ARC Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

11516221The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1)

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Precepture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

Enter Elián Palnik, the Precepture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Precepture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.
`Review`
Usually, I start my reviews by stating what I like about the book I’m reviewing.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much about this book that I liked.  I had to force myself to finish so it didn’t become a DNF.  I should have stuck with my instincts and just stopped reading.  So today, I’m going to work backwards and tell you what I didn’t like first.

 

What I didn’t like

The Characters

Now, I didn’t hate these characters.  In fact, in the beginning, I was very intrigued by the plight of these “Children of Peace”.  It was an interesting concept, holding hostages to ensure peace throughout the world.  But aside from Greta, we really don’t learn much about the rest of the characters, making them a little one-dimensional.

Greta, the main character is a good girl who follows the rules.  She walks the line, she does what she’s supposed to and is quite content to finish out her term as a hostage in peace.  So for me, it was highly unbelievable when she does a 180 and becomes Xena, Warrior Hostage.  Elian was far more interesting and believable.  He bucked the rules at every chance and was the complete opposite of Greta.  Opposites attract right? Sounds like the making of a great love story!  Except….

The Weird Love Triangle

I think this is really where the book started losing me. Greta starts falling for Elian.  I think we all saw that coming. BUT, Bow throws a love triangle into the mix to keep us on our toes.  I don’t mind a love triangle, but this one didn’t seem like a true love triangle.  It just seemed like Greta loved, and was more attracted to, whoever she was with at the time. She eventually made her choice, but by that time I was already so disenchanted that I didn’t care.

The Title

Aside from a few mentions of a scorpion-like robot guard, and the scorpions making up the throne on the cover, I’m not sure what the title has to do with the story.  I’m assuming it has to do with the tag line of One wrong move could kill you, but other than that, I don’t understand the significance.

What I liked

 

The saving grace of this book for me was Talis.  Talis is the Master of the World.  He’s the AI responsible for initiating the Peace program and making sure everyone respects it.  When they don’t, he takes them out.  Pure and simple.  He’s fantastically unapologetic.  His wit is sharp enough to cut.  Talis is probably one of the best characters I’ve read in a long time.
Would I recommend this book? Nope.  Even with Talis, it just didn’t click with me.

ARC Review: Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson

23245337Dreamland

Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people’s dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person’s dream more than once. Dea has never questioned her mother, not about the rules, not about the clocks or the mirrors, not about moving from place to place to be one step ahead of the unseen monsters that Dea’s mother is certain are right behind them.

Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town and Dea finally starts to feel normal. As Connor breaks down the walls that she’s had up for so long, he gets closer to learning her secret. For the first time she wonders if that’s so bad. But when Dea breaks the rules, the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate. How can she know what’s real and what’s not?

 


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.

~REVIEW~

I was really excited to read Dreamland when it was first offered on Edelweiss.  There were a lot of thing going for this book and I couldn’t wait to dive in.  Two things drew me to this book, the cover and the plot.  The cover is gorgeous and dynamic!  I love the second city hanging over the “real” world.  The cover alone gets your heart racing, anticipating what’s on the inside.  The plot was equally intriguing to me.  I was fascinated by the idea of people with the ability to walk other’s dreams.  Why do they do it? Where does the ability come from? Why do Dea and her mom have to move all the time?

But when I actually started reading Dreamland, I realized it wasn’t just about Dea dream walking, but about solving the mystery surrounding the death of her friend Conner’s mom.

What I liked

The Worldbuilding

I think Robert L. Anderson did a great job building the dream world in this story.  I truly enjoyed the King’s city with its haphazard design, layering upon itself.  Structures like that would clearly never work in the real world, but that was part of what made the dream world great.  It was kind of like, if you can dream it, you can make it.  I also really enjoyed the question of who had dreamed up our world?

What I didn’t like

The Foreshadowing

Dea breaks the rules and walks Conner’s dreams several time, mostly through the same dream.  There was a point in this dream that the foreshadowing was so apparent that it really shouldn’t be called foreshadowing at all.  There was such a specific description of a key side character in this dream that it felt like the author had drawn arrows and underlined it three times.  Like, look right here!  Here is the answer to the entire plot!  If the author had chosen a term just a little more vague, I feel like he could have kept the reader guessing for a little while longer.

The Language

I’m not naive to think that teenagers don’t use foul language.  That’s not really what bothered me.  What bothered me was that Dea’s character cussed quite a lot, BUT, only in her thoughts.  How weird is that?  Never once did Dea cuss in actual dialogue with someone else.  It was just a strange little quirk of the writing that I couldn’t get past.

Overall, I liked Dreamland.  I thought that it had an intriguing plot and an interesting cover.  I felt for the most part the writing was solid and that it was a fairly quick read.

ARC Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

22811807This Monstrous Thing

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay.


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.

~REVIEW~
I really enjoyed this Frankenstein retelling!  I think this book would be solid even without the Frankenstein aspect due to the author’s original and intriguing spin on history.  Alasdair’s voice was so authentic, and one of my favorite parts of the story centered around the different ways he mended people with clockwork parts.   This Monstrous Thing picks up two years after Alasdair does the unthinkable, bringing his brother back to life and creating a monster.  By the end though, you may be asking yourself, just who the monster really is!


What I liked
The Cover
This cover would definitely catch my eye in a bookstore!  I love the vagueness of the image contrasting with the bold and striking title.
The Characters
I have said before that I will follow a character I love through 1000 pages of weak plot, but not the other way around.  Thankfully with This Monstrous Thing, I didn’t have to worry.  For the most part the characters were intriguing, well-developed, and had clear motivation.  Alasdair, the main character, is so heartbreakingly human that you can’t help but rally behind him even when it’s clear he’s made some questionable decisions.  (Like who he should trust and who deserves his heart)  Oliver is fantastically flawed as he struggles to reconcile the monster he has become with the man he used to be.  I really wanted to hate Mary, but found that I couldn’t.  Clemence was a bit of a mystery to me.  I liked her character, but I could never tell exactly what she wanted from Alasdair and that didn’t sit so well with me.
The History
Makenzi Lee does a masterful job of weaving in the fanciful with the factual.  She gives us a glimpse of life of 19th century Geneva, only shadowed by they mysterious clockwork men and woman and the Shadow boys who are tasked to take care of them.


There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book.  It was a fascinating twist on the traditional retellings we are used to, and a fairly quick read.  There were some characters I wasn’t entirely convinced by, but overall I feel this was a strong debut!
Drop me a line and tell me what your favorite retelling is!

DNF Review: The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett

 

22595271The Unquiet

For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.

 

~Review~

When I first requested this book, I was excited.  I love the thought of alternate worlds and felt The Unquiet held real promise.

This book ultimately ended up as a DNF for me.  There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with the book, it just didn’t interest me enough to keep reading.  Maybe someday.

ARC Review: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.


ash

Ash & Bramble

Sarah Prineas

When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.

Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.


Review

I absolutely love fairy tale retellings, so I was very intrigued by this book!  Unfortunately, it started off very slow and I found it difficult to connect with the main character Pin.  Over the course of several months I would pick Ash & Bramble up, only to set it aside again and again for a different book.  But something kept drawing me back, and I’m so glad because by the end I was very invested in Pin and all of the other characters as well!

 Ash & Bramble is a Cinderella retelling told from two different perspectives: Pin and Shoe.  It wasn’t difficult at all to keep up with which character was telling the story as Pin’s was told in first person and Shoe’s was in third.  One of the most interesting things about this book for me, is that Sarah Prineas doesn’t just tell us another story of Cinderella. She tells us about the story itself and shows us just how much it takes to pull of a happily ever after!

What I liked

The Characters

Even though I had a hard time in the beginning connecting with Pin, I ended up really liking her!  She’s a strong, I’ll-save-myself kinda gal.  Even when she knows she’s down, when she knows it’s in her best interest to comply, even with all the forces doing their best to bend her to their will she refuses to break or change who she is.

I have loved Shoe from the first time he’s introduced to the story. And even though I know that he is a 19-year-old guy, I couldn’t help picturing him as Martin Freeman.

Martin_Freeman_during_filming_of_Sherlock_cropped

I know that’s weird.

Moving on!

The Theme

One of my favorite things about this book is how Prineas played with the idea of Good and Evil.  In every fairy tale, the fairy godmother is good and the wicked witch is bad right?  But what if it isn’t so black and white as that? What if the happily ever afters we all wished for as kids weren’t so happy after all? What if everything we think we know isn’t right?  I was absolutely fascinated by this idea and it stayed in my mind long after I finished.

Ash & Bramble is not your traditional fairy tale retelling.  It’s so much more!  With its vivid imagery, multi-layered characters, and theme that just won’t quit, this is a book not to miss out on!

I’d love to hear what you guys think, so drop me a line!