Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: April 28th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 456
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Retelling
Synopsis from Goodreads:

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

my rambles

Special thanks to Scholastic Press for providing me with a beautiful finished copy of the book for review!

Rook is a book, that if you give it a little bit of time, will end up being completely worth the read in the end. When I first heard about this book, I knew that it was right up my alley. A book set in post-apocalyptic France? A girl that has an alter ego that free prisoners from a corrupt government? A swoony romance? Check, check, check, yes, yes, yes.

What I really loved about Rook, apart from the amazing storyline, was the way that Sharon Cameron wrote and moved the story along. As a reader, I loved being able to check in on the story from so many different characters, as Rook had so much political intrigue happening. The moves to different characters were so seamless, and I absolutely loved how Cameron transferred the reader in such a way to the next section of the chapter.

As mentioned briefly above, Rook is a pretty slow paced book, until the end. Cameron really does an amazing job setting up the world, situations, character development, relationships, and conflicts all in the first half of the book. When I finally got to the end parts, I could not stop turning pages. There was so much action, excitement and suspense!

While Rook is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian book, it read so much like historical fiction that I couldn’t help but love it! The dialogues, wardrobes and architecture all reflected what reminded me of the French aristocracy.It was unique in that fact that it wasn’t futuristic, but instead, the world had gone back in time.

There was a romance, and while I did enjoy it, I can honestly say that I didn’t fall completely head over heels in love with either René or Spear! Originally I liked both men for different reasons (René for being cocky and clever, Spear for being the “boy next door” type and being protective), but as the story progressed, my fondness for both diminished. I felt like the relationship between Sophie and René (while nothing really happened until toward the end, Sophie decided she loved René pretty quickly, I thought) was rushed. And I thought that Spear lost his charming protectiveness when he started to develop an obsession with Sophie not being with René.

As I said before, the ending was the best part of the book. There were some huge revelations, sad deaths, and I felt the story was wrapped up really well. Rook is definitely a great read, and I’d highly recommend it for both fans of historical fiction and post-apocalyptic/dystopia!

xo

Review: Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
Series: Fire & Flood, #2 | Fire & Flood
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Synopsis from Goodreads:

What would you do to save someone you love?

In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can’t quit–she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone’s keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you’d relied on most suddenly isn’t there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left–and only one can win.

 my rambles

Special thanks to Scholastic Press for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

EEP! You guys, I cannot say enough good things about this book and series. Salt & Stone is a rollercoaster ride jam packed with action, sci-fi, romance, adventure, family, friendship, and TELLA.

As book 2, Salt & Stone continues the crazy story of Tella and her fellow Contenders racing through the Brimstone Bleed. If you thought that Fire & Flood was intense, just wait! Salt & Stone takes it up a notch, and Victoria Scott isn’t afraid to write scenes that will blow your mind, whether it be from excitement or shock.

Not to mention that Tella is about as amazing as main characters come. She’s witty and sarcastic, but extremely caring and conflicted when it comes to her brother who she’s trying to save, the Contenders she’s beginning to love, and the Pandoras, who she needs to protect. She changes drastically from the beginning of Fire & Flood to the end of Salt & Stone, and as a reader, you won’t be able to help but root for her and feel the heartache of her position. And she’s pretty BA, which helps too!

I am stronger than I was before.

*Quote taken from unfinished ARC and may be changed with final edits.*

The Pandoras, and the relationship that Tella shares with them are another part of this story that I love so much. When I was reading any scene with a Pandora I just kept thinking of my own pet, and putting us in Tella’s struggles. Not only are they cool in that their abilities are amazing, but they bring a bit of relatability to the story.

Really throughout the whole book I would be thinking in the back of my mind: “What would I do?” I hope that I’d be like Tella, because she’s definitely an amazing role model and character to want to be. She’s the heart of the story, and what makes Salt & Stone so amazing. Not to be cliché, but Tella is the new Katniss.

All in all, Salt & Stone was an awesome sequel to Fire & Flood, which I loved just as much. The ending was left open, and I’ve read that Victoria Scott may be writing a third book, so my fingers are crossed! This is a story that I would definitely want to visit again. I’d recommend these books to anyone, as there really is something that everyone will love!

xo

Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This review will contain minor spoilers, but will be marked before and after for those of you yet to read the book! 😉

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Series: The Maze Runner, #1
Genre(s): Dystopian, Sci-fi
Synopsis from Goodreads:

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

How have I not read this book before now?! That’s what I’ve been asking myself ever since I started reading The Maze Runner. Can I just say how awesome I thought it was?!

I was told to go into this one with low expectations, which I admit made me nervous. But even with everyone’s warnings, I couldn’t really change my level of excitement and expectations. They were already there after hearing about the book numerous times, and of course watching the various movie trailers that have been released for the upcoming film. Oh and Dylan O’brien is playing Thomas. So yeah, there’s that.

Get back to the book, Emily…

But oh my goodness, I had a blast reading this one. It was intense, adventurous and filled with excitement. The fact that it was told from a male’s POV was refreshing because I don’t read many books told solely from a guy’s perspective. I really enjoyed the interactions between the Gladers. And of course the whole idea for The Maze Runner was so unique for a sci-fi/dystopian book. It wasn’t like anything else I’ve read in the genre.

***MINOR SPOILERS***

 What I thought made The Maze Runner different than all the rest was the fact that it was more of a survival story. Sure, there is a corrupt government or group (not sure yet), but for pretty much the whole book the Gladers are just trying to survive, not battle the Creators or try to stop them.

***END MINOR SPOILERS***

I found The Maze Runner a difficult book to give a rating. I enjoyed it immensely, but there were just a few things that I wasn’t a huge fan of. The Glader “slang” kind of got on my nerves. It seemed to me like a way in which the author allowed the characters to use bad language without really using bad language. For example “shank” and “shuck,” as alternatives to other words you can probably figure out. But other than that, I found the book to be a solid read.

One thing that I heard prior to reading was that there was no romance. I was nervous about that going in. Now, I’m a romance girl, but I didn’t miss it at all. I don’t think you will either.

All in all, The Maze Runner was action-packed and adventurous, filled with a little sarcastic humor, making it a wonderful read!

Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

Publisher: Orchard Books
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Series: Heart of Dread, #1
Genre(s): Dystopian, Paranormal, Post-Apocalyptic
Synopsis from Goodreads:

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic. Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows. At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light. But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Special thanks to Orchard Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review!

I was really disappointed in Frozen. This is one of the first books that I actually thought about DNFing. At first I wasn’t sure if it was just me, because I wasn’t in the perfect mood for this book. But normally books categorized as either dystopian, post-apocalyptic, even paranormal, I can read whenever, it just takes me some time to get into it. But Frozen wasn’t like that at all. I ended up putting it down a little under half-way and read two other books in between, finally picking it back up and finishing. So, it took me quite a while to read. I’m pretty sure the only thing that was driving me to finish it was because I got this as a review copy.

My first problem with the book is that there is SO much going on genre wise. First you think it’s post-apocalyptic, then dystopian, then paranormal…there’s even pirate type people in this book! I mean, come on, stick to one, at most two, things! For this reason I felt like the development was way lacking. The authors focused on the wrong things to put detail into.

It had such a promising first few chapters, but it went kind of downhill from there. The character’s relationships were way underdeveloped, there was no sense of time, and it got kind of boring for me, especially since there were so many ways that the book could have gone with all the different genres it attempts to fit into.

Ugh, and then the romance. Toward the end it got a little better but it was pretty much your typical scenario: bad boy plots against pretty girl who has powers, bad boy starts to question morals because of feelings for pretty girl, pretty girl tells him about powers, they fall in love. The end. There were some parts that were definitely cute, but it was all too rushed despite the slowness of the middle. It was one of those romances that came out of nowhere, but you were expecting, if you know what I mean?

Then there was the fact that it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. That’s not the book’s fault, more the cover. In both covers, new and old, there were dragon aspects. I wanted dragons! The dragon idea is only a part of the last few chapters of Frozen, much to my dismay.

I get the feeling that as this is the first book in a series, Frozen served as the book to set the stage for a bigger storyline. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with the series to see what that bigger storyline is. It was a good idea, but the execution is what ruined the book for me.

Review: The One by Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Pages: 323
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Series: The Selection, #3
Genre(s): Dystopian, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America’s whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, or Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

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!

After much anticipation for the finale to The Selection series, I am happy to say that The One was a satisfying conclusion.

It started off a little slower than I was expecting, but it soon picks up, politics and rebellions being a larger part of the storyline than in the previous two books. There’s definitely more action and excitement surrounding events other than The Selection itself, which I really liked.

Of course romance remains the main aspect of the story. I was very happy to find that the America in The One is much more decisive than the America of The Selection and The Elite. She finally made her choice (took her long enough!) but I was glad to see that she came to her conclusion quickly.

Although this did lead to a predictable ending, BUT I was okay with that. The fact that America finally made a decision made me SO happy as a reader. I was so glad she finally figured out what was right for her.

I wasn’t really partial to either Maxon or Aspen (I spent my fair share of time loving them both!), but I can honestly say that all readers, whether Team Maxon or Team Aspen will be satisfied with America’s choice. The One had a very “happily ever after” ending, so I don’t think anyone will be too disappointed.

Overall, The One was a cute, fun, and happy ending to a series that I’ve really enjoyed! Those of you who are wary to start reading straight dystopian would be perfect for these books, or even those well-read in the genre. The Selection series makes for a fun and light story that everyone is sure to enjoy!