ARC Review: Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes — A Puzzling and Haunting Thriller Full of Mystery, Danger, and Death

Hi guys! I normally do not post reviews this early before release date, but because I am very short on reviews, I’ve decided to post my review of Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes already. I’ve read Stokes’s This is How It Happened and really enjoyed and loved it, so I was really excited to be able to read an advance copy of her latest YA thriller novel! I hope you enjoy!


About the BookHidden Pieces

Embry Woods has secrets. Small ones about her past. Bigger ones about her relationship with town hero Luke and her feelings for someone new. But the biggest secret she carries with her is about what happened that night at the Sea Cliff Inn. The fire. The homeless guy. Everyone thinks Embry is a hero, too, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Embry thinks she’ll have to take the secret to her grave, until she receives an anonymous note—someone else knows the truth. Next comes a series of threatening messages, asking Embry to make impossible choices, forcing her to put her loved ones at risk. Someone is playing a high stakes game where no one in Embry’s life is safe. And their last move…is murder.

Hidden Pieces will release from HarperTeen on August 28th! Pre-order it here!

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4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way. 

For me to enjoy a suspense and mystery thriller, I have to experience two feelings: I must not be able to put it down and I must be shocked at the plot twists and revelations. Hidden Pieces accomplished both of them! I started this book on a road trip (a 4 to 5 hour drive) and ended up finishing it that same day—it was THAT good. From the first page, I became hooked by its fast-paced, action-driven storyline. I felt a whole range of emotions as the story progressed from a simple threat to a menacing mix of death and betrayal. You cannot trust anybody in this story. Paula Stokes does not disappoint in her latest YA thriller novel as Hidden Pieces will have readers puzzled and chilled while facing a potential murderer.

Hidden Pieces poses an interesting Catch-22 situation, a complicated moral dilemma, that will make readers think of what they would do in Embry’s shoes. After she causes a fire that destroys an abandoned hotel, Embry is torn between keeping her role in it a secret and telling the truth (and thus being liable for paying thousands of dollars in damages plus possibly facing criminal charges), but this dilemma becomes twisted as an unknown stalker threatens her loved ones when she refuses to reveal what actually happened that night. It definitely made me ponder about whether I would be able to have the courage to say the truth, and that is the mark of a well-written book. For a novel to make readers question not only the story but themselves shows how impactful and powerful it is.

Paula Stokes is a master at creating twisted plotlines full of surprising revelations, subtle hints, complex characters, and treacherous dangers. I became so emotionally invested into the story that I just wanted to gasp and scream so loud at times. She doesn’t hold back any punches when she throws at you shocker. Readers will be filled with dread, fear, and curiosity as their hearts pound and their fingers fly through the pages. I surely did not expect at lot at first, but as the story progressed I was able to guess a few motives and eventually the identity of Unknown (though I was thrown off at the end). Although Stokes placed a few subtle clues, I guessed who Unknown was based off my knowledge of mystery novels. But it would take a seasoned reader to fit together all the hidden pieces (I had to make that joke) before Embry and Holden do.

Hidden Pieces is a well-written, masterfully-crafted suspense thriller that is ridden with mystery, secrets, and backstabbing. It is certainly very memorable and very unputdownable, and it is one that will stick with you for a while. Paula Stokes jerked my heart in This Is How It Happened and now impressed and thrilled me with Hidden Pieces, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading more of her books in the future! Hidden Pieces will not only keep you up at night but haunt you after you close the last page.

Please note that there could have been changes between this unfinished version and the finalized, publicized one.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for Hidden Pieces? Do you like YA thrillers?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Book Series Review: The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy by D. G. Driver

Hi guys! A few months ago, I met online a wonderful local author from my home state of Tennessee, and I was so blessed to feature her on the May edition of our LILbooKtalks! D. G. Driver is the author of the amazing The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy, which combines environmentalism with fantastical mythology! My review is going to be a bit different since I’m reviewing an entire series. I will start off with a brief overview followed by a short review of each book. Regardless, please try out all three!


About The Juniper Sawfeather TrilogyThe Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy

Mermaids are real.

In the aftermath of an oil spill in the Pacific Northwest, teen environmental activist Juniper Sawfeather discovers a new species–mermaids!

In the days that follow, she must defy all odds to protect these beautiful creatures from the corrupt oil company and the frenzied media.

But mermaids are only the beginning of Juniper’s increasingly dangerous adventures as she realizes she has a talent for finding mythological creatures. Or maybe the creatures are finding her…

The Juniper Sawfeather series is an urban fantasy based around Native American legends featuring a Native American bi-racial heroine.

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Overall Trilogy Rating

4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received free electronic copies of all three books in the trilogy from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

A series is very special if I have both the opportunity and the initiative to finish it and enjoy it. Reading three or more novels takes a huge amount of commitment, and to be able to do so displays how much love I have poured into a story and its characters. The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy explores environmental conservation in a very unique and original way–combining Native American mythology, a blossoming romance, and teenage discovery with an urgent message for readers to heed. This series has certainly made me rethink and ponder over the current state of our environment, from our oceans and forests to pollution and poaching. It has inspired me to strive to be more green and to protect nature’s wonders and beauties.

Cry of the Sea

Cry of the Sea

5 Stars

Cry of the Sea is by far the best novel in the entire trilogy. The author places a very unique twist on the classic tale as she uses Pacific Northwest Native American legends to portray her own take on the beloved creature: a mermaid that is more like fish, ugly and hideous at first, than like man. Driver takes readers on a wild ride full of suspense, betrayal, romance, and magic as Juniper and her friends and family attempt to save the mermaids from an evil corporation. Cry of the Sea paints a stark image of how large corporations can in the interests of themselves–money and success–rather than the earth’s. I devoured it in just a couple of days, and the first time I picked it up, I just could not set it down, even though I did not mean to start it and get very far yet! It did everything from dazzling me with magic and mythology to leaving me hanging and wanting more. Cry of the Sea is urban fantasy at its finest!

Whisper of the Woods

Whisper of the Woods
4 StarsAlthough Whisper of the Woods may be stationary in terms of the setting, it has as much action, magic, and conflict as its predecessor! Cry to the Sea‘s dazzling sequel continues to explore Native American legends by introducing the existence of tree spirits, serving as a bridge between what’s happened book one and the events to come in book three. I certainly became entranced by the magic and mystery surrounding the tree that holds Juniper captive–it possesses an incredible amount of history and secrets that will shock readers. As Whisper of the Woods answers many questions about the characters and the local American Indian legends, its ending leaves readers wanting more to satisfy their love of fantasy and their curiosity. Fortunately, I did not feel a case of the Sagging Sequel Syndrome at all in this epic second installment.

Echo of the Cliffs

Echo of the Cliffs
4 Stars
Echo of the Cliffs is the stunning conclusion to The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy as it examines the final part of the legend of the three warriors, a person turned into stone. The stakes have been raised even higher as some of the lives of Juniper’s loved ones are in danger. Without spoiling anything, I can say that Echo of the Cliffs will not disappoint fans of books one and two. The story truly does teach readers about the power of sacrifice, whether it be for love or for doing what is right. Echo of the Cliffs will make the hearts of readers pound and their eyes water with tears. I am very happy and satisfied with the ending, though I am sad to see it come to a close.

Conclusion

The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy is certainly a series that I love, miss, and would hope to revisit again one day. It is the perfect series for readers who not only love fantasy and mythology but also novels that explore big issues such as environmentalism. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the mythology of the American Indians in the Pacific Northwest throughout the entire saga, and that is what makes this series unique and memorable for readers. While there may not be stone orcas, talking trees, or mermaids in our world, Juniper Sawfeather teaches us that nature possesses a special magic that must be preserved and cherished for future generations.


About the AuthorSAMSUNG

D. G. Driver is an optimist at heart, and that’s why she likes to write books about young people who strive to make a difference in the world. From her teen environmentalist in The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy, a young girl teaching her friends autism acceptance and to stop bullying people with special needs in No One Needed to Know, a princess who desires to be more than a pampered prize for a prince in The Royal Deal, to a boy who learns that being genuine and chivalrous are the ways to win a girl’s heart in Passing Notes, Driver hopes to write characters that you’ll want to root for. When she’s not writing, she is a teacher in an inclusive child development center in Nashville, and she can often be found strutting the stage in a local musical theater production.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you like YA urban fantasy? Have you read The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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ARC Review: Dragon Mount by Jennifer M. Eaton — Made Me Feel Like I Was Flying in the Air!

Hi guys! I am doing my best to catch up on reviews because I am so far behind! Today’s review is Dragon Mount by Jennifer M. Eaton, a great author friend of mine who is super nice in person and exceptional in writing. Her latest book Dragon Mount just released last week, and to celebrate, here is my review! I hope you enjoy!


About the BookDragon Mount

Things can’t get any worse than being snatched by a dragon, until Anna is dropped into a bloodthirsty battle for the Draconic crown.

On what’s supposed to be a fun trip to New Zealand to recover from a painful breakup, Anna is kidnapped and flown away by a mythical beast bent on making her his queen. Anna’s rare blood type makes her the only viable mate in the islands, and with scores of dragons looking for her, escape isn’t likely.

Joe is the youngest and smallest dragon in the competition to become king. Now that he’s found Anna, all he needs to overthrow their tyrannical monarch is to bring her back to Dragon Mount before anyone can challenge his claim. But Joe is injured and unable to fly, and each passing second increases the risk of discovery.

Challenging the king means certain death, but Anna is Joe’s to lose. If the king finds her, he will bathe Dragon Mount in her blood, condemning Joe’s people to seventeen more years of brutal subjugation. The fate of the Draconi rests in the talons of their smallest dragon, and the clock is ticking.

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4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic ARC copy of this book from the author for an honest review consideration. This will not affect my review at all. 

I was a bit hesitant to start Dragon Mount–I was not a big fan of paranormal/urban fantasy romances featuring dragons, werewolves, vampires, and the like. But because I love Jennifer M. Eaton and her novels, especially her Fire in the Woods series, I decided to give this a shot! Surprisingly, I finished the entire story in less than two days and a few sittings. Dragon Mount made feel like I was flying in the air at times! Readers will find themselves swooning at the slow-burning romance and feeling a rush of adrenaline from the action. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and it left me wanting more from the world of Dragon Mount.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Dragon Mount by Jennifer M. Eaton — Made Me Feel Like I Was Flying in the Air!”

Book Review: Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar — A Masterpiece that Should Be in Every School Classroom and Library

Hi guys! I have a gigantic slew of MG novels that I need to review for y’all, so for the upcoming weeks, you will see a bunch of reviews of some amazing Middle Grade books! Spoiler alert: They’re all four or five star ratings! To start off, today’s review is on Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar, which is set in 1940s India during the Freedom Movement. Sounds intriguing? Go read it! You will not regret it!


About the BookAhimsa

In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle.

But it turns out he isn’t the one joining. Anjali’s mother is. And with this change comes many more adjustments designed to improve their country and use “ahimsa”—non-violent resistance—to stand up to the British government. First the family must trade in their fine foreign-made clothes for homespun cotton, so Anjali has to give up her prettiest belongings. Then her mother decides to reach out to the Dalit community, the “untouchables” of society. Anjali is forced to get over her past prejudices as her family becomes increasingly involved in the movement.

When Anjali’s mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.

Inspired by her great-grandmother’s experience working with Gandhi, New Visions Award winner Supriya Kelkar shines a light on the Indian freedom movement in this poignant debut.

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5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free finished hardcover copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

I rarely rate books five stars anymore. A book is awarded five stars for one of three reasons: it is a new all-time favorite, it resonates with me on such a deep basis, or it has the power to change lives including my own. Ahimsa is a novel that will influence the viewpoints of readers, regardless of age. It is such a thought-provoking and emotionally gripping story that will inspire readers to persevere in their battles. Although I was not very into the story at first since it was written in third-person, the deeper I progressed into Anjali’s fight for freedom, the more that I literally could not put the book down.

Continue reading “Book Review: Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar — A Masterpiece that Should Be in Every School Classroom and Library”

ARC Review: The Island by J. L. Pattison — A Government Conspiracy Thriller Filled with Hope and Perseverance

Hi guys! I am in the Philippines! I will be out of the country for almost two months, but I will still be active on the blog and on my social medias. Though it may be trickier to correspond with me (since I am 12 hours ahead), for sure if you are in America and you cannot sleep, you have someone you know you can talk to. Today I am reviewing J. L. Pattison’s The Island, which just released. I hope you enjoy!


About the BookThe Island

Agent Sherard Parker never expected to get caught.

His first reconnaissance mission with the DEA was supposed to be simple: infiltrate a small South Pacific island and gather intelligence about its involvement in the international drug trade.

But when Parker stumbles upon a hidden airliner reportedly shot down weeks earlier—an act of terrorism that sparked a war—he realizes the island is more than just home to a major drug operation, it’s also part of a conspiracy so evil it could lead to World War III.

After being captured, Parker is forced to abandon his original mission for a far more important one: escape from the island and return to his family.

Can Parker lead an eclectic band of prisoners in a daring life-or-death escape from their tropical prison, or will those in charge of protecting the island prevail, keeping its dark secrets forever?

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Buy The Island on Amazon!


4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free physical ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Two years ago, I really enjoyed J. L. Pattison’s short stories “The Visitor” an “Alibi Interrupted.” The author truly knows how to write a story that packs a punch and chills you to the bone. I honestly was a bit hesitant to read his newest novella The Island, but by the end, I became reacquainted with Pattison’s signature storytelling style similar to The Twilight Zone. At first, I was very uneasy with the first third of the book because the prose did not feel exceptional at all–there was so much telling instead of showing that I doubted if I could continue and finish. I did read from an uncorrected galley, so these problems could have been fixed in the finalized copy. And it did get better as the story went on. By the halfway point, I was hooked.

The Island is a government conspiracy thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. It serves as a stark warning to those who have become dulled from the technological Information Age today–who follow the crowd, normalize disasters, and are addicted to irrelevant media. It certainly has made me think about how I view the world and people around me, how I receive news and use my phone. The Island is certainly an eye-opener, warning that readers should not become mindless drones addicted to social media and smartphones. Pattison’s latest book will make you question your morality and trust at times. There will be moments when readers are compelled to scream at some characters in order to reveal to them the actual truth, but in the end they will have to accept the finale and all its heartbreaking punches. The book certainly chilled my body to the spine as it creeped me out yet engrossed me with its suspenseful atmosphere.

While The Island is a great novella to read, please remember that this is a work of fiction. While plane switching and crash cover-ups may be a possibility in real life, it also may not. My only concern (other than grammar) about this book is that readers could become conspiracy theorists regarding many disasters. Honestly, I have a favorable view of our government, that it is necessary to maintain order and aid its citizens. However, has the government performed bad crimes? Yes, and I will not deny that fact. But my only wish is to not become too consumed with conspiracy theories. The Island will certainly cause you to question the actual motives of the government, and it is important to have a healthy skepticism at times. However, while government conspiracies may exist, I ask for you to not become accusatory at every disaster. Government conspiracy stories are fun and interesting and thought-provoking to read, but always remember that it is a work of fiction, though there may be some truth to the story.

Ultimately, The Island is a book filled with hope and perseverance, regardless of the current conditions and the possible outcomes. Sherard Parker is a man–one who values his family and his freedom–who anyone can relate easily with, and readers will root for him from page one. His struggle to get off the island and free its prisoners is full of courage and optimism that will inspire anyone to continue fighting the good fight, no matter if it ends up in success or failure. The odds may be stacked a million to one, but The Island shows that a person must retain hope, maintain courage, and continue to fight his battles.

Please note that I am reviewing an uncorrected galley, which means there may have been changes from this version to the published one.


About the AuthorThe Island

J. L. Pattison is the author of liberty-minded speculative fiction whose stories are garnering favorable comparisons to the works of M. Night Shyamalan and Twilight Zone creator, Rod Serling.

His first paperback, SAVING KENNEDY, contains his two previous short fiction e-book releases, THE VISITOR and ALIBI INTERRUPTED, both of which deal with the subjects of time travel gone wrong, the JFK assassination, and the consequences of the decisions we make.

His latest book, THE ISLAND, delves into governmental conspiracies and has an ending you won’t soon forget.

When not writing, J.L. Pattison enjoys board games, reading, fishing, rooting for his beloved San Francisco 49ers, and drinking copious amounts of sweet tea . . . an addiction he acquired while growing up in the South. He currently lives in the Western United States with his wonderful wife and six amazing children.

Website


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read The Island or Saving Kennedy? Do you like government conspiracy novels?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Memorial Day: A Personal Reflection on Washington DC and TN Boys State

Hi everybody! Yesterday was Memorial Day, and we are remembering all of the brave men and women who died serving our country and fighting for our freedom. Getting back from the Tennessee American Legion Boys State–which I recommend anybody who is selected to participate to go–I feel called to write this post. Even though LILbooKlovers’s two-year blogoversary has passed, I personally think that I need to write about two experiences that have changed who I am.

A few weeks ago, I went to Washington, DC, to compete in a festival with my choir. The trip exceeded all of my expectations. But what makes it truly one of the best experiences of my life is not the fun or the bonding; in fact, it is how much sightseeing through our nation’s capital impacted me as an American and as a leader.

I have always been a history buff. Throughout middle school, I loved learning about historical figures and British history. Historical fiction is honestly my favorite genre in literature. Since I took AP US History this year, having the opportunity to visit Washington, DC, was fitting. And it definitely proved to be fruitful.

I became fascinated at seeing the actual pike John Brown used in his Harpers’ Ferry raid or the actual top hat Abraham Lincoln once wore. I was mesmerized as I stood on the very steps at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and I imagined myself as if I were there that very day. I did not want to get out of that trance. However, two sites that I visited proved to be the most life-changing, and they have inspired within me a deafening desire to become a better patriot and a better leader.

Seeing the endless rows of white headstones at Arlington National Cemetery was a sobering experience. Arlington National Cemetery is 624 acres total, and if you walk through those hallowed grounds, you cannot count the number of gravestones present. Imagine, that is not even a small portion of the thousands, if not millions, of men who died for our country. They gave up their lives to protect the freedoms that the United States endears for its citizens. And these wars were brutal. From Vietnam to World War II, these soldiers have seen an unfathomable amount of horrors and atrocities that haunt them until the day they die. Yet our veterans are often overlooked and forgotten in today’s society. The simplest thank you or conversation can make all the difference in a veteran’s day.

One of the most memorable experiences of my life–one that I will probably never forget–is when I witnessed the actual flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner. Yes, the American flag, which is one-third the size of a football field, that proudly waved over Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, where Francis Scott Key wrote his epic poem from a distance. To see the actual banner at the Smithsonian brought me to tears and filled me with a renewed sense of patriotism that I have never felt before. The flag is so beautiful and so awesome that you can stare at it for hours. The words I am telling you right now cannot fully describe the beauty and splendor of this great artifact. To be able to see it in person has made me ever more firm that I am an American.

Just last week, I attended the Tennessee American Legion Boys State, which is an intensive one-week program that gives nearly 550 rising seniors from around the state a glimpse of the state government and the military lifestyle. Boys State exceeded all my expectations–while there were highs and lows and times when I doubted myself, ultimately I had fun, made many new friends, and became changed as a leader.

Our big chant at Boys State was “Boys Staters. Don’t Quit.” I ran for governor, and there was a point where I was about to give up in my campaign. After realizing that I not only had a chance at the position but also a whole ton of support from my fellow Boys Staters, I decided not to give up. Even though I lost the primaries, this continued perseverance led me to be elected by our General Assembly (our State Representatives and Senators) as Secretary of State with a nearly unanimous vote from both the House and the Senate. If I had stopped after losing the primaries, I would have never had this opportunity. Instead, I supported my party’s candidate loudly and proudly (he is amazing by the way), voted for him, and continued on my Boys State journey.

Boys State can be very tough at times. You have to make your room in a strict, precise way. You are required to make hospital corners on your bed. There are days when you have to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and stay up past midnight from a fire drill. You might have to march in 90 degree weather out in the burning sun. Personally, it wasn’t that bad. I liked the food yet I wanted to go back to my own bed and sleep for hours. But this is the life of the military. They undergo training that is a thousand times worse than what I endured with only two hours of sleep on a good day. Not the average American can survive this training.

From both of these experiences, I’ve developed a deeper and more profound respect for those who serve our country. What they do on a daily basis is something I personally cannot do, and I commend them greatly for it. We need to thank the men and women in uniform and also our veterans in our communities for all the hard work and service they have poured to keep our country safe and to preserve our freedom. Freedom is never free, and there is always a price. There is always a heroic martyr who dies so we may live, and it is important to remember and honor that sacrifice.

I have definitely grown as an American citizen and as a leader from DC and Boys State. Certainly, I will recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do either one to jump on it. Boys State might be hard and long for the first couple of days, but it’s worth it. DC may be full of mean Northerners (I’m so used to Southern hospitality and believe that should be the way of life), but it’s full of history to be explored. Walking in the footsteps where leaders have made great impacts on our country and where history has been in the making has been an honor and a privilege that I will never forget. I am proud to be an American, and I hope to continue serving my country–whether it be through blogging, reading, or music–in any way possible.


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Sci-Fi Novellas Double Mini-Reviews: Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes by Pamela Schloesser Canepa & Runtime by S. B. Divya

Hi guys! Today I have for you two mini-reviews for two novellas I have received to review last year, and I finally found the time to both read them and review them. They’re both science fiction and really short. I hope you enjoy these mini-reviews!


About Seeing through Sampson’s EyesSeeing through Sampson's Eyes

Who knows what secrets lie behind one’s eyes? You have no idea until you walk in their shoes. In a technologically advanced, yet socially regressing society, Norrie, daughter of Sampson and Abrielle, is about to learn what it’s like to be considered less than human. She is now twenty, curious, confident, and unstoppable. Embarking on a journey together, Norrie and Abrielle set out to discover what remains of their beloved Sampson, yet each ends up pursuing her own individual end goal. Walk with Abrielle and Norrie to see what they will find.

Goodreads


2 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

I had high expectations for this novella because I enjoyed its prequel Made for Me, and sadly, Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes disappointed me. Although the beginning—just like the first novella—wrenched my heart and made me emotional, the further I dug deeper into the book, the more I found myself scratching my head and becoming confused at the events that unfolded. I honestly thought that the story would revolve around Abrielle and her mother finding Sampson’s eyes, but this character-driven novel strayed away from the summary I’ve been given, and this didn’t turn out well for my reading experience.

Continue reading “Sci-Fi Novellas Double Mini-Reviews: Seeing through Sampson’s Eyes by Pamela Schloesser Canepa & Runtime by S. B. Divya”

Genesis Blog Tour: Book Review — The Thrilling Sequel Filled with Danger, Death, and Destruction that Raises the Stakes to a Whole New Level

Hi guys! Today I am taking the first two of my five AP exams: US History and Computer Science Principles. I think I’ve prepared for them the best I could. My mind is currently filled with historical knowledge and computer facts, and I have three more to go! I will be really busy these next few days dealing with these exams and end-of-year activities, so if I’m very inactive, that’s why. Today I am reviewing one of my most anticipated sequels of 2018, and I hope you enjoy!

Genesis Tour Banner


About the BookGenesis

Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough.

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.

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4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free hardcover finished copy of this book from the author and the tour host in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

Once I had finished Nemesis last year, which I literally could not put down, I kne I had to read the sequel once I could get my hands on it. I needed to continue the story and know what happens next. Oh, that cliffhanger in book one! When I learned of this blog tour and the opportunity to read and review Genesis, I jumped at the opportunity — and was that such a great decision. Genesis, the second installment in Reichs’s masterfully crafted Project Nemesis series, does not disappoints fans of its predecessor. It raises the stakes of the conflict to a whole new level, transforming this post-apocalyptic, sci-fi thriller into a fast-paced story full of danger, death, and destruction at every turn. I was thrust onto the edge of my seat, and I felt as if I were actually a part of the Program.

As readers progress deeper and deeper into Reichs’s creepily surreal world — reminiscent of The Maze Runner and Lord of the Flies — they find themselves placed into the heart of an “every man for themselves” survival mode, ridden with twists and turns at every corner. With each page comes a new shocking revelation, many changing the entire course of the story. I could feel the impending sense of dread and fear and had even a bit of power-hungriness and craziness that almost everyone possessed, and the atmosphere was thick with chaos, leading to the degradation of the moral consciences of many characters. Genesis is one of those novels that makes you stay up, and either you are devouring the story or being haunted by it.

The story and actions of the characters make you question your morality at times. Often I felt drawn to justifying the killing of other classmates, blurring the lines between defense and murder. Is it every justifiable to kill a person, even if they could regenerate? What if it’s to protect your own self from elimination? Min examines this question along with many of the other major characters as the digital Fire Lake falls deeper into ruin and more classmates disappear. This is a true mark of a great book — for a book to be able to get readers to think more deeply on certain subjects and ultimately influence their viewpoints.

I fell in love with all — or most, really — of the characters. It is just so hard for me to resist not rooting for many of them to survive. The protagonists, especially Min, Tack, and Noah, are very dynamic and fully fleshed with their consciences and their flaws. You can see how conflicted they are between being moral and being murderous, between being good and being bad, between being meek and being powerful. The characters are truly human, and they are not fully devoted to being good or to being evil, and many times they believe what they are doing is right, regardless of whether it is or not. You can see their doubts and their fears. With 64 different students with an eclectic variety of personalities, characteristics, and motivations, Genesis thoroughly examines what it truly means to be human when faced with adversity, conflict, and challenges.

If you have not picked up Nemesis or Genesis, then you are missing out on a series that will blow your mind. Personally, I cannot state which one is better because both novels are so different yet so brilliant. They are very meritorious and possess a high literary quality in their own right. While I am sad that book two is over, there is going to be a third book in the series! I am so excited! I cannot spoil what it may possibly entail (since my speculation will give away the ending) but I can say that it is going to be EPIC! Genesis is the perfect read for thriller fans who love to become engrossed in an unpredictable plot full of suspense and action.


About the AuthorBrendan Reichs

Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to write full time. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, son, daughter, and a herd of animals that tear up everything.

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GiveawayGenesis Giveaway

12 winners will receive a copy of Genesis by Brendan Reichs!

Giveaway is open Int’l

Must be 13+ to enter

Ends June 1st, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule

WEEK ONE
MAY 7th MONDAY Insane About Books REVIEW
MAY 7th MONDAY Books A-Brewin’ EXCERPT
MAY 8th TUESDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
MAY 8th TUESDAY Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews INTERVIEW
MAY 9th WEDNESDAY Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW
MAY 9th WEDNESDAY My Book Addiction EXCERPT
MAY 10th THURSDAY Here’s to Happy Endings REVIEW
MAY 10th THURSDAY The Book Enigma GUEST POST
MAY 11th FRIDAY RhythmicBooktrovert REVIEW
MAY 11th FRIDAY LILbooKlovers REVIEW
WEEK TWO
MAY 14th MONDAY JeanBookNerd VLOG & INTERVIEW
MAY 14th MONDAY TFAULC Book Reviews EXCERPT
MAY 15th TUESDAY Bibliobibuli YA REVIEW
MAY 15th TUESDAY Book Briefs REVIEW
MAY 16th WEDNESDAY Casia’s Corner REVIEW
MAY 16th WEDNESDAY Book Lovers Life EXCERPT
MAY 17th THURSDAY Jump Into Books REVIEW
MAY 17th THURSDAY The Cozy Reading Corner TENS LIST
MAY 18th FRIDAY A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
MAY 18th FRIDAY Bri’s Book Nook REVIEW

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Genesis or Nemesis? Do you like YA sci-fi?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

 

ARC Review: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett — A Masterfully Crafted Tale and World that I Never Wanted to Leave

Hi guys! May the 4th be with you! Next week, my AP exams are going to start, so I will be offline a lot this week because I am preparing really hard for them. It’s crazy when you have 5 to juggle with, and the pressure is slowly building up, haha. I am really sad that my junior year is about to end, and with that many great experiences are coming to a close. It’s very heartbreaking, especially considering that I am off to college in a little more than a year! It’s so crazy! Today I have for you a review, and it’s on Onyx and Ivory by the wonderful Mindee Arnett, whose Street Team I am on! I hope you enjoy!


About the BookOnyx and Ivory

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime. Cast out of the noble class, she now works for the royal courier service. Only those most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan mysteriously massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormane, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget, after he condemned her father to death. With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin uncover secrets, both past and present, to face this new threat of drakes who attack in the daylight and the darker menace behind them.

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett’s stunning new novel thrusts readers into a beautiful, expansive, and dangerous new world—one where trust is rare, magic is commonplace, and little is as it seems.

Onyx and Ivory releases from Balzer and Bray on May 15th!

Goodreads

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4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way. 

Onyx & Ivory is one of those novels that you do not want to finish because you just want to savor every single word. From page one, I fell in love with Mindee Arnett’s beautiful storytelling as she weaves a masterfully crafted tale of love, magic, action, and intrigue. This book is a prime example of why I love fantasy novels: They create worlds that you never want to leave, characters you want to become acquainted with, and adventures that take you on the wildest rides. Onyx & Ivory exceeded all of my expectations, and I could not put it down at all. The deeper I went into the story, the more emotionally attached I became. Seriously, I will fanboy about this book, and I want to have an Onyx & Ivory collection because it is that epic.

The biggest thing that I look for in fantasy stories is the world-building. As a high school teen who is dealing with so much going on right now (actually AP exams are literally right around the corner), I need an escape from the outside world. I need a book that I can nestle in and forget about my troubles, stresses, and worries. The magic system in Onyx & Ivory was truly fascinating. From the Magists’ runestones to the Wilders’ control over the world around them, my imagination swirled with enchantment. I did not want to rush the story at all. I saw the drakes attack from all sides. I could feel the mystery and tension slowly build. I watched as the romance between Kate and Corwin slowly burned (go slow-burn romances!). My heart wrenched when Kate was humiliated or Corwin was verbally attacked. I felt such a great connection between me and the story that I loved every single second of my experience.

I love the characters so much! They are truly complex yet understandable. They hold secrets that once revealed will shock you (or maybe they are never revealed). My two favorites are Kate and Corwin. After her father’s death, Kate has been labeled as a Traitor to the kingdom even though she has committed no crime. She is ostracized and misunderstood by even those who she once loved and who loved her. Corwin (her ex-boyfriend) cannot forgive her father, and she is treated as an Untouchable in society. I am very sure we’ve all felt ostracized and misunderstood in many ways, where we’ve been blamed and taunted and bullied for no reason. Truly, you instantly relate with Kate and become sympathetic to her struggles from the first chapter. Corwin, on the other hand, has to deal with the deaths of his mother and his friends, and he constantly blames himself for them. He does not want to become king, but he truly knows the struggles of the lowly and destitute. While he does have his errors, he is a good guy, and he treats his people as humans rather than subjects or numbers. Both Kate and Corwin are inspirational characters that will move us to become better people, to understand the plights of those who are suffering, and to continue to fight for what is right. I wish I could actually meet them in real life — that would be epic.

Onyx & Ivory takes you on the adventure of a lifetime. As readers travel into the world of Rime, they are faced with danger from all sides, whether it be inside the castle or outside of the kingdom. Betrayal, secrets, and evil plague the characters as they fight against multiple conflicts, from surprise challenges to an underlying rebellion. Mindee Arnett is a talented storyteller and world-crafter, and I will look forward to reading more of her novels. I just want more from this world! Onyx & Ivory is the spectacular start of an epic fantasy series that you do not want to miss.

Please note that this is a review of an unfinished Advance Reader’s Copy. There may have been major and minor changes between this version of the book versus the finalized novel that will be released to the public.


About the AuthorMindee Arnett

Mindee Arnett is the author of the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller Avalon as well as the Arkwell Academy series and the upcoming Onyx and Ivory. An avid eventer, she lives on a farm near Dayton, Ohio with her husband, two kids, and assorted animals. When not telling tales of magic, the supernatural, or outer space, she can be found on a horse, trying to jump anything that will stand still.

A literacy advocate, Mindee is available for school and library visits, both in person and online, as well as writing workshops for both teens and adults. For more information on available presentations, click here.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Have you read Onyx and Ivory? Do you like YA fantasy?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

ARC Review: Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne — A Fast-Paced and Brilliant Retelling of Jane Eyre Full of Intrigue, Mystery, Secrets, and Lies

Hi guys! Today, in my hometown, we are celebrating the World’s Biggest Fish Fry! What is that, you might ask? Well, in Paris, Tennessee, (yes I live in a town that is named after the city in France… and yes, we do have a miniature Eiffel Tower), the town fries up literally tons of catfish and we celebrate that by having a week-long celebrating full of eating, going to the fair, and fish-related activities, including catfish races (yes, we race catfish, and we’re not ashamed of it). While I’m watching the parade today, I hope you enjoy this review of one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne!


About the BookBrightly Burning

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

Brightly Burning releases from HMH on May 1st! Pre-order it today!

Goodreads

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4 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

It feels so great to finally find a YA novel that I literally could NOT put down; in fact, I finished Brightly Burning in just one weekend, tearing through it like a slice of cake. Brightly Burning is a brilliant and imaginative retelling of Jane Eyre thrust among the stars and full of intriguing mystery, dark secrets, and jaw-dropping technology. Honestly, I tried to read Jane Eyre but never had time to finish it (though I’m determined to read it this summer), but comparing the synopsis of the novel with Donne’s debut, I have got to say that Brightly Burning keeps the essence of Jane Eyre while spinning it into a dystopian and aristocratic space society. It is such a stunning and marvelous book that I fell in love with everything about it from page one.

While I did enjoy the romance and found it to be swoon-worthy and charming (I was rooting for Hugo and Stella the entire time), I was more captured by all the mystery and deception surrounding the Rochester. Curiosity swelled through my body as Stella attempted to learn more about Hugo’s dark past that lies beneath his brooding exterior. The climax took me by surprise, and I did not expect it at all. Every shocking revelation, every plot twist was a punch to the gut. Brightly Burning throws at readers everything from surprise visitors to mysterious secrets to heartbreaking betrayals, and each twist and turn will slowly wrench your heart until the very end.

Alexa Donne is a master at world-building. Brightly Burning is set in a dystopian future where an Ice Age took over the Earth, and only a fleet of space ships holds the remainder of the human race. The deeper I went into the novel, the more I became fascinated by this history. I wanted to know more about the ships, the people, and the politics. I craved answers to questions like “Are there people on Earth? Is it inhabitable?” The author elegantly describes the technology and the ships so well that you feel as if you were on them. I could imagine myself reading in Hugo’s library or walking through the decks of the Rochester or the Stalwart. I even felt the urge to live on a space ship myself! Brightly Burning will enrapture readers so much that they will never want to leave! I know I did not.

You cannot help but fall in love with all of the characters, regardless of their personality. From the strict yet caring Officer Xiao to the kind-hearted best friend George, each character had his or her own complexities that make them memorable, lovable, and relatable. Even the supposed antagonists (I use “supposed” very lightly) will surprise you in many ways when the time comes. However, Stella has to be my favorite character. Firstly, her love of books is one of the best parts of the entire novel. There are so many references to amazing classics and authors that the avid reader will rebound in joy at each one. I now want to re-read some of my favorite books because the novel emphasizes the power of literature. Secondly, she’s one of the strongest characters I have read. She would rather risk her joy and her life to save the lives of others, and she won’t give up searching for answers. Stella’s perseverance and self-sacrifice throughout the novel inspires readers to keep on fighting and moving regardless of the risks.

Brightly Burning is the perfect book for science fiction and mystery fans alike! It is one of the best Young Adult novels I have read in a long time, and I did not want it to end. I became so snuggled up into the Rochester that I did not want to leave. Alexa Donne outdid herself in her debut, and I loved every single aspect of it. Although Brightly Burning is a standalone novel, there will be a companion novel to it in the future, which is so exciting. I know I want to get my hands on it as soon as possible!

Please note that this is a review of an unfinished Advance Reader’s Copy. There may have been major and minor changes between this version of the book versus the finalized novel that will be released to the public.


About the AuthorAlexa Donne

Alexa Donne is a Ravenclaw who wears many hats, including teen mentoring, college admissions essay consulting, fan convention organizing, YouTube-ing and podcasting. When she’s not writing science fiction and fantasy for teens, Alexa works in international television marketing. A proud Boston University Terrier, she lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. Visit her at http://www.alexadonne.com or on most social media spaces @alexadonne.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for Brightly Burning? Do you like YA sci-fi?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Email | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin