Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

Title: These Broken Stars (The Starbound Trilogy #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1st December 2013
Pages: 374
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets to the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder – would they be better off staying in this place forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

My Review:

Lilac is the richest girl in the universe. Tarver is a soldier from humble beginnings. Set aboard an enormous luxury ship making its way across the universe, I expected These Broken Stars to be a futuristic Titanic story. But Lilac and Tarver’s story is so much more. Neither of them are just what they appear to be – they are so much more. Lilac, the rich girl in the fancy outfits is brave and willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Tarver, a young war hero who wants none of the fame or prominence that it affords him. When their cruise liner comes into some trouble, quick thinking from the pair helps them avoid immediate catastrophe but that is only the start of their worries.

One of the strengths of this novel is the dual narration. The switching point of view from Lilac to Tarver was fantastic to read. Their interactions were great  and the characters were well-defined. I loved how they viewed the same situations differently but both felt fully justified for feeling the way they did. Both Lilac and Tarver are incredibly strong characters. Lilac is completely out of her comfort zone but refuses to give up and Tarver is patient and refuses to leave a man (or in this case heiress) behind. I felt like they brought out the best and worst in each other and that made the novel realistic despite the futuristic setting.

Plot wise – this book is amazing. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then so much more happened. The journey following Lilac and Tarver is heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved being a part of their adventure and the tragedies they faced. There were many times when I found myself shocked by the events and blind sighted – but despite not expecting these twists they felt natural to the story and not just put in for added drama. The story is beautifully crafted and I loved every minute I spent reading this novel.

I have no idea how two people could come together and write a novel which is as wonderfully put together as These Broken Stars. Lilac and Tarver’s narrations fit together perfectly and the story flows well. There’s suspense, a gorgeous love story and an interesting plot all wrapped together in an otherworldly setting. As the first book in a trilogy – this novel has done a fantastic job. I can not wait to read the next two books and see just what happens next.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn

Title: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
Author: Aimee Carter
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult, 
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 2013
Pages: 352
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand

My Review:

At seventeen, everyone has to take a test which determines their entire lives. Kitty Doe gets marked as a III – cleaning sewage pipes in a far off state is going to be her life. But she gets the chance to change everything. The chance to be a VII, a rank reserved only for the ruling family, and she only has a minute to think about it.

I loved Pawn. I had read Aimee Carter’s The Goddess Test series and enjoyed it but found the romance a tad overwhelming at times. I was excited to read her new series and I thought the first book in the Blackcoat Rebellion was amazing! The world she has created is an interesting one. There’s a lot of political upheaval, dysfunctional family antics, passionate characters and an interesting class system.

Kitty is an intelligent young woman but because she is unable to read, she ends up in one of the bottom classes in society. She’s desperate and feels like she has no choice. She loves her boyfriend, Benjy, but doesn’t want to drag him along with her. Kitty is one of those characters that I didn’t like very much to start with. I felt like as the smart person she’s described as she could have come up with some better options and not been so rash however I do understand that she was stuck in a very difficult and somewhat unexpected situation. As the novel went on, Kitty grew on me. Her intelligence came out and you could see that Kitty is a force to be reckoned with. Her interactions with Knox, Grayson and Benjy were my favourites to read but the relationships she’s developing – and not necessarily good ones – with Daxton, Augusta and Celia are also great to read.

The First Family (the Harts) are so messed up. I love them. There’s so much I want to say about them but one of my favourite things about this novel was how much I loved not knowing what was going to happen next. I don’t want to spill any of the fantastic plot developments that I enjoyed so much.

Pawn is a great dystopian novel with a lot going on. There’s romance, murderous rebels, feuding families, and so much more. I can not wait for the next book in this series and see what happens next for Kitty and  the Harts.

 

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Here by Ella James


here-banner

Title: Here (Here #1)
Author: Ella James
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Barkley’s Books
Publication Date: February 2012
Pages: 210
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):13490992

Milo Mitchell’s life used to be charmed, but that was before her father died, she went a little crazy, and her best friends started acting more like strangers. One Saturday morning as she roams the land around her family’s Colorado wind farm, tagging deer for a project that used to be her father’s, Milo makes a big mistake: a dart from her stun-gun takes down a teenage guy.

Dressed in a Brinoi tux and armed with a perfectly starched handkerchief, the guy looks like a young James Bond – or some country’s missing, playboy prince. Trouble is, he could be either. Mr. Mystery has no idea who or where he is. Afraid her dart caused his amnesia, Milo takes him in, names him Nick, and tries to get used to a hot guy sharing her bedroom.

But Milo’s Nick is more than he appears. Soon the pair find his face in a newspaper obituary, and Nick beings to have memories of Milo–who is sure she’s never met him. If ‘Nick’ survived a plunge off a steep cliffside on his way to a family camping trip, why did Milo find him dozens of miles away, wearing a freshly pressed tuxedo? If he’s just a high-school athlete, why does he have moves like Jason Bourne? And why does he feel more for her than his surviving family?

When a train of black SUVs shows up on Mitchell property, Nick and Milo run–toward a shocking conclusion that could destroy both their worlds.

My Review:

Whilst tagging deer for a project, Milo Mitchell never expected to come across anyone in the woods. Let alone a gorgeous stranger dressed in a tuxedo… and perhaps shooting him with her dart gun by accident wasn’t the best way to make a good first impression. To make things stranger – after having been shot, the well dressed stranger can’t remember anything about himself – not even his name. Milo takes in the stranger and giving him a change of clothes, a new name – ‘Nick’ – and a place to stay till they figure out what to do next. The stranger appearance of Nick isn’t the only weird thing happening in the small town of Golden. The electricity starts acting up and Nick finds himself knowing things that should be impossible to recall.

Milo and Nick start a quest to find who he may have been before they met in the woods. But Milo and Nick aren’t the only ones looking for answers… and things are not going to go well if they find Nick before he finds out who he is.

I love the vibe of this novel. It’s such a fun and quick read. Milo’s a little lost in the world after he father died but she’s keeping it together well. If you call hanging out in the woods tracking deer a good thing. She still manages to have a group of good friends, hobbies and a fairly healthy social life. She’s responsible and I like the mixture of level-headedness mixed with romantic wonder that she has. She’s brave and a great match for Nick.

This book is mostly told from Milo’s point of view but every now and then Ms. James switches things up and we get to see the world from Nick’s perspective. It’s an interesting way to show how things are not quite right for the boy – more than just some fairly extensive amnesia. Whilst I liked the look into him and his thoughts – I think I would have liked him more as a character had he been a bit more mysterious. Because we get to see him confused and vulnerable but only in short snippets – I didn’t really find him a desirable male lead. He’s not a bad boy nor is he the boy next door or any of those other categories that I like my leading men to fit into. He’s just a little lost and for the most part a little bland.

That said – I loved the action. This book is well paced with some characters that amused me and made me want to keep reading. Milo is sweet but a little damaged and I feel like Nick has potential to grow into someone who I really root for. This is a book I’d recommend for fans of Jennifer L Armentrout’s Lux series and not just because of the scifi-ness they have in common. It’s a well written exciting book and there is no doubt – I will definitely be reading the second book in the Here series.

Purchase the novel from:

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Teaser

I shouldn’t have come to Milo’s house, but I was riding for my life, and when I thought about it ending, all I’d wanted—literally the only thing I thought about—was her.

It was startling, the clarity, the sense of purpose, because shortly after I saw Milo’s concert, I got mind-jacked. I didn’t know by what, but the presence had a serious hard-on for calculus and physics, other things I shouldn’t know or care about. I had a freaky suspicion that it was the Real Me, and that the Real Me was some kind of wizard/astrophysicist.

I spent two days in my bed after it happened, hung over on numbers, figures, but by the third day I could handle it. And my superpower had come back, stronger.

I knew intuitively how to control the van, how many meters away the Harley was when I landed, how to start it, how to drive it.

I ran for it as the van spun, tires screeching as it turned to come back for me. It had been modified, was faster than the bike, but I knew the town grid completely, and I’d clogged their fuel injector, which meant that ten minutes after our little chase started, I had lost them.

I doubled back, took an indirect path to get to Milo’s house. I didn’t want to leave an easy trail. When I pulled up and they were nowhere to be seen, I thought I had evaded them, told myself I had gotten away. But it wasn’t until I saw Milo that I realized what I’d done. I should have added to my lead, driven far away, stolen another bike, a car, hopped a train, gone anywhere but were I was. Where she was.

And what did I get for my utter stupidity?

Milo, wide-eyed and concerned. Milo, rubbing my back, tapping my knee. Milo heedless of the danger. Milo, achingly close.

She was leaning over me now, blowing on the scrape she’d just cleaned. “That feel any better?”

I nodded, my nose and forehead digging into her blankets.

“Good.” I felt her hand trail up my spine, then lift away and land atop my hair.

“You can go to sleep, you know. I’ll keep watch, just in case.”

I shook my head, dizzy from the pill and her soft hand. “I need to…leave…”

 

About Ella James

Ella James is a Colorado author who writes teen and adult romance. She is happily married to a man who knows how to wield a red pen, and together they are raising a feisty two-year-old who will probably grow up believing everyone’s parents go to war over the placement of a comma.

Ella’s books have been listed on numerous Amazon bestseller lists, including the Movers & Shakers list and the Amazon Top 100; two were listed among Amazon’s Top 100 Young Adult Ebooks of 2012.

To find out more about Ella’s projects and get dates on upcoming releases, find her on Facebook at facebook.com/ellajamesauthorpage and follow her blog, http://www.ellajamesbooks.com. Questions or comments? Tweet her at author_ellaj or e-mail her at ella_f_james@ymail.com.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season

Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013
Pages: 466
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

My Review:

I’m always nervous to read books that have a lot of hype surrounding them. I don’t want to feel let down and so it was with some trepidation that I started to read The Bone SeasonThe first in a seven part series, this debut novel by twenty-one-year-old Samantha Shannon is an adventure into a world similar but so very different from our own. The story begins in 2059, London with Paige Mahoney, a nineteen-year-old clairvoyant dream walker. Clairvoyants (or ‘voyants’ as they are also known as) are forced into the criminal underground or risk being caught and locked up by the Scion – the current ruling body of the continent.

Whilst she may be on the other side of the law, Paige has a nice set up. Working for Jaxon (Jax) Hall and breaking into other people’s minds from a distance for their secrets and information, Paige is safe from the reach of the Scion. That is until an incident causes everything to change. Paige gets captured and taken to the Tower. And things are just getting started.

There’s so much that goes on in this novel. The blurb doesn’t even begin to touch on Paige’s troubles. There’s an alien race known as the Rephaite who ‘feed’ on the voyants and need them to keep alive. Their way of life and their parasitical nature is simultaneously obscene and compelling. I loved how this book began. Paige is one of the good guys – despite working for an underworld lord like Jax and some of the things she has to do to keep alive throughout the novel. She’s intelligent and resourceful and well-intentioned. But she’s not a pushover and she does have her flaws. There were times when I felt like some of the circumstances around Paige were a little too fortuitous and convenient (like the length of stay in the Tower compared to others) but I understand that these things were essential for the overall big picture.

The other characters are just as interesting and three-dimensional as Paige. Jax – who isn’t seen very much in this first book but has so much potential – fascinated me. And then there’s Warden. He’s mysterious and it’s unclear as to what his endgame is just yet but you just know that it’s going to be worthwhile continuing reading to find out. There are a whole cast of other characters I could go on forever about. What I like most about them is that every character – human or Rephaite – has their own agenda. Be it world domination or just being alive to see the sunset tomorrow – Shannon has done an amazing job of bringing them all together in a way that feels right for each individual character.

As should be expected in the first novel of a long series is some world building – and there is a fair amount of it in The Bone Season. Whilst essential to help build the plot and understand the race who inhabit the universe that’s been created, there were times when I did start to feel a little overwhelmed with just how much was going on. That said – the Seven Orders of Clairvoyance, the mysterious Rephaite colony in Oxford and criminal syndicate in which Paige worked – are all beautifully created with a lot of depth and detail.

This is a long novel and I was impressed with the level of research that you could tell went into the story. I’ve heard people call this book a young adult novel but that’s not how I’d describe it. I think it’s an adult book which many teenagers would enjoy. It gets quite dark sometimes with Shannon treating the characters she created quite badly at times but there is still an element of hope. I can’t wait for the second book which Shannon is currently writing to be released and have high hopes of what is to come next in this series!

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Last night I had the pleasure of being apart of a panel that The Reading Room put together in order to conduct an online interview with Samantha Shannon. She was absolutely lovely, taking the time to answer all of our questions. I’ve posted the video below in case you want to check it out!

Book Review: Origin by Jennifer L Armentrout

Origin (Lux, #4)

Title: Origin (Lux #4)
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Aliens, Sci-Fi, Contemporary 
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: 27 August 2013
Pages: 366
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

My Review:

This is one of those series that keeps getting better with each new instalment. In Origin, Katy finds herself captured by the Daedalus and all her worst nightmares come true. Even hearing about what happened to Dawson and Bethany didn’t really prepare Katy for what life as captive hybrid would bring. And then there’s Daemon. Nothing on Earth – or even on an alien planet – could stop him from saving the girl he loves.

For all those Daemon fans – I think he really shines in this one. He’s arrogant, sarcastic but willing to give up everything for Katy. The snarky sarcastic conversations he has were a highlight for me. I love the way Katy and Daemon interact and I’m really rooting for this pair as a couple!

In many ways Origin is a turning point in the series. The first three books were mostly about the love story and the action was secondary. But now things have changed. Don’t worry – there’s still plenty of fluffy tenderness between the leading pair but the war between our favourite Luxens and the world… it’s only just getting started. The dual point-of-view between Katy and Daemon helps bring the urgency of their situation to light. I loved getting to see how Daemon felt about Katy from his eyes and I think this is part of the reason why I’m behind them romantically. They’re growing up and it’s clear to see that Katy isn’t the same girl she was at the start of Obsidian. She’s seen the worst life has to offer but she’s stronger than I ever expected.

I loved the action in this book. Things are happening and they’re happening FAST! Some brilliant new characters are introduced (I want to know more about Archer!) and some old ones reappear. There’s a cameo appearance of Hunter and Serena from Obsession (JLA’s adult paranormal romance novel that’s set in the same universe as the Lux novel). Armentrout isn’t afraid to put her characters though hell and I respect her for that.

For all the fans who have been eagerly anticipating Origin since the cliff-hanger at the end of Opal – I think you’ll be satisfied and impressed with how things unfold in Origin. This book is exciting, cheeky and romantic. My favourite from this series by far.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)
Author: Beth Revis
Genre: Science Fiction, romance, dystopian, young adult
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 2011
Pages: 398
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
AMY
has left the life she loves
for a world 300 years away.

Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she’s due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy’s lost on board and nothing makes sense – she’s never felt so alone.

Yet someone is waiting for her.
He wants to protect her – 
and more if she’ll let him

But who can she trust amidst the secrets and lies?
A killer is out there – and Amy has nowhere to hide…

My Review:

I’ve not thought much about cryogenic freezing before. And I never imagined it quite like Beth Revis described it. But from the first scene  – she had my attention and I was with Amy as she left everything she knew to travel three hundred years away to a new life on a new world. But not everything goes according to plan. Somehow Amy gets awakened fifty years before the ship is set to land on the new planet. Attempted murder by non-proper defrosting techniques aside, Amy is made to feel an outsider by inhabitants of the spaceship and ends up in the psychiatric ward. Amy has no one but her new friends Harley – a tortured artist – and Elder – the next leader of the ship – to help her stop the murders of her frozen kindred and work out just why the people of the ship are acting so oddly…

The novel switches point of views from Amy – an Earth girl labelled as “unessential cargo” travelling to a new world with her parents – and Elder – a sixteen year old boy on the verge of manhood who has known his entire life that he is going to be the next leader of Godspeed  and all its people. It’s a time of change for both of them with Amy having to assimilate to a brand new world on board the spaceship and Elder starting to question the decisions of his life-long mentor, Eldest. They do a good job of showing what life aboard the ship is like for a stranger and someone innately familiar with the set up. There’s some interesting/barbaric things about ship life and I found myself liking how things progressed.

Most sci-fi I’ve read is set in the future and what I loved most about this book is how the main character – Amy – is a child of the present. By having her being taken to another place in time and space we get a great mix of the contemporary times in which she came from and the futuristic spaceship she’s now forced to survive in. The ship – Godspeed – is the perfect mini civilisation with many mysteries and diabolical schemes taking place. There’s a great mix of characters and I loved the creative licence that Ms. Revis used to create the environment Across the Universe is set in. There’s nice little differences like the language and technology whilst keeping things similar to the present day.

There’s a bit of a murder mystery and a great set up for the next books in the series. I enjoyed the characters and the plot but I didn’t really connect with either Amy or Elder and found my attention drifting. I had a few problems with the romance angle of the book – it’s a little forced and whilst I know it’s only the first book it felt a little irrelevant and convenient.

Overall I liked the journey that this book took me on and I’ll most likely be reading the second book – although I think I’ll be borrowing it from the library just in case.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: The Originals by Cat Patrick

The Originals

Title: The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Genre: Science-Fiction, Contempoary, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Publication Date: May 2013
Pages: 298
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Ella, Betsey and I look like sisters: triplets, you might think.

But that’s not what we are at all.

We are clones in hiding. We split our lives and exist as one person in the outside world. And we’ve always been happy.

But now I’ve fallen in love … and that changes everything.

Because to let love in, I need to be allowed to be Me.

My Review:

Three girls, one life. For the past decade Lizzie, Betsey and Ella have been sharing the life of Elizabeth Best. One taking the morning shift, one the afternoon and the final girl being the one to take the evenings. But Lizzie is sick of having their mother control their every move. Each taking a third of the same life with none of them getting to live their own life at all. But this is the way things have been for years and their mother says it’s for their own protection – that no one can know they aren’t sisters but rather clones. When Lizzie falls in love with Sean she doesn’t want to share him with her sisters or be forced to “date” the boy their mother chose for them. So it’s time to find out just who they’re hiding from and what secrets their mother has been hiding from them…

The idea behind this book is brilliant. Ella, Betsey and Lizzie all sharing the one life and only being allowed to leave the house when their mother permits it. I’ve not read many books regarding clones and I loved how Cat Patrick approached the subject. I loved that the girls are the same and yet so completely different from each other.

Lizzie is a great narrator. She’s sweet and trying to navigate life the best way she knows how. A bit difficult when you only get a few hours each day outside. But somehow Lizzie manages to fit in with society and set herself aside from her sisters. Sean is adorable but a little too accepting and perfect to be entirely real. Betsey and Ella are fantastic at supporting Lizzie and showing how their circumstances effect all three girls. I would have loved to have read parts of this book from the sister’s perspectives but  even just with Lizzie’s thoughts this book is complete and interesting.

I loved how the characters grew throughout this book and how the plot developed as the girls learned more about where they came from and who they were. There’s a lot of mystery and tension as things get revealed and secrets come out. Sean was a great catalyst for the triplets searching for the truth and their own lives. I felt a little let down by the ending but the build up and characters more than made up for it.

I’ve not read a Cat Patrick book before but after reading the Originals and enjoying her writing style – I’ll be looking forward to reading her other books.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld