Book Review: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

This week, I am honored to have the chance to review Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One by J.M. Hackman! Hold on to your seat! This action packed YA fantasy novel will take you places you never expected and will leave you yearning to read the next book in the series!

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The Synopsis:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time? And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?

The Review: 

This YA fantasy novel is filled with fun (Can you tell by Brenna’s sarcastic wit in the synopsis?), adventure (Romping around an alternate reality will do that to you!), and suspense (Will she be able to save her mother and return the Veil, or will there be a price to pay?)

Brenna is your average 21st Century teen–her favorite shoes are Chucks, she’s always on the search for waffles, and she tosses around adolescent-attitude like it’s confetti–until she’s drawn into a hidden world she never knew existed! Once in Linneah, we are introduced to a cast of characters that will keep you on your toes! From faithful griffins to questionable royal figures, Brenna must learn to navigate a new culture and find her purpose in this unfamiliar alternity. Baldwin (the hottie!) is always a source of attraction (and tension) and she can’t decide if his presence on the quest for the Veil hinders or helps. Hackman’s twists and turns within the story–and a villain with a secret you won’t see coming!–will keep you glued to the book. And wait until you meet Anna! She’s sure to become a favorite character for all! Continue reading

Book Review: RED by Liesl Shurtliff

Here it is! My review of book #3 from Liesl Shurtliff‘s series of children’s novels based on fairytales. I’ve mentioned Shurtliff’s other two novels–RUMP and JACK–multiple times in past blog posts regarding middle-grade books I would recommend. (You can find those reviews here and here.) So it’s no surprise that RED, The True Story of Red Riding Hood is no exception! Read on to learn about this delightful tale!

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Synopsis:

Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf. She’s not afraid of anything . . . except magic.
But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness.

With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . . . Continue reading

Book Review: VIPER by Jamie Foley

Hey guys! I’m so excited to finally get to talk about a book I’ve been meaning to review for a while! You may remember my five star reviews for Jamie Foley’s previous books, Sentinel and  Arbiter, or maybe you even caught my interview with her last April. So I was super excited to see she released a short story Prequel to the Sentinel Trilogy in November, entitled Viper. Read on to find out what I thought!

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Synopsis:

Sorvashti is a captive. Jet is a soldier. Both harness the primal power of aether.

The war is over, but the Revoth want their land back. Kidnapping, ransom, and slavery fund their terrorism, but bombing Jet’s hometown was the final straw.

Viper Unit is dispatched to take the Revoth down. But the special forces have no need for a mind-reading ‘fairy’—unless Jet can prove himself as a sniper.

Sorvashti’s clan demands she take one of the seven oaths, but her father’s political status has already chosen for her—and made her a prime target for ransom.

When Jet and Sorvashti meet behind enemy lines, revenge intertwines with survival… and a spark between them neither can ignore. Continue reading

Book Review: DESTROY ME and FRACTURE ME by Tahereh Mafi

This is the last week of reviews of the “Shatter Me” series by Tahereh Mafi, *Sniff, Sniff* The entire series took up a solid 2 weeks of my life, and this was one series I was sad to see go. If you haven’t seen my previous reviews of the full length novels, check them out here, here and here! Otherwise, read on for my thoughts on the ‘in-between’ novellas that helped round out the characters of Warner and Adam!

DESTROY ME Synopsis:

Perfect for the fans of Shatter Me who are desperately awaiting the release of Unravel Me, this novella-length digital original will bridge the gap between these two novels from the perspective of the villain we all love to hate, Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45. Continue reading

Book Review: IGNITE ME by Tahereh Mafi

Finally! Week #3 in my month long review of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” series! This week I review Book 3 in the series–“Ignite Me.” This is the final book in the “Shatter Me” trilogy, although not my last review for the month! Read on to find out more!

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Synopsis:

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

The Review: 5 stars out of 5

I don’t have many words to say other than, Wow. This final book soared far above what my expectations could have conjured in my tiny little imagination! I could not have predicted the direction Tahereh Mafi would go with this story, but was pleasantly surprised when I read that last sentence. *sigh*

Juliette: I’m so happy to see how her character grew throughout this entire series–particularly in this novel alone. At the beginning of the series we see a broken almost soulless being, and it was so fulfilling to see her evolve into a strong confident woman. Yes, this change makes things different between the relationships she has with others, but I felt this depiction was true to life. I enjoyed watching Juliette as she discovered each new facet of her newfound power, and appreciated that her true abilities unfolded slowly over time, and that she didn’t master all elements of herself in a single chapter.

Warner: Ahhh, Warner/Aaron! Definitely not the same person as book 1, but in an entirely welcome way! To be honest, in book 2, I wasn’t so sure how Juliette could have feelings for him (although, strangely, I wanted to have feelings for him, too.) But this book solidifies who he is as a person, and why he is the way he is. It gives hope for him for a future and truly pulled at my heartstrings when Juliette turned him away. By the end, this guy is definitely the one I was rooting for, in all levels of the plot line. Yay, Aaron, for not turning out like daddy. P.S. I also loved that we saw a foreshadowing of where the name of this book came from, back in book 2! 

Kenji: I love this guy. (Who doesn’t, right?) In book 1 he served as more the comic relief character, while in book 2 he moved to annoying leader/friend. But in this book, he truly comes to be Juliette’s best friend, and I loved this about him. He’s always been a major character but somehow I think I viewed him as minor. In this book he breaks free of that mold, however, and he is possibly my favorite character of the entire series now!

Adam: *Spoilers* Oh, Adam. How I wanted to love you. Or even like you, really. Sadly, both Juliette and Adam have changed too much for their relationship to be anything other than toxic. Yes, by the end things have worked themselves out to a tolerable balance. But really, I mostly just wanted to smack this boy throughout the entire novel. Thankfully, Kenji was there to do it for me.

Final thoughts: Okay, so it’s no secret that I love, love, loved this series! Again, I appreciated this final book simply because it was so very different than I thought it would be. Also, I must say, I was counting the pages once I got close to the end. I honestly couldn’t see how Mafi was going to resolve the story effectively with so few pages left! I even went so far as to Google if there was a fourth book coming out. (There isn’t, BTW. *Sniff, sniff*) But just wow. Mafi not only tied up all loose ends, but the ending didn’t even feel rushed, like I thought it might. It ended with hope, but also left it so wide open to allow the reader to consider the direction of things for themselves. Do yourself a favor and give this series a chance!!

Next week I will tackle the novellas that go along with this series. Be sure to check back to see how they affect the overall arc of this fantastic series!

Happy reading, friends!

(“Ignite Me” by Tahereh Mafi is a YA dystopian novel with mild language and mild sexual encounters. Appropriate for older teens and young adults.)

 

Book Review: UNRAVEL ME by Tahereh Mafi

Here it is! Week #2 of my month long review of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” series! This week I review Book 2 in the series–“Unravel Me.” Read on to find out what happens next for Juliette, Adam and Warner! 

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Synopsis:

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tick
tick
tick
tick
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life. Continue reading

Book Review: SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

Welcome to week #1 of my month long review of the “Shatter Me” series by Tahereh Mafi!

How on God’s green earth had I never picked this book up? “Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi was released in 2012, and somehow four years (FOUR YEARS!) passed in ignorance. Yes, I had heard it was a best-seller, yes it had been in my Goodreads cue for a hundred years and a day. But did that make me pick it up? No. Because I lack brain cells, apparently. If you get ANYTHING from this review, please let it be the urgency that you must (must must) pick this book up right now! Okay. Rant over. Read on for the review. 

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Synopsis:

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. Continue reading

Book Review: A TIME TO RISE by Nadine Brandes

Here it is! My official review of “A Time to Rise” by Nadine Brandes, the final book in the “Out of Time” series! It releases THIS FRIDAY! So read on to hear all about it, and then get your running shoes on so you can run to the bookstore and buy it!

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Synopsis:

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world? Continue reading

Book Review: BURNED by Cyn Balog

Finally!! I’ve been waiting for the release of this book for years. (Yes, that’s an “S” on the end of that word!) Exactly two years ago I read the first release in this series, “Drowned” by Nicholla Reilly (Cyn Balog‘s YA pen name.) (You can find that review here.) I immediately fell in love with the story and contacted her to beg for the next one! It’s taken some time, but the prequel to the first book–“Burned”–was released in August! Read on to find out more about Cyn Balog‘s latest release!

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Synopsis:

Spoiled, pampered Aliah has found her way to someplace very different from her technologically-advanced underground world. A place where people fight for survival, and even the king is a violent savage. The inhabitants of this place are all coming to terms with a frightening reality: Inch by inch, the kingdom of Tides is dying.

But are these people truly lost? The more time she spends with King Wallow, the more she begins to settle in, and forget the life she left behind. Still, this kingdom is not kind, and there are horrors and secrets behind every wall. Is it possible to survive, or is finding a way back home her only chance?

The Review: 

5 Stars out of 5!!! 

Holy smokes, this story is fantastic! I simply love Cyn’s writing style and knew from the start that her stories are always well developed with great characterization. And this book didn’t disappoint!  Continue reading

Book Review: A TIME TO SPEAK by Nadine Brandes

Here it is!! My review of the second book in the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes!! Eeeppp! The first book had been on my mind for a few weeks once I’d finished, and of course I couldn’t wait to dive right into this one! Read on to hear all about this faith-based YA dystopian series!

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Synopsis: 

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

The Review:

Okay, I’ll cut right to the good stuff: “A Time to Speak” by Nadine Brandes gets 5 out of 5 stars! This middle installment of the Out of Time series avoids the lag of the dreaded “middle book syndrome” and delivers a fantastic plot with characters that make you wish you could jump right inside the story!  Continue reading