Welcome to Sortilege Falls by Libby Heily (ARC Review)

 

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

“Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather has just moved to Sortilege Falls and already she knows something isn’t right. A small pack of teenage models, too beautiful for words, holds the town in their sway. The models have no plans on making Grape’s life easy. But no matter how cruel they are to Grape and the other “Normals”, no one can stay angry with them for long.

Grape’s life changes for the better, or so she thinks, when Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends her. But that’s when the trouble truly begins. Mandy’s friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a medical mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that the models’ parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her only friend, Grape will have to find the truth–and that means putting her life in danger.”

My Review:

Well, if I hadn’t had my tear ducts removed and my heart wasn’t completely stone, I’d be balling right now. Welcome to Sortilege Falls captivated my interest and tore my emotions to shreds. Gosh, I can barely even talk about it.

I adore Grape Merriweather. I literally adore her. I love how much she eats and that even when she’s called fat, she continues to eat because that’s what she loves to do. It’s not in an unhealthy way either, she just has a great appetite. It reminded me of myself, truthfully, which I loved and could relate to. Grape is about as unique as her name is and if I ever have kids, I just might name one of my kids after her. She asked questions, stuck up for herself and her friends, and consistently handled herself so well. Grape was funny, serious, kind, inquisitive, intelligent, and an all around amazing character.

The other characters were great too. The Models, Grape’s brother (Brad), Mandy, the family members, and some oddballs that were included. I admit that I got attached to them, which made it even harder to let go of this book.

The plot? Gracious the plot had me spellbound. I definitely have some serious responsibilities that need to be done today (at the time I’m writing this review), but yet, I spent my day reading this book. No regrets, though. It was worth it. Welcome to Sortilege Falls has a bit of a thriller and mystery vibe, which I enjoyed. It was basically the foundation of the whole book, but it still didn’t overpower other things, like relationships and dialogue. I really enjoyed it and I’m trying my best to not give spoilers.

Heily can write well and man, I almost wish she couldn’t. There’s a certain feeling of helplessness I get whenever a book throws my heart around like a rag-doll and yet I can’t stop reading. Hats and beanies off to you, Heily.

There doesn’t seem to be a sequel, but I kind of wish there was. All loose ends were tied up, but Heily made the great decision of leaving there a possibility for another book. I look forward to hearing news about a possible upcoming sequel.

 

Would I Recommend Welcome to Sortilege Falls? I definitely would. Excellent writing, a sound and intriguing plot, well-constructed characters, and a pinch of humor, what’s not to love? It just came out yesterday on the 31st so you don’t have to wait to grab your copy. Plus, there’s currently a giveaway where the prize is a free copy of Welcome to Sortilege Falls! You can enter here.
I received this book for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Alice in No-Mans-Land by James Knapp (Review)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

When her escape pod falls to earth, crashing in Ypsilanti Bloc, privileged seventeen-year-old Alice Walshe is dashed from the wonderland of wealth and prosperity into a ruined, walled city overrun with militias, gangs, and even cannibals. On top of this horror, her younger brother’s escape pod is missing.

Alice isn’t naïve – she’s always known blocs like Ypsilanti exist, left behind after a foodborne illness ravished the country decades earlier and left pockets of severe urban decay in its wake. Men like her father – a major player at Cerulean Holdings – renew the devastated blocs and bring stability back into the areas. But, Ypsilanti is even worse than the tales she’s heard, and rumor has it the bloc is faced with the threat of extermination by Cerulean, not renewal.

Trapped within Ypsilanti’s borders and left for dead, Alice teams up with a pair of teen scavengers who tracked the wreck of her pod. Despite their rough exterior and vulgar speech, they’re her only option for navigating the hostile and violent environment of Ypsilanti, finding her brother, and getting out of No-Man’s-Land alive..”

My Review:

Trigger Warning: Rape Mention

 

Alright, let’s be honest. I was wary. Alice in No-Mans-Lands? I had assumed it would be something like Alice in Wonderland and I was ready to roll my eyes as I read. So, thank you, Knapp, for proving my incredibly wrong.

I’m going to jump straight into it. Knapp played my emotions like a violinist plays a violin. I was sad, annoyed, angry, intrigued, surprised, and the entire book had me reeling with feelings. Hats and beanies off to you, Knapp.

Alice Walshe, oldest child and only daughter of Yuric Walshe, is stuck in no-mans land. And for once, the main female character’s mission isn’t to ‘save her people.” Instead, she is shoved into a world that was never her own, a world that she doesn’t understand and never thought she needed to, and must fend for herself.

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Anathema by Megg Jensen (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:

“Forget prophecy. Make your own destiny.

Reychel is a slave girl surrounded by magic, lies, and manipulation. Her best friend disappears in the middle of the night leaving Reychel to face her fifteenth birthday, the day her master burns his brand into the back of her bald head, alone.

Sheltered from the outside world and without any hope for escape, can Reychel learn to believe in herself?”

My Review:

Maybe I’m getting old. Perhaps that’s why I often find myself guessing the plots of YA novels and essentially ruining it for myself. It’s very disappointing, but also inescapable. How do you tell your own mind “No spoilers!”?

Anathema has been on my “want to read” list for quite some time. “Quite some time” meaning since January 9th (2015), when I bought it. Why did it take me so long to read it? I can’t give you a solid reason, but from what I read, I wasn’t missing anything.

The synopsis lured me in, but the writing and plot let me down. Let’s talk about why.

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Stone Seeds by Jo Ely (Review)

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Kindle Price: $1.66

Official Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

“Antek is an Egg Boy from Batch 47, one of the general’s manmade soldiers. He doesn’t know what the general’s lab technicians have repurposed him for but one thing is certain: Batch 47 is an active experiment. Antek can be ‘cancelled’ any time.

Zorry is a Sinta slave in the general’s New Bavarnica, where it’s a crime to remember the dead and all surviving Sinta must bow and serve the OneFolk. She searches the killing forest every night for the predatory plants which can be ‘turned’.

Jengi is the last surviving member of the war-like Digger tribe, and the leader of Bavarnica’s resistance. But grief has changed Jengi. The Last Digger has led a double life for so long he forgets himself entirely some days. What he’s for. Who to trust.

Between the stolen rains and the encroaching desert, the living fence to catch runaways and rebels and the shopkeeper’s sinister control over the edge farms, it seems that the general and the village shopkeeper have the people by the throat. But then nothing is quite as it appears in Bavarnica.”

My Review:

This is a novel with an entirely new theme. It feels dystopian, but I’m not sure if it is. Regardless, Stone Seeds, just like the title, is incredibly original. The character names, the plot, the titles, all of it was interestingly new to me. So why three stars?

I want to discuss Antek. I liked him and his mechanical but human-like thoughts and actions. The way that he thoughtfully gazes upon his surroundings and is always asking a question in his mind, even if he shouldn’t be. The story starts with him, but doesn’t quite end with him. All that happened in between was focused on different characters, including Zorry, who, in my opinion, was extremely boring. The entire time that I was reading about Zorry or Zettie or Jengi, I found myself wishing I was learning more about Antek.

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Children of Swan: The Land of Taron by Carol Walker (Review)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

“There is something small and peculiar in young Bo’s hand — it’s Dad’s ring. How could Dad have left without the ring?
Bo is abducted. Chasing after him, his older siblings Jack and Brianna dive into a wormhole that takes them to the land of Taron, a perilous land fuelled by hatred and plagued by vicious snake-like, man-eating bokwas.
Blue-skinned Baran people catch them and sell them to an arena where Barans entertain themselves watching slave boys fight to the death. Dad is there, staring at them like they are strangers.
The contest is brutal; the rules are clear — one game, one survivor.
There are boys as young as Jack. Can he kill?
And there’s Brianna, the one he has spent all his life squabbling with, and the last person he thought he would care about. If he doesn’t kill, she will die.
There’s no choice. He must kill, for Brianna, for Bo …”

My Review:

Have you ever lost something and you look around for it, but it isn’t in its usual place and you just can’t seem to figure out where it went? That’s how it felt reading Children of Swan: The Land of Taron because much was missing from it.

You need depth in most, if not all, things when it comes to writing. Characters, plot, worlds, even the conflict must have depth. But I couldn’t find depth in Children of Swan.

The worlds, firstly. Earth, Cygnore, and then of course, Taron. I already know what Earth is like (surprise!) but I don’t know what Walker’s dying Earth is like, but it wasn’t mentioned or explained so I still don’t know. I vaguely know of Cygnore and even more vaguely know of Taron, besides the fact that they have slaves, blue and red people live there, and they have some barbaric spin-off of the Roman colosseum/Roman gladiators only with children. You have to give more than just a few descriptions and call it a day. It is crucial to any story to build and create the world that your book is in, especially if it is a world you made up, so that the reader can explore it.

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Among Wolves by R.A. Hakok (Review)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

“It has been ten years since the Last Day, and the Juvies huddle inside the mountain, waiting for the world to thaw. But outside the storms still rage, and supplies are running low. Kane says they are the Chosen Ones, but sixteen-year-old Gabriel isn’t so sure.
Then while out scavenging Gabriel finds a bloodstained map. The blood’s not a problem, nor are the frozen remains of the person it once belonged to; there’s far worse to be found in any Walmart or Piggly Wiggly you care to wander into. Except this one he recognizes. It shouldn’t be here. Now all Gabriel can think of is how he’s going to get back to Eden and let Kane know what he’s found.
But Gabriel’s troubles are only just beginning. For things are not as they seem in Eden, and soon he will face a much larger problem: how to get Mags and the other Juvies out.”

My Review:

I don’t think I ever want to read Among Wolves again. Confused?

I know, I know. I gave Among Wolves a 5/5 star rating, so you would assume that that means I would recommend it (and you would assume right). So why, Paige, would you recommend a book to your followers if you wouldn’t ever read it again?

Because it was just that amazing and terrifying.

I was honestly expecting Among Wolves to be a bad cliche book. The synopsis tipped me off with the key phrase “Last Day.” What cliche Young Adult novel in the apocalypse genre doesn’t have something along the lines of “Last Day” to mark the final day everything was fine with the world? So, my expectations were rather low and although low expectations are easier to exceed, Hakok did not take any easy routes to impress me.

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Sixty-Seven Salamanders by Jeff Joseph (Review)

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

“Adin Anderson lives in a small town where the stagnant flow of time is considered peace and quiet, but that isn’t good enough for him. He may not be a big believer in fate, but something bigger has to be out there for him. And the day he receives a random letter from an unlikely source may be it.”

My Review:

There are some times when I’m reading a book and I realize, It has potential, but right now it needs heavy editing and that’s how I feel about Sixty-Seven Salamanders.

I was chatting to my good friend Maggie (check out her article on Book Blurb Blacklists here!)about Sixty-Seven Salamanders (which I could conveniently abbreviate to SSS) and she said that based on my description, Sixty-Seven Salamanders sounded more like a prequel than an actual book. And she was right. Sixty-Seven Salamanders would be better off as a prequel, rather than the first book of a series. The reason being is that, the entire plot is focused on Adin’s development. There are many actions scenes, situations where he makes serious decisions (that will no doubt affect him later on), and overall moments where he experiences growth. So, it would be wrong for me to say that there was no substance to Sixty-Seven Salamanders, because there is. You are shown how Adin is growing, experiencing, and learning from predicaments along with his friends/team and that’s important. However, that isn’t how you begin a series. As aforementioned friend said, “In general, it [the first book in a series] should have its own self-contained plot, but it can also hint at a larger plot line that spans the series. So…it can be read as a standalone book, but it’s also open ended enough that it can be expanded on in later books.”  

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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.