The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Posted on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 by Emily May

The Love Interest by Cale DietrichThe Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 16th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Thrillers & Suspense, LGBT, Romance
Pages: 288
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There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.
Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?
Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.
What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

I’m going to go on a little tangent to explain my feelings on The Love Interest.

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One StarOne Star

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 by Chantal

Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by Knopf on September 9th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Survival Stories
Pages: 336
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An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of “King Lear”. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from “Star Trek”: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

“What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”

Confession: I went into this book not really expecting to like it. It’s very hyped and has gotten many raving reviews, and yet I didn’t think I would enjoy it. Why? Because this book can – I believe – be classified as literary fiction and for some reason, I still see myself as not being capable of grasping these kinds of novels. I have the preconceived notion that as someone who reads primarily YA, I cannot appreciate these types of books (which I realize is actually kind of offensive towards YA readers). I thought I would be bored and confused. Fortunately though, it turns out I was wrong. Station Eleven didn’t confuse me in the slightest and I really enjoyed it.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Crucible Zero (House Immortal, #3) by Devon Monk
Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2015 by Brandi

Crucible Zero (House Immortal, #3) by Devon MonkCrucible Zero (House Immortal, #3) by Devon Monk
Series: House Immortal
Published by Roc on September 1st 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 356
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The national bestselling author of Infinity Bell returns to her “fresh and unique”* world where the truce between the ruling Houses has shattered and chaos now reigns. Only one woman has the power to save the world—but she could also destroy it...
Matilda Case never thought of herself as a hero. But because she is galvanized—and nearly immortal in her stitched, endlessly healing body—she doesn’t have much of a choice. Even if she doesn’t want to save the world, she’s the only one capable of traveling in time to do so.
But her rescue attempt hasn’t gone as planned. She’s stuck in an alternate universe, and her world is in danger of disappearing. Worst of all, an unfathomably powerful man who can also travel through history doesn’t want her to put things to rights. He’s willing to wage bloody war to stop Matilda, unless she surrenders control of time to him.
Now, with the minutes ticking, Matilda must make impossible decisions, knowing that one wrong choice will destroy her—and any chance of saving everything she loves...
*A Book Obsession

Hm.

Well, hell.

As most of you know I’m a diehard Devon Monk fan, and though I liked these last two books the least of any of hers – with this one being the very least, I’m still flying my fan flag high. I just happened to not connect with this particular story that much.

For me this book was a little too boring, a little too neatly finished, not enough oomph with the characters, and a hefty dose of off-ness that I couldn’t shake. Read more… »

One StarOne Star

Infinity Bell (House Immortal #2) by Devon Monk
Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2015 by Brandi

Infinity Bell (House Immortal #2) by Devon MonkInfinity Bell by Devon Monk
Series: ,
Published by Roc on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Fiction, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Steampunk
Pages: 341
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Return to national bestselling author Devon Monk's heartpounding House Immortal series, where eleven powerful Houses control the world and all its resources. But now, the treaty between them has been broken, and no one—not even the immortal galvanized—is safe....

Matilda Case isn’t normal. Normal people aren’t stitched together, inhumanly strong, and ageless, as she and the other galvanized are. Normal people’s bodies don’t hold the secret to immortality—something the powerful Houses will kill to possess. And normal people don’t know that they’re going to die in a few days.

Matilda’s fight to protect the people she loves triggered a chaotic war between the Houses and shattered the world’s peace. On the run, she must find a way to stop the repeat of the ancient time experiment that gifted her and the other galvanized with immortality. Because this time, it will destroy her and everything she holds dear.

Caught in a cat-and-mouse game of lies, betrayal, and unseen foes, Matilda must fight to save the world from utter destruction. But time itself is her enemy, and every second brings her one step closer to disaster....

If you’ve known me for five minutes you know my love for Devon Monk runs deep, and it’s hard for me to not five star this just out of loyalty, but, it happened… Devon Monk has written a book I wasn’t head over heels with.

This is a sad day in my life. Read more… »

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2015 by Emily May

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Published by Harper Collins on September 20th 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 448
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The first book in the acclaimed and award winning New York Times bestselling trilogy. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a remarkable novel full of adventure, sorcery, heartbreak, and power. "I stayed up until two a.m. reading this last night. Intense, unique. . . . Definitely recommended."—Veronica Roth, author of the best-selling Divergent series
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can't see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young. Most of the chosen do. "A page-turner with broad appeal."—Publishers Weekly
Supports the Common Core State Standards

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One StarOne StarOne Star

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 by Brandi

Ashfall by Mike MullinAshfall by Mike Mullin
Published by Tanglewood Press Genres: Survival Stories, Young Adult
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Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

I’m such a sucker for a plausible survival story. I loved… and hated this book. This reminded me of Life As We Knew It only better.

Hated it because these are the kind of books that speak to my personal fears. If I were to be a prepper it would be for a natural disaster scenario, lol. It’s like this Mayan dust up we have right now (and, ok, this is an older review but oh well). I don’t believe in it. Then I read this and think about how Alex was separated from his family, and I totally catch myself thinking about how I’m sending the kids to school that day (because I don’t believe anything will happen) and then what a dick I would feel like should I be proved wrong, lol. Then what. Le sigh. Stupid book making me think of all the horrible things I don’t want to think about. Read more… »

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2015 by Chantal

The Book of Ivy by Amy EngelThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Published by Entangled Teen on November 4th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Love & Romance
Pages: 282
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Lately, I have been a bit weary of hype. Hype can be a great thing because it enables you to find books you would otherwise never have picked up. However, it can also take the fun out of reading because you practically already know everything about a book before you’ve even read the first page. This is why I decided to pick up The Book of Ivy, which I really hadn’t heard that much about previously. In this case, the decision paid of. I really enjoyed this novel; it was a very short, quick read.

The Book of Ivy is a dystopian novel that takes place in the future after the United States has been destroyed by a nuclear war. Most people were completely wiped out and there was only a small population left. These people came together to establish a new “nation” but there were two rival sides: the Westfalls and the Lattimers. The Lattimers won and now, fifty years later, peace and control is maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group.
The story follows Ivy Westfall, who is forced to marry Bishop Lattimer at the age of sixteen. What nobody outside of Ivy’s family knows however, is that Ivy is on a mission to kill Bishop in order to restore the Westfall family to power.

My feelings for this book are bit all over the place so let’s break it down, shall we?

World building:

The world building is definitely the weakest part of the novel. It was meager at best. We got practically no explanations for what happened to the world. Although politics are the central issue in the novel, they were very simplified and not exploited. Having said that though, I was surprised by how little I actually cared about the lack of world building. This is very unusual for me, as I am world building freak; it’s part of why I love fantasy so much. Somehow, I found myself enjoying the story and not dwelling too much on the fact that nothing was really explained.

Characters:

I mostly really enjoyed the main characters, even though I did have a few problems with both of them.

Ivy was a very relatable and likeable protagonist. She is very compassionate and outspoken yet also impulsive which gets her into trouble. At times I did find Ivy a tad annoying, simply because she kept repeating the same thoughts over and over again in her head and her impulsiveness seemed quite reckless. Her character development was very typical for a dystopian: girl starts questioning and reevaluating her beliefs and realizes that some of the things she’s been taught her entire life are in fact incorrect or exaggerated. In that, she appeared a little indecisive and there were times where I just wanted to shake her. However, considering the fact that she was only sixteen and had been sheltered her entire life, she was a very realistic character and I found myself rooting for her. I could really feel how torn she was between the loyalty to her family and her budding feelings towards Bishop.

In my opinion (and I’m sure some of you will agree with me) there is a big difference between the bookish boyfriends we love to swoon over in our favorite books and the ones we would actually like to date in real life. Many brooding, dark bad boys might be amazing to read about, but if they were real I would probably steer clear. Bishop, however, is the opposite. He is literally the PERFECT guy in every way, everything anyone could ever want in a boyfriend. He is very kind and handsome, trusting and considerate, intelligent and selfless.

“I want to be someone strong and brave enough to make hard choices. But I want to be fair and loving enough to make the right ones.”

And that’s where the problem lies: as much as I loved Bishop, I don’t like characters that don’t have flaws. Not just out of principle, but because they are kind of…bland, dull. He was adorable but not interesting.

Plot & Romance:

The book of Ivy is essentially a love story. Yes, there are political and ideological elements involved but at its core it’s a novel about two star-crossed lovers. The plot wasn’t particularly thrilling but it did keep my attention throughout and the ending was very unexpected. I’m definitely curious to know what happens in the second installment since it’s going to have a very different premise than the first one!

I really enjoyed the romance, it was very cute and there was no insta-love or love triangle. Hallelujah! Some readers might consider their relationship too sweet (I sure thought I would) but honestly, I found myself completely engaged. The one thing I didn’t like was a certain cliché towards the end (I’m not going to spoil), which made me question what exactly Bishop saw in Ivy.

Themes & Writing:

This book does attempt to make people think. It asks some difficult questions with no right or wrong answers. Which side should Ivy chose? What is the morally correct thing to do? Can there be a positive outcome?

I also appreciated that the novel explored sexism and the role of women in society.

“I’m not sure how we got to this place, where a girl’s only value is in what kind of marriage she has, how capable she is of keeping a man happy.”

It’s still an issue and an important thing to talk about.

 
The writing was very simple yet gripping and fluid. Nothing special but definitely serviceable.

Overall:

I really enjoyed The Book of Ivy but it didn’t blow me away. It’s not a very original story, nothing I haven’t read before, however, the execution is well done and it was a very quick and engaging read. I recommend it if you like dystopians with a heavy emphasis on romance. I will be picking up book two.

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger
Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 by Emily May

5 to 15 to 1 by Holly Bodger
My rating: 3 of 5 teacups

Seriously, this book. I don’t even know how to begin trying to describe how I feel about 5 to 1. Let’s look at all the great points. It’s a super quick read that I powered through in one sitting. It has so much girl power but ultimately imparts the message that everyone is a human being deserving of respect, regardless of gender or anything else. There is absolutely ZERO romance. That’s right… none. I really liked both Sudasa and Kiran. It’s full of very important issues relevant to both India and the rest of the world…

And yet, the world-building is sketchy, the society poorly-conceived and the ending so… meh.

I think, given the importance of the issues lying beneath this fictional story, the lens was too narrow. The entire book spans a few days and barely steps outside the world of the “Tests”. No wonderful glimpses into a culture so rarely seen in YA, no rich world-building. So many missed opportunities.

The plot begins in the year 2054. After gender selection and female infanticide (a very real problem in India) caused a gender imbalance of 5 to 1 and girls became the target of rapists, the women of Koyanagar decided they could build a better society on their own. They erected a wall around their city and established a matriarchal society in which boys must compete in the Tests for a wife. Men are also deemed unfit for law, politics and medicine; they’re only purpose in life is to father daughters.


“Boys are taught only useful things. Things that will help them serve the women in Koyanagar.”

What the author basically does is reverse gender roles and circumstances – something which had the potential to be fascinating and powerful. However, while the drama of the Tests is compelling, a closer look reveals that this book is built on a very loose premise that only manages to hold up the novel because we are shown such a small amount of this world.

For one thing, how were these women simply able to seize a city and name themselves the leaders? That’s like me just deciding one day that I want to build a wall around my home town, declare myself president, and everyone just being all “well, this sucks, but better do as she says”. Sadly, that will never happen. Also, we are told that boys are no longer trusted but never told why. I understand how great an idea it is to reverse the gender roles in India and make girls more desired and the boys disposable, but without the whys and hows, it’s just an interesting concept that never evolves into a believable story.

It seems like I’ve been very negative but I did enjoy this book. It was told from two POVs – Sudasa in free verse and Kiran in prose – and I really liked both characters. They were strong, pleasingly rebellious, and I sympathized with both their situations. Oddly, I actually wouldn’t have minded a romance between the two of them. Bloody typical. But the lack of romance was a pleasant change. I feel like many authors build up the characterization of their male and female MCs through their romance with each other, whereas Sudasa and Kiran were interesting in their own right.

The ending kind of drifts off and I thought it seemed like a bit of a cop-out, but part of me wonders if the author has deliberately left it open for a potential second book. The many problems aside, if that is the case, then I’d like to read it.

House Immortal by Devon Monk
Posted on Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by Brandi

House Immortal (House Immortal, #1)House Immortal by Devon Monk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m just not sure why more of my friends aren’t fangirling over anything Devon Monk puts out… c’mon, folks! Not only is she in my Big Four, but she’s never, not once, let me down with a book. I can’t even say that for Ilona Andrews (shakes fist Magic Breaks!).

The story is like nothing I’ve ever read before, and actually, that’s the common thread for all of Monk’s books: they’re all so unique and original. On top of that very exciting reality is the fact that Devon Monk’s world building is amazing -seriously. The characters, the setting, the story, the tension, the humor, the feels, GAH! I think that this series might become my favorite of hers, even overtaking Allie and Shame… wow, it’s like saying I could like someone else more than I like Kate – never thought I’d say that. I’m not saying that about Kate, just making the comparison so you all know how much I love Allie.

Allie’s series is special to me because I’ve always fantasized about magic being real and the story makes it all so believable; Shame is one of my favorite characters from that story, so his own series is special to me, too. But this book really blew my socks off. Usually there’s that moment when you’re a couple books into a series and realize that first one wasn’t that great, and you’re surprised you kept reading, but this first one doesn’t feel like that. I can only hope it’s going to be as long as Allie’s series.

The story is about Matilda, and the theme I’d choose to describe it would be acceptance. Learning to accept yourself and all that comes with that. There are a cast of characters that are all really interesting, and several beasts that were crazy awesome – like the kitten sized sheep with endless wool that Tilly’s grandma used to knit with – I really want those. The antagonist was wonderfully evil, and the romantic interest was ridiculously sexy. Our MC isn’t the kind to sit back and be taken care of, and you know how much I appreciate that. She was funny, courageous, humble, loyal, and in my opinion, authentic.

A believable dystopian novel featuring a cast that you can’t help but feel curious about, and a story that keeps you up late into the night even though you have stuff to do the next morning… that’s what I want more of.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2014 by Emily May

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The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2)The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
My rating: 4 of 5 teacups

Ever since I finished The 5th Wave, the very thought of this sequel has inspired a reaction something like:

I really LOVED the first book. I read it in the middle of my college exam period and it was the only thing that kept me sane in between studying. The atmosphere was just right, the writing was engaging to me, and I thought each of the characters brought something important to the table. Damn, I even wrote a (not very good) song about it. Such love is hard to follow.

When I opened this book I was both excited and nervous. My expectations were so high that I knew it was dangerous. And, what can I say? I really needn’t have worried. While I don’t view this book as the same alien-wrapped perfection we got in book one, there is something so entirely compelling about Yancey’s writing that makes me think we would be great friends in real life.

This book has more faults, not quite as much eerie atmosphere now the big secrets are out, and more gory action… but, overall, it is a worthy sequel that didn’t fail to punch me in the gut numerous times. If you were a little worried that Yancey wouldn’t be able to pull out another good ‘un after The 5th Wave – don’t be.


“The world will burn for a hundred years. Fire will consume the things we made from wood and plastic and rubber and cloth, then water and wind and time will chew the stone and steel into dust. How baffling it is that we imagined cities incinerated by alien bombs and death rays when all they needed was Mother Nature and time.”

I think the first book is a quieter novel, which had different effects on different readers. I, personally, thought it was one of the book’s strengths. The Infinite Sea is a different kind of book. We finished the first after a huge climax of action and drama; the secrets were out, covers had been blown, we were suddenly dropped into the middle of a war that only escalated with this second book. Here things go from bad to worse; people are lost, distrust lingers between the characters, these kids have had to grow up faster than kids ever should.

To get the negative out of the way…

The biggest – or most annoying – fault of this book is Cassie. I am relieved that Yancey chose to write in a style that moves from perspective to perspective effectively because she might have driven me crazy otherwise. Yancey’s characters are so different and have so many layers that I don’t believe for a second that the author was chanelling his own beliefs through Cassie, but that didn’t stop me from hating the slut-shaming, self-righteous little… I can’t think of anything to call her that isn’t too offensive or British slang.

Her love for Evan is a little more nauseating in this sequel than in the first, but I am glad that this whole situation introduces us to a minor but fascinating character called Grace. This is her from Cassie’s perspective:


“a tall girl with a cascade of honey-blond hair and striking Norwegian-model-type features, piercing blue eyes, full, pouty, collagen-packed lips, and the willowy figure of a runway fashion princess.
“Hello, Evan,” Cosmo Girl said. And of course her voice was deep and slightly scratchy like every seductive villainess ever conceived by Hollywood.”

*eye roll* and then later…


“Why don’t you tell me,” I shot back. “You extraterrestrial slut.”

Allow me to point out that she is a “slut” because she used to be with Evan before Cassie came along. Cassie and Evan are like the Mary Sue and Gary Stu at the centre of this book who angst over each other with emo poetry. If these things bug you too you might be wondering how this book still manages to pull out a load of awesome and get a high rating…

Because – and I should probably stress this – Cassie and Evan are only a very small part of The Infinite Sea. This book is full of different characters and interesting little back stories that it’s easy to just ignore those two. As I said, we get to meet Grace who I found fascinating. We hear the back story between her and Evan so she becomes something more interesting and well-rounded than merely Evan’s ex who is being used as a tool to make Cassie jealous. And we learn Poundcake’s disturbing history and find out just why he never speaks.

But my favourite character? Ringer. She was rapidly becoming my favourite in the first book and this one just cemented my love for her. I love everything about her. From the rage that bubbles beneath the surface:


“My anger is greater than the sum of all lost things.”

To her flirtations with Zombie, her intriguing back story and the way she tells Cassie exactly how it is:


“Beats hanging around here waiting for your alien prince to come.”

Hahaha! You bloody tell her!

In the end, this was a really good sequel with plenty of action, drama, twists and turns. I didn’t reread the first book before I started and that surprisingly didn’t affect my enjoyment, I got sucked back into the world and story instantly. I feel like I’m just completely on the same wavelength with Rick Yancey because his writing always just works for me; he can be writing about action or characters or philosophical musings… and I genuinely enjoy reading it. Can’t wait for the next book.

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

Hey there! I'm Brandi; I'm a Navy veteran, Army wife, mother, feminist and book lover! My go-to genre would have to be Urban Fantasy, but any fiction is game really.

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