Sunday, July 26, 2015

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Genre:  YA Contemporary
Expected publication date:  January 5, 2016

Description (taken from Marieke Nijkamp's website):
10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

At the beginning of the year in a small town called Opportunity, students are in an assembly getting pumped for the new semester.  Just as the principal finishes her speech about your decisions becoming your future, the students are ready to return to class.  But the doors are locked.  No one can get out.  Gunshots erupt and people realize today is no ordinary day.

Claire, the track star and ROTC officer, has special permission with the track team to skip the assembly.  Tomás is convinced a certain student's file in the principal's office holds the key to what's bothering his sister.  Autumn is done with the principal's pep talk and ready to be done with the year and out of the city as soon as possible.  Sylv is still contemplating whether her reasons for staying in Opportunity outweigh the reasons for leaving as the assembly ends.  All of these students become united for less than an hour where they will share tears, heart ache, bravery, and defiance.

This is a quick read that goes through the emotions as quick as the world changes upside down.  While being determined to save their own necks, we see a lot of students step up to save their fellow classmen.  And what I loved seeing was the siblings fighting for each other.  Sylv and Tomás.  Claire and Matt.  Autumn and Tyler.  This book gives no explanations; it just goes through the emotions and the scene.  The only thing I kind of disliked is it tried to give an explanation for the shooter.  We see his backstory and are pushed to blame the parents.  Parents in one way or another will fail their children, but their children's choices are still their own to make.  And this only slightly bothered me.  But I think that's the point of the story.  So many little pieces done slightly wrong which pushes one kid over the edge until he becomes a firecracker.

This book takes about two to three hours to read.  And if you like contemporary, pick this one up.  It makes you appreciate the little things in life.  Friends, family, acquaintances; in the end, that's who we have in this world.

Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a review copy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

Genre:  YA Christian Dystopian
Seer Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Rachelle Dekker's website):
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

In a world after the Ruining, society is ruled by the Authority.  The Authority consists of men who govern society and follow the Veritas, the religious book in this society.  Women have no worth in this world and must reflect their husband's standing.  Their only hope is to have a guy choose them at the Choosing ceremony or else they end up as a Lint, the lowest part of society.  Carrington has grown up in this world and has begun to see the problems with society.

Carrington's Choosing ceremony ends in disaster.  She begins life as a Lint taking care of the trash.  Carrington makes a friend among the Lints and learns of a rebellion beginning, but she's offered a second chance at society.  With this second chance, will she learn to conform to the Authority and realize she is worthless without a man by her side?  Or is there another way?

I don't know what to say about this book without ranting.  The feminist in me is kind of ticked that I read this book.  I think I might have missed the purpose of the story because I got hung up on this dystopian society being a man's world.  And there are a lot of crazy happenings that are done in the name of God.  As much as I used to love reading Christian novels way back when, I'm not sure they are for me anymore.  I know there is a good meaning to this story, I just had issues with it.

There are going to be Christian readers who love this story.  But I honestly can't recommend it to any feminists out there.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Genre:  YA Historical Fantasy
The Witch Hunter Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Virginia Boecker's website):
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Elizabeth has survived life as an orphan by following Caleb, her best friend and knight-in-shining-armor.  He was the one who brought her to the king's palace to seek work, shelter, and food.  He was the one who introduced her to Blackwell and witch hunters.  And now she's one of the best witch hunters around.  But Elizabeth's life isn't as simple as right or wrong, witch or human.  She finds there's a lot of things that motivate people when she's accused of being a witch.

Nicholas seeks Elizabeth and saves her from the dungeons.  When she realizes he's not Caleb, she knows there's some other sinister plot going on.  And of course there is.  Nicholas needs Elizabeth's help to release the curse that's killing him.  But as she learns more, will she remain the witch hunter she is or will she join the other side?  Is it really that simple?

I was kind of surprised to see the web of plotlines in this story.  They tie together very nicely.  But I never really became super interested in Elizabeth's character.  Let's face it, yes some plots are obvious in this book.  But it's the emotion and motivation behind the character that makes it seem real.  I either missed all of the subtlety or Elizabeth just did a full 180 within the pages of this book.  Not exactly like getting whiplash, but more of "you girly girl, you."  Changing sides all in the name of girly-girl love.  And no, that's not a bad thing.  I just want more than that I guess.

I think there are going to be a lot of people who enjoy this book and will continue the series.  Unless I get out of my reading rut, I probably won't continue this one.  Not enough to pull me from the real-world but nevertheless, still entertaining.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Genre:  YA Fantasy Fairy Tale
The Wrath and the Dawn Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Renee Ahdieh's website):
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights.

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and break the cycle once and for all.

Shahrzad is mourning the loss of her best friend when she volunteers to become the next calpiha of Khorasan.  She will get revenge for what he has done to all of his brides.  But when she survives through the next sunrise, she finds not everything is in blacks and whites.

Before killing Khalid, Shahrzad is determined to figure out why he is killing so many girls.  His cool exterior refuses to let her in, but something must have happened because she's still alive.  So she uses her silver tongue and wits to stay alive and charm the prince.  Soon she finds herself charmed by him and willing to die for him.  And when Shahrzad's past clashes with her future, will their love be enough for their kingdom?

This is a well-told story that I wanted to stay engrossed in.  But as much as I wanted to love it, I couldn't really see the love connection between Khalid and Shahrzad.  Sure, I saw the mysteriousness, aloofness, and stubbornness while they were getting to know each other.  But going from extreme hatred to love?  I missed that in-between.  And then I realized this book was a series as I was almost done with it, and I wasn't going to get an ending.  I actually finished this book on a plane and wanted to through it out the window due to the non-ending I got.  So dissatisfied right now.

As much as I didn't see the love connection, I still feel vested to the story and the fairy tale.  I will be reading the next one in hopes of an actual ending....

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