Review: The Guard (The Selection #2.5) by Kiera Cass

The GuardTitle: The Guard
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2.5
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Dystopia Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Before America Singer met Prince Maxon . . .
Before she entered the Selection . . .
She was in love with a boy named Aspen Leger.

Don’t miss this digital original novella set in the captivating world of Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection trilogy. This brand new 64-page story begins just after the group of Selected girls is narrowed down to the Elite and is told from Aspen’s point of view. The Guard also features a teaser to The One, the thrilling conclusion to The Selection trilogy.

My Review:
I picked this up as I was keen to see inside Aspen’s head, but I felt a little cheated, with both the content and the length (for the price).

It was interesting to read his perspective and to see the start of his blossoming relationship with she who shall remain unnamed, but it just didn’t add enough to the backstory, for me. And it left off mid-air with no warning! Not a bad read, but honestly it doesn’t add any substance or depth to the overall story.

Review: The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass

the eliteTitle: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2
Rating: 3 stars
Genres:Romance Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than everโ€”and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they wantโ€”and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

My Review:
Having read the complete series now, I feel like this book was the weakest. It was actually pretty frustrating to read at times and I wanted to jump into the pages and throttle both America and Prince Maxon, on certain occasions.

The Elite concentrates largely on The Selection and the love triangle. I had mental whiplash from all the toing and froing and I would have loved the rebel sub-plot to have been fleshed out a little more to add a different (and in my opinion much-needed) extra layer. As it was the rebel subplot was weak and under-developed. How on earth did the rebels keep gaining access to the Palace? There is no way that would have happened in reality and security would have been much tighter.

Every time Maxon and America got close something happened to pull them apart again. My heart ached every time. At one point America promises him she won’t be so reckless, and won’t keep pushing him away, but she keeps on doing it! Where I liked her character in the first book, she seems to have regressed in this one. She was so indecisive, to the point of distraction.

For me, again, the plot is totally predictable and the only thing that was unexpected was the identity of Georgia and August.

It’s still a decent read and enough to keep me interested in continuing, despite some obvious frustrations.

Review: The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass

the selectionTitle: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Romance Dystopia
Links:

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

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

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

My Review:
I enjoyed The Selection and I felt it was a good start to the series. The premise is exciting and I loved all the girls, bitching, dresses, and glamor of the contest.

America came across well and I liked her – she was caring, compassionate, and not afraid to be herself, and express her opinions, no matter how unpopular or unfashionable they were.

I liked Aspen at the start but went off him pretty quickly after his callous treatment of Mer. Sacrificing their love and his happiness to give her the world? Totally on board with that. But I was so not on board with his about-turn once he got to the Palace. I mean, come on, if he was caught anywhere near her they would both be found guilty of treason and killed. So, I was not cool with him jeopardizing her life, safety, and future. I understand how much he loved her, but if he truly loved her, he would have let her go.

I really warmed to Prince Maxon and he seems like a decent guy, however, I wasn’t happy with his attitude toward Mer at the end and it was frustrating to read.

The biggest issue I had with this book was the predictability of the plot – nothing happened that surprised me and I like being surprised by a book. That said, I still really enjoyed it and I’m continuing with the series.

Review: The Legacy Human (Singularity #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

the legacy humanTitle: The Legacy Human
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Series: Singularity #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Science Fiction
Links:

Blurb:
Spiritual successor to the bestselling Mindjack trilogyโ€ฆ

When transcending humanity is the prize, winning the Game is all that matters.

Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascenderโ€”a post-Singularity human/machine hybridโ€”after all, theyโ€™re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything heโ€™s yearned for within reachโ€ฆ including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravelโ€ฆ until heโ€™s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in a new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soulโ€ฆ and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

Check out Susan Kaye Quinn’s website for information about The Legacy Human everything Singularity.

My Review:
This is my first Susan Kaye Quinn book but it most definitely won’t be the last.

Imaginative. Creative. Exceptionally well executed. Beautifully written. WOW. I’m blown away.

The Legacy Human challenges the reader to explore what it actually means to be human. I found it very thought-provoking and deeply spiritual in parts. What happens to our soul if in the future we manage to transcend humanity? Do we still have one? Is there a way to maintain that essential component of what it is to be human? And if the opportunity was there would you aspire to ascend? These are some of the questions I asked myself, and some of the issues that Eli has to face on his self-developmental journey. Throw in some untrustworthy characters and a hefty dose of suspense and you end up with a roller-coaster ride of a read.

Eli is very easy to warm to. His willingness to place his mother’s safety above his own was very endearing. Cy, his best-friend-slash-brother, is fiercely loyal and a brilliant side-kick. I felt a strong emotional connection with both characters and they were very well written and developed as the book progressed. I have a feeling I know who Eli’s father is and if I’m correct it is going to shatter his world. Can’t wait for the next books in the series to find out!

The world-building is superb and I could easily picture the Ascender and Legacy cities. I would love to see this made into a movie; I think it would be visually stunning.

Susan’s writing is breath-taking and so inspiring. She is truly amazingly talented.

I felt the pacing was a little slow in the first part of the book, but it’s only a minor complaint. It didn’t deter from my overall enjoyment of this book.

A friend who is a big fan of Susan’s recommended that I read this book and I’m so glad I did. I have the Mindjack Trilogy on my Kindle already and I look forward to reading some more of Susan’s work.

In summary, this is an exceptionally well written book with stunning world-building, imaginative plot, like-able characters and a promise of great things to come with the rest of the series. Highly Recommended.

Review: Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

insurgentTitle: Insurgent
Author: by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
One choice can transform youโ€”or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she lovesโ€”and herselfโ€”while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocableโ€”and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian DIVERGENT series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

My Review:
I’ve just re-read this in advance of the movie (I have tickets booked for Friday, cannot wait!).

I love Veronica’s writing style and the story flows nicely. Tris is suffering from PTSD in this book and it’s painful to watch her unraveling. Four is emotionally damaged due to his background, so he isn’t able to support her in the right way. He tries to intervene, but all he achieves is to push her further away. It was frustrating and heart-breaking to read at times. On several occasions I wished I could reach into the book and shake both of them!

I love how Veronica subtly builds up to Caleb’s brutal betrayal. I never liked him as a character and in Insurgent I finally realize why.

This book was action packed but also an emotional roller-coaster ride. I loved every bit of it, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it now.

If you haven’t checked out this series yet then you must!

Review: Fire Country (Country Saga #1) by David Estes

fire countryTitle: Fire Country
Author: by David Estes
Series: Country Saga #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer’s even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely.

Due to toxic air, life expectancies are so low the only way the tribe can survive is by forcing women to procreate when they turn sixteen and every three years thereafter. It is their duty as Bearers.

Fifteen-year-old Siena is a Youngling, soon to be a Bearer, when she starts hearing rumors of another tribe of all women, called the Wild Ones. They are known to kidnap Youngling girls before the Call, the ceremony in which Bearers are given a husband with whom to bear children with.

As the desert sands run out on her life’s hourglass, Siena must uncover the truth about the Wild Ones while untangling the web of lies and deceit her father has masterfully spun.

My Review:
This is an accomplished book; beautifully written. I’m a fan of this vernacular-style of writing and David is clearly a talented author. It reminded me (a little) of the Dustlands series by Moira Young, though it’s still a unique story in it’s own right.

I struggled to engage in the story at the start. However, that’s happening me a lot at the moment, so it probably says more about me than about any of the books I’ve been reading recently. I became invested about a third of the way in, and I felt the pace and plot picked up then.

It took me a little while to warm to Sienna. While I could empathize with her predicament, some of her actions infuriated me. By her own admission she is weak (physically at least) yet that doesn’t stop her from throwing herself into situations that she can’t handle. Her actions continually put those she loves at risk, and she never seems to learn that lesson. That grated on me a little. Circ was instantly like-able and I thought my heart would break when that twist occurred mid way through. I spent the rest of the book praying it wasn’t as it appeared to be.

I loved the world-building, and I could easily visualize the derelict, primitive environment they lived in. David is very skilled at invoking emotions in his characters, and I particularly felt Sienna’s heartache in the second half of the book. This was extremely well written in my opinion.

Overall, I think this is a good addition to the YA Dystopian genre, and I would recommend it. I’d like to thank David for running a free promotion which enabled me to pick up a complimentary copy of this book. I’ll definitely be checking out some of his other work.

Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

the book of ivyTitle: The Book of Ivy
Author: Amy Engel
Series: The Book of Ivy #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: post-apocalyptic/ dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the presidentโ€™s sonโ€”my soon-to-be husbandโ€”and restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or heโ€™s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill himโ€ฆ

My Review:
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. While the story is quite simple, the beauty is in the exceptional execution. This is a slow-burning character-driven plot which centers around Ivy Westfall and her new husband Bishop Lattimar.

Bishop is instantly endearing, even more so as the plot develops. Ivy was immature at times, but like-able all the same. Her sister and father are despicable human-beings who manipulate Ivy and try to turn her into a pawn in their political game. I hated both of them with a passion.

I was conflicted by events at the end – how Ivy could believe her actions were the only way to save Bishop was beyond me. However, she is only 16 and I understand that she felt trapped.

I enjoyed Amy’s writing style and the book flowed smoothly.

I can’t wait to see how this progresses in the next book. Well worth a read.

Review: Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

golden sonTitle: Golden Son
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
With shades of The Hunger Games, Enderโ€™s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brownโ€™s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brownโ€™s continuing status as one of fictionโ€™s most exciting new voices.

My Review:
It is difficult to identify the appropriate words to describe this book. Simply stating it is amazing just doesn’t do it justice. I was totally blown away by Golden Son, and I am in awe of Pierce’s ability to weave such a compelling, complex story.

This book hooked me instantly, and though it’s quite long, it held my attention all the way through. I did feel some parts were overly described, and there were some pages that I skimmed without missing anything, however it’s a really minor complaint.

This book is much more than YA sci-fi, in fact I’m not sure I’d even describe it as YA anymore, because I feel the themes are much more mature in this book. There is so much suspense and so many twists and turns in this dark tale: political subterfuge, betrayal, and secrets and lies were all par for the course.

I never knew what was coming next, and the plot developments were totally unexpected. Ordinarily I only like these type of action-adventures if there is a good dollop of romance thrown into the mix. The romance theme is very much a minor plot in Golden Son but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment.

I think Pierce is an exceptional writer, and he truly has a way with words.

That ending left me in pieces. Aahh!! I need to know what happens next, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next installment.

A fantastic read.

Review: Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Red risingTitle: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

My Review:
A scintillating debut from a very talented author.

Red Rising tells the story of Darrow and his wife Eo, as they struggle with life as lower class citizens on Mars. The action ramps up pretty early on in the book, and there were plenty of twists and turns; some predictable, some unexpected.

Darrow’s world is turned upside down in a heartbeat, and everything he thought he knew about their society is shattered almost overnight. The depth of the government’s deception was horrific.

Darrow readily signs up to fight back and this involves significant personal change for him – both physical and mental. Then we enter a part of the story that has plot-lines reminiscent of The Hunger Games. I particularly enjoyed this section of the book.

Initially I struggled to get into the story. I felt there was a lot of information dumping pretty early on, and it was heavy on the descriptions. However, after a while that became a non-existent issue and I got really sucked into the world that the author has created. The world-building in this book is outstanding, and I could easily visualize Mars and all the various places.

I liked the writing style and it flowed really well.

I’ve already started Golden Son, and I can’t wait to see how the story develops from this point.

An excellent read and a very promising series.

Review: Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu

ChampionTitle: Champion
Author: by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #3
Rating: 4.5
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republicโ€”and each otherโ€”and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the governmentโ€™s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republicโ€™s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her countryโ€™s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Luโ€™s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

My Review:
Actual Rating 4.5 Stars

Wow. This book was a fast-paced roller-coaster-ride of a read from start to finish. I found it extremely difficult to put this book down, and it was a real page turner.

My heart bled for June and Day as circumstances conspire, yet again, to keep them apart. I could really feel the emotional turmoil that both characters felt. Day is also dealing with the impact of his health problems and grows increasingly frustrated with the limitations it imposes on him.

Day is caught in the crossfire between the Republic and the Colonies and no matter what decision he makes someone he cares about will suffer. Definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place, if you can forgive my blatant clichรฉ.

I loved the power struggle, and the story-line was epic; full of twists and turns, moves and counter-moves, as June, Day, and Anden, battle to stay ahead of their enemies.

The battle scenes at the end were incredibly well written; nail-biting and genuinely explosive. My heart was in my mouth the whole way through.

Then we come to the last couple of chapters, and the book lost some of it’s appeal for me. (view spoiler)

Overall though I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend this series. I note in the acknowledgements that she talks about film rights, so I’m wondering if the movie has come out yet, or is it still in the planning phase? I’ll have to check it out as I’d definitely be interesting in seeing this series on the big screen.