Review: Tarnished (Perfected #2) by Kate Jarvik Birch

no-brainer

Title: Tarnished
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher/Year: Entangled Publishing 12/1/15
Length:   217 Pages
Series:  Perfected #2

Overview

Freedom comes at a cost…

Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet-graceful, demure…and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape triggered a backlash, and now no one’s safe, least of all the other pets. But she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn-the boy she loves-or help the girls who need her.

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she’s lucky, she’ll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she’s tried to save…

My Thoughts

This is an interesting series that we’ve got here – one that really gives you a reason to pause and wonder what else is going to go wrong.  We go on this journey of finding yoruself and your place in life and then trying to find happiness and love all at the same time.  The way that we see our main character Ella grow and change throughout gives you a reason to hope for the best.

Where we left off at the end of the first book is a place where Ella had managed to escape her home and was now in Canada, all alone since Penn was captured.  Lucky for her though, she’s found herself back with Missy – the pet from down the street back home who’s also out there in ‘freedom’ and it’s through this friendship of sorts that we take the rest of our journey in book 2.

The biggest bit to think about in this 2nd book is the fact that Ella wants not only to be free from being a pet – learn how to be her own person and live her life with her own choices, but to also have that life with Penn.  That’s the biggest problem since she knows that she has to go back for him and doesn’t know how to get there.  We go on a rather interesting and colorful journey to get there.

It’s interesting to see the role that Missy plays in this 2nd book  – i feel like there’s definitely much more to her than meets the eye, and we see that she’s far more knowledgeable and selfless than you’d ever imagine.  It’s only through Missy’s street savy and willingness to just do whatever she needs to that they both manage to survive escaping not only from Canada, but to Buffalo and then all the way to CT where they are finally able to meet up with Penn.

That’s where things get interesting of course though.  You see – they realize that there’s something dark and wrong going on with NuPet – the company that creates the pets and it’s their goal to blow the roof off what’s going on.  While they think they’ve succeeded in uncovering the underbelly of things, they realize that there is so much corruption behind it all that there’s no end to what’s being done.  It’s through misfortune, even through the good help of a reporter that we get one step forward and 2 steps back.  Ella’s being hunted, Missy offers herself up instead to give Ella a chance, and again, we find that we’re on the run with loves and friendships torn apart.

It’s sweet really – seeing that the undertone of this story is to prove to yourself that regardless of what people say, human is human and you’re able to make your choices for yourself.  you’re not to be told what to do or kept in a cage.  It’s a coming of age bit honestly, where we see Ella come into her own, and stand up to be a focal point all with the best of intentions.  I can only hope that there’s a book 3 that resolves it all and that we see that there’s a way for things to end up as they should.  I honestly don’t know how it would all play out since there’s corruption and money and government behind things, but i feel like in these types of stories, we see that there’s an emotional tug that some how makes the public take a stand and then everything works out.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Enjoy!

Review: Perfected (Perfected #1) by Kate Jarvik Birch

no-brainer

Title: Perfected
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher/Year: Entangled Publishing 7/1/14
Length:   197 Pages
Series:  Perfected #1

Overview

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

My Thoughts

To be honest, I’m not even sure what i’m reading about here – or the point in time that we’re at.  There was a snippet that said ‘if you like Matched or Chemical Garden you’d like this’ and while i get where the similarities are being drawn, they are all quite different from one another and even from this series.

So as the summary here says, we’re living in an era where legislation has been passed to allow people to have pets in the form of girls.  These girls have been genetically engineered and grown and trained to be petite, beautiful and the perfect pet.  We meet Ella at the onset of this story – where she has completed her four years of training and is up for auction to be purchased as a pet.  In her mind, she’s fulfilling her duty and she’s excited to do so, but of course, what she’s been trained to expect is completely different than life itself.

She’s purchased by a congressman, the one in fact who’s passed the law, and living in his home is an interesting experience for her.  She’s rendered a bit uncomfortable by him given that he’s paying her attention in a way that’s not known, and his wife seems to hate her.  The children in the home are a different story and we see how that plays out.  In addition to that adjustment, it seems like the lessons that Ella was taught in terms of how to conduct herself, how to talk to the owners etc, is so far off from what life expects that she’s really out of her element.

Throughout this story what we have here is a tale of a girl learning to be herself, and understand what she is and what makes her happy when all she’s been taught to do is please others.  Ella really just wants to play the piano, and find happiness and love with others, but of course as a pet, one that some love and some abhor,

In learning more and more about Ella, we also get to be a bit closer to Ruby, the congressman’s daughter who really just wants a friend. she’s not the most popular little girl and having Ella is something that means a lot to her.  We also meet Penn, the son, and his relationship with his family is one that’s troublesome since he wants to do what makes him happy yet that’s contradictory to what his father wants.  With the introduction of Ella, things get to be even more complicated since they find that there’s a bond, something really special there that keeps drawing them together even though they both know that it’s a bad idea.

Where this story takes us from there is a quest for freedom, to be allowed to be happy doing whatever it is that you want, and to not have to fear every move that you make.  There’s reason for an escape attempt or two for Ella and others, and where we are left at the end of this first installment is seeing freedom almost granted for one and lost for another.  I think there’s so much more to come out of this series, so perhaps book 2 will give us that depth.  To be honest, i think that’s the biggest thing that i’m missing here – on the surface it’s a sweet book but i don’t know that we get too deep into any fragment of the story and those are often the best pieces.  So on that note – i hope you guys give it a try and enjoy!

Review: Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

no-brainer

Title: Sever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 12/31/13
Length:   400 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #3

Overview

Time is running out for Rhine in the conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

With time ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed, and she takes refuge in his dilapidated house. However, the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and on the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

My Thoughts

There’s so much going on in this series so far that you really don’t know what to expect.  I feel there are so many questions that it’s likely that we eon’t get a full resolution for all of the characters but i think that at least we know that Rhine is dead set on finding her brother and getting him to stop what he’s doing.  Will she get there in time though?

Throughout this final installment to the series, there are a few plot lines to follow.  First is the one where Rhine knows what Rowan’s doing and needs to get to him to understand why he is doing it, what their parents were trying to accomplish and hopefully have a better last few years since the hope for a cure is lost. Of course though, the fact that she’s under Vaugh’s watch again, likely she’ll never get free of him, we know that it’s going to be a roller coaster.  Add in Linden, Cecily and their baby, and well things are about to get exciting.

Linden surprises us all by becoming more helpful than we ever imagined.  He’s taken on quite a burden in this book since he’s got his family to protect however you can see that there are true emotions still there for Rhine as much as he wishes there weren’t. On top of that, he’s being told all of these things about his father that go against everything that he has been taught to believe, so it’s going to be a tough coming of age bit of him in this finale in the hopes that maybe he will do the right thing .

There are a few interesting things that happen in this book.  we see that a link is now shown between Rose, Madame and Linden/Vaughn.  We discover this while they are trying to escape to Charleston to find Rowan, and instead find themselves back at the carnival where all hell broke loose last book.  Here though, things are different since we learn that Madame and vaughn have a history that goes way way back, and Rose was Madame’s daughter – so it’s all a circle.  Vaughn clearly has been working to make a name for himself for so long that everything is intertwined.  If that weren’t enough, once they get away from the Carnival (they being Rhine and someone from the carnival), they find Rowan only to learn that Vaughn has his claws in him already too.

the turn that the story takes from there is a complete 180 from what we were led to believe.  There’s so much that as a reader i assumed was going to be proven incorrect, but the fact that our author takes us on a journey to dispell all that we were under the impression of with certain characters makes it that much more dynamic.  Where we end is not at all where i thought, we see more death than necessary and lose some of our favorite characters.  I don’t know if we get a happy ending here – we get an ending, but i think that it was not where i saw the story going throughout.  Sometimes that’s a good thing – reminds me of the ending of Divergent’s trilogy actually where it’s not happy – it’s just an end.  On that note, have a great first day of november!

Review: Fever (The Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

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Title: Fever
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 2/12/13
Length:   328 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #2

Overview

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they ran away from. Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

My Thoughts

This 2nd installment takes us on a really tough route with Rhine and Gabriel now that they’ve managed to get out of the mansion and have ‘escaped’.  There’s so much uncertainty out there in the world especially for Gabriel who has almost no memory of outside the house.  We’re hoping that Rhine’s quest for freedom and her goal of finding her brother back home in Manhattan will prove to be something good.

So when we left them, they had escaped and found a boat to sail up the coast.  They end up getting as far as about South Carolina from what i’ve gathered, and when they make landfall, they are hoping for the best.  Sadly, they are nabbed quickly upon getting on land and this is where their first bit of trouble comes.

From what we knew of Jennas life before she was a bride, she worked by selling her body, and it’s one of those camps that we see Rhine and Gabriel taken to.  Rhine of course is deemed to be quite special because of her eyes and that’s probably her only saving grace because instead of being thrown to the wolves to be tasted and sampled, the Madame has loftier goals for her in having people ‘watch but don’t touch’.  So, we see that little reprive and hope that it means that they’ll be able to get to a place that’s safe but of course that doesn’t happen.

Gabriel is beaten and wounded and then hooked on a drug that literally renders him useless and that means that things will have to get even worse.  Vaugh (Linden’s dad) shows up and has found Rhine some how spurring them to go on the run again.  This time though, it’s not just the 2 of them, they have Maddie, the daughter of one of the women at the camp, and Maddie is malformed, she doesn’t talk but we see that she’s incredibly intuitive and helps them as they try to escape and make their way up to new york.

Things continue to go wrong for this group as they make their way up north, they find Rhine’s house but it’s burned out, Gabriel is still suffering from withdrawl, Rhine is molested by someone on the route north, and the moment they find part of what they’re looking for, Rhine starts to get so sick that she fears that the virus is taking her years early, and deems Vaughn some how responsible.

The moment you think Vaughn, he pops up, and well, we end up back at the mansion at the end of this installment.  It’s a complete roller coaster, still with little insight as to what’s causing the virus and early death of their generation, and we can only hope that we get that resolution when we get through the final installment.  Cecily comes back into the mix as does Linden and we see that there’s so much eye opening that has to happen and so much faith that has to be placed in places you’ never expect that it leaves us wondering if there’s going to be a happy ending for anyone.

We’re on a journey of really trying to figure out what’s right and who’s behind it.  There’s a relationship growing between Rhine and Gabriel, but given where they are in life and time, you don’t even know if it’ll be worth it.  We also learn more about Linden and his feelings and i think that we’ll see him become someone quite key in the mix since he’s really been lied to his whole life.  So all that tied together leaves us set up for a really great finale i think.  Son v. Father, and Society v. Medicine.  who will win?

Review: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

no-brainer

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 12/6/11
Length:   384 Pages
Series:  The Chemical Garden #1

Overview

What if you knew exactly when you’d die? The first book of The Chemical Garden Trilogy.

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years—leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement; her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next; and Rhine has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

My Thoughts

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this story since the cover art makes it look all victorian but the premise if obviously dystopian.  We learn very little of what put them into the position that they are in with girls females dying at 20 and males dying at 25, aside from the thought that there was something to do with the prior generation all being the result of artificial insemination.  They are living in a time where all of the diseases that we know in 2016 are gone, and this first generation are healthy, but their children are not.

Girls are sought out by Gatherers who are on the hunt to find brides for the wealthy and that’s where we meet Rhine – after she’s been caught and has been taken from her twin brother to Florida where she becomes the wife of Linden.

The undertone of this story is one of hope, of the quest for freedom and of building bonds where they are least expected.  Rhine has 2 other wives that were purchased at the same time she was and while they are there all for the same reason, their take on what their experiences are become quite different.  We see Rhine forge friendships with one of the wives but not the other since she can’t be trusted as we learn throughout the story.

In addition to that, we are in the story before Linden’s current wife dies and we see Rhine create a friendship there with her – so that she can become the ‘first wife’ in the hopes to gain more freedom.  In doing this, she inadvertently finds commonalities with Linden, but are they enough to keep her from trying to escape?

The other bit to this as the summary noted is that Rhine gets help from Gabriel – one of the attendants at the mansion.  Gabriel doesn’t remember anything other than the house and because of that, he doesn’t see things necessarily like Rhine does, but what he does see is that there’s something special about her that calls her to him, and not only does it get them into trouble, but it becomes the lead out of this book.

The biggest question is though what’s out there to make life better for them and is there an antidote to the virus that kills everyone of their generation.  Are we going to see Linden’s father continue to be the horror that he is or will he show some type of human side that makes us question it even more.  Will Linden finally realize that maybe his father has orchestrated everything in his life so that he opens his eyes to see that he’s stronger and more independent than his father lets on.  And i guess the biggest question of all is whether Rhine will get her freedom and at what cost?  I know that it’s not going to be easy especially since there are 2 more installments still in this series to prove out that it’s going to get chaotic, but i can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  Enjoy!

Review: Replica (Replica #1) by Lauren Oliver

no-brainer

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher/Year: Harper Collins 10/4/16
Length:   544 Pages
Series:  Replica #1

Overview

Two girls, two stories, one epic novel.

From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica contains two narratives in one: Lyra’s story and Gemma’s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey.

Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Using hotlinks in this electronic edition, readers can decide how they would like to read the book, as with the print version. They can read the story of Gemma or Lyra straight through first, followed by the other girl’s story, or they can move between chapters in Lyra’s and Gemma’s sections. No matter how it is read, Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.

My Thoughts

Well, let’s just say that our author is quite creative and has this ability to write a story that’s quite interesting.  She’s done it again here like she has with Delirium in the past, however this time there are a lot of contemporary references that make it just about realistic enough that we can all believe that it’s present day.  While we’ve become accustomed at this point to read dystopian stories with alternating chapters in various character’s POVs, Ms Oliver has taken things one step further in this one where we have the option to either read the chapters in alternating patterns so that we can see what’s going in at the same point in time for both Lyra and Gemma, or we can read their entire stories as one thread per character.  I chose to alternate them since i felt like there were going to be bits that intertwined as the story got more complex and i think that was the right way to go.

We find ourselves in what could be characterized as present day – there’s nothing that makes you think otherwise so we’ll go with that.  We meet Lyra who’s a replica on Spruce Island, at a place called Haven where replicas are made as a means for some type of research – which we don’t quite know what that is just yet.  Her life has been planned out since she was birthed, doing whatever it is that her crop and herd are supposed to do at Haven just to survive.  We come to know that replicas know what they are – that there’s no secret there, and that sometimes they get sick and things go wrong and they die.  she’s seen that happen time and time again.  It’s when she comes in contact with a few nurses or doctors that treat her like she’s more than just a manufactured product that she starts to wonder what else is possible for her – and that’s a wonder that’s very dangerous.  A male replica tries to escape and the entire island goes on lockdown since Hvaen is a secret that can’t get out.

Then on the other side there’s Gemma – she’s an interesting chick.  She’s your typical teen with overprotective parents, a bit of her own self issues (she’s a bit heavy) and she’s grown up with a lot of illness etc to get through.  Her father interestingly was the founder of a phrama company that was somehow linked to this Haven place that she learns about, and you know what happens next.  When a teen who’s been kept under lock and key finds a whiff of something interesting, things get turned upside down.

So this story, both actually take us on a journey for both girls where they try to uncover the truth about what’s going on while also trying to come into their own and survive.  Thier paths cross early on when Gemma stumbles upon Lyra and another replica that looks exactly like Gemma (just the skin and bones version).  To see how these two girls from very different background figure out how to trust one another and how to work to get not just off the island but to somewhere safe is a great coming of age story.

Throughout this introduction to the series, we’re giving teases and hints of what prompted the creation of Haven and what their original motivation was.  Gemma keeps getting these flashback type memories of her father being with all these powerful influential people when his company was thriving, and then he was in a long drawn out court case right around the time that Haven was created.  So there’s a lot that’s being kept hidden and a lot that no one wants to ever come out – so it’ll be interesting to see not only how much Gemma is able to uncover through the help of Jake and the replicas, but what her parents will share.

On the flip side, we have the bits of what Lyra knows of her existence, and why she was created.  She has paired up with a male replica when leaving the island, and we see how they are slowly becoming ‘human’ in the sense of trying to develop their own memories and emotions and figure out life.  That’s something that i think that all teens go through, so to see how being stunted based on what you have always that you were makes this even sweeter.

Where we are left at the end of this first installment is a place of wonder.  We know that there are a lot of people hunting for these four and they won’t give up until they are found and probably killed since there are intensely important secrets that have to be kept that way.  There was also mention in one of the chapters that Haven isn’t the only camp like it, so i wonder what that will mean for the coming installments since i think they hinted at Texas being another.  Will see see Gemma’s father get involved or has he always been involved?  his traveling all over the place makes you wonder right?  I think that it’ll also be interesting to see how the replicas acclimate to being ‘human’ and how the humans acclimate to being replicas.  Definitely a lot to think about but i can’t wait to see where this story goes.  Have a great rest of the day all!

Review: Queen (The Blackcoat Rebellion #3) by Aimee Carter

no-brainer

Title: Queen
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher/Year:  Harlequin 12/01/15
Length:   221 Pages
Series:  The Blackcoat Rebellion #3

Overview

PAWN…CAPTIVE…QUEEN? 

Kitty Doe is a Blackcoat rebel and a former captive with a deadly connection to the most powerful and dangerous man in the country, Prime Minister Daxton Hart. Forced to masquerade as Daxton’s niece, Lila Hart, Kitty has helped the Blackcoats take back the prison known as Elsewhere. But Daxton has no intention of ceding his position of privilege—or letting Kitty expose his own masquerade. Not in these United States, where each person’s rank means the difference between luxury and poverty, freedom and fear…and ultimately, between life and death.

To defeat the corrupt government, Kitty must expose Daxton’s secret. Securing evidence will put others in jeopardy, including the boy she’s loved forever and an ally she barely trusts. For months, Kitty’s survival has hinged on playing a part. Now she must discover who she truly wants to be, and whether the new world she and the rebels are striving to create has a place in it for her after all.

My Thoughts

There is so much going on in this finale that it makes my head spin.  The cat’s out of the bag in terms of who is actually masked and what that means for the Rebellion.  We want to hope for the best with who’s going to be the right person to take power and if they can be successful in not only getting the rest of the ministers behind them, but the country as well.

Throughout this story, we see a lot of battling going on, and a lot of ‘playing the game’ since we know that there’s an agenda in play.  Kitty is being used again as a pawn, and she and Knox have decided that it’s time to reveal the truth – the full truth in the hopes that it will help the Blackcoats get to a place where they are able to overthrow Daxton (or Daxton’s mask).  This of course gets her captured to be used as a pawn by Daxton, and that’s where the bulk of our story goes.

We know that Daxton (or Victor) is using Lila (the real one) to be a mouthpiece for his causes.  When Kitty gets pulled in, she’s forced to do the same in the hopes of saving Greyson and Lila.  Things are never that easy, and of course they get tricked.

Top that off, Daxton is getting a bit in his own head where he’s taking every chance he gets to do these ‘acts of power’ as i see them, and he bombs Elsewhere, killing everyone who was there, shooting down a helicopter that had either Kitty or Lila in it, and getting the ministers to sign off on a document that gives him absolute power.

That’s where the remainder of the story plays out.  We don’t know who’s alive anymore, but we know that there’s a need to get some sort of order instilled in the nation since there is hope among small pockets of people in the rebellion that things can change.  If Greyson is able to get into a role of power, he’ll make the changes that everyone wants to see.

What we have in this final installment is a battle of wits – who will be able to outsmart whom.  Who will remain alive and what relationships will last.  Some of those that we thought were completely destroyed come back to be fairly sound and those that were comfortable are broken apart and mended into new things.  There is an end of an era and a beginning of a new life.

The ending here is one that’s entirely expected but a great culmination of the chaos that we’ve been going through with these folks.  You know that you want to see a nation of change and they’ve acknowledged that it’s perhaps something that will not happen quickly or soon but something that is worth fighting for.  You’d be surprised to see who’s at the helm of the change that’s going on, and who’s going to help drive that ship.

What we don’t get though is the background on Rivers.  I don’t know if anyone else got annoyed here but there were so many hints along the way that his eyes were just like Kitty’s and i kept waiting for them to tell us that he was Knox’s twin or someone like that.  and we never get those answers.  just the reminder that his eyes are the same.  oh well.

So on that note, i’m glad that i finally read it since i’ve been appreciating the cover art for so long and i hope that you guys give it a chance.  happy wednesday!

Review: Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion #2) by Aimee Carter

no-brainer

Title: Captive
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher/Year:  Harlequin 11/25/15
Length:   221 Pages
Series:  The Blackcoat Rebellion #2

Overview

The truth can set her free

For the past two months, Kitty Doe’s life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, in a hostile meritocracy on the verge of revolution, Kitty sees her frustration grow as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoat rebels she is secretly supporting keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she’s accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she’ll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

My Thoughts

This second installment, we are taken all over the place, not only in the lives of the characters, but in the geography as well.  Kitty/Lila is still in quite the predicament where she’s trying to figure out how to make her life as Lila work towards the greater good while still holding onto whatever she can as Kitty.  There are so many things that are coming up throughout the story that make us wonder if people are actually ever what they seem, and there are hints along the way to make you connect dots that you wonder if will ever get answered.

So in book 2, Lila learns more and more about the Blackcoats and the role that Celia and Knox have within their rebellion.  The question still lies in whether Celia can be trusted, and she’s run away into hiding so that answer becomes a big no.  Then there’s the question of Knox and who he’s going to support.  He seems to be on the side of the rebellion, but throughout the story, we see that he’s feeling information to Daxton, and that makes us truly wonder if that’s something that we need to worry about – if he’s on Daxton’s side or playing both.

After a series of unfortunate events, we find ourselves Elsewhere, and that’s where things take an even darker turn.  There’s Minister Mercer who’s in charge there, with his wife Hannah which we can’t quite figure out.  She seems like she’s got all this hatred in the world towards Lila, but she realizes that in fact it’s not the real Lila, and things get strange.  She shows another side of her where she’s willing to make concessions and the question really becomes ‘WHY’?  We find out as the story goes on, since Hannah is far more complicated than we ever knew, but that’s another good story.

Then there’s this guard – Rivers – whom Lila/Kitty makes a note that has eyes that are like hers.  That’s something that sticks in my mind since her eyes were noted to be so much like the real Lila’s and that’s something that i wonder if we’ll get answers to.

So while we’re Elsewhere, after of course we saw Benjy get shot and killed before going there, we see Lila/Kitty come into her own, or at least try.  Before she even went there, we knew that from her hunting trip, she wanted to make things change, and when she became a citizen of Elsewhere, that’s something that she wanted to get a better understanding about how to change.  Knowing that giving information got you places, and killing other people became a means of survival, Kitty knew that there had to be more.  Top that off with the fact that everyone still thinks she’s Lila, well she’s then put to the use of the rebellion to gather troops, make the citizens want to fight, in the hopes that when the time comes, they can overthrow the people in power and make a change for the better.  Get someone other than Daxton into a position of power.

Where we end up in this middle book is a place of complete uncertainty.  There was a battle fought and won, but it’s clearly not the big war that’s on the horizon.  There are still so many distinct people who are in power that should not be, and you have to wonder if they are actually on one side or another.  Lila rises to power again towards the end, and she’s been positioned as the voice of the Prime Minister, and that’s not a good thing if it’s the truth, so we’re seeing the stage set for a Lila to be over both sides.  Then there’s Knox who thinks that he knows best which one never really knows, and then personally i really want to know what’s going to happen with Greyson because he’s my favorite and i think that he’s highly underestimated.

So…all that means that we’ve got a big war coming, and who will survive is a guess that i can’t quite make.  Who will end up on which side is also a big grey area, and i hope that we get to see a happy ending for Kitty.  she deserves it.  Have a great day all!

Review: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

no-brainer

Title: Pawn
Author: Aimee Carter
Publisher/Year:  Harlequin 11/24/15
Length:   304 Pages
Series:  The Blackcoat Rebellion #1

Overview

A single test determined her entire future…until she was given a way out

Kitty Doe had one chance to prove she could be worthwhile to society. Instead, she walked out of her ranking test as a complete failure, with a permanent “III” tattooed on the back of her neck. At seventeen, she’s facing a lifetime of cleaning sewers…and being separated from Benjy, the boy she’s loved for as long as she can remember.

So when Kitty is offered a chance to escape her fate, it seems like an easy choice. If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family—a VII—she will be famous. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed…and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only just beginning to understand.

My Thoughts

Well, we have a coming of age dystopia kind of like Breathe (with the age related testing for success and determination of your cast) and a trilogy that i can’t remember the name of when there were clones created so that the government could make sure that the ‘right’ people were in power at all times.

Regardless, we have a sweet story at the onset, and one of really wondering what the end game is and who’s to be trusted.

Kitty is our main character that we meet on the day that her fate has been sealed.  she scored a 3 ranking on her test meaning that her life was about to get really tough.  she’s quite smart but can’t read and that’s why she got the three.  her boyfriend Benjy though is destined for greatness and there lies the issue since their rankings will keep them apart. Its through interesting circumstances that Kitty’s fate changes.  Because of her eye color, she’s purchased and taken to the home of the prime minister and life as she knows it has changed since she’s drugged on her way there and wakes up in another body.

Here is where the story takes a nice turn.  The Hart family is the central power in the nation and because of how they control things through rankings and such, they instill fear and order.  We learn throughout the story though that of course there are rebels who are fighting against the Harts, and want to see more equality.  We also get to see the dynamic of a very messed up family.

Back to Kitty though – she’s woken up to find herself in Lila’s body (niece of the PM) of sorts -she’s been ‘Masked’ which means that she’s now taken on every aspect of lila’s life, her body, voice, mannerisms etc.  Where we go from here is seeing how quickly Kitty can make everyone believe that she’s Lila as her life depends on it and the lives of anyone around her.

If that weren’t enough, we find out that Lila’s been killed by her uncle for voicing her own opinions on what the nation should be like – and the question is does she truly believe that and who’s put those thoughts in her mind.  Then there’s Celia – her mother – who we’re very interested in getting to know.  Throughout the story she continues to be an enigma and i don’t know which side she’s playing for aside from the fact that she hates her brother Daxton and wants him dead as she has been told that he killed Lila.

There’s also Daxton, the PM who is a tough one.  He has no sense of right or wrong and only wants things his way.  He’s led by the rule of his mother Augusta who is the matriarch and the one who pulls all the strings here.  It’s nice that because of circumstances that we get to learn where she came from, but it’s not a justification of anything in terms of what she’s become – and that’s a shame.

So the story that we’re taken through is one of trying to understand if there’s validity in how the government is ruled now, or if the rebellion is working for something better.  Then there’s the question of who’s really working for which side and what’s the benefit there.  Alliances are made and you still never quite know who’s the good guy.  We find out that Kitty isn’t the only one who’s been masked and the return of the original in some cases come back to make us realize that the story is that much deeper.

As is typical in all dystopia, we’re really not left off with any real direction yet, just the knowledge that there’s so much more going on that even we know and we’re not yet sure who’s in control.  I think that’s where we’re going to go in Captive – to see that Kitty/Lila, Benjy, Knox and everyone else on that level are working for something that they believe in with a cost that they don’t yet know.  All in all, quite nice and i hope you guys take a read!

Review: Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

no-brainer

Title: Glass Arrow
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher/Year:  Tom Doherty Associates 2/10/15
Length:   336 Pages

Overview

Once there was a time when men and women lived as equals, when girl babies were valued, and women could belong only to themselves. But that was ten generations ago. Now women are property, to be sold and owned and bred, while a strict census keeps their numbers manageable and under control. The best any girl can hope for is to end up as some man’s forever wife, but most are simply sold and resold until they’re all used up.

Only in the wilderness, away from the city, can true freedom be found. Aya has spent her whole life in the mountains, looking out for her family and hiding from the world, until the day the Trackers finally catch her.

Stolen from her home, and being groomed for auction, Aya is desperate to escape her fate and return to her family, but her only allies are a loyal wolf she’s raised from a pup and a strange mute boy who may be her best hope for freedom . . . if she can truly trust him.

My Thoughts

I have to say that it’s fairly impressive how much diversity Ms Simmons has in what she writes about.  While there were bits and pieces of Metaltown that i could tie back to Article 5 (not a lot but a few), Glass Arrow was quite different.

In this story, it’s not so much a coming of age story which is what we often get in stories that seem to be dystopian and taking place in the future.  this instead is just a basic story of survival and discovering your roots.  We meet our main character Aya when she’s running for her life to save her family as they are being hunted.  The story takes place in a time where young women are valued as there is a shortage of women who are fertile and women who are able to bear  son.  Aya has been living outside the city walls, where she’s been able to avoid any of the manufactured ‘stuff’ that seems to be a cause of this issue, and therefore she’s even more valuable.

Our journey with her is that she’s trying to fight for her life and her freedom once she’s captured because she has to save her family from the same fate.  She tries to outwit her captors at ‘The Garden’ at every turn and while she does that, she befriends a Driver, a boy who doesn’t talk and has links to the outside world.

The story from there really goes on a quest of who to trust and who’s going to help her find freedom.  and what’s the cost.  who’s going to stay locked up, who’s going to be free, who will survive.  What secrets will be uncovered throughout this.

We see interesting ‘friendships’ come up with it all, and we see the way that Aya’s past comes to greet her present.  All in all, not terribly deep in reading, but a sweet story no less.  The ending is fitting if nothing else.  Enjoy!