Cover Reveal: The Return by Kelly St Clare

The Return promo banner
Today is the cover reveal for The Return by Kelly St. Clare. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The cover is designed by Tracey at Soxsational Cover Art.

The ReturnThe Return (The After Trilogy #2)
by Kelly St. Clare
Genre: science fiction/ dystopian
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: June 2017

Blurb:
The dystopian science fiction story continues in this action-packed novel for young adults by internationally best-selling author Kelly St. Clare.

Three months ago, Romy emerged from the cultivation tanks after a year floating inside.

Body intact. Mind broken. Memory gone.

Now she undergoes regular testing as doctors work to find out . . . well, she’s not exactly sure what.

The tests must have something to do with the reason she can’t remember her knot—the single lucid memory the other insane soldiers on Orbito Four still possess. Whatever the researchers are searching for, if it aids the soldiers in the deathly war against the lethal alien invaders—the Critamal—the excruciating pain is worth it.

But a grey-eyed man has other plans.

Boxed in and caught, Romy is taken hostage by people who shouldn’t exist! They dress in black and carry weapons she’s never seen in her genetically enhanced life.

Reunited with Knot 27. Memories returned.

Fifteen months have passed since her world shattered into bright red, ringing chaos. Things have changed—people have changed. How long until what was once as familiar as breathing is familiar once more?

Friendships. Love. Freedom.

Can the new Romy reconcile with the old, or will the two halves of herself remain locked in an internal battle?

And if a victor should arise from this silent war . . . will it be the part of her that kills without hesitation, without mercy?

All it takes is for the cracks to join and blood will pour.

You can find The Return on Goodreads

The Return Coming Soon

Excerpt:
Romy strained for any hint of disturbance, but an eerie calm filled the space.
The electrodes and wires covering her arms and legs suddenly felt like restraints—a barrier preventing her from leaping from the bed and protecting herself. She closed her eyes and attempted to regulate her breathing.
Everything was fine.
There was nothing to—
The space station rocked as a muted explosion emanated from the clinic door. Her stomach dropped, and she nearly sat up before remembering Electrode Slapper’s withering order to stay still.
Romy held herself immobile, eyes darting side to side, senses stretched to maximum capacity.
Was that smoke creeping along the ceiling? Not the normal smoke from her burning hair—real smoke!
Nothing good could come from a fire onboard a space station.
Unable to deny fear’s curiosity, she turned to stare at the remaining male doctor, awaiting his order to evacuate. His attention was fixed on the door, the whites of his eyes showing his terror—of something. Romy watched as he scrambled from his seat, hands raised, stammering and babbling senselessly.
Not terror of something. Someone.
Romy inhaled sharply as a dart appeared out of nowhere, sticking deep into the side of his neck. The doctor staggered and slowly keeled over next to the bed, sending a screen smashing to the ground.
She jerked violently as his body rebounded off the floor before settling into unconsciousness.
The medi-tech surrounding her beeped, high-pitched and urgent, snatching up her distress and sounding it out for all the world to hear.
So much for playing dead.
She took stock. At least five electrodes and their wires hung off each limb. Another ten on her torso and five more on her head. Extracting herself in a hurry wasn’t looking like an option.
Heavy footsteps approached the bed where she lay, frozen. Mind racing. Several sets of footsteps, she realised—maybe ten.
Romy swallowed, palms sweating where they touched her bare thighs.
A large shadow fell across her body.
Dread settled heavy in her bones.
A man dressed in solid black leaned over the bed, blotting her view of the white ceiling. A soldier. Unlike any she’d seen. Why wasn’t he dressed in white?
The man’s face was clean-shaven and as his scent reached her, she got the oddest sense of another time. Of warmth and. . . .
She blinked into his soft grey eyes.
With careful movements, the man moved the gun he carried so it slung across his back. The weapon was small, sleek—the complete opposite of the huge laser guns fitted on the space station.
Who was this person?
He reached for her, expression impassive, a slight tremor in his hands.
And spoke a single, hoarse word.
“Romy.”

Start this series with The Retreat!
The Retreat
Earth is ruined. Humankind destroyed. And it’s old news.The Retreat is the first book in the After trilogy! You can get your copy of The Retreat on Amazon

Finalist in the YA books central annual book awards for best YA sci-fi of 2016.

The Retreat was awarded a Five Star badge by Readers’ Favorite in 2016.

Praise for Book One in The After Trilogy, The Retreat:
“superbly written” – Readers’ Favorite ★★★★★

“part fantasy, part sci-fi, and all cosmic-chemistry” – Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews ★★★★★

“all I can say is WOW!” – Taking It One Book at a Time ★★★★★

“I had very high expectations for this one and I’m happy to say that the book met them all and more.” – Bookaholic ★★★★★

“I can’t start talking about this or I won’t stop. This is a must read!” – Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★

Kelly St ClareAbout the Author:
When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is lost in her latest reverie. She can, quite literally, drift past a car accident while in the midst of her day dreams, despite the various police sirens and chaos.

Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read.

The Tainted Accords was her debut series, and her second series, The After Trilogy, is now available.

A New Zealander in origin and in heart, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband, a great group of friends, and some huntsman spiders who love to come inside when it rains. Their love is not returned.

You can find and contact Kelly here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Instagram
Newsletter
Barracks group

Giveaway
There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of The Return! Three winners will each win a paperback copy of the Retreat. Open International!

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lola's Blog Tours banner

Blog Tour: Remember Yesterday (Forget Tomorrow #2) by Pintip Dunn

rememberyesterdaytour
Today is my stop during the blog tour for Remember Yesterday (Forget Tomorrow #2) by Pintip Dunn! I’ll share my review of the book and there’s an excerpt. Remember Yesterday is the sequel to the NYT Bestselling and RITA™ Award-winning book, Forget Tomorrow. You can read my review of Forget Tomorrow here.

remember-yesterdayTitle: Remember Yesterday
Author: Pintip Dunn
Series: Forget Tomorrow #2
Rating: 3.75 stars
Genres: Young Adult Science Fiction? Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
The sequel to the sci-fi hit Forget Tomorrow is a twisting, turning roller-coaster ride—the perfect sci-fi futuristic read.

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Stone is the most valuable citizen in Eden City. Her psychic abilities could lead to significant scientific discoveries — if only she’d let TechRA study her. But after they kidnapped and experimented on her as a child, cooperating with the scientists is the last thing Jessa would do.

But when she discovers the past isn’t what she assumed, Jessa must join forces with budding scientist Tanner Callahan to rectify a fatal mistake made ten years ago. She’ll do anything to change her past — even if it means aligning herself with the enemy she swore to defeat.

My Review:
Remember Yesterday is the next instalment in the Forget Tomorrow series by Pintip Dunn. I liked the first book and after that horrific ending I was excited to get stuck into the next book. However, I felt an immediate disconnect when I opened my Kindle to discover this book was narrated by Jessa ten years later. Now, this does make sense on one level (don’t want to spoil the story so I’m being vague on purpose) but I still felt let-down. Not sure the author could have written it any other way though.

I missed Logan so much in this book, but Tanner was an awesome male substitute. Jess was probably more likable than Callie as the MC but it did take me some time to warm up to these characters and this story.

The first half dragged for me and I felt the story was too similar to the first book but things really ramped up a few notches in the second half and I became immersed in the plot and addicted to the characters. The end few chapters were exhilarating and I was totally hooked. The plot was a lot less predictable in the second half and I really enjoyed it.

Now I love Jess and Tanner and I’m so happy with the reemergence of some of my fav characters toward the end.

I adore Pintip’s style of writing and I have no issues there. Her world building is decent and well crafted as was character development.

In summary, after a bit of a disconnect and a slow start, I became engrossed in the story and the characters lives and I’m definitely invested in continuing this series.

Actual rating 3.75 stars.

Excerpt:
I lift my eyes to meet his, and I reach into the future—his future. The vision pours into me. The future Tanner grabs me and kisses me. Without warning, without hesitation. It is hot and searing and exquisite. And I like it. Oh, how I like it.
“No!” I fall out of the vision and scoot away from him, so far that I approach the edge of the platform. My pulse is thundering; my nerves are jumping. Oh, Fates. What’s wrong with me? Is it because I don’t want him to kiss me? Or because I want it too much?
His eyes turn watchful. “Come back here, Jessa. You’re too close to the sky.”
I look into the open space, fluffy with wads of cotton-ball clouds. I take a breath, hoping to inhale some of the sky’s serenity. He doesn’t know about the kiss. Why would he? In the vision, he acted impulsively, without premeditation. The desire to kiss me hasn’t arisen in him yet. Maybe I can prevent it from cropping up altogether.
“Look, you don’t want to kiss me,” I babble, staying where I am. And hope I sound more reasonable than I feel. “It’s only because we talked about kissing the other day. When you talk about something, you give it life. Make it real. Like an annoying song you can’t get out of your head.”
He creeps toward me, his eyes flicking between my face and the sky. “So you can’t get the idea of kissing me out of your head?”
“I said it was annoying. Like a song. Not based on anything real.”
He stops five feet from the edge of the platform. “So let me get this straight. You saw into the future and we kissed. Right?”
“Y-yes,” I stutter, shocked that he guessed the truth so easily. “But it doesn’t have to happen that way,” I add quickly. “As my sister proved, we’re in control of our own fate. We can make any future we wish.”
“Unless this is our Fixed.” His voice is low, rough. And yet, every syllable imprints into my memory forever. “Unless this kiss is so important, it happens in every one of our worlds.”
“It’s just a kiss. How can it be that important?”
His eyes glitter with the challenge. With one last look at the platform’s edge, he crawls to me, slowly but steadily. “The path of our particular world might depend on this kiss. Would you risk our future just to be stubborn?”
And then, he’s right in front of me. He rests his hands lightly on my back. They slide down to my waist, until his fingers brush against the strip of bare skin between my pants and top. I shiver, and my skin pebbles into a million goose bumps. He pulls me against him. So much of my body is touching his that I can’t think; I can’t breathe. All I can do is feel. His trembling breath. My hammering heart. His shaking hands—or hell, maybe that’s me, vibrating against his touch.
Our lips are inches apart. Time blends together. You couldn’t move me from this spot if the world were crashing down around us.
“I thought I wasn’t your type,” I whisper.
“You’re not,” he says. “But for the fate of our world, I’m willing to make the sacrifice.”
And then, he closes the gap between us.

The First book in this series:
forget-tomorrowTitle: Forget Tomorrow
Author: Pintip Dunn
Series: Forget Tomorrow #1
Rating: 3 stars, read my review here
Genres: Young Adult Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.

Callie herself.

pintip-croppedAbout the Author:
Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journel.

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, Forget Tomorrow, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. Her other novels include The Darkest Lie and the forthcoming Remember Yesterday.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.

Links:

Giveaway
There’s a tour wide giveaway. One winner will receive a limited, annotated hardcover of Forget Tomorrow. For a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

chapter-by-chapter-blog-tour-button

Review: Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) by Pintip Dunn

forget-tomorrowTitle: Forget Tomorrow
Author: Pintip Dunn
Series: Forget Tomorrow #1
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Young Adult Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.

Callie herself.

My Review:
Forget Tomorrow is a beautifully written book, with decent worldbuilding and some imaginative concepts. Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as I was expecting.

The cover and blurb are what attracted me to purchase a copy of this book while it was on sale. I snapped this beauty up for 99p – thanks, Bookbub. In particular, it was the mention of memory and psychic ability that intrigued me, as I have similar themes in my own dystopian series.

Callie is a believable teen heroine, even if her indecision grated on my nerves at times. Her voice was consistent with her characters age and situation and it was authentic. Can’t say that I overly loved her, but I didn’t hate her either. I’m a bit on the fence.

But I’m not on the fence about Logan! Now, I have a fondness for the name (I have a Logan of my own) but this Logan would happily belong on my book boyfriend list in his own right. He was protective and charming and sweet and kind and self-deprecating and there isn’t a damn thing I can fault about him. Logan made this book for me.

At times, I felt that emotional depth was lacking, and sentiments were expressed that seemed to come out of nowhere. At other times, I skimmed across overly descriptive parts that were redundant. In my opinion, developmental editing could have been stronger to flesh out the characterization and trim the excess.

The world building was a little bit of a conundrum for me. Parts of it were superb – well mapped out and executed but other parts felt underdeveloped (Harmony, for example.) It was very reminiscent of Divergent at the start and when the story shifted to Harmony it reminded me of The Revolution of Ivy, and I had issues with an underdeveloped community in that book too.

That said, there was enough about this book with the whole memory/fate theme to allow it to stand on its own. The plot was decent, if a little slow moving.

The romance was sweet and my only complaint is that I wished for more of it! I definitely ship these two, and I can’t help thinking that there is more to Logan’s memory than he’s letting on.

That ending was fantastic and I wasn’t expecting it. I’m still in shock and hoping all is not as it seems.

One of the standouts was the writing. The prose is stunning and it’s clear that Pintip Dunn can really write. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the words glided effortlessly over the pages of my kindle.

In summary, this was a decent start to what seems to be an intriguing series. However, I did have some issues with plot, characterization, and aspects of the world building that stopped me rating this higher. I look forward to continuing the story in book two.

Cover Reveal: Unrest (Unknown #2) by Wendy Higgins

Today is the cover reveal for Unrest (Unknown #2) by Wendy Higgins!

unrestTitle: Unrest
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: Unknown #2
Genres: Dystopia/Post-apocalyptic
Links:

Blurb:
Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.

Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities…lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can’t escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.

In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy’s identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

The first book
UnknownEbookTitle: Unknown
Author: Wendy Higgins
Series: Unknown #1
Genres: Apocalyptic Sci-Fi NA Romance
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Links:

Blurb:
Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technological communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

WendyHigginsAuthorPicAbout the Author:
Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.
Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University.

Links:

Review: Jubilee Year (Erelong #1) by Gerard O’Neill

Jubilee YearTitle: Jubilee Year
Author: Gerard O’Neill
Series: Erelong #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: sci-fi/ dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
What if the world were about to end, but they weren’t going to tell you?

Eighteen-year-old Storm lives in a small country town in Australia, next to one of the most famous telescopes in the world. When he falls for Penny, the daughter of the chief scientist at the observatory, he discovers a global conspiracy of silence. He learns a mini-star system approaches Earth, and the penalty for any scientist who talks about it is death.

If Storm and his companions are to survive they must stay out of the way of the government’s security forces, assassination squads working for powerful hidden entities, and the internment camps for dissenters. Even his special ability is not going to be enough. He must accept help when it’s offered. But others are not who they seem to be and neither is the reality of a world Storm thought he knew.

My Review:
Jubilee Year is a solid sci-fi dystopian read with an interesting premise and plenty of mystery and suspense to keep the reader engaged.

This is a well-written debut novel with a focus on family, friendship, young love, and government conspiracy and control. I really enjoyed the Australian setting and it was a refreshing change from the norm. World building is credible. This book focuses on the unsettling climate change and the reasons behind it. Yes, there is political intrigue and a controlling government keeping citizens in the dark, which is common enough within the genre, but I still found it a very interesting read.

Storm is a strong, decent male lead. In the main, character development is solidly built throughout the novel, and it was easy to love or hate or certainly feel strong emotions toward every player.

For me, the pacing was a little inconsistent in parts. I struggled to get into this book for the first 25 percent, and I put it down a couple of times. I’m glad I came back to it because I thought the second half of the book was superb, it flowed much better and was a lot more action packed.

The romance was very light in this book and that’s my biggest complaint as I like my sci-fi to have a strong romance subplot and a swoon-worthy lead male. There is some romance, and it is sweet but just not deep enough to satisfy this reader.

Overall, I think this is a very good debut novel that will definitely appeal to fans of this genre.

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Indestructible (Indestructible #1) by Emma L. Adams

IndestructibleTitle: Indestructible
Author: Emma L. Adams
Series: Indestructible #1
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, post apocalyptic
Links:

Blurb:
Two years ago, the fiends invaded, with a devastating explosion that split the world in two. Even now, energy blasts strike without warning, destroying everything in their paths. The fiends hunt anyone unlucky enough to escape.

My name is Leah. An energy blast killed my group. It should have killed me, too. Instead, I woke up alone in the wilderness, stalked by the fiends.

My only hope is the red-cloaked strangers who call themselves the Pyros. They can do the impossible and make flames shoot from their hands, and are more than a match for the fiends. Right now, my one chance for safety — and revenge — is with them.

But they’re keeping secrets from me. Like those skeletons hidden under their base. And the reasons I developed a psychic link with someone who can’t stand the sight of me — after he saved my life.

If I don’t uncover the truth about why the world ended the first time, my new safe haven might go up in smoke…

Indestructible is the first in a YA post-apocalyptic fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of Divergent, Angelfall and The Mortal Instruments.

My Review:
This is my first book by Emma Adams and I enjoyed it. I adored her writing and the imaginative world she has created. It was vivid and visual and I had no trouble imagining it all in my head. The magical elements added an intriguing fantastical element to the story, and I found them original and engaging.

It took me a while to warm up to Leah, but by the end of the book I felt like I understood her better.

The plot isn’t wholly unpredictable but it was still a good story that held my interest despite the fact that this wouldn’t be my normal type of read. I was a little confused at the start as to what was going on as it’s pretty full-on straight off the bat, but after a few chapters I had settled into the story and was hooked.

My biggest complaint is that there is no romance, and I don’t usually enjoy post-apocalyptic or dystopian stories unless there is a healthy dose of love and some swoon-worthy male leads! However, if you are the type of reader that prefers an action-packed story without any romantic complications then you will love this book.

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book, via Lola’s Blog Tours, in exchange for my honest review.

Actual rating 3.5 stars.

Review: The Revolution of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel

The Revolution of IvyTitle: The Revolution of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy #2
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Science Fiction/ Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

My Review:
I really enjoyed The Book of Ivy, and I was looking forward to reading the second installment. Where Book 1 was very character-driven and the romance was slow-burning, and I loved that, I was expecting plenty of action in this book, but, for me, it fell a little short of the mark.

Without a doubt, Bishop Lattimer is the star of this show. God, I love him! He is mature and selfless and so patient with Ivy, even when she is wrecking his (and my) head. Ivy showed great strength at the start of this book, and she proved she was a real fighter, but her attitude toward Bishop really irritated me. When he first showed up she was so ungrateful, and the poor boy had sacrificed everything for her! I love how he supports her even though he doesn’t always agree with her. He was often the calm, confident voice of reason. As a male lead, I found his character very refreshing and quite a change from a lot of the male characters in popular YA books. It’s a pity we didn’t get any scenes in his perspective. I would have loved that!

Eventually, they got their act together, and I loved seeing them as a real team. That was one of my favorite parts of the entire book. I didn’t feel like a hell of a lot happened until the last third of the book. Then the pace and suspense picked up, and it was more exciting and less predictable.

I hated that Ivy was putting her safety and that of Bishop and their friends at risk for her father and sister, but the logic behind her decision-making was believable and consistent with her character.

I thought the world beyond the fence was dull and underdeveloped, and I wish the author had done more with it.

The writing is excellent, and I really enjoy Amy’s style. I will definitely check out whatever she produces next.

Overall, this was an enjoyable enough read, mainly thanks to the delectable Bishop. While there were aspects I was disappointed with, it was still a decent, quick read.

Review: The Almost Girl (The Riven Chronicles #1) by Amalie Howard

The almost girl banner .jpg
Today is my stop during the blog tour for The Almost Girl (The Riven Chronicles #1) by Amalie Howard. I’ll share my review with you today and a guest post.

The Almost GirlTitle: The Almost Girl
Author: Amalie Howard
Series: The Riven Chronicles #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Science Fiction/ Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she’s had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she’s ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

My Review:
The Almost Girl is a well-written sci-fi romance with interesting worldbuilding and a complex MC. I was gripped from the very start, and with the exception of a small section when the story moved to Neospes, it was fast paced and kept my attention.

The plot was action-packed and full of twists and turns. Though the revelation in relation to her identity wasn’t a major shock, it was still a good twist.

Cade is, ah, swoon ….. a perfect book boyfriend! Smart, funny, sexy, protective and he deals with all the crap coming at him in a very calm, mature manner.

I wished we had more scenes with Cale. What we saw of him didn’t endear me to him at all.

I loved all the sci-fi and technological aspects of this book and I thought the world building was detailed without bogging the reader down in unnecessary descriptive. I have read books with multiple realities/universes before and this one was still original and creative and unique in its own way.

The insta-love was a bit unbelievable at first, like it came out of nowhere, but I was able to overlook it as it developed perfectly and their chemistry was good. I will add, though, that there are certain things one needs to overlook in this book in order to fully enjoy it – one example that sticks out is the manner in which children are raised in Neospes and it’s mentioned that she was engaging in sword fights at age 2. How would that even be physically possible? There were a few other little niggly things like that which are the reason this is a 4-star rather than 5-star review (and I dithered over the rating for a couple of days.) Anyway, I loved the book too much to let little issues like that dent my enjoyment.

I’m really excited to see where the story develops from here and I look forward to reading the next book in due course.

Guest Post:
Character Inspiration & Dream Cast for The Almost Girl

When I was initially doing the character study for Riven (whose name means ripped apart), I knew that I wanted her to be fierce. After all, she becomes a General of an army at fourteen and she comes from a very tough universe, so she has to be the result of that. In Neospes, there’s no room for softness and emotion. Those are the things that can get you killed. As a result, Riven is the perfect product of her environment. She’s a very intense character. I needed her to be powerful, highly skilled, focused, and mature.
My inspiration for Riven’s character came from a few different sources. The first was Max from Dark Angel TV series. I loved the fact that Max was so capable and fierce, but was also so guarded. I wanted my character to be similar—especially as she navigates the new terrain of a parallel universe that is the complete opposite to her own. Like Max, Riven has to learn how to trust and how to love while still being strong and lethal. My second source of inspiration was Leeloo from the movie The Fifth Element, one of my all time favs (and yes, I know I’m a total nerd). I love that scene where Leeloo takes out the Mangalores singlehandedly. She, like Max, is fierce, but in a different way. She’s built to be the Earth’s defender—the fifth element—and she has to learn about who we are as humans before she’s able to do the job she was created to do. I liked her inner fragility when it came to learning about love, and I wanted Riven to have the same sort of feel—hard and unapproachable on the outside, yet soft and curious on the inside. Last but not least, there’s definitely some Ellen Ripley in there, but it’s the Ripley from Alien Resurrection, where she has inherited some of the alien traits. She’s so awesome during that basketball scene in the mess hall on the ship. I loved her innate confidence and unflappable nature. I wanted Riven to have some of those qualities. Highly trained, she knows who she is and what she can do.
Like all of these amazing, multi-faceted heroines, I wanted to create a dynamic character who is forced to question everything she is and everything she knows. A soldier first, Riven is hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I wanted readers to relate to her struggle throughout the novel to let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. As a character, Riven has to dig down deep to embrace her emotions against everything she has been taught. In the end, is she brave enough to learn how to trust her heart? Will she always be the tough, invulnerable soldier? Or will she find a balance between the two?

DREAM CAST
RIVEN – Astrid Berges OR Imogen Poots
CADEN – Brenton Thwaites or Nicholas Hoult
SHAE – Sienna Guillory
AURELA – Charlize Theron
Riven’s Father – Michael Fassbender
Era Taylor – Famke Janssen

PRAISE FOR THE ALMOST GIRL:
“A high-octane thriller. SF and dystopia fans will be right at home with this book and its fierce, capable heroine.” ~ Publishers Weekly

“Amalie Howard writes a fast paced and thrilling story with a kick butt, authentic heroine and a brilliantly crafted world.“ ~ Eve Silver, author of Rush

“The Almost Girl is a feminist tour de force. It is filled with powerful, interesting female characters. Riven is one of my favorite fictional characters ever; she is fierce, passionate, funny and smart. This sexy, fast-paced story is impossible to put down. A must read! Fans of Divergent will love it!“ ~ Kim Purcell, author of Trafficked

“A riveting union of science fiction thriller, romance, family drama, and conspiracy theory, The Almost Girl had me wishing I could crawl inside the pages and join Riven on her epic journey between parallel worlds. Amalie Howard’s writing is sharp and smart. I’m definitely craving the next installment!” ~ Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful & The Cursed

AmalieAbout the Author:
AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island (Trinidad & Tobago) where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published in a University of Warwick journal. At fifteen, she was a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed simultaneous Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for research and criticism in Raffael Scheck’s article, “German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic,” and his subsequent book, Mothers of the Nation. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, marketing representative, teen speaker and global sales executive.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

Links:

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Review: Claimed (Outlaws #1) by Elle Kennedy

ClaimedTitle: Claimed
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Outlaws #1
Rating: 3.75 stars
Genres: science fiction dystopia romance
Links:

Blurb:
The bestselling author of the Killer Instincts novels “knows how to write scorching sexual tension” (USA Today). Now she really sets it on fire in a new series about men and women living on the edge of violence, sex, and life and death.

After a devastating war decimated most of the world, Hudson Lane has only known the oppressive life under her own father’s tyranny. She finally escapes, branding herself an outlaw and hunted by the Enforcers. Her best chance at survival is Connor Mackenzie, an aggressively sensual fugitive who opens her eyes to the wicked possibilities of a world without rules.

As the leader of a band of outlaw fighters, Connor can’t resist the beautiful stranger who asks for his protection. Despite his reservations, he agrees to introduce her to a whole new way of life. But when Connor discovers Hudson’s connection to the enemies of liberty, he wonders how far he can trust the woman who has abandoned all inhibitions to challenge every forbidden desire.

My Review:
When I first heard that Elle Kennedy was bringing out a new series that mixed dystopian with erotic romance, I was super-excited, and I’ve been hugely anticipating this book. While I definitely enjoyed it, and I will continue the series, I was a little disappointed in Claimed.

The book opened well, introducing us to the main characters and the world in a gripping manner. Hudson is a great protagonist, she’s sassy and gutsy,tough yet vulnerable. I loved how she bossed Con around when everyone else (excepting Pike) was afraid to. She had an interesting backstory and you just know the secret she is holding close to her chest is going to backfire on her at some point.

Connor is a controlling mutha-fucka. I know he’s hot, and he exudes this heated sexuality, and the sparks majorly fly, but he was such a jerk at the start. Now, I did warm to him over the course of the book as I started to understand his past and how it had impacted him, but it took a while. The other characters that make up the pack are great, and complex. I really liked Rylan and I hope the next book is his and Reese’s story.

The biggest issue I had with this book was the middle portion. The plot and worldbuilding were non-existent and it was literally just sex scene after sex scene to the point where I felt it was dragging. And boy is it steamy, with a capital S. I think I actually blushed reading parts of it. Lol.

Thankfully, it picked up after that. It was more exciting, and there was a bit of action to liven it up, but not as much as I would have liked. It was also fairly predictable – no major shockers or surprises.

Overall though, as a dystopian, it fell short of the mark in terms of worldbuilding, and the plot definitely needed beefing up

I can’t fault Elle’s writing style as she’s amazingly talented and it was delivered in her usual exemplary fashion. I’m a massive fan of her Off Campus series – those books are FANTASTIC – but this one is not up to her usual standard.

It’s still a very decent read and I would recommend it, probably more so to fans of erotic romance than dystopian fans.

Actual Rating: 3.75 stars

Review: The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

the oneTitle: The One
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Romance Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen–and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

My Review:
For me, this was the best book of the series.

America is still undecided over both Aspen and Maxon at the start of the book, but as it progresses she becomes stronger, more mature, and has the courage to stick to her convictions. While she becomes sure of her feelings, she starts to doubt the strength of Maxon’s as she’s forced to watch him grow closer to the dwindling group of girls. I could feel her pain when she overheard him in the library, and caught him in Celeste’s embrace. I could totally understand how she would doubt him, and struggle to truly believe his feelings for her were the strongest.

While I haven’t been Aspen’s greatest fan, he redeemed himself in this book, putting himself repeatedly in harm’s way to protect America and Maxon. That’s the type of sacrifice for love that I’m talking about! I felt America was unfair to string him along for so long. She should have been honest with him at an earlier stage. It was also brutally transparent that her lack of honesty with Maxon, regarding the nature of her relationship with Aspen, was going to come back at her in a big way. When it happened, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, and Kiera had been building up to this over the course of this book and the previous one.

Finally, we got to see some action as the rebel subplot developed, and I particularly enjoyed the scenes where America and Maxon went outside undercover. This added some much-needed depth and diversity to the story.

I hated that we only got a resolution at the end and hardly got to see Maxon and America united as a couple. Though it’s popular to do this within the genre, I always feel a bit cheated, and I wish more authors would resolve the love triangle a little earlier or give us meatier epilogs.

All in all, though, this was a fantastic read and it was the first book in this series that had me riveted from page one.

Having read all three books now, I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I was expecting it to suck me in more than it did though sometimes that’s the issue when there is so much hype about a series. The biggest disappointment for me was the predictable plot – really nothing out of the ordinary about it at all, besides the overriding concept of the competition which I loved. While the writing is decent and consistent with the genre, there was nothing stand-out about it. I’m not sure that I’d actually be that bothered about picking up more of this author’s work and I’m on the fence when it comes to The Heir. As an aside, I absolutely love all the book covers – totally stunning.