Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review Wednesday: Kepler One - The Choosing by T.P. Keane


Indication of continuation of the series

Goodreads Blurb:
"The radiation on Earth is killing everyone Zoe Ruthland cares about. After winning the Lottery, she is the only tier five citizen given a chance to start over on a new planet. Seen as unworthy, a criminal, many want her to fail. Zoe must survive training, and the other cadets, to secure her place on the Kepler One spacecraft. But something sinister lurks behind the Government’s plans to save humankind and Zoe has no idea that she is an integral part of it; that she is chosen for another reason."


Review:
Thank you to the author, T.P. Keane, and their publicist for gifting me with a copy of Kepler One - The Choosing in exchange for an honest review!

I really enjoyed this book!  I read in all in one sitting in just 3.5 hours which speaks for itself.  It wasn't completely flawless but enjoyable nonetheless.

1.  The characters.  This is the only complicated element for me.  On one hand, the author has taken steps to develop each character.  Their background, their personality, their actions, everything.  For the most part, this effort was entirely successful.  The characters jumped off the page which is a wonderful testament to the author's skill and their dedication to editing.  On the other hand, there are several prominent instances where this failed.  The main character, Zoe, had more lapses than the other characters (and they are more prominently displayed as the only POV is her perspective).  Especially near the end, she acted out of character in a spectacular fashion on several occasions.  She would randomly get angry and barge in places without thinking and would act incredibly irrationally.  This did not line up with her background of growing up in the toughest sector (the world is separated into five sectors, the fifth being the most dangerous, and Zoe grows up in the fifth).  You'd think growing up with that type of environment, you'd learn to temper yourself just a bit or at least have a more critical mind to pick apart situations and assess but Zoe doesn't seem to have any of these traits.  I did enjoy her character, nonetheless, and she provided some interesting discussion on leadership (more on that later).

2.  The plot.  As I mentioned above, I read this all in one go and was entirely engrossed.  This is 75% due to the plot and 25% due to the characters and my interest in their development.  While the characters are fascinating, the plot truly shines in this novel.  Taking a cue from all other successful novels, the author made sure to include an overarching plot line (the goal of getting to a more habitable planet) as well as secondary ones (Zoe and Nathan's exploits, Zoe's journey, and the little tests along the way).  Think a combination of The Hunger Games, Throne of Glass, and Passengers (the movie, not the book).  There is a selection process to determine who will be among the 15 people to go on the ship and travel to the selected planet that is hundreds of light-years away.  This selection process isn't exactly friendly but isn't to the level of The Hunger Games.  This provides tension which drives everything allow that much more smoothly.

3.  The romance.  Yes, there is a romance and yes, there is a love-triangle.  I'm pleased to report, however, that the romance doesn't overtake the plot in any way and the love-triangle itself isn't made too apparent until a couple of occurrences near the end.  Nothing to fret about.  I do hope that the author will keep in mind that romance is a secondary plot line in the next book as well.  The romance doesn't develop all that much because of Zoe's character which I loved as it stays very true to her personality and thought process.  All in all, I think the author is very good about sticking to the limitations of his characters in this instance.

4.  The writing.  I truly enjoyed this author's writing style.  They included some lyrical language but were also careful about making sure everything flowed well.  I can appreciate metaphorical language but there's definitely a time and a place for it and I think the author took the proper steps to ensure this was the case.

5.  The concept/idea.  This is also something I enjoyed immensely.  I loved how the author took the time to go through some of the science (I am by no means an expert in space travel and the bending of space-time in the creation and exploitation of worm-holes by the way) to make everything seem that much more believable.  The author also took the time to really flesh out the pressures of the mission (basically the survival of humanity).  I haven't read too many books related to space travel that I've enjoyed (basically The Martian) so this was a lovely read for me.

The Final Verdict:
All in all, a truly enjoyable novel.  While there were several distinct instances where characters acted extremely strangely for themselves, they were developed well and the plot shone.
4 stars

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Review Sunday: Poisoned Iris by Cindy Mezni


The Red Era #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"Athens was once the cradle of civilization. Now it's slowly but surely becoming the tomb of humanity.

The Red Plague, a violent virus which had run rampant decades ago, left its imprint on the planet and the flesh of men. All that remains of the modern world is an endless wasteland of ruins—Erebos—and two cities—Elysion, the obscure island of the Non-Infecteds about which no one knows a thing, and, Tartaros, the crumbling town of the Infecteds where despair, hatred, violence and poverty are the operative words.

And at the heart of this universe lives Irisya, a sixteen-year-old Non-Infected girl, staying recluse in her home to be safe and relying on her brother, Memphis, for everything.

But then, one day, he disappears without a trace.

Irisya has no choice. To save him, to survive, she will have to brave all the dangers of the outside world."


Review:
Thank you to the author, Cindy Mezni, and Olivia (who organizes the review chain) for gifting me with a copy of Poisoned Iris in exchange for an honest review!

Sadly, this book just wasn't my cup of tea.  It started out all right and I kept waiting for some spark to come in but I just couldn't become invested.  Let me explain why:

1.  The characters.  The author did a great job of keeping the character development balanced with the action and plot.  However, there were moments all of the time that I was left baffled by the actions of the characters.  They were entirely out of character or incredibly ridiculous.  They would get angry over the tiny things or they would do things without any explanation and didn't make sense in the long run.  The author would work so hard to build up the personalities of all of the characters (and did succeed most of the time) and in a few short moments, some dialogue or an hour of action would unravel everything.  It was kind of frustrating to watch, actually.  The main character, Irisya, is another point I want to mention.  I loved how the author set her up as mostly naïve about the outside world (even if I disagreed with Memphis' choice to do so) as it made for an interesting learning curse (more about this later) but it was also used too much as an excuse for a lack of common sense.  Irisya would do things because 'she didn't know any better' when in reality, you have to have picked up some things from your brother and mother going out and telling you about what's outside.  And wouldn't you eventually grow curious or restless, being cooped up in an apartment your entire life?  She is an incredibly puzzling character and I couldn't figure her out for the life of me.

2.  The plot.   Moving onto the plot, I think the plot is one of the elements the author really did well with.  It was nicely paced (if artificially fast at times) and there is an excellent structure of overarching plot and secondary plot lines.  One issue however: there are random jumps in time without any real breaks or indication (other than some insinuation) which threw me through a loop.  You catch on after a paragraph or two but the mere fact that it's present is concerning.  Nevertheless, it only detracted slightly from the story for me.

3.  The romance.  Yes, there is a romance and I'm happy to report that there is no love triangle or insta-love!  I was half-expecting one (and there is one slightly implied for a chapter but it's dealt with quickly) because of the science fiction nature of the novel.  The lack of one is a lovely asset.  It's quite easy to spot who will be taking part but it's developed in a sweet, innocent sort of way.  Of course, the romance suffered from the same issues that the characters did and it greatly impacted the course of the relationship which irritated me slightly.

4.  The writing.  The writing itself is quite good, actually.  Aside from the character development issues the author has a strong prose.  There is a nice flow and it's easy to read which helped distract from some of the other problems.

5.  The world.  This is also a complicated point.  While the world itself is wonderful (and is mapped out as well, I might add), there are also development problems here.  Elements seem to be thrown in whenever they're most convenient and it's almost as if the author forgot to explain some situations beforehand so the reader is caught up in the moment which isn't exactly the most efficient way to go about it.  I kept waiting for some world building in the beginning that would elaborate a little more on the Plague and it's effects and how exactly the world came to be as it was but there was nothing.  Generally speaking, I think the author simply didn't take enough time to nail down the parameters of her world and the people in it and how those people had historically interacted.

The Final Verdict:
Lack of development in nearly every area is this book's main shortfall.  There were bright spots in the romance, writing, and plot, however.
2 stars


Meet the Author:
Cindy Mezni is a Swiss author living near the beautiful Lake Geneva. She writes in French and in English and her books are published in both languages. She loves creating new universes and creatures and playing with fictional characters. If she's not lost in one of her imaginary worlds, she's probably with her people and/or her two Energizer bunnies of dogs and her Snorlax of a cat.

She's the author of the YA fantasy series The Last Hope, the adult dark fantasy trilogy Nëphyr and the YA dystopian trilogy The Red Era.

To never miss any book release, giveaway or event, join Cindy Mezni's mailing list by going to www.cindymezni.com

Connect:

Friday, May 19, 2017

50/50 Friday (33): Character Whose Life You'd Want/Not Want to Live

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Goodness.  For all my fellow Blogger users, do you ever have those times where the formatting simply REFUSES to work??  That has been me for the past 3 days.  You may have been wondering where this post has been hiding and it's all the HTML's fault!  I would fix the code and then when I would preview it, it would revert back to whatever hinky formatting it had before.  Links refused to be links, blue text felt like being red, the world ceased to make any kind of sense!  I had posts scheduled before hand (all my reviews), thank goodness, but not this post and look where that got me.  In any case, I've given up and there are no links in this post because why not.  I'll put them in later when the world isn't so against me.

Today's Topic: Character Whose Life You'd Want/Not Want to Live

Want:

The Violet Eden Chapters #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"It starts with a whisper.

It's time for you to know who you are..."

Stange dreams leave her with very real injuries and there's a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms. The guy she thought she could fall in love with just told her he's only half-human - oh, and same goes for her. And she keeps hearing a distant fluttering of wings.

Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th bithday.

But if angels seek vengeance and humans are warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden."



I would actually love to be Violet!  She has this cool new side of her that she never knew about and while it does involve her in a pretty dangerous war, her powers are awesome and she gets a badass trainer which is always great.


Not Want:

The Selection #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined."


Even though it seems rather glamorous to be royalty, I don't think I would ever want to be in America's shoes.  First she has to decide if she and Maxon are a match, then figure out if she's more in love with him or Aspen, then figure out how on earth to be a ruler under a mounting rebellion.  All with every move being scrutinized by basically everyone.  No thank you!


Have you read these books?  Would you like to have these character's lives?  Whose life do you wish you could have?  Make a post and link up down below!



Next Week's Topic: Most Deep/Shallow Book in the ____ Genre (your choice) (Message/Fluff)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Author Post Thursday: Fred Holmes (ft. adventures in the Congo and other cool places)


Today I have something special for y'all!  I recently reviewed The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes and he graciously agreed to do an author post!  Fred Holmes has had the experience of adapting a screenplay into a book and has many years of experience in the film field.  We in the bookish community often talk about the struggles of adapting a book into a film but rarely is it ever brought up about the opposite!  Fred has had the unique experience of going through the process and has shared his process and what he learned below.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review Wednesday: Come Home by Lisa Scottoline


Standalone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter's lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her---though it is stressful---and her daughter, Megan, is a happily over-scheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team.

But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer. Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few inquiries and discovers that things don’t add up. As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life. Yet Jill can’t turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own."


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Review Sunday: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas


A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

Goodreads Blurb:
"Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

50/50 Friday (32): Character You'd Want/Not Want to Meet


50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Character You'd Want/Not Want to Meet

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review Wednesday: The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen


The Queen of the Tearling #3

Goodreads Blurb:
"In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies - chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will be revealed...

With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ARC Review Sunday: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June


Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Standalone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way."


Friday, May 5, 2017

50/50 Friday (31): Best/Worst Book Read in April


50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Best/Worst Book Read in April

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

April Wrap-Up


This year is moving way too fast.  Seriously.  I'm ridiculously behind on reading because of finals and exams and essays and a thousand other things I need to be doing.  I'm not ready for it to be May yet!  There was so much to be done in April that didn't get done!  Nevertheless, we have arrive on the doorstep of May and the revolution of the Earth will not slow.  So we beat on.  (if you caught the reference, we can be best friends until the end of time)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Music Monday (6)

Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Lauren over at Always Me.  Every Monday, you share one or two of your favorite songs you've been enjoying that week to help other people discover new music!  Here are my picks for this week:
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