Dare to Dream by Carys Jones

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Kindle Price: $4.99

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

“The world was going to end. Of that, Maggie Trafford was certain.”
Fourteen-year-old Maggie Trafford leads a normal life. Well, as normal as being crammed in a three-bedroom house with four siblings and a single parent can be, anyway. But despite being somewhat ignored at home, Maggie excels, earning top grades, a best friend who would do anything for her, and stolen looks from a boy in Maths.
It’s not until the dreams start that Maggie realizes “normal” is the least of her problems. Every night, she lives the same nightmare—red lightning, shattered glass, destruction. But nightmares are just that, right? No one believes her when she says it’s an omen. At least, not until the already mysterious pillars of Stonehenge start falling.
No longer alone in her fear, Maggie and the world watch with bated breath as one after another, the historic stones tumble, like a clock counting down. But only Maggie knows what it means: when the last stone falls, destruction will reign. And when the world ends, there’s only one option left—survive.
Horrifying and raw, Dare to Dream is equal parts tragedy and hope, detailing the aftermath of apocalyptic catastrophe, the quest for survival, and the importance of belief.

My Review:

Teenaged girl leading a “normal” life? Check. Apocalypse? Check. She’s the key to “it all”? Check. “I must survive!” mentality? Triple check.

“Horrifying and raw, Dare to Dream is equal parts tragedy and hope, detailing the aftermath of apocalyptic catastrophe, the quest for survival, and the importance of belief.” I read this (because it’s the synopsis) and I shrugged my shoulders and thought “Okay, this might be interesting.” Oh, how wrong I was. Dare to Dream wasn’t equal parts tragedy and hope, but a complete tragedy.

I need to talk about Maggie, but before that: This author dedicated this book to her father because “Maggie was always your favorite.” I am by no means making fun of the dedication, that is very sweet. I just had a little chuckle over the fact that Jones made her father’s favorite have an incredibly difficult time throughout the book. Dedication aside, Maggie was annoying.

I was in pain when I read Dare to Dream. It was a colossal waste of time and I’m horrified that it cost actual U.S. dollars to buy. I have to start with Maggie, the “heroine.” What standard was Jones following when she created Maggie? She was whiny, made ridiculous assumptions, and had the emotional capacity of a paperclip. She was barely a character, to the point where I don’t even have much to write about her. It’s the plot and writing that I had the most issue with because can you really criticize a paper clip for having no character?

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Broken Symmetry by Dan Rix

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Blaire Adams can walk through mirrors.
It’s called breaking symmetry. To her, a mirror feels like a film of honey. She can reach through it, grab things…even step inside.
On the other side she lives every teenager’s fantasy: a universe all her own, zero consequences. She can kiss the hot guy, break into La Jolla mansions, steal things…even kill. When finished, she just steps back into reality and smashes the mirror—and in an instant erases every stupid thing she did. Gone. It never happened.
But breaking symmetry is also dangerous. First there’s the drug-like rush she gets when passing through the glass, like a shot of adrenaline. She suspects it’s degrading her body, making a new copy of her each time. A reflection of a reflection, each one a little hazier. Then, of course, there’s the risk of getting cut off from reality.
When she narrowly escapes a military quarantine zone with the San Diego Police Department hot on her heels only to discover her escape mirror littering the floor in shards, her worst fear is realized. Now, trapped in a broken reflection, she must flee through a mind-bending maze of mirrors, going deeper into the nightmare as she struggles to grasp a betrayal, uncover the chilling truth about her ability, and somehow find a way out of a dead-end universe that “never happened.”
Somehow, she must find a way home.

My Review:

I wish I could have thoroughly enjoyed this. I really do.

A while back, I read a book about time travel/leaping (A Time to Reap) and I sincerely enjoyed it. I gave it a four-out-of-five stars review and recommended it. Time travel can get complicated very quickly because it’s a very complicated subject. Likewise, the concept of traveling within mirrors is a complicated subject as well. So why did A Time to Reap receive 4/5 stars, but Broken Symmetry received 2.5/5?

The low rating has three reasons. One: I didn’t understand it. Maybe complicated topics lose me as easily as I lose my chapstick, but I was able to keep up in A Time to Reap. In Broken Symmetry, a lot of things were lost to me. Why? Because it was poorly explained. As a reader, I learn along with Blaire; what she knows, I know. At least, that’s how it was supposed to be. Somehow, Blaire is able to understand what Damien (I’ll go over the characters later) tells her without much trouble, but I was left behind. As they walked through the plot, I was left on the other side of the mirror, still trying to figure out how to get my hand to go through. It was frustrating and unfair because it left me having to decide if I wanted to re-read the same paragraphs three times or continue on and hope I’m not missing valuable information. In the end, I was able to make it through the story without understanding it all, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating. Unlike in novellas, short stories, or novelettes, there was plenty of time to really explain how this “mirror jumping” business worked. Instead, Damien would smirk, tell Blaire something in one to three lines of dialogue, and Blaire’s mind would shrug and understand it. On the other side of the page, to my brain, Damien was explaining quantum physics to me and Blaire, who is a quantum physics expert, and as she nods along, I’m still reading the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page. How fair is that? At least there wasn’t an exam.

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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.

Germination (Feast of Weeds series) by Jamie Thornton

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

A group of runaways. A horrifying virus.

Mary knows how to thrive on the street. She makes it her mission to keep other kids away from everyday monsters. But when she’s attacked by a crazed man clutching a bloody heart she realizes—there’s a new kind of monster in town.

A single drop of blood, and now Mary’s one of the infected. Unless she can stop the virus and save her friends, the new monster in town might just be her.

A post-apocalyptic Young Adult series where the runaways are the heroes, the zombies aren’t really zombies, and you can’t trust your memories—even if they’re all you have left.”

My Review:

If I had two words, I would describe Germination with “possibility” and “little.” Now if I had, say, a whole blog post to describe Germination, this is what I would say.

It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t an awful novella that lowered my expectations for other novellas, but it wasn’t great. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, despite the action that takes place on almost every page. Nonetheless, I saw a sound plot which is why Germination received a two star rating.

Mary was a different pre-heroine. She wasn’t different because she was more special than the others (she wasn’t from what I could tell) nor was she different because she was the “only” one in the world that distrusts the government. Mary was different because she was poor and homeless. In a numerous amount of stories, the heroine is usually saying “We never have a lot of food on the table, but we’re happy because we’re together as a family.” or something along those lines. What made Mary stand out is that she has a family, yet she ran away, embraces her homelessness, and made a new family/tight-knit group with a few other homeless kids on the street. There wasn’t enough of the novella to really understand much more about Mary. You are brought to an understanding about her that she is loyal to her new family and that she writes a blog giving advice to other teens who might want to run away. Besides that, there isn’t much to go on.

The plot was fascinating, or rather, hints to being fascinating. That was what Thornton lacked in Germination: Plot building. She had successfully built the characters and gave them a backstory, albeit a small piece of a backstory, but it sufficed, she had completed the world building, and her description skills are admirable. Unfortunately, Germination didn’t have a chance to develop the upcoming plot. As a reader, I was left with a large amount of action, little information, and a bit of indifference towards the characters.
Germination isn’t worth almost three dollars; the price isn’t practical, especially when you consider the fact that it’s only ninety-two pages. It wasn’t a bad novella as I said, it had a glimmer of promise in its pages, but it just didn’t strike me as a riveting read.

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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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City of the Falling Sky (Seckry Sequence series) by Joseph Evans

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Official Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

“When Seckry Sevenstars is forced out of his village by the greedy Endrin Corporation and relocated to the daunting metropolis of Skyfall City, he harbours resentment for the company and vows to get them back one day for taking away his home, his school and his friends.
Fortunately, the marvels of the city do a good job in distracting Seckry from his anger and homesickness, and it isn’t long before he’s competing at Friction (the city’s most popular multiplayer video game), slurping awe-inspiring multicoloured milkshakes, and getting butterflies on his first date.
Then, when a mysterious email asks Seckry to break into the headquarters of the Endrin Corporation and steal a container full of worms for a hefty sum of money, his anger resurfaces, and he can’t resist the revenge he promised himself.
Alone at night, Seckry creeps through the sewers whilst wondering what experiments Endrin might be doing on the worms, and emerges into the silent complex. But the worms aren’t the only thing that he finds. Staring at him through the darkness, with wide, innocent eyes, is something that makes Seckry’s heart almost stop.

A girl.


She’s shaking, petrified, and has no recollection of who she is or what she’s doing there.
Floodlights bleach the area and Seckry has no choice but to grab a hold of the girl and escape with her.
Suddenly the question of what Endrin were doing with a few worms becomes the last thing on Seckry’s mind. What were Endrin doing with a human?

My Review:

Seckry Sevenstars is a young man who gets relocated to Skyfall City with his mother and sister, Leena. At first, Seckry is certain that he will not adjust to his new life, but gradually, to his surprise, he meets great friends and starts to enjoy his new home. Then, he receives an email that wants to send him on a quest to steal worms from Endrin Cooperation for an amazing sum of money; he accepts the mission. Then he finds a girl and so on.

The first thing that stood out to me were the names. The last and sometimes the first names of all the characters were odd, “Thumbsuckle” or “Gobbledee”, which I thought was rather interesting. However, they didn’t really match the science fictional environment.

Of course, Seckry leads an uprising of sorts, nothing as big as other dystopian novels, but it’s an uprising no less. What bugged me was that everyone seemed immediately willing to help him. There were adults that didn’t know him at all and yet bent themselves backwards trying to help him. I didn’t know why and I still don’t know why. Almost all of these people endangered their lives, jobs, or both for a teenager, why? What did they see in him? It didn’t make sense to me. Everything seemed to just plop in his lap right when he needed it to. If something wasn’t working or he was just about to get hurt, something or someone would arrive just in time to save the day. If I was Seckry, nothing would look bleak because I would know that it’s definitely going to work out for me.

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