was excited about. There aren’t many YA books that have non-American main characters, so to have a book about a Russian girl, and a ballerina at that — well, it seemed like a winning combo for me.

The book starts out with Marina in the Soviet Union, at a ballet class. Her mother, a famous dancer herself, is about to leave on a cultural trip to the United States. But when Marina returns home, she learns that her mother is missing … and has been taken by the regime. Her mother knew secrets about an incident the Soviet government wants to keep quiet, secrets she learned from visions. With their own lives in danger, Marina and her father flee to America. But once there, Marina has her own vision of her father’s death.

Unfortunately, DANCER, DAUGHTER, TRAITOR, SPY was a book that fell flat for me. I had a hard time getting into it, and I actually set it down for about two weeks and wasn’t compelled to finish it. And when I did, I was just like, “Oh, that’s it. Hmm.”

I think DANCER, DAUGHTER, TRAITOR, SPY didn’t work for me because I spent a lot of the book feeling confused. I never quite understood the visions Marina and her mother had, nor the whole spy bit that took up the middle to end of the book. Supposedly, once in America, Marina’s father has some secrets he’s still hiding, and he’s convinced Marina’s new dancer partner is from the KGB and is after them. I don’t know. A lot of the spy/intrigue stuff went over my head, because I didn’t understand what was going on.

I don’t know a lot about the Cold War, or the atmosphere Marina and her family would have dealt with. I wish the author had gone into more detail on the Soviet Union, which might have helped me understand the paranoia Marina’s father had, his fear that the KGB would try to get them even in NYC.

Socialize with the author:

Elizabeth Kiem:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Secret Lies by Amy Dunne

Book Review: Secret Lies by Amy DunneSecret Lies by Amy Dunne
Published by Bold Strokes Books on December 16, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
Would you face your biggest fear, to save the one you love?

Nicola Jackson escapes from her abuser, only to realize she has no one to turn to and nowhere to go. In a twist of fate, she accidentally bumps into Jenny O’Connor, the most popular girl at school. They strike up an unlikely friendship. As their trust in each other develops, they share their darkest secrets, and their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.

Jenny loves Nicola, but she is fearful that if their secret relationship is discovered, she might lose her family, friends, and her seemingly perfect life.

Nicola confronts her abuser and blackmails him to leave for good, but things go terrifyingly wrong. Jenny is left with a life-changing dilemma: should she face her fear and accept who she is, or let Nicola take the blame and pretend their relationship never happened?

Book Review:

I’m really torn on SECRET LIES. On one hand, I liked the relationship between the two main characters, and also liked that their love gave them both the strength to face their demons. But on the other hand, I didn’t believe how quickly that relationship developed, with Jenny bringing Nicola into her house after knowing her for a day, and then “I love you” being said within two weeks.

I did like how the author handled Jenny’s character. Jenny hurts herself so she can feel the pain she can’t express, but has already realized she’s in an unhealthy cycle. At the start of the book, Jenny is in counseling, and I liked that she was proactive and wanted to help herself. I also felt for Nicola, who has endured years and years of vicious abuse at the hands of her step-father. It was nice to see that neither one of them judged the other for their problems, but tried to help and be supportive.

I was also happy to see sex scenes in this book. One of my big peeves with young adult books is they often focus just on kissing and unresolved sexual tension which is unrealistic, so it was awesome to see two girls experimenting and going beyond kissing.

But … the speed of their relationship. Yeah, I know teens can move quickly with relationships, but it was just so awkwardly done between these two that I couldn’t buy how they met and were attracted to each other. Nicola runs into Jenny in the street, Jenny invites Nicola to her house to fix a scraped palm, and after spending the whole day together watching movies, Nicola ends up staying at Jenny’s house for the next few weeks.

Overall, I didn’t feel like SECRET LIES was a YA book. Jenny and Nicola are in their teens, but they talk and sometimes act much older. If the story had been about two girls in their twenties, and spent some more time getting to know each other, it would have felt more authentic to me.

Socialize with the author:

Amy Dunne:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Relic (Books of Eva #1) by Heather Terrell

Book Review: Relic (Books of Eva #1) by Heather TerrellRelic by Heather Terrell
Series: Books of Eva #1
Published by Soho Teen on October 29, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
The truth will test you...

For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.

When Eva’s twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She’s a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn’t be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.

Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas—her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.

But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.

Book Review:

Okay, so RELIC is billed as a cross between THE HUNGER GAMES and GAME OF THRONES. It’s not. It’s nowhere near either one.

I struggled a lot with this book. Here’s an example of one reason why: “The Gods told our Founders that we needed a Triad of strong leaders, ones who could teach the New North people the dangers of our past, worshipping the false god Apple. Leaders who could show the people we must live in accordance with the Lex, which dictates mankind live as we did in the Golden Ages, that idyllic time before the false neon of modern advancements set mankind on a path to wickedness and lawlessness (p. 16).”

WHEW, right? I was constantly rereading passages, trying to figure out Eva’s world. The first few chapters gave me a headache because I was trying to keep everything straight. Once I quit attempting that, the book did get more bearable, but I never really got into it.

Another reason I struggled with RELIC is the unbelievability and flatness of main character Eva. Eva is, well, she’s boring. As the first Maiden to Test in 150 years, you would think she’d be a dynamo, and have some compelling reason to break the Maiden mold. Nope. She’s just doing it so her brother’s dream doesn’t die like he did. Now, I can understand that motivation, but once Eva started the Test and had NO TROUBLE at all, I just didn’t believe it. She had three months of training. The other Testors, including her brother, studied their whole lives. So I didn’t buy her being the fastest dog sledder, or that she could kill a gigantic ox, or that she built a picture perfect igloo, all on her own.

To top it all off, RELIC just seemed like setup for the rest of the series. Yeah, stuff happened, but not a lot. Only near the end did the book really get going, and then it was over. Would I read the second book? Most likely not, because I just wasn’t impressed by RELIC.

I only kept reading RELIC because I did want to find out what the author had in mind with Apple as a false god. There’s a lot of brand/name dropping, from Apple to Coke to MasterCard, all of them being seen as evils that led to the Earth being flooded. Unfortunately, I was never sure if the author was being serious or going for an attempt at satire at how we live life now.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think of books being compared to other popular books?

Socialize with the author:

Heather Terrell:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Salt (Salt #1) by Danielle Ellison

Book Review: Salt (Salt #1) by Danielle EllisonSalt by Danielle Ellison
Series: Salt #1
Published by Entangled Teen on January 7, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 266
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find "her" demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

Book Review:

I’m always on the lookout for witch books, and I thought the summary for SALT sounded interesting. A witch that had her power stolen by a demon? And she has to rely on her family members to draw power so her secret doesn’t get out?

Unfortunately, SALT‘s premise didn’t lead to an awesome book for me. I put it down a few times and almost gave up reading it, because I just couldn’t get into it. I wish I could pinpoint exactly why I didn’t like it; I think it was the combination of slow pacing, so-so characters, and nothing feeling original. The whole book was slow for me. I kept wanting SOMETHING to happen, and whenever something did, I never felt like Penelope or any of the other characters were in danger. The action scenes just didn’t have any zing, even the one that kicked off the book. And even though she kept her lack of powers secret, I never doubted Penelope would succeed at her goal. Everything always just worked out for her, almost too easily.

Penelope also had a habit of doing stupid things even though she knew better, like forgetting salt, which is used to fight demons. Or she left her cellphone in the car while running in the dark at night. Really? Sorry, but it’s a peeve of mine when smart girls do stupid things.

I did like Penelope and Carter’s relationship, because even though he had secrets of his own and wasn’t always forthcoming with information, he was a great guy. It was obvious he cared about Penelope. So that was nice to see, instead of Penelope falling for a bad boy witch.

Ultimately, SALT just wasn’t the book for me. In the end, I wanted MORE from it: more action, more character development, more unique worldbuilding, etc. If you’re in the mood for something fluffy, it might be perfect for you.

Socialize with the author:

Danielle Ellison:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Black Spring by Alison Croggon

Book Review: Black Spring by Alison CroggonBlack Spring by Alison Croggon
Published by Candlewick Press on August 27, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Gothic, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Inspired by the gothic classic Wuthering Heights, this stunning new fantasy from the author of the Books of Pellinor is a fiercely romantic tale of betrayal and vengeance.

In a savage land sustained by wizardry and ruled by vendetta, Lina is the enchanting but willful daughter of a village lord. She and her childhood companion, Damek, have grown up privileged and spoiled, and they’re devoted to each other to the point of obsession. But Lina’s violet eyes betray her for a witch, and witches are not tolerated in a brutally patriarchal society. Her rank protects her from persecution, but it cannot protect her from tragedy and heartbreak. An innocent visitor stands witness to the devastation that ensues as destructive longing unleashes Lina’s wrath, and with it her forbidden power. Whether drawn by the romantic, the magical, or the gothic, readers will be irresistibly compelled by the passion of this tragic tale.

Book Review:

In the summary for BLACK SPRING, there was one sentence that caught my eye, and made me want to read the book: “But Lina’s violet eyes betray her for a witch, and witches are not tolerated in a brutally patriarchal society.” I’m always on the lookout for good fantasy, particularly ones with witches.

However, BLACK SPRING is not really a fantasy. The author calls it her “love letter” to Emily Brontë and WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and that’s pretty much what it is. A retelling of WUTHERING HEIGHTS, with a couple of fantasy elements thrown in. Unfortunately, the fantasy elements aren’t really developed; they’re just there. For example, Lina is a witch, but I didn’t think her being a witch played much of a role in the book.

What is well done in BLACK SPRING is the Gothic atmosphere, dark and brooding. The story is rather depressing, and many of the characters are not likeable, such as Damek (Heathcliff) and Lina (Catherine). The book is told from a couple of viewpoints, mainly Hammel, a visitor to the region, and Anna, housekeeper and milk-sister to Lina. There’s also a couple of diary entries from Lina.

When I started BLACK SPRING, I had trouble getting into Hammel’s first few chapters, because of the way they were written. He’s quite pompous and wordy. But once I got to Anna’s parts, the book read much more smoothly for me.

Ultimately, BLACK SPRING is just too close to its inspiration, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. There’s not really anything new, other than a smattering of magic. I wish that fantasy element had been explored more, because that might have brought something new and interesting to the classic story.

Socialize with the author:

Alison Croggon:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed #1) by Page Morgan

Book Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed #1) by Page MorganThe Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
Series: The Dispossessed #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on May 14, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

My Review:

As with so many books I read lately, I’m having difficulty reviewing THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED. It was a book I wanted to like — who wouldn’t like gargoyles? — but I ended up forcing myself to finish. The best way to put my feelings for it would be: cool ideas, but bad execution.

The good parts:

1. The gargoyles. Finally, a paranormal book with something other than vampires or werewolves! The author put some thought into them, explaining how they’re created, their purpose, etc. Basically, gargoyles exist to protect the humans that live in their buildings. Luc, one of Ingrid’s love interests, is the caretaker of the abbey she moves to with her mother and sister. I got the impression gargoyles don’t really *like* taking care of their charges, but it’s their penance for committing a very specific crime before their human death.

2. Grayson, the missing brother of Ingrid and Gabriella, was the closest I had to a favorite character in this book. There are only a few parts from his perspective, but they’re quite dark and gruesome. Kidnapped by a mysterious entity, Grayson undergoes a transformation. We don’t find out exactly what happens to him until the end of the book, but I liked that the author went there.

The bad parts (for me):

1. The pacing/action scenes. THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED is a book I had to keep making myself pick up, due to the tepid action scenes and the slow pacing. The characters were in danger multiple times in the book, but I never felt worried about any of them. It was like, “Oh, Ingrid’s being attacked by a hellhound. Okay.” The pacing was off, too; the book just read super slowly for me. It felt like it took forever for something important to happen, and then that something important was covered in a paragraph or two.

2. The romances. Ingrid and Gabby have two love interests each. I was not enthused. I am picky about romance and relationships when reading, and I didn’t feel any chemistry between the various couples. The only relationship that came half-way close to working was Gabby and Nolan. Nolan’s part of the Alliance, a human organization that fights the same threats the gargoyles do. Nolan’s banter with Gabby was funny, and actually established SOMETHING between them, a basis for interest.

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED does at least answer some of the questions raised within its page, but it does leave plenty of room for another book to continue the series. It’s a series I won’t be reading, because, for the most part, I just wasn’t impressed. Although the use of gargoyles as a different paranormal creature was creative, there just wasn’t enough otherwise for me to sink into the book.

Socialize with the author:

Page Morgan:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Reboot (Reboot #1) by Amy Tintera

Book Review: Reboot (Reboot #1) by Amy TinteraReboot by Amy Tintera
Series: Reboot #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 7, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 365
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

My Review:

“Try not to scream when I break your bones. It bothers me. You can cry if you want; that’s fine.” –Wren, from page 36 of REBOOT.

For the first hundred pages or so, REBOOT and I were best friends. I flew through the book, totally immersed in Wren’s story. Wren is a Reboot, reborn 178 minutes after she died. The more time between death and rebirth, the faster and stronger the Reboot. Wren is one of the best; she’s survived five years “working” for the Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation (HARC). Most Reboots, especially ones with lower numbers, have a second lifespan of only a few months.

I wasn’t sure what was going on in REBOOT at first, but I was content to go along for the ride and find out. The author writes good action scenes, and Wren is quite the butt-kicking main character. She loves to hunt down her targets, dragging them back to whatever HARC has planned for them. Their pleas for pity have no effect on her: Wren doesn’t feel emotions. That’s stressed a lot, and I liked that about her. I remember thinking, FINALLY! A character who won’t fall in love at first sight in a young adult book.

And then Wren met Callum. Reborn after 22 minutes of death, Callum is practically human. He makes Wren question everything she knows, everything she’s accepted. At first, I was nodding right along with him, because it was good to hear some dissent. But once Wren started giggling and blushing and wanting to kiss Callum, I was done.

Now, I’m not totally heartless. Callum IS different from the other Reboots, and I can understand Wren would be curious, and maybe attracted to him. But because the author made such a big point of Wren NOT having emotions, for her to change so suddenly, and become a giggly teenager, was too unrealistic for me. The “relationship” between Wren and Callum is a big part of why I rated REBOOT 2 out of 5 stars.

The lack of worldbuilding is another reason. I was intrigued by the idea: after dying from a virus, humans are reborn as faster, stronger versions of themselves. A sort of cross between zombies and vampires. Reboots are the slaves of HARC, used to help the government control what’s left of the world. REBOOT takes place in a fractured Texas, where I did clearly get the fear most people have of Reboots. But there’s not a lot of detail on how the world changed so completely. Most humans live in slums, travel is forbidden, etc., but what brought all this on?

I almost wanted to put REBOOT down after Wren and Callum started kissing all the time. But I soldiered on to the end, only to be disappointed again. After Wren and Callum escape from HARC’s control, they head off to find a rumored Reboot reservation. A place where Reboots live free, not the slaves of the government. And the book just ends there. A few questions are answered, but not many, ultimately leaving me unsatisfied.

Verdict: Awesome idea, but not so awesome execution.

Socialize with the author:

Amy Tintera:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough

Book Review: Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-CloughNothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, Houghton Mifflin on May 7, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
All dead. No one survived. All dead.

This morbid chant haunts seventeen-year-old Blue as she trudges through the countryside with just the clothes on her back, heading to her childhood home on the ocean. Something absolutely awful has happened, she knows it, but she doesn’t know what. She can’t even remember her name, so she calls herself Blue. This gripping survival story—peppered with flashbacks to bittersweet times with her boyfriend, Jake—strips life down to its bare bones. Blue learns, with the help of a seemingly magical stray dog and kind people along the road, that the important thing is to live.

My Review:
NOTHING BUT BLUE is an odd book to describe. Most of the story is about a girl, Blue, walking across the country to an unknown location for an unknown reason. Blue can’t remember much of her past, so both she and the reader are clueless as to who she is.

I just did not connect with this book or its characters. For me, it was one of those ones where I wondered why I was reading it, because the story didn’t hold my interest. NOTHING BUT BLUE is a pretty short book (224 pages in hardcover), but the first half was so slow and uneventful I wanted to put it down.

I can usually suspend my disbelief when reading, but this time, I just could not understand why a girl who could barely remember anything would walk across the country. At first I thought some sort of disaster had changed the entire world, but within a few flashbacks, it was quickly apparent what had actually happened. A disaster, yes, but one that only impacted Blue and her family. There are a lot of clues, so it was frustrating as a reader to see Blue not figure out the truth sooner.

The only character who did interest me was Shadow the dog. He’s supposedly magical, but I had unanswered questions. Was Shadow really supposed to be magical? Or was he some device for Blue, another link in the message that material things don’t matter and real connections between people (and animals) do?

I get what the author was trying to do, or I think I do. The journey across the country is Blue’s way of finding her self, her true self not defined by anyone else’s opinions. The execution was just off for me, and so I’ll end by saying NOTHING BUT BLUE wasn’t the book for me.

Socialize with the author:
Lisa Jahn-Clough:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna