Review: Reintegration by Ashley Bogner

Reintegration (Reintegration #1)Reintegration by Ashley Bogner

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

My Review

Ashley Bogner’s debut novel, Reintegration, calls to mind some of the best dystopian books of our age–books such as Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time Trilogy, and The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron. It also follows the dystopian pattern of three, being the first of a trilogy. The sequel is set to release in 2018.

Reintegration’s strongest suit is its characterization. The reader is deeply immersed in Katherine Holliday’s point of view, and experiences the entire plot through her eyes. It was impossible for me not to connect with Katherine on some level, because while reading this book, I was Katherine. I was thinking her thoughts, feeling her emotions, and following along with all of her actions and reactions.

The deep characterization did lead to some drawbacks, however–for the first 60% of the book or so, I felt like the plot was spinning its wheels a bit. Katherine rehashed the same issues over and over, without coming to any real conclusions. It wasn’t until she decided to stop worrying and start acting that the book hit the ground running. Once the plot stopped revving its engine and got started for real, it took off at light-speed and never looked back.

The last quarter or so of the book was especially phenomenal. I could not read fast enough to find out what was going to happen! Bogner packs a lot of punches into those last few pages, making up for the slow beginning several times over. There are a lot of secrets hinted at through out the book that weren’t explained by the final page, and some major surprises that I wasn’t expecting. Miss Bogner has chosen to play her cards close to her chest, and there’s no telling what will happen in the following books.  I’m rating Reintegration 3.75 stars out of 5. While Reintegration dragged some through the beginning and middle, the end made up for it with non-stop action and surprises. I’m hoping that the sequels will keep the action going, and get off to a flying start.

 

Recommended for Ages 13 and up

Cultural Elements
None.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None. 

Romance/Sexual Content
Some light kissing, hand-holding, and hugging. 

Spiritual Content
Matthew is a Christian, and shares his faith with other characters in the book, resulting in one or more conversions. The Federation teaches relative morality (that there is no “right” or “wrong,” and everything is a matter of opinion), and intolerance is a punishable crime under the Federation.

Violent Content
One violent death. Several injuries (some by  use of a “stunner”–a taser-like weapon, and others by fist fights.)

Drug Content
Matthew is drugged to forget his past. A character takes a medical drug later, and experiences painful side effects.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Cross-posted on The Story Sanctuary on August 18th, 2017.

Review: Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Murder, Magic, and What We WoreMurder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Review

This was a fantastic light-hearted read. Rollicking and reckless, it kept up its tongue-in-cheek humor while still keeping me intrigued as Miss Annis attempted to puzzle out her father’s mysterious death. The plot was slightly predictable, but the wild humor kept everything fresh enough to hold my amusement.

This book did stretch my suspension of disbelief until it began to fray like a thread. However, I think that was intensional. The story is intended to entertain, rather than immerse, and for that purpose it works beautifully.

I loved the magic system in this book. It fit so perfectly with the historical period in which the story was set. Also, I liked how there were dashes of history thrown into the midst of the suspense, as it helped to ground the story a little more (and keep that thread of disbelief from snapping entirely).

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore is comparable to the Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal while being easier to read (and cleaner) for the younger generation. Fans of Cindy Antsey’s books will also fall in love with this comedy of manners. Overall, I’m rating this book 5 out of 5 stars. I hope that the author decides to make this book into a series, as I’m very curious to see what Annis and her friends do next!

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Most of the characters in this book are English. One minor character is described as being either West Indian or African. Some antagonism (characteristic of the time period) toward those of French descent are shown.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
One character is insinuated to have attempted to rape several maids. He attacks Annis at one point, and it is assumed that he has less-than-honorable intentions. One proposal of marriage. One remark that it is not considered good form to allow a young gentlemen’s lips to approach a young lady’s.

Spiritual Content
A few characters dress as characters from Greek mythology for a masquerade.

Violent Content
A few suspicious deaths (off page). A few attacks, including one insinuated to be an attempted rape. Some injuries. Nothing graphic.

Drug Content
Characters drink and serve alcoholic drinks as a matter of course. One character comments on a memory of a lady getting drunk and behaving in a silly manner. More alcohol is added to the punch at the masquerade to insure that the guests forget the unusual events of the evening.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Originally posted on The Story Sanctuary on July 24th, 2017

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Cover Reveal: Reintegration by Ashley Bogner

The day is finally here! It is time to reveal the cover for Miss Bogner’s debut novel, Reintegration. I am thrilled to be able to present not only the cover reveal, but also an exclusive interview. Read on below for all the fun stuff…

 

Some backstory:

Ashley Bogner is my Goodreads-virtual-friend-turned-real-life-best-friend. At a writing conference a few years ago, I happened to recognize her name from Goodreads. When I mentioned this to her, it turned out that she was indeed one of my Goodreads friends, and often followed my book reviews! We exchanged contact info, and the rest, as they say, is history. We’ve kept in close contact ever since.  So it was with great excitement that I heard she was venturing out into the publishing realm with her book, Reintegration. As her self-appointed #1 Fan, I can’t wait to share all the fun details!

 

So tell me, Ashley, how excited are you to be publishing your first book? 

I’m so thrilled that it’s happening! It almost doesn’t seem real…

It’s pretty incredible! What led you to self-publish instead of going the traditional route? How has the process been so far?

Actually, I originally tried the traditional route. I had a great agent, but unfortunately, after a couple years I didn’t get a publishing contract. Either my platform was too small or publishers weren’t looking for a dystopian trilogy. I did a lot of research and prayed about it, then decided it was time to self-publish. There’s a lot of great self-publishing options these days and I’m pleased with how it’s all turning out so far.

The process has been a learning curve but a rewarding one. My book is finally going to be published! And other self-published authors are really helpful and supportive. The Goodreads community has encouraged me a lot through this process.

It’s good to hear that there’s support for authors who are making the leap into self-publishing. And now that you’ve gone through the process yourself, perhaps you can join that community to help support and mentor new authors.

My next question is about genre. What made you decide to write a dystopian book? Has there been any special challenges that go along with that genre?

Dystopian fiction is such a deep, thought-provoking genre. Many of the dystopian novels I’ve read dive really deep into the theme, creating a story that starts a discussion. I’d been wanting to write a book that could start a dialogue about how our culture has taken “tolerance” way too far, and dystopian was a perfect genre for that. I also wanted to write a dystopian story from a Biblical worldview with a sense of hope. Too many of them are depressing! 

One of the biggest challenges (for me) with writing dystopian fiction is that world building is so crucial, and world building has always been an area that I’ve struggled with. Dystopian is different from fantasy (the other genre I write) in that it’s speculative fiction, but the setting has to stay very true to the “real world”. It’s an interesting balance between “futuristic” and “realistic”, and a struggle for someone like me who already has to invest a lot of time into world building. I think working on Reintegration has helped me improve that, though! 

World-building is one of my favorite parts of the fantasy/speculative genre. I can’t wait to see how you developed the world in Reintegration!

Is any part of Reintegration inspired by music? What do you like to listen to as you write? How about snacks? Any favorite munchies that get you in the writing mood?

I don’t actually listen to music while I’m in the process of writing. I’m one of those people who focuses way too much on lyrics (even if it’s a song I’ve heard fifty million times) so it distracts me. I do love, however, finding songs that I think go along with whatever book I’m currently writing. For Reintegration, songs by Thousand Foot Krutch, Red, Third Day, For King and Country, and Jonathan Thulin made it to the list.

Anything with chocolate is a good writing snack. 😉

Perhaps your readers can look forward to a Reintegration playlist, then? 😉 And I must agree–chocolate is always a good snack. 

Let’s move into some personal questions. What do you think is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

To write a story you love, not just what you think everyone else will love. If you’re passionate about a story, it’ll show in your writing. It’s better to stay true to who you are as a writer than to copy what’s popular. 

It’s very tempting to try to write the next bestseller. But I think your advice hits the nail on the head. After all, if you aren’t inspired and in love with your own story, your readers won’t be either.

Speaking of bestsellers, what is your favorite Bible verse, chapter, and/or book?

I’ve always loved 1 John. There’s a lot packed in that short letter that has been so encouraging to me. I recently did a study of 2 Timothy, and that’s now one of my favorite Bible books, too.

I enjoy 2 Timothy as well–one of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 4:18.

What are your top 5 favorite books/series?

Top 5? I love so many books, but if I had to narrow it down….

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (This will forever be my all-time favorite)
  2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie (Matched is the first dystopian book I read that I actually enjoyed. I loved that it wasn’t dark and the protagonist was very likable)
  3. The Out of Time Trilogy by Nadine Brandes (I read this series pretty recently and it totally blew me away. Spectacular writing, relatable characters, deep themes…)
  4. Isle of Swords by Wayne Thomas Batson (Batson’s books were some of my favorites growing up, and this one has always stuck with me as his best. A good mix of action, mystery, creepiness, and cheesy humor)
  5. The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Super character-driven sci-fi! My biggest complaint is that I don’t have a sequel)

Some of my favorites are on this list as well! Great minds think alike. 😉

What 2017 book releases are you most excited about? (Besides Reintegration, of course! 😉 ) 

I’m currently reading Unraveling by Sara Ella, which has been at the top of my list! Also on the list is The Knowing by Sharon Cameron (we will totally fangirl together when this comes out) and Silver Rose by Shantelle Hannu. These are earlier releases in the year, but I also want to read The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, Toss by Darcie Gudger, and Alison Henry and the Creatures of Torone by C.J. Darlington.

I can’t wait for The Knowing! And Unraveling actually inspired my next question: Any book crushes? What makes a character swoon-worthy, in your opinion?

It’s rare that I crush on a book character, usually because I’m too busy waiting for them to end up with the main girl. Two guys that I particularly liked though are Solomon from the Out of Time books (he’s so sweet) and Ian from The Host (he had to grow on me, but now I love him).

A swoon-worthy guy is a guy who’s super sweet and loyal and does little things that make me go “awww!” while reading a book. If he has a good sense of humor, that’s also a plus. 🙂

I agree–Solomon is definitely a swoon-worthy character. (Though I will have to say that Jude will always be my favorite. 😉 )

If you were acting in a movie spin-off of a book, what movie would it be, and what character would you play?

Hmmm…I think I would play Thalli from the Anomaly series by Krista McGee. I remember when reading that series I could really relate to how she responded to the events taking place. 

But Anomaly is a good book that deserves a good movie, and my acting skills aren’t good. They better hire someone else if a movie ever happens.

God gives us all different talents. I’m looking forward to seeing the fruition of yours when Reintegration releases!

As fun as it’s been, I’m afraid it’s time to bring our interview to a close. Any last advice, jokes, or comments?

Thanks for interviewing me! I loved these questions! I’m so happy we’re Goodreads-friends-turned-real-life friends. 🙂 

Me too! Thank you for allowing me to interview you!

 

 

Now it’s time to reveal the (gorgeous!) cover of Reintegration, along with a brief synopsis and author bio…

 

 

Reintegration.png (front only).png

A perfect citizen. A captured rebel. One decision could destroy them both.

As a Regulator, seventeen-year-old Katherine Holliday’s duty is to protect the people of the Federation from a group of violent rebels who have exiled themselves to the mysterious wilderness. When one of these rebels is captured within the Federation, the government leaders propose an alternative to execution, a procedure they call Reintegration. The procedure involves erasing the rebel’s memory and attempting to make him a member of society. The rebel, a young man named Matthew, is not the violent criminal Katherine expects, and she can’t help but befriend him. A few weeks after Matthew’s Reintegration, Katherine realizes the procedure failed and she is now presented with a choice no one else can help her make. Can she warn her superiors that Reintegration failed, which could mean death for Matthew? Or will she defy everything she knows to help him escape—and risk her own execution?

 

11041545_857277417692275_4578954682834777623_nAuthor Bio: When Ashley Bogner was in third grade, she decided she would be a published author when she grew up. Ashley is a homeschool graduate and has lived in seven different states. She completed a year of Bible college and in the fall will begin pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. After college, her plan is to work in the Christian publishing industry. When not writing, she can be found baking, posting book reviews on her blog, and watching her favorite movies over and over to the point of memorization.

Ashley’s Goodreads Profile             Ashley’s Blog

 

 

Don’t you just love that cover? (I know I do!) I can’t wait to read Reintegration, and find out what Katherine decides! Stay tuned in, because release day is coming soon…

As always, thank you all for reading! Follow my posts to keep in touch for more book reviews, news, and related posts!

Review: Elissa Blue by T.K. Perry

Elissa Blue: Book One of The WingedElissa Blue: Book One of The Winged by T.K. Perry

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The idea behind this book is very intriguing: imagine a world made up entirely of human/butterfly hybrids, with a bit of The Selection madness thrown in. Pretty cool, right? As unique as the concept is, it could have used some more development before going to print. 5 stars for ingenuity, minus 3 for poor development.

The plot meandered hither and yon with no clear direction or message. There was far too much going on, with not enough details to make any of it believable. I’m not totally sure what the point was at times–was the book about Elissa trying to find a husband? Her attempt to grow up? Connect with her family? I’m not sure. I think the message really boiled down to “don’t let your hormones/lust drive your relationship decisions.” A good message for sure, but I don’t think this book was the best way to present that; I was drowning in insta-love, irrational decisions, and love triangles (more like octagons!) in this book, and it drove me crazy. One positive is that the author discouraged premarital sex, and showed some of the consequences it led to. This is very different from mainstream opinion, and I appreciated that the author was willing to go against the grain and present a different view. Another positive was that even though this is marked as a “new adult” book, the author kept the romance(s) fairly clean overall. Nothing explicit here.

It was neat to see how the author included a wide variety of personalities in this book. Again, too many characters led to underdevelopment of nearly all of them, though there were a few that really stood out. Psyche and Holis were fun to read about, though they were supposed to be the “bad” characters. If the author had chosen just one or two of the relationships in this book to flesh out and devote more time to, and dropped most of the others, that would have made a huge difference. One note: I feel like Elissa and Cari switched personalities about a quarter way through the book, and it took me a bit to get settled with the characters again.

The setting was supposed to be more dystopian than fantasy, but we didn’t get to learn a whole lot about the world the book was set in. All we know is a flood caused it to be populated by only human/butterfly hybrids, and some animals. There was a hint of religious persecution, though it wasn’t clear what religion was being persecuted, or if the persecution had recently ended. The characters prayed twice, maybe three times in the entire book, and it wasn’t clear how deeply felt their faith was, or who they were praying to. It felt thrown in to me, and not authentic for the characters. Overall, I’m not sure whether the world-building was good or bad; there was so little of it, I can’t really say either way.

One last comment: I was actually grossed out by some of the stuff in this book: wing birth, pheromone stuff, etc. I get that the author wanted to bring in some authenticity to the human/butterfly crossover, but all the details were kinda disturbing at times.

The gist of my review is this: great idea, ruined by poor development. This book had so much potential; it’s disappointing to see the author didn’t follow through with it. I’m hoping that following books will be better developed, but I can’t say for sure.

Rating: 2 stars

Recommended: No

Content guide:
Language: 0/10 (none that I can recall)
Sexual content: 6/10 (lots of kissing, talk of mating, insta-love/lust, characters’ relationship seems at times more lust than love, almost rape, some nudity)
Violence: 3/10 (injuries, some mildly graphic, hormone-driven fights, etc)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

For more book reviews, or to request your own book to be reviewed by yours truly, visit gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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Review: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

32969235Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

Review:

I was very curious about this book when I saw the title. Though I don’t normally read a lot of sci-fi, I was intrigued by the summary and decided to give this one a try. While I did find it interesting, it didn’t grip me as much as I would have hoped. Also, the book itself ends in a major cliffhanger, so the story feels very much unfinished.

I enjoyed how the author chose to write the future world—with old fashions being recycled, celebs out to cause mischief and gossip, and people constantly searching for the next greatest thing, whether that be the latest wonder drug or a new Hunger Games-style arena fight. It felt very real, and—what was scary—not too far from our own modern world.

In this book, (minor spoiler) the author decided to take on the issue of human trafficking. This is not an easy subject, and makes the book quite a bit heavier than it might have been otherwise. What the author was trying to get across (other than how horrific human trafficking is) wasn’t entirely clear. (end minor spoiler) I’m hoping that I’ll see more of the plot and some of the themes in this book resolved in the next book.

Overall, I’d rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. While The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is unique in its plot, and bold in approaching some heavy topics, it lacks any sense of resolution or completeness, leaving the reader wondering if the characters have any hope at all in their very broken world. This book will appeal most to fans of The Hunger Games and other similar dystopian/sci-fi books.

Recommended for Ages 14 and up

Cultural Elements
Miguel is hispanic. Sofi has Cherokee heritage.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Barely any—a few “What the—” and “WTF” thrown in.

Romance/Sexual Content
Miguel is described as being a player, and it is mentioned that he has slept with many different women. (Part of the back story is that he almost took Sofi’s innocence, but refrained.) Miguel and Sofi strongly desire each other, and remember “the feel of each other’s skin, and lips,” etc. The story features the issue of human trafficking, and hints at sex trafficking as well. Sofi undresses in front of Heller, and later in front of Miguel. It is clear this affects them both, though that was not her intention. Heller is obsessively infatuated with Sofi, and goes to great lengths to “protect” her.

Spiritual Content
The Delonese chant their strange philosophy in a ritual, but it doesn’t seem directed towards a deity. Instead, it seems to glorify their race and technological advances.

Violent Content
The book starts off at the FanFight games, which is a blend between virtual reality and reality. Some of the arena elements attack/harm the players, and some of the injuries are fairly graphic. A violent explosion later takes the lives of many of the players and participants, but no details are given. There are also some minor injuries and a few deaths towards the middle of the book, but these are non-graphic. Towards the end however, a flashback Sofi has of the Delonese prepping her and some other kids for a medical procedure is very graphic and somewhat disturbing.

Drug Content
Some mention of wonder drugs (mostly in a medical context). Miguel serves alcohol at his party to “loosen tongues.”

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Originally posted on The Story Sanctuary on July 5th, 2017

Now Contributing to The Story Sanctuary

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 5.27.23 PM

I have some awesome news to share…I am now a contributor for the website The Story Sanctuary! Check it out for book reviews and bookish posts from a Christian worldview. Here’s our mission:

The Story Sanctuary began in 2013 with one simple goal: to provide a place where parents and readers could find information about past and current books and what potential triggers (profanity, violence, sexual situations, etc.) those stories contain. We talk about the stories and explore the type of content in them to help you make informed decisions about whether and when you’re ready to read a particular book or series.

Every month you’ll find between twelve and sixteen book reviews as well as occasional author interviews, excerpts, giveaways, top ten lists and other bookish posts. Books reviewed are featured in a review post as well as a monthly recap post including buy links and a short synopsis of the review. The Story Sanctuary sees 3,000 page views and 1,000 visitors in an average month. 

I’m super excited to be working with Kasey on the blog, and look forward to seeing my first review (The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber) post on July 5th! For more info, click this link.

I hope you all will check it out and let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Review: Unraveling by Sara Ella

Unraveling (Unblemished, #2)Unraveling by Sara Ella

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh. My. Goodness. I think I just died. This book, people–if you’re going to preorder a book in 2017, then make it this one. It is so worth it.

Okay, this review is going to sound totally fan-girly, and will probably contain spoilers from the first book. You’ve been warned.

SQUEAL! I loved this book so much. It has the best romance since Parvin and Solomon, and some of the swooniest scenes in all of romance history. The best part? It’s totally clean!! That makes me so happy. 😀 There is a few content issues, which I will mention in the content guide below, but nothing to cause me to rate it under 5 stars. (view spoiler) I loved most of the characters in this one. The author did an amazing job with their character arcs, transforming them just enough without making it seem unbelievable. (view spoiler)

I am amazed by all the worlds–or rather, Reflections–that Sara Ella keeps coming up with. It’s so cool how she ties them altogether as well! She mixes all sorts of cultures, real and imagined, in her world-building. Like El says in the book, perhaps we ought to already be expecting the unexpected. (view spoiler)

The plot kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I raced through it in record time. Unfortunately, that also means I have to wait for book 3, which isn’t even on the horizon yet! The life of a reader. Sigh. Anyway, I was curious where Sara Ella could go with this one. After all, Crowe is dead, the Reflection saved, and El is about to be crowned queen. What could possibly go wrong? (Hint: the answer is anything and everything, my friends. Anything and everything.) The only part I didn’t care for a whole lot out of this book (view spoiler) was the allegorical aspect. I’m not totally sure where the author is going with this. It’s not a Biblical allegory, so far as I can tell. Or if it is, it’s a twisted one. And those always make me a little twitchy. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next (and last!) book.

Overall, I adored this book. I loved it even more than the first one! (Which is very rare–the only other sequel I liked more than the first is A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes.) I highly recommend this one (and it’s definitely a buy-it-instantly kind of book)!

Rating: 5 glowing butterflies

Recommended: Yes. 14 and up. (Too confusing for younger readers, and some content issues.)

Content guide:

Language: 0/10 (that I can recall)
Sexual content: 5/10 (some non-sexual nudity, desire to kiss or touch, heavy kissing, some touching, innuendo, one scene could be interpreted the wrong way)
Violence: 7/10 (quite a few injuries and deaths, but most non-graphic. definitely some darker content in this one.)

*Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy to review!*

For more book reviews, or to request your own book to be reviewed by yours truly, visit gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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Review: Unblemished by Sara Ella

Unblemished (Unblemished #1)Unblemished by Sara Ella

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy cow, that was intense. I wasn’t expecting Unblemished to be that good. I saw all the rave reviews on Goodreads, and felt skeptical. “Well, might as well give it a try, I suppose.” I’m glad I did.

I’m normally not a fan of allegories–I suppose that only contributed to my skepticism. However, it was really well done here. Very subtle, and not in your face at all. I’m interested to see where the author takes it in following books. The entire story kept me riveted, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened to Eliyana next. I found the world-building to be believable, and very fascinating. I’m not normally of fan of alternate reality stories, but…this book is an exception to a lot of my dislikes.

But not all of them. (Warning! Warning! Minor spoilers ahead!) This book does have a love triangle. And yes, it is very frustrating. It was convincing at the beginning–the author had me rooting for one guy, until the tables turned and I was rooting for the other, just like Eliyana. Unfortunately, I remained rooting for that one character for the rest of the book. Guy #1 totally and completely lost my vote by acting like a total jerk. ‘Nuff said. Most of the characters were well-rounded, and sympathetic. Eliyana was especially endearing, as we spent the most time in her head, experiencing her every emotion. Her character transformation was excellently done.

I liked how it started in our world, before transitioning into the fantasy realm. All the pop culture references were really fun. It was neat to watch El transition into the new realm, and start to unconsciously use 2nd Reflection phrases in her thoughts and dialogue. I also loved the idea of Callings, and Thresholds. However, quite a bit of the world-building was very confusing. What, exactly, happened to Reflections 5-7? (Is that correct? There are 7 Reflections total, right? Ugh. See, it’s totally confusing.) And I’m not sure I totally got the concept of what the Verity and the Void are, and what they can do. Things only got messier towards the end, and I’m still not sure what happened. I can’t share much more details, as I’ll only spoil the plot.

Overall, I’d rate the book 5 stars, minus 1/2 for confusion, and another 1/2 for the love triangle. I can’t wait to start Unraveling, as Unblemished left me with a bit of a cliffhanger. Let’s hope it’s just as good–or dare I say, even better–than the first!

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended: Yes. 14 and up. (Too confusing for younger readers, and some content issues.)

Content guide:

Language: 2/10 (at least one bad word and unfinished sentence that implied foul language)
Sexual content: 6/10 (frequent non-sexual nudity, desire to kiss or touch, heavy kissing, some touching, innuendo, implications of rape, adultery, fornification)
Violence: 6/10 (quite a few injuries and deaths, but most non-graphic)

*Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy to review!*

For more book reviews, or to request your own book to be reviewed by yours truly, visit gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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Review: Twinepathy by C.B. Cook

Twinepathy (IDIA #1)Twinepathy by C.B. Cook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was really fun! Though it did have some writing issues, such as plot holes, logic problems, and iffy characterization, it was very entertaining and kept my curiosity. A solid 3.5 stars.

What I liked:
1. Blaze. C’mon, how can you not like him?
2. Superpowers. ‘Nuff said. But really, there was a good variety of different kinds of powers. Very creative uses of those powers as well–a lot of them I wouldn’t have thought of. I wish some had been better explained (like Anvil’s), but maybe the next book will clear some things up.
3. IDIA. I found it interesting how it was set up in a hierarchy of sorts. I’d like to learn some of the backstory of how it got set up.
4. The narration. This was kind of a mixed bag for me, as sometimes I enjoyed Albany’s narration, and other times it got annoying. However, I liked it more than I didn’t, so I’m putting it under the “like” category.

What I didn’t like:
1. Lack of information and/or explanation. I NEED ANSWERS! Ahem–please?
2. Denver’s character. He just seemed to behave kind of oddly for an older brother.
3. All the lying. I really wish they would have just told the parents the truth in the first place. And they didn’t seem to have a whole lot of problems with lying, either.
4. (view spoiler)
5. (view spoiler)

Wrap up: While I did have some issues with the writing quality and content, I found the book to be very entertaining on the whole. I’m looking forward to reading the next addition in the series–Lightporter–and I’m hoping that it will give me some answers to the many, many questions I have after reading Twinepathy.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

Recommended: Yes. Ages 8 and up.

Content guide:
Language: 0/10
Sexual Content: 0/10
Violence: 6/10 (battle–both good guys and bad guys die. little value placed on human life. some injuries–non-graphic.)

*Many thanks to the author for providing a copy to review!*

For more book reviews, or to request your own book to be reviewed by yours truly, visit gabriellenblog.wordpress.com

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Unboxing The Book Drop

Looky looky what arrived in my mail box today….

 

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That, my friend, is The Book Drop YA Box. It’s a subscription book box run by the folks at Bethany Beach Books. They also have a box for children, and two different boxes for adults. Here’s what they have to say about The Book Drop:

Our mission is to spread the love of reading by exposing people to really amazing books. We all have busy lives and unless you are surrounded by books all  day (like us lucky folk), it’s a bit overwhelming to pick out one REALLY  good book when there are so many options. That’s what we are here  for… to pick out the best of the best and mail them your way, to be dropped on your doorstep or mailbox.

We understand that you can get a better deal on that site-that-shall-not-be-named, but this box isn’t about getting the cheapest price, it’s about having a small independent bookstore hand-select the perfect book and sending it your way once a month. It’s about helping people discover fantastic reads and putting marvelous books into the hands of readers, books they probably would never have discovered  otherwise. If you’re looking for the cheapest box or the cheapest book,  then this box isn’t for you… we don’t deal in cheap, we deal in fantastic, fabulous, & marvelous books.

The Book Drop is a subscription for those who would choose a local indie bookstore over Barnes & Noble. It’s for readers who love to hunt for a hidden gem in the stacks, but may not have the time to do so. That’s what The Book Drop is for–to seek out those fantastic reads that are flying under the radar, and deliver them straight to your mailbox. If you want more information on who they are, and how they select their books, look here. Now for the unboxing!

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Upon opening the box, I was greeted with a gorgeous, brand-new paperback. This month’s selection is Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman. Here’s the synopsis:

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

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I can’t wait to dive into this book. It looks like the perfect book to take with me to the pool. Or maybe the beach.

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I pulled the book out, and underneath was tucked a small pamphlet with tons of suggestions for books to read over the summer. All of the recommendations come with a short endorsement from employees at various indie bookshops around America.

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Inside the book was a bookmark, a signature from the employee who packed my box, and a short note from Amanda Zirn, the creator of The Book Drop, talking a little bit about what the book is like. Very nice–I like the personal touches.

 

While this may not be the cheapest book box, and while it may not have the newest releases, it’s definitely still worth considering. What makes this subscription stand out from the rest is its loyalty to hidden gems. The Book Drop is dedicated to promoting books that are worth reading, even if they haven’t made the bestseller list. They actively select books that you could only find in an indie bookstore, or by talking to a fellow book lover. It’s all about the book community, not the book business.

If you’re a fan of unusual authors and independent book stores, then The Book Drop is for you. I highly recommend looking into this one.

 

Cheers!

*A HUGE thanks to Amanda Zirn and the rest of the folks at The Book Drop for sending me a complimentary box to review!*