Review: The Book of Ivy (The Book of Ivy #1) by Amy Engel

TitleThe Book of Ivy
Author:  Amy Engel
Publisher/Year:  Entangled Publishing 11/11/14
Length:  227 Pages
Series:  The Book of Ivy #1

Overview

What would you kill for?

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and return the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

My Thoughts

I’m a fan of this genre, looking into the future when we know that man kind will wipe out society as we know it, and when things return back to what it was like before technology, with different rules in place to keep peace, it makes you realize that maybe we’re all going to be lost and up a creek without a paddle if that day ever comes.

So we start this story in a point that’s roughly 10 years into the future from where we are now, which is kind of scary. Nuclear war has wiped out much of America, and there are so few people left that we know of because of what happened, and that means that there are only a few left to live in a town that was itself once divided.

There was war in this town to determine how it would be run, some were for democracy and some were for one ruler who was president and set the laws. That side one, and what it means is that there are families who draw a line in life. As a result of this divide, there’s a tradition that every year olds marry someone from the other side in the hopes that war will be avoided since it means that everyone would be warring with their loved ones, and there’s hope that marrying people off at a young age will allow for a higher chance to have more children who are healthy and can revive the country.

The president’s son has managed to delay his marriage because he’s the President’s son, but as such, he has to marry the daughter of the founder of the losing side. The irony here is that the Westfalls, the losing side, have a daughter that’s the same age as Bishop, but he delays his marriage to wed the younger daughter. As we all know, it’s always the younger daughter that’s been the spare in life, and that means that her value is unexpected, undervalued, and well, everyone thinks she’s less worthy. Everyone except for Bishop. We learn his motivation later in the story and it gives you hope.

Ivy is our leading lady, sixteen and forced to marry a man she doesn’t know, whom she hates because of who he is and what his family has done to hers, and at the same time, there are pieces of this tradition that give her freedom. That get her away from what her father and sister have been forcing her into, and gives her the opportunity to grow her own wings.

Bishop is the son of the President, a boy that everyone looks to as the future of society, and a boy who has different feelings on how things should be than his father, but he’s biding his time so that he’s able to make changes.

The development of their relationship is on par with what we see in other stories in this genre. Bishop isn’t what we expected and as such, he gives Ivy time to adjust, gives her a chance to get comfortable with him, to let some type of relationship grow and develop and hopefully make it into a marriage that’s more than in just name only.

The challenge here though is that Ivy’s family has revenge in their minds. They want to take power back from Bishop’s family and the only way to do that is for Ivy to kill Bishop and then for her father and sister to kill the President and take power over. The journey that we go on here is one where we hope there’s a way to change minds, or to avoid doing things that will go too far, but we also know that will never happen.

There are similarities of this story and several others though where there’s a fence that surrounds their community. The fence is the edge of civilization, and outside of that is deemed unsafe, uninhabitable and that’s where they put people out who break laws. From what we’ve seen in other stories, there’s far more out there than anyone knows, and it’s far more civilized, but that’s not for book 1 i don’t think.

What we worry about here though are the hopes and dreams that both Ivy and Bishop share. They both crave to know what’s out there, to see the ocean and to be free. That means that some how we know that they will go outside the fence but we don’t know the circumstances and if they will succeed, survive etc. What we do know though is that this story lets us off at the fence. One on one side and one on another, with limited hope of resolution or success. Too much is at stake for anyone to go against beliefs, but too much is at stake to sit and do nothing.

So on that note, i can’t wait to get into the second book here since i’m really curious how things will turn out. People are planting ideas, people are planting lies, and those who are in power are abusing it for their own worth. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Enjoy!

Review: Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi

TitleReveal Me
Author:  Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 10/8/19
Length:  68 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #5.5

Overview

This fourth companion novella to Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series is narrated by fan favorite character Kenji Kishimoto!

The explosive revelations in Defy Me have left readers reeling and desperate for answers. This fourth and final novella in the series will bring readers back to the world of the Shatter Me before the final novel installment hits shelves in winter 2020.

My Thoughts

The summary here doesn’t do anything for the story – you really have no idea what it is that we’re going to walk into, especially knowing that we were left with some INSANE revelations in the last book. Whatever it was that they thought they knew about each other, about the Resistance, about what it was that Anderson had tried to do, well the story is far more complex. Adam and James are pawns just like Ella and Emmaline are. Warner is caught in the middle again as are everyone else and it’s a mess.

As you’ll remember, they had safely made it across the country to Castle’s daughters complex. A place that no one knew existed because no one knew she existed and it’s a sanctuary to recoup and figure out what the next move will be. Told from Kenji’s point of view, we see how this will play out.

Remember that he was drugged and kidnapped by Nazeera (who could still be playing both sides) and then his plane is shot down by the Resistance to get him to safety. All part of a plan that he wasn’t informed about.

The biggest thing here is that you know that Kenji is driven by emotions and that’s part of his powers. He’s able to put others at ease, but what happens too is that he’s doing that by not letting his emotions take hold of him. We haven’t seen what would happen if he can’t control that and there are moments in this novella that we come close.

Because Kenji is so invested in his friendships, in his relationships, he’s the one that takes the latest rounds of information the hardest. Adam and James didn’t come with them from Omega Point and that can’t bode well for their futures because we learned who their father is and that makes things dicier. Kenji’s emotions bottle up and then explode when he learns of their fate and that takes the story on a fast turn of anger, fear and distrust.

Add to that the feelings that he had for Nazeera at one point, and the fact that he doesn’t know what her motivations are. This turns quickly into a love / hate relationship and while i would love nothing more than to see them together, we don’t yet know what’s possible.

When things seem like they can’t get worse – they’re in hiding from Anderson (shocker – he’s not dead), Adam and James are in limbo. No one knows who to trust, what their futures will hold and who’s going to be able to save them. Juilliete and Warner are finally in a good place but will that last? Will anyone find happiness and what will the world look like when this all comes to a head.

The last scene is an intense one brought to us via screams from the sanctuary, the world changing physical structure and form, the sun becoming something that no one understands, and Julliette on her knees screaming her sisters name. All of this begging for questions to be asked on what’s to come next, and now we have to wait a few months to see how this plays out. I don’t know if i can be patient but i guess i have no choice. Enjoy!

Review: Rebel (Legend #4) by Marie Lu

TitleRebel
Author:  Marie Lu
Publisher/Year:  Roaring Book Press 10/1/19
Length:  332 Pages
Series:  Legend #4

Overview

Respect the Legend. Idolize the Prodigy. Celebrate the Champion. But never underestimate the Rebel.

With unmatched suspense and her signature cinematic storytelling, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Marie Lu plunges readers back into the unforgettable world of Legend for a truly grand finale.

Eden Wing has been living in his brother’s shadow for years. Even though he’s a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing’s little brother.

A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he’d rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe—even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel’s life.

As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that’s grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City’s dark side, even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own . . .

My Thoughts

OH.MY.GOODNESS. Thank goodness we got to re-enter the story here with Day and June because they had major unfinished business in the epilogue of book 3 and there was no way that fans were going to be ok with that ending. Knowing that our amazing author Ms Lu was busy writing another story (which was also amazing), I was patient and that patience paid off.

We enter this story about ten years in the future. Day (Daniel) and his brother Eden are living in Ross City in Antarctica. The most advanced new country in the world – a society based on Virtual Reality, a Level system to keep you in classes, and as a result, a society that’s both thriving and failing at the same time. If we learned anything from the Republic, we know that there will be unrest and that will result in the wrong people coming into power and that will result in a catastrophe.

That wrong person is our main villian here – Dominic Hann – the man who rules the Undercity – the portion of Ross City that’s made up of people who don’t have levels high enough to survive. They can’t get medication, they can’t get food and shelter and they can’t aspire to be anything more.

The story we have here is one told in alternating chapters between Daniel and Eden. They are brothers who at the core love each other, but who have such different views on life because of their experiences in the past. Daniel wants nothing more than to protect Eden, and Eden wants to live his life. It’s that ‘living’ that gets them into trouble. Eden is noticed by Dominic while in the Under City and that means that he’s on a radar for skills. Skills that we were seeing in the previous books – his innate knowledge of tech and computers and his ability to make things that others can’t. That’s something that he thrives in here in Antarctica and he’s actually scored an internship back in the Republic because of what he can do. The challenge though is that his interaction with Dominic means that nothing will come to pass as it should.

Daniel on the other hand is now part of AIS which is a government agency. Like the FBI or CIA. he’s there to keep order, to hunt criminals and to protect the president. That’s one thing that he has in common with June as she’s in the Republic to protect Anden still. He is hunting Hann and when his brother gets mixed up in that gang, things get dicey.

Now back to June. The last we saw of her and Daniel was back in the epilogue of the last story. Daniel’s memory had been wiped because of illness and intervention and he didn’t have any sense of what June was to him anymore. Devastating!!! June knew that was a likely occurrence when she agreed to help him get treated, meaning that sh was going to sacrifice her love and future, which inevitably they both did. The great thing about their love story though is that even without the clear memories, Daniel still knew that June was special and this fourth installment lets us see how that plays out.

So you can imagine the excitement that we have in this story. We have the Utopia society come crumbling down because of interactions with the under city and Dominic Hann. (thank you Eden for being such a genius) and we have the potential to see romance rekindled. Add to that breaking laws, fleeing to the Republic and being back as square one where it all began. Watching governments struggle and society crumble. Far too many people die in this story and far too many truths are found to be lies.

But on the flip side, we see new relationships form, new alliances taking shape, we see the future for what it can be and that’s something that’s amazing. This is the closure and finale that this story truly needed and i’m THRILLED that Ms Lu finally got to finish it. Enjoy!

Review: A Perfect Lie by Lisa Renee Jones

TitleA Perfect Lie
Author:  Lisa Renee Jones
Publisher/Year:  Julie Patra Publishing 5/14/19
Length:  250 Pages

Overview

Secrets. Lies. A man. There’s always a man.  And there’s always a truth to be told. 

I’m Hailey Anne Monroe. I’m twenty-eight years old. An artist, who found her muse on the canvas because I wasn’t allowed to have friends or even keep a journal. And yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m that Hailey Anne Monroe, daughter to Thomas Frank Monroe, the man who was a half-percentage point from becoming President of the United States. If you were able to ask him, he’d probably tell you that I was the half point. But you can’t ask him, and he can’t tell you. He’s dead. They’re all dead and now I can speak.

My Thoughts

i’m a huge fan of our author – Ms Lisa Renee Jones, and what we have here is a story unlike all the others that we’ve read. Completely detached from the other series and characters that we’ve spent time with over the years. And a style and plot that’s new and fresh. It’s a murder mystery of sorts – but also a story about relationships and trust.

Our main character Hailey is a girl who’s, shall we say, messed up? She’s been raised in a political family with her father setting his sights on being President. That meant that Hailey always had to be the perfect daughter and that comes at a price. One she learns in High School when she goes to a party she shouldn’t have, with a girl (Danielle) that maybe she shouldn’t be friends with, drank something she shouldn’t have, blacked out and woke up somewhere strange, all resulting in a car accident and her mother’s death.

That set the tone for her relationship with her father from then on, and it was not a good one. She was the one he blamed for the death – had she not gone to the party and been out, her mother never would have gone to pick her up and never would have died. So Hailey is cast aside for the new stepfamily, but paraded out when press needs to see the full family.

That takes us to present day when her father is running for office, and her friend Danielle again tries to remind her that she’s a young woman who’s allowed to let loose. So again, this time with her boyfriend, she goes to an exclusive bar that she shouldn’t have, with people she shouldn’t have, and has a drink she shouldn’t have at the nudge of a new man that gives her sparks (which she shouldn’t feel) and guess what? She blacks out and someone else dies.

No one knows who the killer is (or do they) and no one knows the circumstances (or do they) and there’s a rush to get Hailey out of the line of fire since there’s concern that she’s the direction the finger will be pointed.

The way that this story is written is through Hailey’s eyes. Past, Present and Really Present. It’s interesting because i suppose parts are supposed to make us think more about things. Think more about what happened, who said what, what the motivations were, but at times it’s just distracting.

After this second death, Hailey’s father sends her to Denver to get off grid, and this is where things continue to get interesting. She’s given a new ID so that she can live her life, be the person that she wanted to be, however she quickly acknowledges that her father is watching her via FBI and others. and that everything is a lie or set up.

Colorado is where we meet Logan, an attorney (GASP) that becomes either a friend, foe or love interest. You need to read each chapter to determine what role he fills at what point. We also meet Michelle who’s a business owner and the woman who gives Hailey a job as an art instructor so that she can feed her passion. Michelle seems to be above board, but is anyone really? There’s also Jake, an FBI agent that Hailey met when she went back to the bar where Danielle died and tried to get intel. We can’t get a read on him, and i think that’s deliberate. I can’t wait to see which side he’s on, who’s paying him and what that means for Hailey and the story itself.

There are also several supporting characters that play key roles. Megan and Ashley who work at the coffee house / art / bookstore owned by Michelle where Hailey works. There’s also the FBI agent that Hailey’s father hired to ‘guard’ Hailey and while he’s on payroll, you want to still believe he’s a nice guy.

Suffice it to say, it’s a murder mystery for sure but still a story about trust and love. Many more people will die, and more blackouts will occur and we’re left to wonder who’s behind it all. Who is safe in this story and who will be standing at the end. And will they be standing behind bars. I think the way this story ended was partially how i expected but partially not. That’s a good story then right? Enjoy!

Review: Shatter City (Imposters #2) by Scott Westerfeld

TitleShatter City
Author:  Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic Inc 9/17/19
Length:  331 Pages
Series:  Imposters #2

Overview

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role . . . without anyone else knowing. 

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost . . . and also an easy place to lose yourself. 

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father.

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since we’ve been in this series but this second book gives us all the feels you could hope for. (definitely an overused phrase in this story though). Anyhow, like the summary says, we are thrown right back into the middle of a war – where Rafi and Frey are against their father because all he has in mind is to destroy the world for motives unknown aside from a need for power.

When we left off, Frey traded places with Rafi in the hopes of saving her love Col, and well, we know how that turned out. The bomb collar was switched from one sister to the other, meaning that identities had to be faked yet again. Frey at least had the chance to be with Col in these unusual circumstances, all while trying to figure out how they could both get out unscathed. Thankfully, Col has his allies on call and they were able to devise a plan to get them out and hopefully on the road to freedom.

The challenge here is that Frey is on the hunt for Rafi since her entire life she was raised to protect her sister. She learns that her sister is in a city called Paz, the next target for their father, both for the notion that Rafi is there but also because Paz is a city that believes in true freedom and doesn’t conscribe to the notion of dust or spying. It’s truly free. Their father threatens devastation that no one can fathom, a Rusty weapon that appears like natural destruction and then invasion.

What Frey finds when she gets there is a mess. She learns that Rafi is gone and that she’s left everything to Frey in the meantime. she’s set up an apartment, made sure she’s taken care of, but the reasoning behind it is still a semi mystery to Frey.

That’s really what a lot of this story is about. There are semi truths or incomplete pieces of information that everyone’s working with and we don’t yet know what’s intentional, what’s accidental and what the end result here could be.

There’s so much going on that i don’t know where to start otherwise. We spend time in Paz trying to broadcast that their father is evil and is trying to take over the world, yet he’s a step ahead and while he’s destroyed the city, he appears to be the first to help build it back up. There’s a secret there that they don’t yet know the motivation behind, and when we do figure it out, there’s no surprise.

Then there’s the issue of Rafi being out in the Wild, with rebels and we don’t know what her end game is. Trying to locate her gets Frey caught by a neighboring city and held captive in the hopes of securing a stronger network of allies. When she’s freed by Col and his crew, we start to see the story speed up.

there are Easter Eggs throughout this story that trigger questions. The Paz AI tells Frey about something called ‘Iron Mountain’ but there’s no context to what it is ,where it is and what it will do. When we get to the wilds, we learn that a few people have deeper insight and it could be a key to unlocking a lot of information.

Then there’s a hint that someone that the girls know of may be in the rebels, and that there’s a key link there to Rafi’s focus on being out there. She has heard rumors and if they are true then there may be hope. The way that this specific story line plays out is so shocking though that i’m glad i assumed wrong for the bulk of the time.

We are left at a point of hope, yet a point of instability. There’s no clear direction on who will win, if their father can be bested and what that will mean to the world. Relationships continue to grow and build, and there’s something solid and sweet about each friendship and romance. The depth that we get to see psychologically with everyone is really intense as well and that’s a new feature to all of the stories that i’ve read by our amazing author.

There’s an interesting idea here that we get throughout both the Uglies and the Imposters series. Originally when you read Uglies, you see that people are never happy with what they have naturally and as a result, they surgically change or enhance everything that’s possible to change about themselves. What we learned there is that it’s not always better and sometimes tech makes things worse. What we have in this series is a tease of that since most of the modifications are now illegal, with only a few Specials remaining for example, but there’s such fear and mis information on what it was that led to the need for Surg. There’s fear of invaded privacy and that you’re never allowed to be free. It makes you wonder if this is going to be our future. The way that we enhance ourselves and the way that we allow innovative technology to watch all of our activities and even help to make life easier…..just a philosophical question today about what’s good and right and worth the stress. Ponder away until we get book 3. Enjoy!

Review: Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake

Title: Five Dark Fates
Author:  Kendare Blake
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins Publishing 9/3/19
Length:  331 Pages
Series:  Three Dark Crowns #4

Overview

In the final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns series, an all-out war is brewing—one that will pit sister against sister and dead against undead.

After the grim confrontation with Queen Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, and it is up to Arsinoe to find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist lies heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Katharine’s reign remains intact—for now. When Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce, Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share. But as the two circle each other, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested. But the fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens. It always has.

My Thoughts

Even though it’s been quite some time since book 3 came out until now, and even though i’ve read quite a few things in between, the moment i started reading this fourth installment, i felt that we were right back where we had left off.

Things on the island are a mess, Katherine is still the Undead Queen, and Jules is still dealing with the ramifications of the Legion Curse that’s been released with the murder of her mother. Mirabella and Arsinoe are stuck in the middle of things once again as they have to pick sides while remaining true to themselves.

Add to all this, the fact that Peityr is still unconscious and no one knows how to wake him, especially as Katherine is the only one who knows what’s caused him to sleep.

The questions in this book overpower the answers and I can honestly say that I didn’t know how this story was going to play out. One thing for sure – we were going to lose many many characters here in this finale. There’s no doubt in my mind that many mains will die, and where that leaves the island will be anyone’s guess.

The Mist continues to be a power that no one can beat. Mirabella is the only one who’s been able to push it back, to keep it from killing more – but the assumption is that it’s because she’s the strongest elemental. There’s a theory that they need to kill her in order for the mist to go away – but that’s a price that no one truly wants to pay. (or do they).

The Rebellion being led by Jules shows us that the Legion Queen perhaps has more power than the triplet queens and that scares people. When we get about 2/3 into the story – we learn some of the origin story of the queens since the first queens weren’t included in the history that everyone learned and there’s an interesting twist there. Of course though, resulting in a death.

We know that the only way this story will end is after a war happens – laying out a new future for the island. The war finds itself at the gates of The Volroy, being fought by everyone including the undead, and it’s so intense that the mist wants in on it as well.

Friendships are created, torn apart, and the same goes for relationships (loving and otherwise). We see some of the chemistry that has played out in this series so far, and we see surprises of people who put their loyalties in new places. The outcome of those twists make this story even more exciting.

Betrayal, Trust, Love, Hate, Fear, Secrecy, Competition. All very deep themes of this series and they all play out in a strong way in this final book 4. I’m a bit sad to see this journey end, but i think that we were given what we needed to see the closure happen for whomever is left. Enjoy!

Review: The Reaction (The Program #5.5) by Suzanne Young

Title: the Reaction
Author:  Suzanne Young
Publisher/Year:  Suzanne Young 4/9/18
Length:  20 Pages
Series:  The Program #5.5

Overview

Shortly after going on a recovery road trip with Michael Realm, James Murphy returns home to bring his girlfriend Sloane a file. Her entire life–the memories that had been erased by The Program–are contained in a manila folder. James wishes he could save Sloane from her pain, but he can’t save her from the past.

My Thoughts

The way that this summary is written, you get the sense that it’ll be far more dramatic and deep than what it actually is. There seems to be a lot of build up to considering what Sloane could handle and what she deserved to know now that her world has been completely turned around. The build up throughout the series has always paid off, and sadly in this really really short chapter like object, there’s an anticlimatic ending.

I think that it’s safe to say that we all knew how Sloane would react and what it would mean….but i guess it’s nice to finally have it down on paper. Enjoy

Review: Defy Me (Shatter Me #5) by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Defy Me
Author:  Tahereh Mafi
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 4/2/19
Length:   352 Pages
Series:  Shatter Me #5

Overview

Juliette and Warner’s story continues in the thrilling fifth installment of Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series.

Juliette Ferrars isn’t who she thinks she is.

Still reeling from the explosive events of the Continental Symposium and the secrets Warner has been keeping, Juliette has nowhere to turn and doesn’t know who she can trust. 

She’s desperate for answers, but to get them, she’ll have to face the nightmares that have been chasing her for a lifetime.

My Thoughts

WOW. honestly, let’s just start by saying WOW. Where we have gone in this 5th full length installment is a place of insanity, intrigue, lies, questionable trust, fear, love even. All of that in this compact story!

Nothing is what it seems – what happened at the symposium didn’t happen, or perhaps didn’t happen as everyone ‘saw’ it and that was done for a purpose. To make people question the stability and sanity of Juliette and to cast doubt on everything that she’s been trying to put into place. Add to that, Warner and Juliette go missing – kidnapped and it’s a race against the clock to find them.

We spend the beginning of this story still seeing relationships at a turning point. Juliette and Warner are not in a good place and while you can still feel the magnetism that pulls them together, there’s so much anger that they are pushed further and further apart. Juliette is back in a shell of her own making because of actions that were made from Warners’ direction and that scares a lot of people.

Then there’s Kenji and Nazeera – the couple that won’t admit that they are attracted to each other. It’s so nice that we can continue to see how Kenji develops following his novella. the sweet human side that we saw is really the same Kenji that we get here. Seeing how he’s not able to be tough anymore around Nazeera and how shes’ maybe willing to take a leap of faith with him, that’s makes for a great few chapters.

On top of all that relationship stuff, the way that our amazing author wrote this story is even more complex and engaging than the others. We’re used to seeing chapters change from people’s POVs but in this story we’re not only alternating who’s telling us the story, but we vary in the time that things are happening. There are memories that are coming back from when they were children, when all this started and this really lays the groundwork so that as the characters begin to see what’s been kept from them, we get to see it as well.

The key here is that there are far more friendships from childhood than anyone knew. They were friends, they were safe places, they were reasons to keep living, and yet those same reasons for crying.

When Juliette realizes that she’s an experiment, that her sister is one as well ,all that the hands of Warner’s father, and her parents – things begin to spin. FAST. Juliette is really Ella, and her sister Emmaline is the one who’s in worse shape. The girls used to be best friends with Nazeera back when they were 5 years old, and when Ella was taken from her family, Warner was there to witness it all. Even Adam had a role in this as Warner’s father kept tabs on him and pushed him into the role that he had in Ella/Juliette’s life.

This story is an insane roller coaster. People that we thought died didn’t. People that we thought were killed in past books maybe aren’t dead. People that want to die save the lives of many, and people that we love get hurt.

Omega Point isn’t safe anymore, Sector 45 isn’t safe so they are left scrambling for another place to live while everyone hatches a plan to find Warner and Juliette/Ella before it’s too late. And once they find them, depending on the shape they are in, figure out what moves to make from there.

We’re constantly debating who to trust – the Supreme Commanders’ children aren’t to be trusted, or are they? The Unnaturals (those that have special powers) find that there’s an interesting link there, and that they were all destined for a different life at the hands of someone that’s become important. Castle still knows more than he shares but never opens his mouth. Nazeera is a true wild card and continues to make us question every single thing she does, especially when ghosts pop up.

Where we are left at the end of this installment is even more uncertain. We have moments to think there may be hope for the future, but at the same time, we see that there are still so many powerful forces against them, with money and weaponry to beat them that it seems bleak. Is Ella strong enough to take control, will she and Warner reconcile? Will Castle finally share all that he knows? Will we ever get to the bottom of what the Reestablishment stands for and what can be done to bring them down? SOOO many questions and far far too long until we get the next installment to get answers. Enjoy!

Review: The Shores Beyond Time (Chronicles of the Dark Star #3) by Kevin Emerson

Title: The Shores Beyond Time
Author:  Kevin Emerson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 2/12/19
Length:   512 Pages
Series:  Chronicle of the Dark Star #3

Overview

It is Earth year 2256—but the fate of the few who even remember Earth is perilously in doubt. Mina Saunders-Chang and many of the surviving humans are stranded in the Centauri system, having barely survived their confrontation with the Telphon refugees. Now everyone—human and Telphon alike—is caught in the blast zone of the Centauri supernova. And yet there’s only one question Mina is asking:

Where are Liam and Phoebe?

Having barely made it through the battle at the Centauri system with their lives, Liam and Phoebe awake on a mysterious ship in the middle of a dead universe. The ship bears the markings of a human starliner that disappeared decades ago—but even more disturbing than that is the massive alien machine floating in the starless space before them.

A machine long abandoned but now showing signs of life. A machine that has begun speaking to Liam in a voice only he can hear. . . .

My Thoughts

I honestly have no idea how our author came up with most of the stuff in this story! We are on such a roller coaster with things constantly changing, evolving. New characters being introduced, and alliances built and broken. We begin to question whether we know WHO we’re talking to, WHEN they are talking and what’s going to happen.

It’s hard to believe and often so hard to remember that Liam and Phoebe are so young. Ten i believe when we started this journey with them. I know that they’ve theoretically aged decades throughout this series, but still, being in stasis wouldn’t give them the maturity that they exhibit throughout.

When we left this story at the end of book 2, we are teased with the notion that Dark Star is connected to the humans, to the Artemis somehow, and that’s scarier than the cliff hanger that we were left at the end of book one, realizing that Pheobe wasn’t who she said she was.

So we spend much of this installment in Dark Star, whatever that is, and trying to get a sense of what this place is, what the motivation is, and what’s caused the Supernovas to happen. What’s the end game.

As expected, we are taken on an insane ride – because it seems like the Captain has more information about things than he’ll let on, and that was teased during the prologue chapter that he was featured in back on Earth. The fact that he wasn’t going to abide by the social norms, and the expectations of those in his class, well, it means that he can’t be trusted.

The chronologist plays a key role here as well – at least one of the chronologists – the one who seems to have befriended this duo. He’s given them insight into things, broken a few rules and norms where it was necessary, however the twist that we learn at the end blows the roof off of everything that we thought we had read throughout the other installments.

Dark Star is something that I could never have imagined, and something that I would fear immensely. AI is something that’s on the technological horizon (even in the now), but this is something entirely different. Building a colony, a place where millions could inhabit it, and that poses endless questions.

The nice thing about this third story too is that we’re reunited with family. We knew that there was so much disaster that had hit the streamliner, and the notion that Mina and Liam were able to stay connected and find each other again, and Liam was able to save their parents – we to see another perspective to things that’s also intense. The dynamic between Phoebe and her parents carried consistency from book 2. There’s still so much pain and hate, this need for revenge and the difficulty that her parents have with being happy with her bond with Liam. That bond proves to be even more substantial than anyone realized, and is something quite amazing.

There are so many social and philosophical undertones throughout this series that are so relevant any time you read this. How can cultures that are fundamentally different co-habitate, and should they do it? Is it even possible? How do we continue to question and seek knowledge, thinking that we have this hunger for more, but know when to stop pushing and let the future just happen? There are so many companies out there that are looking to give people eternity, to elevate knowledge and awareness and consciousness, and there’s a perspective in this story that makes you continue to question.

All in all, intense, amazing and i’m so happy that i found this series! Enjoy!

Review: The Oceans Between the Stars (Chronicle of the Dark Star #2) by Kevin Emerson

Title: The Oceans Between the Stars
Author:  Kevin Emerson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 1/8/19
Length:   432 Pages
Series:  Chronicle of the Dark Star #2

Overview

It is Earth year 2223, but the Earth, along with the entire solar system, is gone.

Liam and Phoebe, having barely escaped our exploding sun with their lives, are in stasis for the decade-long journey to the rogue planet Delphi, where they hope to meet up with the rest of the human refugees, find help for their injured parents, and pass along the devastating things they discovered on Mars: that someone destroyed their world intentionally, and that that someone might still be after them, trying to finish the job.

Phoebe is carrying her own dark secret. One that finds her waking up secretly at various points in their journey, changing their path through space. One that will decide the fate of the human race, and many more besides. One that, very soon, she must reveal to Liam, whether he’s ready for the truth or not.

My Thoughts

This story keeps taking us on interesting twists and turns, showing us beings that we never knew existed but assumed were out there, links between names, times and planets etc. and each time we think that Liam and Phoebe are safe, BOOM something happens.

When we left off at the end of the first book, we were on the path to getting out of the way of the supernova, and plotting a course that would get these two to meet up with the starliner when they docked at the next waystation. Phoebe of course has her own plans and we don’t even truly know the motivation, even after we learned her secret that was teased at the cliff hanger from book 1.

The overarching trend that we see in this installment is of time jumping, making choices without knowing the outcome, trust and hope. They are faced each chapter with one of these and the outcome of each decision will have major impacts to the rest of the story.

We learn that the chronologist is truly on the side of humanity, and she shows up at key moments to save Liam and Phoebe when hope seems lost. While she lives in 4 dimensions whereas we are in three, she doesn’t have all the information and the interesting aspect is that she’s ok with that, and with the knowledge that she has and seems to have no fear. (most humans would NOT be like that)

We spend much of the story trying to determine if Phoebe is trustworthy. Once we learn that she’s not ‘human’ and that she knows the people who are chasing/attacking them and the starliners, we have to question every thought, word and action that she does to see if there’s some twisted and evil motive/motivation. JEFF, the bot that has been keeping them alive is truly skeptical, especially once he realizes that she’s the cause to their delays and that makes this story even more complex.

Add to that, we still don’t know why the Drove are infecting the stars so that they go supernova faster than ever before and what their end game is. The Drove mention the need to go back to the Dark Star, and that’s an interesting reference that we get at the end of this book – from people that we don’t expect to reference it at all!

There are little easter eggs that are dropped throughout this story. we are reminded that the first Starliner that was built (Artemis) was lost thirty years ago, yet by going through some type of time warp, Liam and Phoebe find it. We also learn that Aaru-5, the planet that the humans are going to colonize is Telos, the same planet that Phoebe is from, and the Rain of Ana was part of something bigger and far worse.

So…All in all we’ve gotten so many answers to questions that came up from the first book but then there are even more that are raised as we go into the final book of the trilogy. We still have no idea if families will be reunited, if Phoebe is on the same side as Liam or her ‘people’. If there’s even a planet to get to when this is all said and done, and when everyone will die (since it seems like the chronologist knows exactly when this will happen).

I’m excited to read on and see how this all ends – i hope you guys enjoy !