Forbidden Mind by Karpov Kinrade

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

“49% of Americans believe their government officials are honest. I don’t know these officials, or their supporters, but I know their secrets, and 49% of Americans are wrong.
My employers pay me well to be right, to know things others can’t. But I don’t know why they brought that boy in, strapped to a stretcher, barely conscious. He asked me for help when I could give none.
I’m a wealthy spy, a talented artist, a martial arts black belt, and a prisoner. They tell me that on my eighteenth birthday, I will be released, free to go to the college of my dreams. It’s my eighteenth birthday, and a man in black is at my door. I know he’s not here to free me.
I know, because I can read minds.
My name is Sam, and this is my story.
So begins the tale of Sam and Drake–from the time they link minds, forging a bond that leads to an unconventional romance–to their fight for survival against the corrupt, twisted organization known as ‘Rent-A-Kid.'”

My Review:

I was pleased with many aspects of Forbidden Mind. The romance, the characters, the plot, even the writing. It wasn’t a hard book to read and although I always try, I couldn’t find anything to truly gripe over.

Sam was a great female main character. You do have to wait a couple of chapters before she develops as a character, but it’s worth the wait. It was well placed, well written, appropriate, and I loved it. She ignored the consequences that may arise, even to her immediately physical health, and pushed until she did what she thought was right. That is true character development. I respected her after seeing that and it truly was the stepping stone for all of the growth that would take place. She didn’t cry much which was rather nice. Sure there were tears and sobbing every now and then, but overall she kept herself focused on the many tasks at hand without having a mental breakdown every two minutes. Would I blame her if she had had mental breakdowns? Nope. But the fact that Kinrade didn’t make her have three million in the course of five chapters was awesome. The way she handles her powers are amazing, there is constant self-control and it’s evident throughout the plot. As Sam learns things about the place that she has been for the past 18 years, which the she and the students call “Rent-A-Kid,” she doesn’t immediately believe that she must be everyone’s savior. There was no: “I am the only one who knows. I must save everyone.” or “I sobbed for the loss of my innocence. I now knew something so great, so powerful, that I had to do something. The task was completely and solely up to me and I felt the weight on my shoulders.” Nope. She included people (the ones she trusted) and didn’t try to save her world all on her own. That is a characteristic of a leader.

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Exalted by Tara Elizabeth (Exalted Series)

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

“After the fall of mankind, the Exalted became the protectors of the people. As an Exalted trainee, all Mena ever wanted was to be strong, to serve and to fearlessly protect the people of the United Republic of the Saved. All Exalted feel the same. In fact, that’s all they feel. Only when Ryker, an outsider, crashes into Mena’s life, does she learn that people are meant to feel much more.
In this bleak future, set in what’s left of the southern United States, the trainees must compete in three Trials to earn their position amongst the strongest Exalted. In these Trials, female is pitted against female and male against male in demonstrations of weaponry, fighting and survival skills. The outcome: the United Ceremony, pairing trainees together for life based on how they place. The ultimate hope is to breed stronger Exalted and even better protectors.
Upon learning from Ryker that the supplement she’s taken her entire life is actually an emotion-blocking drug, her path takes an unexpected shift. Without the veil of “The Pump” blocking her emotions, Mena struggles with competing in the Trials and with her new, confusing love life. She’s experiencing new feelings with not one but two different guys, will Mena choose to leave with Ryker and be free or stay with her childhood friend, Ethan, and be United?”

My Review:

I honestly already knew that Exalted wasn’t going to be a book I would enjoy. After reading the synopsis, I was mildly curious, but after a chapter or two in, I knew the plot and guessed almost everything that was going to happen.

Mena doesn’t have it all that bad. Her life isn’t a bleak as it seems and compared to all of the other dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels I have read, Mena has the easiest life of them all. Can you imagine living without ever feeling love? Never laughing, smiling, feeling fear, blushing, or feeling infatuation? Mena’s life consists of never feeling infatuation/love, fear, and some other emotions. That is the type of life she and the other Exalteds are familiar with.
Although she can still feel pride, anger, and embarrassment/shame, Mena enjoys her somewhat lack of emotions. As someone who knows what infatuation and such things as that feels like, n
ever having felt love seems like a horrible fate. So excuse me when I say that while I can’t ever imagine not having dreams of the future or the occasional butterfly in my stomach, I don’t know if her situation is as angry-mob worthy as it seems. The “Pump” as it is (clichely) called, does exactly what everyone is promised it will do: make you stronger. By taking the Pump, the Exalteds don’t fear, have a common goal in mind, don’t have any risk of getting pregnant (there is no lust among them, or attraction in general), no one is distracted by looks, and the overall general teenage hormonal confusion and identity crises are gone. The Exalteds are mentally and emotionally stronger, but they are only physically stronger because they’re solely focused on building physical strength. Now, by no means do I condone taking away such emotions someone without their consent, but I am trying to see the situation, given the circumstances, from both my perspective and Mena’s.

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The Forever Contract by Avery Sawyer

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Review: 1/5

Synopsis:

In the very near future, the country is plunged into drought and unrest. Scare resources and constant heat are making life completely miserable. Casey doesn’t think she can stand slugging back another gel pack or working one more shift at the wells. Fortunately, there’s a solution: anyone over the age of seventeen can sign the Forever Contract and enter a utopian paradise. While people’s minds take a permanent vacation, their bodies get warehoused and hooked up to a complex array of sensors and feeding tubes. As Casey’s brother says, “You upload your consciousness to the system and you’re free to live as long as you want, however you want. No more pain, no more heat, no more awful dust, no more work. Just pure thought. It’s what our species has always been meant for. Suffering is for philosophers. Not for me.”
Casey’s ready to sign–a permanent vacation is just what she needs. There’s only one problem: her boyfriend James doesn’t trust it.
Told from his and her perspectives, The Forever Contract is a 17,000 word (60 page) novella suitable for readers in grade 8 and above.
Would you sign the contract?

My Review:

The cover of The Forever Contract and the synopsis were both misleading. For the most part, I stay away from books that have covers like that, it usually means certain “special” events occur. None of that happened though, so I’m not sure why Sawyer chose this cover. The synopsis was what pulled me in, but it didn’t quite deliver what I was expecting either. The thought of “upload[ing] your consciousness to the system and you’re free to live as long as you want, however you want.” was intriguing. A unique twist to a dystopian novella. So why didn’t I give it more than one star?

It was completely and totally dull. I was losing my mind trying to get through this novella. Casey, James, and all the other characters were completely one-dimensional. This is one of the biggest issues with novellas: Too complex of a concept crammed into a novella. It almost always leads to poor character development and a poorly delivered plot. If you need more “book time” to develop a solid plot and solid characters than a novella will be able to provide, do not write a novella. It’s unfair to the reader, not just because they may have spent money to buy the book, but in addition, they spent time reading your book only to receive something sub par. It’s equivalent to going to a restaurant and reading over the menu (the books on shelves) and you finally choose something that sounds appetizing (the cover). The chef (author) is making the food in front of you and there are lots of flips and sizzles (the synopsis). Then, your food is finally done and the food is being put on your plate, a little sloppily, but it still looks rather good (the first few chapters). You finally take a bite and your face scrunches in disappointment as your taste buds recoil in horror. It’s undercooked and not what you expected after watching the chef’s grand flips and loud sizzles. But what can you do? You already paid. You wasted your time and money on a chef that did not deliver the service you deserved.

It was honestly a shame because this plot was incredibly amazing. There could have been ocean-deep depth, heartbreaking-ly emotional scenes between James and Casey, gorgeous world-building, and just so much more. There was barely a climax before the ending, the ending just quickly wrapped everything up. It was like those times when you’re having company over soon and you aren’t quite ready and don’t know what to do so you quickly throw things into closets and shove things under couches. I don’t know what happened why Sawyer decided to hastily end The Forever Contract this way but it was inexcusable. It left an appalling amount of uncertainty and was poorly put together. It clearly says “END” in bold letters, but seems to hint at a sequel since it “ends” at a cliffhanger. The Forever Contract has immense potential and I truly mean that. It should definitely not be a novella, but at least a full length novel so that Sawyer can make this plot reach its full potential.

From the Ashes (Legend of the Liberator series) by Shelby K. Morrison

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Kindle Price: $3.99

Official Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

“For eighteen years Aia Wynnald has lived a lie. Raised as a highborn in the Kingdom of Tharien, she’s filled her days with tutors and archery lessons. But simmering beneath her polite surface is a dangerous gift, one which she must keep a secret. Aia is a Bender. And in Tharien, Benders are feared and hunted.
When her unruly power breaks free with dire repercussions, Aia’s lifelong goal of independence shatters. As she scrambles to piece her life back together while evading capture, she disturbs a vengeful force intent on destroying the kingdom.
Now, with the help of an unlikely ally, Aia will decide the fate of Tharien. To rescue those she cares about will require accepting what she is. But can she risk becoming the monster she’s dreaded to save the very citizens baying for her blood?

My Review:

This book wasn’t bad. There were some undertones that I felt were put in subtly and not-so-subtly, but it was good overall.

The heroine is Maia Wynnald and she’s a Bender. A Bender is someone with paranormal powers that runs through their veins and gives them the ability to Bend. Bending is a bit like telepath but a lot less predictable and a lot harder to control; especially when you spent the first eighteen years of your life suppressing it.

I liked Maia, who prefers to be called Aia and will be from this moment forth. She was rather calm in some situation and had amazing compassion for people who hated her. Though I think the compassion was half foolish and half brave, but not to the point that it was the definition of courage. Would I have done the same thing? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. At times I wasn’t sure what Aia stood for. I know that she never received the full truth from both parties, but she just seemed very undecided. One moment she would be totally ready to fight for Side A and then she would feel something or see something and suddenly she’s completely Team B. I feel that Aia should have understood that you can’t always bake your cake and eat it, considering she’s eighteen. Yet, I don’t think she ever did. I didn’t see much character development and I had really wanted her to embrace who she was a lot more than she did by the end of the book. Such a long time of suppression would no doubt make it hard for her to accept herself and I’m not saying that “it took her too long,” just that I wish she had experienced more acceptance. I don’t see her as much of a leader, but that’s definitely something that could change in the later books. There was obvious room for improvement in Aia, but I think that that may have been done on purpose so that there was a gradual and realistic change in her. Aia wasn’t a terrible character, she wasn’t even bad. I didn’t love her, but I didn’t dislike her. I would’ve liked to have seen a more fiery side of her, but she’s learning more about herself so I’ll let it slide.

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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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