4

Future Shock: Mystery, Mayhem, and Murder

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Future Shock

Future Shock Book 1
Goodreads Rating: 3.90 Stars
272 Pages
AW Teen Publishing
Publication Date: April 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

What do you do when the future is too late, and the present is counting down to an inevitable moment?

Elena Martinez has street smarts, the ability for perfect recall, and a deadline: if she doesn’t find a job before she turns eighteen, she’ll be homeless. But then she gets an unexpected offer from Aether Corporation, the powerful Los Angeles tech giant. Along with four other recruits—Adam, Chris, Trent, and Zoe—Elena is being sent on a secret mission to bring back data from the future. All they have to do is get Aether the information they need, and the five of them will be set for life. It’s an offer Elena can’t refuse.

But something goes wrong when the time travelers arrive in the future. And they are forced to break the only rule they were given—not to look into their own fates. Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future—and a murder—from happening. But changing the timeline has deadly consequences too. Who can Elena trust as she fights to save her life?

The first book in an unforgettable series about rewriting your destiny in the city of dreams.

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: very small emphasis on the romance–like, hardly at all, though it’s sort of instalove-esque; awesome mystery/thriller; lots of yummy world-building and twisty-turns; great cast of characters and wide array of “relationships” featured; different science to the time-travel lore we all know

I know it took me a while to get to this one, but HUGE thank yous to Elizabeth Briggs, AW Teen Publishing, and Casey at Media Masters Publicity for sending me an ARC copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title. My selected quotes are from the ARC copy, so my apologies if they are different from or taken out of the finished version!

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First off: the world-building of this book is DELICIOUS. No tiny details are spared; Elizabeth Briggs put a lot of time and effort into making this story, and this world, coherent, seamless, and believable. I LOVE that every detail is thought out, described just enough to foreshadow…but left just open-ended enough to allow readers to be entertained and enthralled throughout. When I hit the 50% mark, I was almost positive I’d already put the pieces together and knew where the plot was headed…and then I read several chapters more, and found myself utterly confused. The mystery of this read is masterfully done, with just enough push and pull to keep even the most avid mystery readers guessing and leaping to red-herring answers.

The sense of “time running out,” particularly near the end, was also an awesome touch. While the characters have 24 hours in the future to figure things out and “solve” the mystery…in reality, that’s not much time at all. I also really liked that in the present-time, only 12 minutes pass. This was, in my opinion, an interesting way to do this–I’d be interested in knowing the why behind this, actually, as it’s not exactly explained (I mean, it’s not that important a detail, so no biggie either way).

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The characters, though… Especially Elena, our main narrator–she immediately tugged at my heartstrings. I LOVE how realistic and human these characters come off; they don’t feel like words on a page, but instead took up their own space in my head while reading. They lived, breathed, and entrenched themselves in my thoughts. Elena’s struggle, in particular, became my struggle–and I loved that about this book.

Like I said earlier, the plot is fast-paced, well considered, and easy to dive into even for the most-novice science fiction readers. You don’t have to know all the technical aspects of this book (because penguins knows I definitely didn’t, going in!) to be sucked into the world and dragged along for the ride. What little you DO need to understand…is explained quickly and thoroughly, though not in an overwhelming or confusing way. It’s obvious Elizabeth Briggs thought this out and strove to make sure that even people who’ve never read sci fi would understand and be entertained by this story.

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I had a ton of fun reading this book and being transported to, for at least a time, a world very different…and yet vaguely similar…to our own. The characters are realistic and endearing, the plot is full of twists and turns, and the journey is bound to enthrall even the most novice sci fi readers. If you love time travel, sassy characters, and well-written red herrings, you should definitely consider picking this book up!

 

4

Blog Tour (Review): The Voyage to Magical North

The Voyage to Magical North
by Claire Fayers
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: July 5th 2016
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Childrens, Pirates, Fiction
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Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.
When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.
I live in South Wales, birthplace of the famous pirate, Henry Morgan. I used to work at Cardiff University, first in health and safety (you will notice that my pirates fight VERY safely) and then in the university science library. Now I write full-time at home with my husband and my two cats, usually stopped every chapter or two to let them in or out of the door. (My cats, not my husband: he can already open doors.)
In my free time, I like skiing, flying kites, and music – I can play the cello a bit and I’m learning the piano. I enjoy gardening and grow a lot of fruit and veg so if I come to visit you don’t be surprised if I bring a jar of jam.

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4Penguins
Quick Reasons: well first and most importantly, there are magical zombie flesh-eating penguins in this book!; awesome action/adventure story mixed with oral narratives and sea folklore; terrifying, creatively unique world-building; spine-chilling villains; great coming-of-age narrative with some heart-bending, wise moments; this was such a fun read!

HUGE thanks to Claire Fayers, Henry Holt and Co Publishing, Netgalley and The Fantastic Flying Book Club for setting me up with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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First things first: THAT COVER! Penguins, is that cover gorgeous! I mean seriously, just LOOK at it–you get the gist of this story without even having to crack open the cover, and I just adore when book designers manage to do that so beautifully. I knew, before I even read the synopsis, that I needed to read this book–and I am so so pleased to say I wasn’t wrong.

This mid-grade novel is at turns darkly humorous and incredibly terrifying. There’s so much snark being flung between the pages, I feared I might drown in it if I weren’t careful–and yet each character, in turn, is brought into a darker, scarier light…before finding that middle ground I so love in character development. That moment where the lightbulb blinks on, and I realize I know them exactly as I should. Basically, these characters are hilarious, and witty, and SO full of vibrant life I found myself wanting to be them throughout the read–or, at the very least, to know them.

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This book is also filled with realistic relationships and wholly natural, completely HUMAN doubts/fears. Each character is 3D–crafted and molded with the story, instead of feeling like paper dolls shoved in for entertainment purposes. No character is “just” anything–each is individualized, equally important, and entertaining or terrifying in their own rights. Each character is COMPLEX…and I appreciated that so, so much. In a book such as this, sometimes character development falls to the wayside to give emphasis to the adventure. Claire Fayers, instead, made each equally weighted and important, giving readers a well-rounded, awesomely enthralling book!

The plot is not lacking on the action/adventure front. This book begins with a bang, and doesn’t let up until the very end. Claire Fayers took well-known sea folklore and molded it with (and around!) the magic of this world. Her narrative is both convincingly real and utterly fantastic, leaving little room for readers to question the story or become lost in the details. The world is both very similar to our own…and yet, somehow, still vastly different. Well-known animals (I mentioned the flesh-eating penguins above!) are both very easy to “see” as their realistic counterparts…and terrifyingly, drastically changed to suit the story.

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This was, overall, a fantastically magical and entertaining read, and I cannot WAIT for you guys to pick it up! Not only is the cover beautiful–the story, the characters, the snark and the wisdom all come together to make a cohesive, enthralling journey. I definitely recommend this book to lovers of magical realism, sea voyages, and coming-of-age narratives. If those things appeal to you, or if this review sounds like your type of book, PICK IT UP!

3

Midnight Sky: I Refuse with that Ending. You Can’t Make Me!

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Midnight Sky (Dark Sky #2)

Dark Sky, Book 2
338 Pages
Expected Publication: August 2nd, 2016
Preorder a copy here!

There are secrets, there are betrayals, and there are sacrifices…

The Behemoth has been destroyed, and the bloodthirsty Hellions seem to have left Westraven. But Claire Abernathy’s mind is not at ease. A terrible disease plagues her sister, appearing to have been brought on the Vesper, the leader of the Hellions beyond the tear between worlds– the Breach.

To save Abby and stop the Hellions for good, Claire must find the machine her parents built before the attacks, and fix it before the monsters return. To do so, she needs the help of her crew, and must ignore the secrets and rivalries between her captain and the man she saved.

Because the Hellions are not the only dangers following Claire. Twisted humans and old enemies surface to stop her and destroy all she loves. While she is determined to endure the trials, a single betrayal could shatter the hope of a better world, and force Claire to make a choice that will cost her dearly…

4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: OW, MY HEART! No, seriously, I’m pretty sure it just snapped into a trillion tiny pieces; once again, vampires versus pirates!; annoying love triangle used for plot; creeptastic characters and situation; THAT ENDING SHATTERED ME!; the idiot character stops being an idiot only to have the entire world fall to pieces

HUGE thanks to Amy Braun and Xpresso Book Tours for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my opinions of or read on this book.

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AND I SWEAR, THAT ENDING! I might look calm and collected on the outside, but guys, I am screeeeeeching so loud on the inside right now. I can’t even. I don’t want to. I just… NO. No, give me these cinnamon roll characters and let me hug them close and love them for the rest of forever and tell them everything will be juuuuust fine. Let me do that, won’t you?! Because I cannot even with that cliffhanger ending. I just can’t, and you can’t make me. I refuse.

Seriously though–this series? You NEED this series in your life. Let me just word-vomit a few things here to tell you why you need this series in your life, yes? Okay. Let’s see. Vampires. Pirates. Steampunk. Alternate worlds. Aliens. Vampire aliens. Steampunk pirates. The sweetest love of EVARRRRRR. Strong family connections. SO. MUCH. DRAMA. Action/adventure. …Is that good enough for you yet? No? Well then.

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These characters are sassy, stubborn, and strong-willed. They breathe life across every page. They seep beneath your skin and wrap themselves around your veins. You will be rooting for them before you even realize what’s happening–trust me, this is a thing! These characters are, in my opinion, EVERYTHING I could ever ask for in a book–and more. Of course, there was one character I was very disgruntled with at the end of book one…and for pretty much the entirety of this book…who FINALLY, FINALLY! saw the light and took his head out of his butt, only to have the entire world fall apart around him. Because booooooo, that happens. But YAY for other things that happened before the world blew up! (I know, I know, this literally makes no sense but…SPOILERS!)

And this story! THIS. STORY! It is action/adventure taken to extremes. There is, obviously, a love story happening. There is a love triangle that, sadly, was used to propel the plot further. There is jealousy, and drama, and angst, and betrayal, and battles, and heartache, and…. Gah, pretty much every emotion you could imagine comes into play in these books in some way, and it’s beautiful. Also, they’re very quick reads–I finished both Crimson Sky and Midnight Sky in pretty much one short sitting, and didn’t even realize I was speeding through them until I hit the 90% mark and blinked around like a lunatic.

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Basically, these books are gold, and everybody needs to read them. Because I said so. They’re entertaining, quick to get through, and filled with snarky action scenes. You won’t regret picking this series up, guys, so if you’re into steampunk pirates, alien vampires, and emotionally-charged battles… Well, DO IT! Do it and don’t look back–I certainly won’t be! (But…now I am desperate for book three, and we all know how patient I am. Which is not at all. BOOK THREEEEE, I NEED YOU!)

2

Book Tour (Review): Tail & Trouble

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Tail and Trouble
By Victor Catano 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

When Gabriel’s witch girlfriend doesn’t return from her latest trip, he gets on the road and heads out to find her. Sheila’s coven is secretive and distrustful of Gabriel, so the only help he has is Sheila’s familiar, a bulldog named Orson, who is psychically linked to both of them.
In Florida, they walk right into an elaborate plan to steal Orson. A mysterious wizard
named Yareth is behind the plot, and he may also know where Sheila is.
Gabriel and Orson will have to fight for their lives as they navigate around all the magical roadblocks to force Yareth’s hand. They won’t give up until Sheila is safe.

About the Author Victor Catano - HS
Victor Catano lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim. When not writing, he
works in live theater as a stage manager, light designer, and technical director, working
mainly with dance companies. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and
complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles.

You can find him:
On Twitter
On Facebook
On Weebly
On Goodreads
On Red Adept


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3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: the dog is my favorite character in this book—his snark is beyond adorable, and just what I imagine a dog might think; pretty awesome story telling; the voices of our characters are strong and unique; I really enjoyed the relationship between Orson and Gabriel; the prose is well-detailed; the plot is action-packed; I love that Gabriel is the odd-one-out in this story

Huge thanks to Victor Catano and Red Adept Publishing for granting me access to this title free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Let’s start with the characters. Each voice is unique and well-crafted. It’s not hard to keep characters straight, regardless who’s speaking, because the detail and care Victor Catano put into his characters and personalities shines through. Each person literally leapt off the page for me, though I have to admit, I’m VERY partial to our leading dog, Orson. His personality was above and beyond what I expected going into this book. His snark alone kept me chuckling, the wit and sass falling as naturally from his tongue as drool.

I also really appreciated that our leading man, Gabriel, is sort of the “odd man out” in regards to the magic of this world. As a non-magical, just your average human, I felt Gabriel was put into a role I wasn’t expecting. That of the outsider. The interloper, if you will. While Gabriel holds his own against the evil and wrong-doers of the book, he is not made out to be anything but average. I really enjoyed this; it’s not often we see men cast in such roles.

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The prose is well-detailed. I could imagine what was happening without much effort. I feel, however, that certain parts of the plot were rushed through or contrived to keep the story going. Action scenes seemed to work out “just right,” some plot points were almost too easily resolved…things like that. While it didn’t effect my read of the book, it did make it a bit difficult for me to shed my disbelief and fully invest myself in the read.

That being said, I had a TON of fun reading this. The prose is witty, humorous, and filled with snark. The characters leap off the page—Orson in particular. (I’m sorry, I can’t help it—I love me some non-human characters, and Orson is just too adorable not to love!) I definitely recommend to lovers of fantasy, entertaining characters, and unique story-telling. The voice for this read? Top-notch. I can’t wait to see what Victor Catano will bring us next!

12

A Review of The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish

The Forbidden Wish

Goodreads Rating: 4.07 Stars
352 Pages
Razorbill Publishing
Get a copy here!

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

– – – – –

5Penguins
Quick Reasons: an inventive retelling…with a slight character twist; THIS is the story of Aladdin I’ve been dying to read for years (without knowing it, of course); awesome, emotionally-charged action and a heady, over-the-moon sort of love; poetic, beautiful prose; so many twists and creative additions to genie/jinn lore; I LOVED this book!

And mahGOSH, is the cover absolutely stunning. Go ahead—go stare at it for five minutes. I totally give you permission. Heck, you can drool a little if you want; I won’t tell anyone.

“I know that look.”

“What look?”

“Don’t sweat it, sister. We’ve all had it.” She sighs. “The girls he loved and left.”

Irritably, I look away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure you don’t.” Dal smiles sadly. “You can either hate him or accept that that’s just who he is. When Aladdin sets his heart on something— or someone— nothing can stop him from getting it. And when he does have it, he realizes it’s not what he wanted after all, and then something else will catch his eye, and off he goes again. Over and over. And here we are, the casualties.”

“I’m nobody’s casualty.”

The prose is poetic—soft and smoky, a hint of roses and something ancient, a forgotten magic, blending with the words. Jessica Khoury knows how to weave her words with the fairy tales of old…and yet, somehow, make the story entirely her own. I will admit: I was hesitant going in to this read. I’ve been a bit disappointed with recent “hyped” books…and I was worried this would become the next one to let me down. Thankfully, I was much mistaken—this book is gorgeous, inside and out.

The action scenes are well-written, filled with dramatics and flair…and enough to make a reader long to pull their hair out in anxiety or frustration. I was surprised how quickly I formed attachments to these characters; despite having grown up adoring Aladdin (the Disney version, of course), I wasn’t sure that partiality would journey to book-form. There are also some steamy, heart-melting love scenes; some gorgeously-done girl-power scenes; some fight-to-the-death scenes. In all honesty, there’s a little bit of something for every type of reader.

“Love is a path lined with roses,” I say bitterly. “But it leads to a cliff’s edge, and all who follow it tumble to their doom. You will not find your happiness there.”

The characters are just the perfect blend of realistic, fantastical, and snarky-daggers. I particularly enjoyed Zahra and Aladdin’s back-and-forth relationship. However—while a large portion of this read does revolve around love—it’s not romantic love that gets the main focus. Instead, girl-power and the love of best friends takes main stage—which I absolutely ADORED. Yes, there is romantic love…but it sort of falls by the wayside and lets the rest of this book shine on its own. It was a great breath of fresh air for me, given how often YA harps on about romance.

The chapters are also broken up, now and then, with “fairy tale” snippets. This helped not only to shape and mold Zahra as we grew to know her throughout the read…but also the world surrounding her, and Aladdin. Without these morsels, the story might have come off a bit confusing, the transitions awkward. Instead, Jessica Khoury found a way to work in the backstory without making it obvious that’s what she was doing. And everything—and I mean EVERYTHING—comes full circle at the end, even the smallest things, the things we never thought to think twice about.

I lift my eyes, above it all, and see the one weaving the stars. Imohel, the God of Gods. He smiles and pauses briefly to touch a finger to the center of my forehead, and at his touch, I fall.

Fall through the stars.

Through time.

Through light and wind and fire.

Through smoke and a sky gray like ashes.

I just… I absolutely adored this read. The prose is breath-taking, the cover is stunning, the characters and the focus on best friends over romance is so well-done… I can’t find enough words to tell you how much I love this book. I highly recommend this to lovers of Aladdin, fairy tale retellings, and girl-power. I feel everyone can find something to love in this read, so if you’ve been thinking about picking it up, you totally should! Instant favorite.

2

A Review of Epitaphs (Echoes #2), by Therin Knite

Epitaphs (Echoes, #2)

Goodreads Rating: 4.36 Stars
352 Pages
Knite and Day Publishing
Get a copy here!

Adem Adamend still has it rough. His name is still ludicrous. His friends are still few. And his new boss likes to break his nose twice a week in combat training.

But when a local college senior is brutally murdered by the dream of a sandstorm brought to life–and the monsters hiding within–Adem finds himself swiftly ripped from his boring training curriculum and tossed into a web of secrets and lies in the heart of the city he calls home.

With threads pointing to the ruthless Columbian mob, a cyber-attack threat against multiple federal agencies, and the shadow of the man who sponsored Adem’s corrupt ex-mentor, the IBI-turned-EDPA agent knows he has little time before the body count rises exponentially.

But in order for Adem to solve the case, he’ll have to contend with old wounds still raw, a new team he doesn’t think he can trust, and his own developing echo powers…

…the last of which may pose the most dangerous threat of all.

– – – – –

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: Adem is still a quirky, arrogant genius; we get to see more of his “human” side in this sequel; the rest of the cast also are more vibrant, more rounded-out; the writing is still action-packed and humor-laced; there was some confusion on Adem’s name near the 60% mark—which annoyed me

Huge thanks to Therin Knite for, once again, providing me with an ecopy of this read in exchange for an honest review! This in no way changed my opinions or enjoyment of this book.

I’m holding an eight-pound turkey like a newborn in my arms when a flying bag of yams breaks a man’s jaw.

And then someone is murdered by a dream.

(Because this is my life we’re talking about.)

Warning for sensitive readers: there is graphic language and detailed violence in this book. There is a good amount of blood and gore, and several dozen murders. If you are triggered by or uncomfortable with this, please be sure to really think about picking this book up.

So…first off, I’m not sure I enjoyed this one QUITE as much as I did the first book in this series. I don’t know why this is, exactly—there’s still a TON of action, drama, and genius involved. Adem is still a snarky, arrogant, quirky character; Jin is still the strange, overly-attached sidekick. There are still plenty of dream sequences, violent life-or-death battles, and AHA! moments. But for some reason, I wasn’t as INTO this book as I was Echoes. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this sort of read this time around; that’s what I’m hoping, at least, because I LOVE Therin Knite’s writing.

And that’s when I realize I’m sitting next to my body.

It’s lying on the floor, face down. Blood creeps out from around a gaping wound on my skull (and seeps from my nose). With the orange haze, I can’t be sure, but I swear I spot a flash of white bone beneath the bloody pulp and tangled, matted patch of hair. My body doesn’t move, doesn’t even twitch, and for years in seconds I don’t think it’s breathing, this thing with my face and my shape and my clothes and my recently acquired injuries.

I’m a ghost.

That’s the first thought that pops into my head.

I was killed by a f*cking statue, and now I’m a ghost.

That being said, this was still an entertaining, enjoyable read. The action kicks off right from the beginning; Therin Knite continues to astound me with her awesome writing and on-point plot. Perhaps the biggest thing I found lacking in this book were the plot twists—there didn’t seem to be as many as in Echoes. Instead, most of the answers were clear from the get-go (at least, to me) which made the “reveal” feel less authentic.

There were also some…spelling? inconsistencies in regards to Adem’s name near the 60% mark. I became confused pretty quickly, because suddenly (for at least one chapter) he began calling himself ADAM, instead of Adem. It caught me off guard, and sort of annoyed me overall—I actually took a second to wonder if I’d perhaps just been reading his name wrong this entire time. But no, it reverts back after that chapter. I’m not sure what happened there, but… Eh.

It’s a requirement for people in positions like theirs, breaking your heart until it heals calloused. Because they must be immovable rocks, reliable always, for their men and women to stand upon when the rest of the world shifts like sand beneath unsteady feet.

Overall, this was just the sort of quirky, adventurous read I’ve come to expect of Therin Knite’s novels, and I can’t WAIT for the concluding novel to come out this year…mostly because this book ends on a pretty spectacular cliff-hanger. I recommend this book to lovers of Inception, adventure-packed novels, and lots of life-or-death battle scenes. For the second book in a series, this held up pretty well; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Adem in the future!

5

A Review of Rogue (Talon #2), by Julie Kagawa

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Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?

– – – – –

Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: blasted love triangle!; some obvious and easy-to-see-coming plot “twists”; an intriguing and surprising ending; character growth (particularly in Garret); action-packed story; some unanswered questions

I’m sure you can all say this first part with me: The cover is GORGEOUS (duh) but also, how did it take me this long to realize that the two covers in this series so far have represented our two main dragon characters? Obviously, Talon is red…as is Ember. And Rogue is blue…as is my beloved rogue dragon, Cobalt/Riley! (Yes, I’m on the Riley/Cobalt team. I just don’t have butterflies about Garret like I do Riley, I can’t help it! I tried! I tried so hard!) The third cover in the series was just revealed the sixth—it looks intriguing, though not quite keeping in line with the dragon scale theme we’ve had going on. Of course, given the MAJOR PLOT TWIST at the end of this book, the chainmail is actually pretty fitting for the finale. Here, look at the beautiful:

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“Relax, oh paranoid one. I doubt there’ll be Talon agents hiding in the potted plants.”

To get the most annoying bit of this review out of the way first: what the hell is up with the blasted love triangle?! Why do almost all young adult books set in a dystopian-esque or fantasy world feel the need to shove love triangles in readers’ faces? After finishing The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare earlier this year…no love triangle is ever going to top or beat out that one. They all pale so much in comparison; authors, you should just give it up. You’ll never win over the queen of epic love stories. Don’t even try!

That being said: I really enjoyed the character development of Garret in this book. (I know, I know, shoot me now—I don’t think he’s a good love interest for Ember, but as a best friend he’s got huge potential. You know, if he hadn’t already fallen in love with her.) Seriously, though—he goes through such a huge transformation in this book, it’s astounding! Sadly, he’s about the only one who does any changing in a positive way, though? Riley maintains his snarky, cool exterior…but also develops a sort of crazy-man syndrome when it comes to Ember. And Ember? She flip-flops so often I spent most of the book looking like I was chasing a tennis ball back and forth across the court. Seriously, girl—make a decision and stick the hell with it already! (I know, I just can’t get over this stupid love triangle. I apologize.)

“Oh, is that all?” Riley frowned, gesturing to the broken window. “And how are we supposed to find where this shooter is without taking a hole to the head? I don’t feel like playing whack-a-mole with a trained sniper right now.”

The action is decently written and fast-paced, though I found some of the “twists” to be a bit obvious and lacking. Many of them I found myself guessing way early on—like, right after certain characters were introduced early. Perhaps this is due to Julie Kagawa’s foreshadowing, however—it seems certain things she practically gives away for free, while others she plays closer to the chest. In fact, many of the unanswered questions I was left with at the end of this book—plus the BIG plot twist at the very end—remain ignored, to be answered a different day in the final installment. This balance is both intriguing and slightly frustrating for me—there are certain things I feel I NEED to know now, before heading into the last book, that I’m not sure I have clues for yet.

Overall, I enjoyed this read—the prose is exciting, pretty in some instances, and constantly filled with snark (which I just adore); the plot is well-paced and balanced; the love triangle I would prefer to do without, but… well, I can’t agree with everything all the time, right? I can’t wait to see what the third book brings to the table for this series! I’d definitely recommend to lovers of dragons, fantasy, and action-packed plots—this is a firebreather bound to singe you!