Book Review: Salt and Stone (ARC) by Victoria Scott

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This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy of the novel obtained through snail mail at the permission of Scholastic Press. This is in no way had an effect on the integrity of my review. Please note that published novel will differ from this ARC.

Genre: 

Young Adult, buy information pills  Dystopian/Science Fiction

Pages: 

320

Part of a Series?:

2nd Novel of the Fire and Flood Series

Release Date: 

February 24th, more about 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

In Fire & Flood, this site Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can’t quit–she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone’s keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you’d relied on most suddenly isn’t there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left–and only one can win.

My Review:

Please be advised that while there will be no spoilers for Salt and Stone, there will be spoilers for Fire and Flood. You can read my review for that book here

When I first read Fire and Flood, I was blown away by it. I had heard some comparisons to other books, in particular, The Hunger Games. And while I can see those comparisons, Victoria’s story and characters stand on their own and I became a staunch supporter of her right away. I’m proud to say I’m part of the V Mafia and I’m eagerly counting down the days (not many of them left) until this book releases and all of you can enjoy it. Fire and Flood was absolutely fantastic and I wasn’t quite sure where the rest of the story was going to take us so when I managed to get my hands on Salt and Stone, I was ready for an adventure of a novel and I was granted just exactly that.

What really gets me about this book, besides the fact that it COMPLETELY TORE OUT MY HEART AND MADE ME SOB INTO MY PILLOW (ahem, ahem), is that she’s not afraid to take it just one more step further, one more step further, one step further. Its incredible. The basis of this series is this: how far are you willing to go in order to save someone you love? How far are you willing to take it? Are you willing to kill? Are you willing to let others be killed? Are you willing to maybe die yourself? Its incredible. Every single person taking part in this…”game” of sorts has volunteered. They weren’t forced. Every action taken, its a choice they made, and its crazy. Some of those choices didn’t feel like choices because they want this cure and they want to win the game and they want all of that, and it feels like they have no choice, and this is getting a little tangent-y but it all boils down to…every single person in this game makes the choices they feel necessary to get them where they need to go.

Which is why this book is so good. Fire and Flood was brutal but when compared to this novel, its child’s play. Tella and the rest of her gang are faced with worse obstacles than they were before, including each other. They are pit against each other over and over again, struggling with the feelings that they have each other, whether its friendship or just plain straight out love, which is something that’s hard to feel when you’re all battling for the same thing, something that you can’t all win. But its also the struggle for Tella and Guy at the same time. Victoria creates such real characters and even when they’re in this completely incredible world…they still feel real to us. You don’t know if you would do any different if it was yours.

The best part of this book is the end. I can’t go into too much detail because spoilers and all that. But she pushes it to the limit at the end, that last sort of thing she makes the contestants go through just…oh my god, it kills me. It breaks my heart. I literally was clutching the pages, wanting to scream at her, how could you do this? It was really pushing the limits. She really takes it to the very tip…really, how much are you really willing to sacrifice in order to get what you want? Its incredible. And the ending just makes me want the next book. The book is brutal and harsh and incredible but I just love it. And I can’t wait for more.

 

Rating: 

Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

16068780Genre: 

Young Adult, hospital Fantasy/Dystopian

Pages: 

358

Part of a Series?:

The first in a planned trilogy (I think…)

Release Date: 

September 2nd, prostate 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, look the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

My Review:

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I had heard a lot about it but I knew very little about what exactly it was about. So when I got through the first few chapters, my mind was absolutely blown and I was hooked. Amy grabs you, hooks you from the first page and keeps you addicted.

This book is absolutely frightening. I don’t know that its intended to be so but it is. These girls are raised to be perfect: beautiful, intelligent, talented. They are bid on by the wealthy families that live in the Jewel to give them children. They’re surrogates for these families; that’s their entire purpose in life. And they really seem okay with that. There are definitely benefits for it. They’re given an education and their families receive compensation for their daughters being pulled from their homes. They are told they will provide a child and then retire with other surrogates like themselves.

But when Violet realizes that there is so much more to it than she realizes, I’m just floored. Secret plots and fierce competition between the noble families and absolute cruelty. Surrogates die, get beaten, are covered up, used, paraded around like show dogs, dragged around on actual leashes. It blew my mind because of how totally frightening it was. It didn’t seem to be something that outside of the realm of possibilities. Violet is taught that her life is supposed to be better; differently, definitely but better because of her being a surrogate and instead she’s like a prize show dog, paraded around in pretty outfits and controlled like crazy. The prospect of it, the craziness of it, is just frightening and cruel. There were several times in the book where I actually gasped out loud because something shocked me so badly.

And yet there’s also an incredible romance built into it as well. A boy comes into Violet’s life, a boy that so incredibly off limits but she can’t help but want to be with and I can’t help but ship it too. Its subtle and the build up of it is just…its beautiful. They have to keep it hidden and keep it small because of the expectations they both live under. Violet is expected to become pregnant with her “owner”s baby, amongst other things that I won’t say because, you know, “spoilers”. The boy she meets has an important job to fulfill for Violet’s owner as well and its all very conflicting. The ways that they find to be together and its perfect in its complete wrongness. You know its going to end badly, you keep reading and you just KNOW its going to end badly but its like a car crash on the highway, you can’t keep your eyes off of it.

The thing that really sold me on this novel, and Amy Ewing, and the five stars I give it, is the ending. Just when you think you have a handle on the story, just when you think you have a general idea of where its going, the book ends and completely blows your mind. I mean, completely. I was left, with my mouth hanging open, when that book ended. I couldn’t believe it at all and I loved every bit of it. I’m dying for the sequel. Its going to magnificent and I can’t wait to see what else Amy brings in. She’s a fantastic writer, a great story teller, her world building is superb and she creates an incredible romance.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 stars

Cover Reveal: “A Girl Undone” by Catherine Linka

I am SO excited to be sharing this unofficial cover reveal. Catherine is a beautiful writer and I absolutely LOVED the first. She has also become such an inspiration and a great friend.

Let’s jump in, treat learn a little about Catherine and her books :)

About Catherine Linka

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Catherine Linka has been immersed in books her whole life, most recently as a writer and a bookseller. Her debut novel is A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, a young adult romantic spec fiction/political thriller. Catherine lives in Southern California where she watches hummingbirds and hawks when she should be working.

You Can Find Her At: 

Website / GoodReads / Twitter / Tumblr

About A Girl Called Fearless

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Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl’s life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to “protect” young women, is taking over the choices they make.Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she’s also dreaming about college and love and what she’ll make of her life. When her dad “contracts” her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it’s possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death.From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.

Purchase A Girl Called Fearless at your local bookstore or one of these links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository

The Cover Reveal for A Girl Undone

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About A Girl Undone

On the run with deadly government secrets, Avie must decide if she can live up to her name and truly become fearless for the cause or if it’s better to just give in.

The sequel and explosive conclusion to A Girl Called Fearless.

Having survived a violent confrontation with the US government, Avie is not out of danger. Both she and the young man she loves, Yates, have been declared terrorists, and Yates is hospitalized in critical condition, leaving Avie with the perilous task of carrying information that can bring down the Paternalist party, if she can get it into the right hands.

Forced on the run with handsome, enigmatic woodsman Luke, Avie struggles when every turn becomes a choice between keeping the two of them alive or completing their mission. With her face on every news channel and a quarter million dollar reward from the man who still owns her marriage Contract, Avie’s worst fears are about to come true.

Preorder A Girl Undone at your local bookstore or these links: 

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Book Depository

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That Time I Met James Dashner and My Tire Exploded…

HELLO EVERYONE!

How are all of you on this fine weekend? I hope fantastic! What are you all reading right now? I’m currently re-reading The Fiery Heart, viagra in the hopes that I’ll finish it before Tuesday when Silver Shadows comes out.

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Today was a super fun and crazy day! Last week, more about my good friend Cassandra and I drove down to San Diego (roughly about a two hour drive) to pick up wristbands for a book signing event that would be taking place at the local Barnes and Noble for Comic Con weekend. James Dashner would be there, promoting the movie tie-in edition of The Maze Runner. I met James back in April at WonderCon but was totally looking forward to seeing him again!

Who knew it was going to be such a crazy day!

I picked up Cassandra and we began the fun task of driving all the way over there. We were only roughly about 30 minutes away when my car started shaking uncontrollably and I smelled smoke. Obviously not a good sign. I started to slow down, in order to pull over, and BAM! My tire on my car literally EXPLODED! It was one of the craziest feelings ever!

So, of course, I call AAA. Well apparently they cancelled my membership or something. DRAMA. So then I dialed 511 to see if I could get free roadside assistance. No free roadside assistance in the middle of nowhere area I was in. (Fun Fact, I ended up in the town of Rainbow. No lie) DRAMA. I called my dad but he was a good 1.5 hours away. DRAMA.

But the clouds opened and the sun shined down on us! An AAA guy stopped and asked if I called him. I didn’t, and he was actually looking for another car but he stopped and helped me replace my tire anyway. We were back on the road! Yay!

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We made it to the Barnes and Noble and discovered that we were basically the first people there. We bought our books, grabbed some iced teas and sandwiches from the cafe and then proceeded to wait until they set up the area for us. Suddenly, people started lining up behind us, as they tend to do and we ended up in the front row! Yay!

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Do we look tired? We were kind of tired haha! We also met up with the darling Sama (aka bookautopia from instagram) and she was a total sweetheart.

Then it was time for James Dashner!

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He talked about The Maze Runner trilogy, the upcoming adaptation and his newer book, The Eye of Minds. Yesterday was the first official screening of the finished movie so he talked about that a bit. It was really cool because when he first came out, and was looking around at the crowd, he spotted me and went “I’ve met you somewhere before, right?” and I laughed, because I had just met him back in April at WonderCon and I was wearing the same shirt (my BRIGHT pink What A Nerd Girl Says shirt). That was pretty cool.

After talking for a bit, he took some fan questions. I was too busy listening to him that I just forgot to record any of it like a doofus but I did get this little bit. Someone asked him who he thought would survive in the maze, as far as the cast goes. Its a short video, so check it out!

After the Q & A, they set up for signings. We were given two options: get one book personalized OR get all of your books signed. As much as I love having my books personalized, I got my Maze Runner personalized back in April and I just wanted the rest of them signed, so I opted for that.

I got up in line, and he asked me where we had seen each other and I told him WonderCon and he remembered. We talked a little bit about the book and movie and especially about writing, and that was awesome.

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Here’s a flashback when I met James back in April:

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Because I already had a copy of Maze Runner, I got my hands on a second copy (thanks Cass!) and got it signed!

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This, along with some of the cool swag I grabbed (see below), will make for an awesome giveaway. Keep an eye out for it, but don’t get too excited. It probably won’t be until September, around when the movie is released!

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The pins are mine :) But I have a couple bookmarks and an extra “Shuck It” sticker that’ll be up for grabs in that September giveaway! Keep an eye out.

After the signing, we went to a nearby tire place, took care of my tire issues. The guy working there really took care of my Elphie (oh yes, I named my car after Elphaba in Wicked) and even threw in a free tire. Meanwhile, Cass and I enjoyed some sushi and ice cream. Yum!

After that, we made the long drive home. We decided to stop by Best Buy. If you went by Best Buy, you could watch the newly released Mockingjay Part 1 trailer and get your hands on a ticket to see the movie, a Mockingjay pin and a poster. Unfortunately by the time we got there all they had were posters but that’s okay because I love posters! And the trailer was AWESOME. I can’t wait for this movie to come out!

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All in all, it was a super fun day, even with all the crazy car drama! I’m glad to have my entire TMR trilogy signed and I’ll be having an epic giveaway come September!

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Book Review: Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth

18126198Genre: 

Young Adult, story  Dystopian

Pages: 

285

Part of a Series?:

This is a companion novel to the Divergent trilogy

Release Date: 

June 8th, 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling divergent series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy.

My Review:

I’m going to be upfront and honest: I hate novellas. Most of the time I just think they’re a way for publishers to capitalize on a built in book series and they’re usually not worth my time. I usually try to stay away from them.

But this is Veronica Roth. She is one of my favorite authors. Divergent means the world to me. I have a Divergent tattoo because of what it means to me. And Four is easily my favorite character. What he says about fear and being fearless and brave throughout the entire series really gets to me. I have an obsession with fear and the idea of being fearless. So Four is awesome. When I heard there would be these four short stories telling Four’s point of view, I knew I had to read it.

The Transfer, The Initiate and The Son all take place before Divergent, before Tris even comes into Four’s life. I love these so much. Veronica Roth has said that she began writing Divergent in the point of view of Four before changing that to Tris. Because of that, I think these stories have more integrity, more background, more strength than other novellas. Other novellas seem to be written randomly so they aren’t so well thought out or in conjunction with the story. Everything that happens to Four in these three stories works so well with what we know in the Divergent trilogy and that’s what I love about them. They make a really great prequel to the rest of the series. It explains more about Four, and you really get a background of him. You see what he went through in trying to escape his father in Abnegation, what his life was like during Dauntless initiation and why he chose to be an instructor when he ranked the highest. I really enjoyed that.

The last story in the book was The Traitor. This takes places during Divergent. We get parts that we already saw, interactions with Tris from Four’s point of view but we also see new scenes that were going on at the same time. Divergent is easily my favorite of the entire series so I loved this one the best probably. I liked seeing scenes from Four’s point of view and I liked seeing what he was up to when he was “off page”. There was so much to this particular story and I could not get enough of it. What Four was aware of with Jeanine and Erudite and Dauntless and the attack on Abnegation and what he was hoping to do and accomplish. I love it. I love it so much. It was really awesome to see these different stories on the background of my favorite character.

There is also three additional scenes at the back of the book, short scenes from Divergent that tend to be fan favorites, and they are told from Four’s point of view. We get when Tris first jumps (“First Jumper, Tris”), when Four and Tris first eat a meal together (“Be Careful, Tris”) and Four is drunk and talks to Tris (“You Look Good, Tris”). These are all scenes that I love between Tris and Four so of course I got a little fangirl kick out of reading them from Four’s POV.

As a Divergent fan, I would say this book is a must. Its a short read, only 285 pages, and I cleared the entire thing in an hour and a half. We get to see some of our favorite moments from Divergent in the point of view of an integral but very mysterious character and we get to see the background that makes Four such a complex character. It adds new information but keeps to the story that we know and love. I say, a must buy!

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Book Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

13112869Genre: 

Young Adult, sick  Dystopian? Survival? Awesome?

Pages: 

320

Part of a Series?:

Yes. The second book, In a Handful of Dust, releases September 26th

Release Date: 

September 24th, 2013

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

My Review:

Back in September of 2013, one fantasy author that I’m massively addicted, Rae Carson, was touring for the very last book in her trilogy. And the closest she was getting to California was Las Vegas. Now LV is only a four hour drive from me. Its not that far. So I convinced my dad, brother and boyfriend to go on a mini road trip to go and meet Rae.

And it was way totally worth it.

But there was another author at the event that completely stuck out to me, and that was Mindy McGinnis. She was funny and fresh, and she was a debut novelist and that always jumps out at me. Plus, her story was about survival, and the inkling beginning thoughts of The Awakened were in my mind at the time, so everything about her stood out.

That was back in September and it took me THIS LONG to get my hands on this book. I don’t know why but it did. Thank you to Michelle, who was my Secret Beach Read Buddy, for sending this to me. I immediately opened it up, ready to dive in and I soaked it all up in less than 3 hours.

I LOVE this book. I loved the main character, Lynn, right off the bat. There was something about her that just makes you immediately like her. She’s not really familiar. She’s been raised such a different way than any of us have ever been raised. She’s been raised to survive, nothing else, but she has real feelings and you can tell that she wishes for more than just constant survival. The entry of others in her life, especially Lucy, really brings out more and more of Lynn than just survival and I love watching her journey. I love watching her give in, and fall in love with others. She’s only have known her mother, so it was beautiful to watch her discover the world through other’s eyes.

I also just loved the survival part of the story. It felt so real. My science fiction is science fiction. There is a virus, and reanimated corpses and everything about my novel feels kind of…out of this world. Not possible. Not this novel. The idea that water will run out, and it’ll become something to ration, to protect, to fight for is not exactly far fetched. I live in Southern California, trust me, I know all about droughts. I mean, sure, I can pop down to Ralph’s and pick up a 24 pack of purified water at any time, but how long will that last and what would we do, who would we sacrifice in order to survive? Mindy tackles that sort of world in this book and its incredibly compelling. I kept turning the pages because I just didn’t know what was going to happen next. Lynn’s world was a day by day struggle and you could lose anyone, anything, on one given day, and its addicting. Its full of so much tension but also laughter at the same time. It is full of so much human spirit and I just love it.

What I think I love the most about it though is that Mindy is just a terrific writer. She tells such a great story, from beginning to end, and that is just awesome. While In a Handful of Dust is a sequel, its also sort of companion as well. Not a Drop to Drink has a beginning, middle and end and I love that. I don’t think a lot of authors can accomplish that, and yet write a second book that must be read right NOW (the sequel is currently sitting on my Nook in e-galley format and I’m dying to return to it right now…). I think it deserves a ton of applause and praise because I was massively impressed by that.

Okay, now I have to go because In a Handful of Dust is calling my name and I also have to pack for ALA, which I haven’t done yet so…bye now. Basically, this book is amazing. Fresh, new, full of a ton of likable and kickass (in more than just physical ways) characters and the story will have you turning the pages frantically.

Plus, Eli? Be still, my heart! I am massively in love with him and my heart hurts. That’s all I’ll say!

Rating:

4.5 out of 5 Stars