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

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DNF Review: The Beginning is the End by Cara Davis

Publisher: Big Moon Press
Release Date: October 20th, 2014
Pages: 159
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Series: Reset, #1
Genre(s): Post-Apocalyptic
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jack Sunshine’s life is chaos. She’s seventeen and the head of her household following the death of her mother and the disappearance of her stepfather. Having to balance work and home at her age gets further complicated with her forays into dating. And to top it all off, the dead are returning to life.

Jack now has the added responsibility of ensuring her family and friends are safe and sound during this outbreak. It’s almost doable until the tiny enigma of a girl named O comes along. It becomes a question of whether the sick will kill them or they’ll kill each other.

DNFDNF’ed at 14%

my rambles

This is the first time I have ever not finished a book during the time I’ve been blogging, and this fact is making me sad. More and more bloggers have been writing posts about how it’s okay to DNF a book, so I’ve decided to start changing my tune when it comes to forcing myself to read a book that I’m strongly disliking.

But the truth is, I just didn’t like The End is the Beginning, or where it was heading. Granted, 14% isn’t very far into a book. BUT, this book was also only 159 pages and I could guess at how it was going to continue.

The End is the Beginning was a book where two things really got to me:

  1. The writing
  2. The characters

Both of those two aspects of the book were just bad. Now I can’t comment on how either of those developed throughout the course of the book because I didn’t finish, but I wasn’t so devoted to the promise of the synopsis to see for myself either.

Basically, the beginning of the book just got on my nerves. From what I could gather from the synopsis this is a post-apocalyptic/zombie kind of book, but what I got from what I did read was a cringe-worthy contemporary. Sure, a lot of books of those genres start out in a normal world, but the characters were so annoying and just rubbed me the wrong way that I didn’t want to stick around to see what came next.

There were small glimpses to a disease of some sort, but other than that — complete bad contemporary book from what I read.

So, yeah, unfortunately this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

xo

Review: In A Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Series: Companion Novel to Not A Drop to Drink
Genre(s): Post-Apocalyptic
Synopsis from Goodreads:

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

my rambles

After reading and being blown away by Not A Drop to Drink, I was expecting nothing less from In A Handful of Dust. Let me just tell you, this book surpassed my expectations by a mile.

Not only did I love the allusions back to Not A Drop to Drink (which brought back all of the feels), but the new story set years later was just as emotional, intense, and amazing as its companion. In this book we don’t get one inspiring female protagonist but two: Lucy and Lynn. Going into this book I wasn’t sure just how much of the characters from Drop were going to be in Dust, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lynn played a major role in the storyline. We really get to see how the events of Drop affected her life in Dust. The character development throughout the book for both characters was so well done, packed with emotion and completely raw that every scenario in this book was full of realism.

The story is every bit as action-packed, dark, and wired as Drop, and Mindy McGinnis doesn’t steer away from the sometimes not-so-nice truths of life and humanity. There is absolutely no romance in this book, which I can’t have been more thankful for. Although I’m a girl who loves a good romance, I like a story that can stand on its own without romance stealing the show. Both of these books are refreshingly free of that, focusing mainly on the more familial relationships and friendships that are formed during the worst of times.

Overall, I cannot fully express my love for these books through just a simple review. You really must read these books for yourself to understand just how amazing they truly are. Shocking and emotionally charged, In A Handful of Dust did not disappoint.


*Although this is a companion novel to Not A Drop to Drink, I do recommend reading In A Handful of Dust after, as it spoils things from Drop, and I believe you will just appreciate it more having read the other first!

xo

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: Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Release Date: July 1, 2014

Pages: 384

Format: eARC

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Series: N/A

Genre(s): Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Sci-fi

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She’s smart and deadly, and knows three things with absolute certainty:
1. When the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
2. The only species to thrive there are the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
3. There’s no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.
Jansin has been lied to. On all counts.

Special thanks to Strange Chemistry and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I have very neutral feelings regarding Some Fine Day. I neither loved it nor hated it, and don’t have much to say for that reason.

The author immediately throws you into the story, with very little development that is needed and that I look for in a good post-apocalyptic sci-fi book. It moved a little too fast and felt a bit rushed. The background surrounding the world, characters, government, weather, etc. is very lacking and I would have liked to read more about it. Pretty much the only hints about the world “before” were from tidbits at the beginning of chapters.

As for the character’s relationships, they too felt rushed and lacked development. I think this was partially because of the pacing problems. It’s difficult to sense just how much time has elapsed between certain events.

The second half of the book gets better, though. I enjoyed the last hundred pages or so more than the first ones. The end is where you get to the heart of the story, with the most action, better reveals and altogether better storyline and writing.

The ending was left wide open, so I’m thinking there might be a sequel?! I really like the way the book ended, and I think that this book would be better if there is a sequel. I feel like it would give the author a chance to redeem herself by developing the history of the world more. World building is a huge part of post-apocalyptic and sci-fi books, so when it’s lacking it’s easily noticeable.

This may seem like a pretty negative review, but I did enjoy the book. It’s definitely not a favorite, but like I said in the beginning of my review, I was pretty neutral. The good parts helped to cancel out the bad and developmental issues leaving me feeling pretty “meh” about Some Fine Day.

EDIT: Since reading and reviewing this book it has been announced that Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books is to be shut down and will not be publishing any more books. I am so sad and wish all of the authors affected by this the best. You can read the official announcement here.