Omnilogos by Michele Amitrani (Extended Version)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

““I am a collector of hopes and peregrine truths, a shepherd of thoughts, ideas, projects and dreams too important not to be realized. I’m an abstract concept that has no body, no smell, no boundaries, no shape and no color.
I am the Omnilogos.”

So it is forged, a Science Fiction saga that gave birth to a legend, a tale about the life of a man with one project that will change mankind’s future forever.
Ten stories about his life, his sorrow, and his quest to gather the resources and the people needed to claim our place among the stars.

This is Wei’s story.

This is the world of the Omnilogos. ”

My Review:

How many of you have heard “Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers? The ending of Omnilogos reminded me of the chorus lyrics, “…Bye bye love, bye bye sweet caress, hello emptiness / I feel like I could die…”

I wanted to enjoy Omnilogos…and I did! I received a sample from Amitrani so that I could decide if I wanted to continue reading the book and I’m glad that I was given such an opportunity. But do I still have complaints? Well…I’m afraid so.

Omnilogos lacked characters. Now, there were obviously characters in the story, but they weren’t developed. I don’t mean “I read about their daily lives but they made no changes,” but more “I only knew them at face value and never felt connected to them, even the main character.” The novel started off with character building and I loved it. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to continue the book, Wei sounded really cool and I wanted to know more about him, and any of the other characters, on a more personal level. I wanted “the world of the Omnilogos,” not just the outside glimpse of it. I still liked each character, with their interesting and unique personalities that shone in their dialogue and conduct. I also sort of understand why I didn’t receive the in-depth view that I was hoping for, but I still found myself wishing there was more character building.

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Slip by David Estes

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

“Someone must die before another can be born…

As sea levels rise and livable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population. Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child. Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population. The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.
But what if one child slipped through the cracks? What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them? Would it change anything? Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?
And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?
In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.”

Review:

Alright Estes, no need to beg on your knees, I’ll write a review for the first book in the Slip trilogy. (Merely a joke to do with his message to the reader)

Slip took me on a fascinating, but often confusing journey through yet another dystopian world. The United States, now renamed Reorganized United States of America, has a new population control method that, according the statistics, works flawlessly. Unless…until, there is an UnBee, or Unauthorized Being, or, even worse, a full-blown Slip.

The rabbit hole never seems to end in this book. There is so much secrecy, so many lies, so many hidden motives and identities, that sometimes I would just be plain lost. Why is this guy like that? Who has this name? Why do they have the same name? Wait what? But by the end, “all was revealed” and every loose end, every unexplained mystery made painful perfect sense. Like many books that I enjoy, I won’t give away any spoilers and even names would actually give away a large piece of the plot so forgive me for being vague.

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Rend the Dark by Mark Gelineau, Joe King

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 4/5 (on a novella scale)

Synopsis:

“The great Ruins are gone. The titans. The behemoths. All banished to the Dark and nearly forgotten. But the cunning ones, the patient ones remain. They hide not in the cracks of the earth or in the shadows of the world. But inside us. Wearing our skin. Waiting. Watching.
Once haunted by visions of the world beyond, Ferran now wields that power to hunt the very monsters that he once feared. He is not alone. Others bear the same terrible burden. But Hunter or hunted, it makes no difference. Eventually, everything returns to the Dark.”

My Review:

This was a fast-paced and fascinating novella. I liked that it took me no longer than an half an hour to read (although the original expected time of completion was an hour) and that it was packed with action and slivers of wisdom and honor.

Considering that this is a novella, I cannot say much because it is short and also so that I don’t reveal any spoilers, but I connected with the characters, Ferran especially. I believe that although none of the characters (save Ferran) were given a backstory as of yet and there wasn’t much exploration of their personalities, Gelineau and King left a promise behind to give them depth. And I do believe (and hope) they will keep that promise.

My only complaint is that as the story continues, the action scenes seem to be recycled. Although the actual scene that is taking place is different, the way it is described doesn’t change. The same phrases were used with a little to no changes made and that made each scene a little bit less ‘originally’ vivid. Nonetheless, Rend the Dark was still great to read and I would even be interested in reading the sequel.

Would I Recommend Rend the Dark? I would recommend Rend the Dark, but keep in mind that it is a novella and short no matter the price.

I received this novella for free via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams by Rachel Barnard

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

“As the U.S. government prepares to take over the world, MC infiltrates one of their elite academies that trains future leaders. MC must rise to the top in the Cube training grounds in order to be placed high up within the government so she can stop them in their takeover.

It is not until her fourth and final year at the academy that her top-student status is threatened by the sudden arrival of Li, the new transfer student. MC is completely focused on her self-created mission until she gets sidetracked by Li, who might be bad news in more ways than which she bargained.”

My Review:

I’m no stranger to imagination. In fact, I partake in imagination through my day every day. And it is infinitely easier to imagine that you’re on a different planet when you’re creating the scenes in your mind, than it is to write a book about those very scenes. Even so, I was still disappointed with Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams.

I couldn’t quite place my finger on what I was feeling until I was on the last four minutes of the book. But it was that I felt like the story wasn’t real.

Now before you raise an eyebrow at me, let me be clear. I know that fiction means none of what I was reading was real. But I expect it to feel real. I expect to be so enthralled in a story that I forget that I will eventually return to reality. And Ataxia just didn’t pull through.

Meet MC. No, that doesn’t stand for Main Character and even if it did, that would be unbearably foolish on Barnard’s part. You never find out what her actual name is and frankly, I didn’t care. She’s supposed to be the main character, but I wasn’t buying it. Nothing about her made me believe that she was a heroine, a brave person, or capable of doing even the simplest of tasks to save a cat from a tree, much less people from a government. Not to mention that she was terrifyingly naive. If someone tells you that you’re somehow involved in a super secret society that you didn’t know about and this society needs to find the government, what would your response be? Certainly not: Okay! That sounds amazing, I’m totally in! And even though I don’t trust you, I will listen to all the information you give me and even follow you blindly to a location I’m unfamiliar with. At least, I hope that that isn’t what your response would be.

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Defects by Sarah Noffke (Review)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

“In the happy, clean community of Austin Valley, everything appears to be perfect. Seventeen-year-old Em Fuller, however, fears something is askew. Em is one of the new generation of Dream Travelers. For some reason, the gods have not seen fit to gift all of them with their expected special abilities.
Em is a Defect—one of the unfortunate Dream Travelers not gifted with a psychic power. Desperate to do whatever it takes to earn her gift, she endures painful daily injections along with commands from her overbearing, loveless father. One of the few bright spots in her life is the return of a friend she had thought dead—but with his return comes the knowledge of a shocking, unforgivable truth. The society Em thought was protecting her has actually been betraying her, but she has no idea how to break away from its authority without hurting everyone she loves.”

My Review:

What an amazing ride. I have read countless paranormal books filled with people that have super powers or special abilities of some sort. But this one as truly impressed me.

Em Fuller is an amazing young woman. She endures constant verbal and sometimes physical about from her entire family save her younger sister and her ‘tutu.’ Yet, she manages to stay a lovely, but rebellious woman that always asks questions and never accepts the truth from liars. After being brainwashed for seventeen years of her life, she finally finds the truth and makes choices recklessly, but also carefully. You would think that that wouldn’t be possible, but it is with Em. There are many things that she doesn’t know about herself that she is exposed to later on and it makes this read that much more interesting. Unlike normal books, the plot doesn’t start with Em hating the government. It starts with her compliant to it, respecting it, and then realizing otherwise. I loved that. I already knew the government was corrupt, it always is in Dystopian novels, but it was still incredibly engaging to find out why. Em also doesn’t look in a mirror and describe herself, an easy way for authors to give details about the character, instead, she focuses on true matters at hand. (Because really, main characters already know what they look like, why would they randomly describe themselves?) Em remains focused, curious, and determined throughout the entire plot, never giving up, always thinking, and always planning. She was an incredibly lovable character.

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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

You Made Me by Kelvin Reynolds and Mia Dakin

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

“You think you know your mum and dad. But you don’t. My name is Coral and I’m fifteen years old. One photograph changed my life. Without the photo I would never have met Tilly, the nastiest girl in the school or had my first fight. Without the photograph I would never have met and lost Joel, the fittest boy on the planet. Without the photograph I would never have flown an eagle owl or sang in a rock band. And without the photograph I wouldn’t be crouching on a sheepskin rug soaked with blood, looking up into the barrel of a shotgun. And it’s not true what they say. THE CAMERA DOES LIE. This is my story but it could so easily be yours.”

My Review:

I wish I had something to compare this book to so that everyone could understand how painful it was to read it, but I don’t. Hopefully, the rest of my review will clear everything up.

Actually, I do have an analogy. Once, I watched a video where a guy put two-hundred (200) pieces of gum in his mouth and then proceeded to chew it. Not to be too graphic, but there was saliva cascading out of his mouth, he couldn’t close his mouth, and the gum was a disgusting mess. In two words, I could describe two-hundred pieces of gum and this book: Too Much.

The synopsis. Completely misleading, especially this part: “This is my story but it could so easily be yours.” Don’t quote me, but I’m pretty sure that the probability of someone having the same life as Coral in You Made Me “easily” is around a 1/100,000,000,000. Make no mistake, everything in the synopsis does occur in the novel, the issue is that it makes you think this book will be interesting. That’s why it is misleading.

The main character, Coral Matthews, was empty. I don’t mean in the “I feel like I have no purpose” type of empty; I mean the “Is this what is supposed to realistically represent the female teenagers in our society?” empty. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is that Coral is one of the worst characters I have come upon. She wasn’t clever, had no brains, “acted out” in the name of being a teenager, wasn’t interesting, was quite rude to multiple people without reason, and was just…awful. I’m not saying she is impossible to love…I just don’t see what reasons the people around her could give as to why anyone could. Is that harsh? Probably. To give an example without spoiling anything, Coral ends up having to leave a place that she’s made many friends in. Instead of talking to said friends or at least thinking about her response beforehand, she responds by lashing out at everyone because “it’s better this way.” (Cliche line, by the way) Or another example, a certain person is told very important information for the first time with Coral present. Instead of thinking to herself, “Wow, I didn’t know you didn’t know that. We’re both in shock,” Coral decides that that certain person has blatantly lied to them. She screams, “You lied to me! I hate you, I HATE YOU!” How does that make sense? If Jane is chatting to Jack about her new dog and Austin walks up and tells Jane that her dog just died, is Jack entitled to call her a liar? What has Jane lied about? How do you lie about information you don’t know yet? Final excerpt from the story, Coral is angry at a certain person for not making the attempt to contact her, even though Coral is the one who has actually done wrong. Coral’s response? “I am still angry, very angry after all these years but I needed to know the truth, you can’t blame me for trying can you?” If I were in this novel, I would most definitely blame her, but instead, the person she’s talking to does not in order to continue this poorly thought out plot.

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Homegrown Terror (Project Forge series) by Steve White

Bit of a hiccup in the normal schedule due to my kindle malfunctioning, but I will post on Friday and continue with the schedule as per usual. 

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Review: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

“Kendra is a soft spoken girl at school, and many of her friends would describe her independent and shy. But beneath the surface is a fierce warrior: Kendra is in fact a teen spy. Her “parents” are handlers for the National Security Agency, and she is sent on missions around the country. Her newest mission: a new homegrown terrorist organization has sprung up in the US, and she must tear the organization down. She will come up against more danger than she has ever faced before – will she save her country? Or will she die trying?”

My Review:

I feel bad about this book, it sounded interesting and I was hoping to enjoy it. In short, Homegrown Terror, is terribly boring. I don’t say that in a harsh way, allow me to explain.

Kendra doesn’t really have much to her. She is human, but acts as if she was given emotions, rather than born with them. That isn’t entirely her fault though. The story is told in limited third person, and the writing doesn’t make it work. I’ll get to that later. Throughout Homegrown Terror, Kendra doesn’t seem to feel much. I couldn’t connect with her, she did and felt everything in a matter-of-fact way. For instance, if she was kicked in the shin, her first response wouldn’t be “Ow!” it would be: I see. That hurt. I will say “Ow” now. “Ow!” She was an unrealistic character as well. I wasn’t expecting something extremely realistic, we are talking about a teenager working for the NSA here, but it was difficult to see her as a teenager. The whole book was about her being a teenaged spy, but with a few edits, I would have thought that she was a grown woman with a very small amount of human emotion. Despite all of the book following her adventures, I feel as if I didn’t even read about her. There should definitely have been more of a back-story for her, yet it was quickly glossed over. A teenager working for the NSA needs an epic back-story, especially if throughout the entire book, Kendra silently wishes she was ‘normal.’ It was a short read, yes, but there’s never an excuse for not developing your characters.

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Awakening (Absence of Song series) by C.B. Stone

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

Though music is forbidden and could get me in big trouble with the Ministry, I nevertheless often find myself singing softly in spite of the danger. Little do I know just how much hot water my strange compulsion to sing will actually land me in.
What is happening in the world around me? How is it happening? How does the stranger Noah fit into things? And most importantly… why me? I’m no more special than the next person.
So many questions and so many dangers. All I can do is trust that whatever is happening, it is good. I can see that it’s good, and I refuse to let anyone convince me otherwise.

My Review:

This was a weird experience and not in a good way I’m afraid. A world where singing, humming, and music in general is banned is difficult to imagine. It is undoubtedly a horrifying thought. Yet, this is the world that Jaelynn lives in.
I think that maybe Awakening was some sort of a “pre-book,” but there is no excuse for the rather poor quality. It was not engaging, it was not descriptive, it was emotionless, severely under-developed, and drab. Now here’s why.

Jaelynn Rose is the heroine. Why? I have a strong guess, but for now, I don’t know and neither do you. Since neither you nor I know why she’s the heroine, I would assume that Stone would give hints. Maybe try to make it less obscure as to why she decided Jaelynn is the heroine I want to spend some of my limited time on earth reading about. Instead, all I am given is that when she sleeps, she hears songs. Phenomenal. Not to mention, at one point, Jaelynn isn’t sure what her own name is. She introduces herself as Jaelynn and her parents call her Jaelynn, but then she called herself Jaclyn when she was thinking. It happened once, but it was there. I for one would be terrified if I relied on a heroine who forgot what her name was.

I felt that Jaelynn was pretty naive. A few sentences here and there did their best to make her seem intuitive and always questioning things, but it didn’t happen. If anyone’s ever experienced a really long winter with a ton of snow, they know that there are huge potholes in the road and they easily fill up with water. Now, anyone with common sense wouldn’t look at a pothole filled with water and think “Haha! I’m going to jump in, it can’t be that deep.” because that’s just not a good idea. Sadly, that was mostly what Jaelynn did. She had no self-control whatsoever for example: “Whoa! A strange man is approaching? I’m totally safe if this fence is between us. Let’s exchange names! I want to tell you my secret that could get me and my family killed.” or even “I barely know you, but let’s cramp ourselves in this very small room all alone and hope nothing bad happens.” Really? Are you kidding? That is very dangerous, please don’t do that. Her inability to lie to her parents was eye-roll worthy. Of course she can’t lie to her parents, what does she have to lie about? She doesn’t do anything at all, besides a mundane routine and then hears some songs in her dreams. I’m sure this is just a tool to make sure in later books it seems like her “innocence” is being taken away because of the government. I didn’t see a leader in Jaelynn and while it could be a way to show character development throughout the later books, this wasn’t the way to do it. Instead of making me interested in seeing Jaelynn develop, it made me write her off the “Could Be a Heroine” list.

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The Cure by Stephanie Erickson

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Price: $3.99

Official Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

“One life will make the difference.” Macey Holsinger has been hearing that promise her whole life. But it hasn’t saved anyone yet, not even her little brother.
The disease has claimed countless lives in the last hundred years, and the government is working hard to find a cure through human testing. Testing that has killed nearly as many people as the disease.
At sixteen, Macey has better things to think about than saving lives and submitting to any rule other than her parents’. As a budding artist, she has her whole life ahead of her, at least until she faces her own testing.
Questions plague Macey. Questions that make everyone else nervous. How can death be justified with more death? What’s the point of all this?
Answers evade her until she’s left with only one question: How much will she sacrifice in the name of the cure?
If you liked The Hunger Games or Divergent, you’ll love The Cure!

My Review:

I’m always very skeptical about books in the free section and in the dystopian, Young Adult genre. The abundance of the less-than-riveting choices is astounding and not in a good way. But, The Cure shocked me and I loved it.

The first thing that I noticed was that this is under the dystopian genre, but if you look at the title of this review, this isn’t a series. Yes, this is a young adult dystopian book that is not a series. Everything is tied up in just one book and that is amazing.

Macey Holsinger is the heroine, and she honestly is. Macey is in tenth grade, loves art, misses her little brother, has two parents and a best friend who’s like a brother, and a whole lot of questions. Her questions and natural instinct to defy what everyone just accepts gets her in trouble in school, but lands her an opportunity she would’ve given almost anything to participate in. Macey had a well-developed personality. She went through a range of emotions: anger, sadness, fear, depression, determination, and so on. Her main objective wasn’t to take down the government nor was it to just let the government do whatever it wanted and I respect Erickson for pulling that off. Macy was real, a person who just happened to live inside of a book. She loved, cried, screamed, defied, glared, stayed in a vegetable state for a week, stood up for herself, questioned everything including herself, thought outside the box, cared, and never stopped being human.

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