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TBR Spotlight: Life After the Undead — by Pembroke Sinclair

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Life After the Undead (Life After the Undead, #1)

Author: Pembroke Sinclair

Genre/Pages: Zombie Post-Apocalyptic / 248

Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she’s going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they’re migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life.

Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves.

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.”

Cover Review: This cover is a significant improvement on the one I first got from Pembroke, but it’s still not my favorite thing ever. It’s trying to hard to be mainstream, with it’s simplistic cover with random clipart as the focal point. BUT, I’d pick it up. It looks clean, professional, and intriguing.

Why I put it on my TBR list: I’m a huge fan of the author, and so when she offered to send me some of her YA novels, I happily accepted her offer. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to get to them before I left on my mission, so this spotlight post will have to suffice for the time being, and to serve as a reminder that I need to read them as soon as I get back. 

TBH, I’ve never actually read a zombie book before. But this one doesn’t seem to cliche, and I know that the author writes well, so I’m going to give it a try. There’s a first time for everything, right? I really like the premise of rebuilding a community after a tragedy, because personally, that’s one of my favorite book tropes and I love to read it. So I’m super excited for that!

Like zombie novels? Looking to try something new? Make sure to pick up your copy of Life After the Undead!

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

Review: The Girl Who Remembered Horses — by Linda Benson

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com

Title: The Girl Who Remembered Horses

Author: Linda Benson 

Rating:  ★★★★★ (4.5 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Dystopian / 214

Summary: “In a world that has forgotten the ancient bond between horses and humans, can one girl’s dreams make people remember?

Sahara travels with her clan in a future, barren environment where recyclables are bartered for sustenance, and few remember horses or their connection to humans. But Sahara has recurring dreams of riding astride on magnificent animals that run like the wind. At the Gardener’s Camp, she discovers a valuable book and learns that her visions are real. But how can she persuade others of the ancient bond between horses and humans, when she is labeled just a foolish girl?

When Sahara discovers a helpless young horse, she must use both her courage and inborn knowledge to keep the animal safe, convince others of the true worth of horses, and learn the secret of her real identity.”

Cover Review: It’s pretty, but I wish it was artwork. It’s a very nice picture, though. I dislike the fact that it’s so completely unrelated to the book. The horse doesn’t look like the horse in the book (if I’m remembering right) and overall, the cover gives a contemporary feel to the novel. I really think this book could benefit from having a cover that actually portrayed the dystopian nature of this book.

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If memory serves, I actually requested this book from the author, because the premise fascinated me so much. I’ve read plenty of equestrian fiction over the years, but equestrian dystopian? That’s completely new to me. It was a really fun book!

Characters: The characters were possibly my favorite thing about this story. The main cast of characters was good-sized, but they were all very well-developed and fascinating. They were flawed and independent and believable. I especially loved the character’s dynamics and interactions with each other — that, I think, is really where Linda Benson’s skill in writing shines the brightest. I loved each and every one of these characters, even the not-so-lovable ones, and that can be a very difficult thing for a lot of books to achieve. But The Girl Who Remembered Horses had a cast of characters that makes me desperately wish to return to the world in a sequel to learn more about them. I especially loved Sahara, who was worthy of an entire set of American Girl Doll books and merch.

Plot: The plot was really moving and emotional. It kinda felt like a Dystopian Little House on the Prairie, if that makes any sense. Thinking back on what I said about Sahara being like an AG doll, my feelings towards this book make a lot more sense. That’s exactly what this book felt like! It was a story of heart, of love, and of determination. Sahara is the American Girl Doll of the dystopian future, and her action-packed and heartwarming story illustrates that beautifully.

Content Advisory: Talk of death and butchering animals. An elderly person dies in sleep.

To Sum It Up: This is the perfect book to read with your pre-teen and teenage daughters. Who am I kidding? It’s perfect for all ages — middle grade to adult! This was a really fun and worthwhile book. It’s one of those books that I want to read to my own children one day. I highly recommend this book for readers ages 7 and up.

Review: Illusionarium – by Heather Dixon

 

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Illusionarium

Author: Heather Dixon

Rating: ★★☆ (4.5 of 5)

Genre / Pages: Steampunk / 361

Summary: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Cover Art Expectations: I started this book with a specific set of expectations from the cover art (Because let’s be real here, who DOESN’T judge a book by its cover???):

  • Female protagonist (Definitely not true)
  • Steampunk (True)
  • Fairytale (Nope, not this one)
  • Romance (erm, not really. I mean, kinda. But it’s not a romance novel)

Prior to reading the book I probably would have given the cover 4 stars. The  character artwork is nice, the backdrop is gorgeous and mysterious, and the gear border brings to mind the steampunk genre. However, my expectation score was 1.5 out of 4 correct, bringing the cover art rating down to 3 starsI think it’s important that a cover properly represents the book’s contents. Cover art rating: ★★★☆☆

My Review: First off, there is nothing intrinsically fairytale-esque about this book. (That expectation came from the author’s other works, and the cover art) I must admit, I was very confused when I realized that the protagonist was a teenage boy. Nothing wrong with that, but that was definitely not what I was expecting. Aside from those two things, I absolutely adored this book! I think I read it in about 2 or 3 sittings.

Hero/Heroine: Jonathan: This was the odd part. I’m not sure if this came from my prior expectation, or from the author’s actual writing, but it took me a good 5 or 6 chapters before I stopped having to remind myself that the protagonist was NOT a teenage girl. My mother had the exact same problem with this book. Jonathan’s voice was very confusing at times. Once I got over that block, I was able to truly enjoy and become invested in Jonathan’s character. His loyalty to his sister was one of my favorite aspects of his character. And that plot twist at the end? Pure. Gold.

Plot: Parallel worlds, addictive hallucinatory drugs with devastating consequences, alternate personalities, Science Magic (it’s a thing, y’all. Admit it.), high stakes, a deadly virus, a ticking clock, and some good ol’ fashioned gladiator style violence… Illusionarium has a little bit of everything! The finished product is entrancing, intriguing, and lots of fun. I thought I knew what was going to happen… but there were plenty of beautiful plot twists that kept me guessing. Fantastic plot, and an even more fantastic world. I think the world was my favorite aspect of this book.

Content Advisory: Some violence, death, and disturbing content, but nothing excessively graphic. 

To Sum It up: The world building is really what makes Illusionarium. It’s insanely cool, and thought provoking to boot. It reminded me of an episode of the sci-fi TV show Sliders. Refreshingly unique and spectacularly creative, this steampunk novel is fun for everybody over the age of 12.

COVER REVEAL: The Young Elites – by Marie Lu

YES. You read that correctly. Marie Lu, author of the bestselling Legend series, is writing a NEW series – called The Young Elites – and the cover just got released! Check it out:

Cover image from USAToday, synopsis from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Cover image from USAToday, synopsis from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Synopsis: “Some hate us, think us criminals to hang at the gallows. Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake. Some worship us, think us divine children of the gods.


But all know us.”

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood plague: marked by a jagged scar, snow-white hair and lashes. Cast out by her family, Adelina has finally found a place to belong within the secret society of Young Elites. To some, the Elites are heroes, here to save innocents in desperate situations. But to the Inquisition Axis, the white-robed soldiers of Kenettra, they are monsters with demonic powers who must be brought to justice. As Adelina learns more about this perilous world where politics and magic clash, she soon realizes that her own powers may be in danger of bringing on an era of panic such as the world has never seen.

The new series, set in what Putnam described as a “Renaissance-like world,” is called The Young Elites. It follows three rival societies with supernatural powers battling for supremacy.

The Young Elites will be released October 7th, 2014!

Rant About the Growing Blandness of Mainstream Published Books Cover review: Okay, so I’ll admit, I was PSYCHED when I saw the headline. Excited, I clicked on the link, glanced at the cover – expecting pure perfection – and was seriously let down. I was — am — disappointed over this whole thing. People may say not to judge a book by its cover, but to a certain extent, everyone does. Marie’s not SUPER famous. This series is completely different from her first. And she needs all the help she can possibly get to make sure this book does well.

This cover’s not going to help her out. At all.

It’s just boring. Yeah, it’s pretty enough (the clouds and font are gorgeous!) but that’s ALL THERE IS. Clouds and a few words. It gives you absolutely nothing about the actual content of the book, which seems to be a growing trend.  What happened to the good ol’ days of Harry Potter, where we could spend 6 months full of discussion, debate, forums, and conspiracy theories based SOLELY  off of the cover? I mean, really? Who can forget the theories that abounded over The Half-Blood Prince cover? The House of Hades cover? Or really, ANY COVER that involved people, or scenes? All cover’s these days just have a single object (if that) and some words. Long gone are the days of action-packed scenes and characters.

It’s just a really bland, uninteresting cover. Sometimes, I’m tempted to buy a book solely for it’s cover. Not this one.

 Don’t get me wrong, I’m buying this book the DAY it comes out! I’m super psyched for it! But, REALLY PUTNAM BOOKS? How much boring-er can you get? It’s pretty, but not for a book.

There’s an elegant simplicity to the cover, but I’m still not sold on it. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS BOOK, though! It’s going to be amazing! I love everything Marie does! Make sure to read it!

Okay, rant over. What do you think about this cover? Are there any book covers that you LOVE? Book cover’s that you hate? Book cover’s that are just THERE? Let me know!

MOVIE REVIEW: Divergent – Advance screening!

Review of the Advance Screening of the DIVERGENT MOVIE.

Divergent

Genre/Length: Dystopian/143 mins.

Rating: ★★ (6 of 5)

My Review: On a tip from the amazing Hypable.com, I was able to win tickets to the red carpet advance screening of the new Divergent movie – 2 and 1/2 weeks before it gets released! Plus, I got to meet Jai Courtney (Eric), and Miles Teller (Peter). It was a fantastic evening!

Favorite Line: Okay, so there were a lot, but this one’s PROBABLY my favorite:

+ Will: “You know, statistically speaking, you should’ve hit the target at least once by now.”

Hero/Heroine: Tris and Four. Now, anybody who knows me, knows that I adore Four and Tris. However, I also wasn’t sold on Shailene and Theo. Well, by the end of this movie, I most certainly was. The chemistry was spectacular, and everything they did was just beautifully executed. IT WAS SO BEYOND PERFECT, I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE THE PERFECTION that was seeing these two on screen together. Theo and Shailene brought these characters to life in a way I’d never thought possible. It was like I was watching the book, on the big screen. It was spectacular.

Plot:  This is were the movie pulled through spectacularly. Everything was straight out of the book – right down to the script. They quoted the book so many times. The world was beautifully brought to life, and they didn’t leave out anything of importance. The fighting was probably my favorite part – it was perfectly choreographed, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. It was mesmerizing and incredibly realistic. The only thing was changed at all, was the ending. It wasn’t seriously changed, just slightly altered to make for a better conclusion, but nothing of importance was changed, and it all worked spectacularly.

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Content Advisory: a few instances of the D-word, 2 of A-word, and 1 of the B-word. This movie is intense. A lot of fighting, death – though no blood is shown or focused on – and violence. Some kissing. A guy tried to convince a girl to have sex, but nothing is ever seen or done, it’s just a short, comical scene. A low PG-13.

To Sum it Up: Did I mention how much I ADORED this movie??? It was so perfect, completely true to the book, and the actors were all phenomenal! I really just couldn’t get enough of this movie – the acting, the choreography, the soundtrack, the plot, the world, EVERYTHING. I know this is kinda a non-sensical fangirl review, but it’s the truth. When this movie gets released on March 21st, I recommend that all, ages 13+ go to see it! If you liked the book, you’ll really like the movie, if you haven’t read the book, you’ll really like the movie. IT IS 100% PERFECTION. <3

Divergent2Pictures courtesy of Hypable.com.

Review: Allegiant – By Veronica Roth

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Title: Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth

Summary: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Genre/Pages: Dystopian/526

Rating: ★★(5 of 5)

My Review: Are y’all ready for this? The next, 5 or so reviews are going to be 5 or 6 stars. I’ve just read too many amazing books!

I’ll admit, I won’t give this book AS smashing of a review as I would’ve before reading Champion by Marie Lu. That doesn’t mean, however, that I wasn’t ABSOLUTELY in love with this book!

I was afraid Veronica would pull a Mockingjay. Gladly, no such thing happened! Tris did NOT go crazy, and everything she did made perfect sense, in a Tris sort of way. All the other  characters were also handled brilliantly, and they all FELT very real. It was a fast paced book, but there was still time to get to know all of the characters.

My only real problem with this book was the double POV. I loved the idea, and I loved how Veronica executed it, but I hated that it was impossible for me to tell the difference in Tris’ and Tobias’ voices. They ‘sounded’ identical. That was incredibly frustrating. The ending, though? I ABSOLUTELY ADORED IT. Some people are going to hate it, but it was beautifully executed, logical, satisfying, and it brought complete closure to the story. I absolutely loved it. It was perfect.

Content Advisory: Ugh… There was one serious make out session, one sort of serious make out session that got interrupted, and then one scene where a girl took of her shirt and then  slept next to a guy (also without a shirt). And a few cuss words. Gah. Why do authors think that they have to add swearing and inappropriate scenes to make a book good? That’s what makes me HATE a book, not love it.

To Sum it Up: Fast paced, exciting, but still with that amazing life lesson teaching Veronica is so good at, Allegiant was a book that I could LOVE wholeheartedly, and actually become a better person because I read it. I recommend it for 13+.

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it? 

Review: Partials – By Dan Wells

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. Image links to goodreads book page.

Title: Partials

Author: Dan Wells

Summary: The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what’s left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Genre/Pages: Dystopian/468

Rating: ★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: When my brother recommended this teenage dystopian novel, at first I was afraid of it being just like everything else… I mean, it sounded like a story that could either be great and original, or just another dystopian novel.

And guess what??? He did it! It was absolutely amazing and completely original. The characters were believable . The plot was captivating and enthralling. At first I was terrified that it was going to turn into a love triangle, but guess what? It’s actually physically possible to write a story with 3 main characters, 1 girl, and 2 guys, without making it a love triangle!!! Go figure, right? Never would’ve seen that coming! Seriously, though. That is how you make me love a book. Not having a love triangle.

The futuristic reality Dan Wells created was shockingly realistic and believable. This was a book that I just couldn’t put down. I cannot wait to read the next one!

Content Advisory: A bit of violence… Some deaths. A lot of mention of babies dying of diseases, and government-enforced pregnancies at the age of 16. Drunk teenagers.

To Sum it Up: Believable, gripping, suspenseful, exciting, and fun, Dan Wells throws you curve ball after curve ball, until you think that you’ve finally got it figured out… and then you don’t anymore. That is my kind of book!

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it? 

On an unconnected note, I may not post much over the next 2 weeks, but I’ll be reading TONS of books, so I’ll have lots of reviews to post as soon as I come back. Thanks, everyone! :)