There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane: Book Blitz & Giveaway!

 

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Stars.jpgSynopsis:

“Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of the dome. Now Nat wants answers. Is there life outside the dome and if so, what has the Order been hiding from everyone?”

 

 

Kindle Price: $3.82

Official Rating: 3.5/5

 

My Review:

McFarlane, please forward my apologies to your co-worker, Ms. Kahla Dombowsky, for I am stealing her quote: This is so good!

There Once Were Stars was predictable, but unpredictable, and that’s not only possible, but also enjoyable.

Here’s what was predictable: Government of some sort is bad, inevitable love triangle, female main character with brown eyes and brown hair, lies, lies, and more lies, the main character getting upset when everything she knows is a lie, a smirking love interest, an I’ve known you my whole life and you’re sweet and comfortable love interest.

Here’s what was unpredictable: The government, the love triangle, the main character, the main character’s reactions to lies, the smirking love interest, and the comfortable love interest.

Are you interested now?

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Kingdom from Ashes by Megan Linski

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Princess Bennua is to be married. The daughter of a sultan, her duty is to marry a powerful yet cruel warlord to be her husband, sealing an alliance that will scare the desert of Sahrahn into submission. But the wedding is halted in place when the infamous Raider Prince, king of thieves and leader of the dark city Ashana, threatens to take her city by force.

Sacrificing her freedom for her country, Bennua agrees to accompany the Raider Prince on his travels if he leaves her homeland alone. Stolen from her charmed life Bennua begins to learn the truth of what lies beyond the palace walls and the suffering that plagues Sahrahn’s people. Bennua begins to plan her escape, but the more she learns from the thieves the more she finds herself becoming one of the them…all while falling hard for their leader, the Raider Prince himself.

A portion of the author’s royalties from the sale of each Kingdom Saga novel will be donated to furthering the education of girls around the globe.”

My Review:

This is the second book I read for the #MakeMeRead readathon and after a disastrous start, I’m glad that Kingdom from Ashes was able to salvage some of the leftovers of my expectations.

I don’t know if there’s a real time frame for Kingdom of Ashes, but it was definitely not modern. Truthfully, it seemed to be set in the Middle East and it had a religion that seemed similar to Islam. For example, the women had to wear veils, they followed a god called Alshams (Allah), women aren’t encouraged/allowed to be in charge (in this book), the men were allowed to have multiple wives while the women were only allowed one husband, and some other things. Although this opinion is coming from someone is who not a follower of Islam, from my perspective, the representation of the religion Alshams didn’t appear to be a mockery of Islam or anything of the sort.

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Truths and Dares by Amity Hope (Review)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:


~*~*~Young Adult Romance~*~*~

Somewhere in between playing in the sandbox and starting high school, Harper Monroe fell in love with her best friend. Seth Ryerson was the boy who lived next door. He was the boy who dared to give her her first kiss. He was the boy she cried over when her mother decided to uproot her from her hometown. He’s also the boy with a secret.

When Seth finds out that Harper is coming back to town halfway through their senior year, he hates that he can’t be happy about it. Because Harper is the one person who knows the truth. And as far as Seth is concerned, the truth really doesn’t set you free.”

My Review:

TRIGGER WARNING: CHILD ABUSE

WARNING: Entire review is based on a spoiler, it could not be helped.

 

It angers me, no, infuriates me to no end, when an author has the audacity to not include a trigger warning on the synopsis of their book. What I’m about to say is a spoiler, a huge one actually, because it’s the foundation of the entire book, but it’s important to expose it.

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Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Stone Braide Chronicles)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.”

My Review:

Thunder was an interesting novel that I was skeptical about. I read the synopsis and thought, Hm, the title and the cover are rather cliche, but it doesn’t look awful. Wait…hunting other people and selling them? Isn’t that…slavery? After I saw that, I was even more interested in reading this book. I know a guy who woke up one day and attempted to write a book about slavery, with little to no legitimate researched knowledge on the topic. The book quickly, painfully, thankfully fell apart. Slavery just isn’t the type of topic you can just hop out of bed and start writing about. So when I noticed (and it was impossible not to) that Calhoun has it as a rather large part of the book, I had to see how she was going to pull it off.

The verdict? It was respectful and I wasn’t left with the feeling that Calhoun wrote Thunder in a lackadaisical manner, but it still was centered on the capturing and selling actual beings. A post-apocalyptic slavery (in America no less) that sprang up due to another type of person that someone put a bounty on is an odd choice, given America’s history.

Onto the actual book: I wasn’t impressed. There was just no…Google, help me out, what word am I looking for? Enthusiasm? Maybe. When I read a book, there’s always some sort of inner voice that I hear reading with me. The one that creates the characters’ voices and really helps my mind use my five senses to really read. My inner voice was reading this story to me in the same way you talk about something you aren’t really interested in. A flat tone of voice, mechanical descriptions, just disinterested. Make no mistake, having the right amount of description in a young adult novel is hard. You either have no descriptive words/phrases or all of your sentences sound like this:
She gently lowered herself to the ground until her delicate fingers grasped the flower. Its pink color looked like the rosy cheeks of a newborn baby, quiet gibberish on their lips. The flower’s gossamer petals tickled the nerve-endings in her fingers as she sighed, thinking about Joseph.

Admittedly, this is a really descriptive piece, but in my opinion–even though I wrote it–it’s trying too hard and I don’t like it. It’s incredibly difficult to find that descriptive balance, but when it comes down to it, you would want your book to be over-descriptive, rather than not descriptive at all. Continue reading

Jump When Ready (Jump When Ready series) by David Pandolfe

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Since he drowned, Henry has remained with the same group of teenagers and he keeps wondering why. After all, what could he possibly have in common with a mohawk-sporting punker from the 80s, a roller skater from the 70s with a thing for kimonos, and an English “rocker” from the 60s? Add to that, Henry can hear the other groups but he never sees them. Soon, Henry learns that his new friends all possess unique skills for making themselves noticed by the living. Is Henry’s group kept isolated because of their abilities? If so, are they considered gifted or seen only as a potential bad influence?
Before Henry can reach any conclusions, he witnesses his sister being kidnapped. He knows who did it, where she’s being held and what will happen if the kidnappers don’t get what they want. As the police chase false leads, Henry comes to realize that he’s his sister’s only hope. But for Henry to even have a chance, he has to convince a group of teenagers that dead doesn’t mean helpless.

My Review:

This was a bitter-sweet book. The ending broke my heart and I wasn’t expecting it to. It’s a quite short book and surprisingly…the main characters are dead. I definitely don’t want to spoil anything so I will be writing this review carefully.

The story follows Henry after he has drowned, but not quite gone to Heaven. It wasn’t described completely, but the gist is that this is where the kids go where they aren’t quite in Heaven nor Hell, but are waiting to be reborn into a new life. The synopsis is once again a little bit misleading, Henry only briefly wonders why he and his group of friends are separated from the others. He is mostly too occupied getting to know how it feels being “between lives,” as they all call it, and saving his sister from a kidnapping. The plot is interesting, not quite edge-of-your-seat, but it keeps you absorbed in the world that Pandolfe has created. His writing is full of descriptions so that you can really understand and see what is going on around you. He did, to my disappointment, include curse words that weren’t necessary. It completely jerked me out of the book and I had to re-insert myself into it. There were only a few, but it was still needless.

The character development is what broke my heart and again, I cannot give anything away lest I give away the whole plot. But let it be known, the way Pandolfe wrote it made my heart squeeze.

Jump When Ready received three-and-a-half stars due to the fact that I felt that because the story focused mainly on Henry’s sister being kidnapped, a lot of good character back-story was lost. The character that developed was briefly shown and then disappeared until the very end, so while I did acknowledge his development, I didn’t really see why he changed. It just kind of happened. Is it worth ninety-nine cents? In my opinion, I don’t believe so. But Jump When Ready has a lot more to offer than many other ninety-nine cent books so if you decide the price isn’t so bad, I suggest you check it out.

Identity (Eyes Wide Open series) by Ted Dekker

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Official rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

“Identity is Book 1 of a four episode thrill ride from New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker.

Who am I?

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.

I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.

Some will say that I’m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don’t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.

So who are you?

In a return to the kind of storytelling that made Black, Showdown and Three unforgettable, New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern day parable about how we see ourselves.

Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last pure escapism packed with inescapable truth. Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally.”

My review:

I wasn’t sure what I had expected from reading the synopsis (which I didn’t remember by the time I opened up this book), but it wasn’t this. I was completely engrossed in what was going to happen next, to the point where class had started ten minutes ago and I was accidentally ignoring a classmate who was trying to hand me the attendance sheet.

This episode was intense and if there was a line between a tiny bit scared and really intrigued I’d have one foot on each side. For whatever reason, I was expecting to read a book about Christy Snow, who is going to find herself and somehow the locket on the front cover is tied into that journey. Instead, I read an episode about Christy Snow getting trapped in a hair-raising predicament with a dangerous enemy that’s a bit unrealistic.

This is the first thriller book I’ve ever read (by accident) and it was good. The writing was great, little to no mistakes, with description that made the situations become vivid. However I had a few issues with it.

  1. Christy finds “ten pounds” to be fat. While I do understand that girls struggle with accepting their weight, ten pounds? I’m not sure why Dekker decided to slip that in there, but I wish it was explained a little more.
  2. Does Dekker understand how psychiatric wards work? Because I don’t. But, I do know this, unless everyone in the psychiatric ward is in on this scheme, the way they go about confirming patients is inefficient and ridiculous in this day and age (assuming it’s this day and age).
  3. (Spoiler) When Christy gets trapped underground because of the trap door, instead of wasting her battery on her dying phone by using the flashlight, why didn’t she call someone? If she had, the whole situation would have been fine. And let’s be honest, it would have been better to call the police rather than your best friend.
  4. Why would Christy answer the shrink provided by someone holding her against her will? If the psychiatric ward is corrupt, why would you want them to know exactly what’s going on with you? Keep that private so they have nothing on you.
  5.  If someone held you against your will in a psychiatric ward and insists that you’re someone else, would your first thought be: “Am I this person? Am I crazy and they’re telling the truth?” If it is then that’s a serious case of identity confusion. A few hours and you’re already ready to believe that you’re delusional and don’t know who you are? Come on, Christy.

There isn’t much to say about it since it’s only about six chapters long, but just to add, on Goodreads this series is tagged as Christian fiction. I’m not sure how he’ll tie Christianity into it, but I hope Dekker won’t mess it up. I would recommend this episode, it will take you about twenty minutes or so to read (depending on if you’re multitasking).

Raspberries and Vinegar (stand-alone series) by Valerie Comer

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

Josephine Shaw: complex, yet singleminded. A tiny woman with big ideas and, some would say, a mouth to match. But what does she really know about sustainable living as it relates to the real world? After all, she and her two friends are new to farming.

Zachary Nemesek is back only until his dad recovers enough to work his own land again. When Zach discovers three helpless females have taken up residence at the old farm next door, he expects trouble. But a mouse invasion proves Jo has everything under control. Is there anything she can’t handle? And surely there’s something sweet beneath all that tart.

My review:

This book caught my interest because it’s a Christian Romance novel, so I correctly assumed that it would be free of sexual scenes and things such as that. However, it also was missing a large part of romance.

I did like the book, but despite the unique characters, I felt that the romance aspect fell flat. Josephine Shaw had character, she strongly believes that God gave us earth and that we need to take better care of it and she’s on a mission to get everyone to come on board. She finds herself with her two best friends, Sierra and Claire, in the middle of a town on land that they’re determined to make into a self-sustainable farm.

Josephine, called Jo throughout the story, has a lot of problems. She’s enthusiastic about her cause, but sometimes she comes off as self-righteous and overbearing. Jo tends to jump to conclusions before she has the full story and often, it’s her best friend Sierra, that she accuses. While she recognizes the beauty of earth, she often fails to see the beauty in herself. I appreciated that aspect of her though, it was there, but it wasn’t pushed at the reader, she didn’t immediately start off with “I stared at my mousey brown hair and sighed. Why couldn’t I have gotten this color hair instead like that other girl?” Instead, while it was obvious that she doesn’t see herself in a positive light all the time, she doesn’t completely insult herself at any and every moment she can.

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