Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

Title: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian, Fairy Tale Retelling,
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 2014
Pages: 550
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

My Review:

In the third instalment of the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder is still on the run. In a stolen ship captained by the handsome yet criminal Caswell Thorne, Cinder and her motley crew (Wolf, Scarlet and the ever effervescent Iko) are trying to stay one step in front of the Lunar Queen. When they get contacted by a girl imprisoned by one of the Queen’s thaumaturges, they change their plans to rescue the technologically skilled, Cress. When things don’t go as smoothly as expected, the group gets separated. All of them have to survive as best they can whilst still trying to come up with a way to thwart the Lunar Queen from enslaving Earth.

Cress has been one of the books I’ve been most anticipating this year. I adore Marissa Meyer’s storytelling and this book did not let me down. Cinder has a lot of pressure on her shoulders. She knows that she is the only chance Prince Kai and Earth have against Queen Levana. She’s brave and intelligent but what I like most about her is that she’s logical. She thinks things though and doesn’t rush in just because. The way she cares about her crew is a plus and I enjoy her differing to others when she needs help.

The other characters all get their chance to shine in this novel too. Scarlet and Wolf are great together but still get their chance to show what they are made of as individuals. Iko is the funniest most loveable artificial intelligence that I have ever encountered. Cress was a pleasant surprise. There’s mystery surrounding her – some of which is revealed in this book – and I love how Meyer wove her Rapunzel likeness into the plot. Finally – there’s my favourite character of this series, Captain Caswell Thorne. He may initially come across as somewhat superficial and vain (and I’m not saying he’s neither of these things) but he really shines in Cress.

There are a lot twists in this novel as well as a lot of action. One of the highlights is how well the ensemble cast work together and apart. This series really is coming together and its one of those stories that I could picture in my mind as a film. There’s a Star Wars-esque vibe as the plot switches between following different characters. I never feel as if I know what is going to happen next but when the action unfolds it feels right for the characters and circumstances.

Cress cements The Lunar Chronicles as one of my favourite series. I thought the relationships were more developed than in the previous books and the plot was a lot more exciting. I cannot wait for the fourth book in the series, Winter, to be released early 2015.

 

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

Title: Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 526
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

My Review:

You don’t believe things because they make your life better, you believe them because they’re true.

After the events of Insurgent, Tris needs some answers about the truth behind the faction-based society. Together with Four and others, Tris finds her way behind the fence to see if there is any genuine truth to the revelations about the life she’s always known. What she finds leaves many more questions and some dire decisions to be made.

I’d been anticipating Allegiant since the day I finished reading Insurgent. This trilogy has had its ups and downs with brilliant characters and a plot that I never could have predicted. Tris is a character that I admire greatly – she’s grown up so much since the first book and she is willing to take the hard road if it is for the greater good. The supporting cast is brilliant because they behave like real people each with their own agendas – as a reader we may never know just what they are up to but it’s clear that they have lives of their own and are not just in the story to interact with Tris.

This is a dual point-of-view novel with the narration switching between Tris and Four each chapter. With the first two books being solely being told by Tris this was an interesting decision to switch things up and whilst it did bring a new dynamic to the book I wasn’t the biggest fan. I liked getting to see events from Four’s perspective and find out things that Tris wasn’t privy to however I thought the voices were too similar and there were times when I was not quite sure which character I was reading about.

I enjoyed the action in this book. I am not sure what I was expecting but I know that the events of Allegiant are better than what I was anticipating. There’s a lot of action and a lot of twists and turns. There is more to people who meets the eye and Roth is not afraid to break a few hearts along the way. I’m impressed with how Roth decided to treat her characters and I think it was brave as an author to take the characters where she did.

Allegiant was a satisfying conclusion to a dramatic and exciting dystopian trilogy. If you have read and enjoyed the first two books I think you will be pleased with this instalment. I will definitely be checking out future books by Veronica Roth.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

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:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1)All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Time Travel, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013 
Pages: 362
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

My Review:

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.” 

Finn and Em are trapped as prisoners by the Doctor. Somewhere – some time – everything went wrong. But together they have a chance to change the past to avoid this future.

I adored this book. Time travel is one of those concepts that doesn’t always connect with me but I admired how Cristin Terrill approached the idea. Travelling back, having two of one person in a certain time, was never confusing in this novel. Em, Finn, Marina and James are all well-rounded characters. Em is world wise and I really liked how her personality contrasted with the somewhat sheltered Marina. Finn is the same and yet different in his past and present forms and James is interesting. I found myself enjoying how oblivious and vague he was regarding Marina.

The time travel in this book is easy to grasp. There is  a changing in point of view from Em to Marina and back however for the most part of this novel events happen in the present time. There’s no confusion as to what is happening to whom and when. I loved the ideas in this book. It’s a cereal for dinner kind of book – the kind where instead of stopping to make a meal you just eat something easy and able to eat with one hand (so you can hold the book with your other hand)! There are a lot of twists and turns but they progressed in a way that felt natural and not just added to create some faux suspense. Em and Finn have some great chemistry and do a great job at moving the story along. There’s some heart-break and moments when I really felt for the characters and the trouble Terrill put them though. One of the things that stuck with me throughout this book and well after reading it was how much I liked Em loving Marina. I think it’s lovely that throughout it all, Em saw that she was a person worth loving and was proud of herself as a person.

This book works perfectly as a stand alone and I’m interested and surprised that All Our Yesterdays is the first book in a series. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Terrill comes up with next to put her characters through. This book has been one of my favourite reads of 2013 and I highly recommend it to lovers of well writing and interesting young adult novels.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Blog Tour (Q&A and Review): The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Firstwood

Today I’m delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Ambelin Kaymullina’s novel, The Disappearance of Ember Crow. I am loving the Tribe series so far and was very excited to be given the opportunity to ask Ambelin a few questions.

Q&A with Ambelin Kwaymullina

  •  What inspired you to write The Tribe series?

Ashala Wolf herself, and the rest of The Tribe. I can her voice so clearly, and see around me the towering trees of the Firstwood.

It was autumn the last time I was there. I stood just outside the wolf den, my feet sinking into the sodden earth, and inhaled the sharp tang of eucalyptus from the leaves of the tuarts. And I thought, I have missed you.

If I didn’t write, when would I go home?

  •  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you have other dream careers in mind?

I always knew. Although I’m not sure ‘career’ is the right description – obsession, maybe. Necessity of life, like air or water or food. The thing that I do not give up, that I hold onto tightly even when all else is taken. Writing is the love of my life.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Work at my day job. Read. Watch sci fi dvds. Hang out with my dogs. Although the truth is that there is always a part of my mind that is lost in a story. Sometimes it is a large part – leaving me susceptible to walking in front of traffic, into light poles and three blocks further than I wanted to go.

  • What books do you think have influenced your life and your writing the most?

Not books but a story. An ancient tale, of blue sky and purple hills and the travels of generations of feet across red earth. The story of my people, the Palyku, my Ancestors, and my Country.

  • What are you currently reading?

Nothing right now – because I’m writing and I don’t read when I write, I simply don’t have the time.

  • Are you working on anything now?

The next book in the Tribe series, The Foretelling of Georgie Spider.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

You matter. You matter to me – you have taken the time to read my story, and that is a gift. You matter to Ashala and the Tribe – you have walked in their world, following Ash through the hallways of the detention centre and along the trails of the Firstwood. And you matter to this world too. Never believe that your thoughts or feelings lack meaning or significance. There are mistakes enough to be made, in this existence; don’t make the one of assuming that you cannot change your own or someone else’s reality for the better.

Thank you so much Ambelin for taking the time to answer my questions.

My Review

Title: The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2)
Author: Ambelin Kwaymillina
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Walker Books
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 443
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
“However this ends, you’re probably going to find out some things about me, and they’re not nice things. But, Ash, even after you know, do you think you could remember the good? And whatever you end up discovering – try to think of me kindly. If you can.”

Ember Crow is missing. To find her friend, Ashala Wolf must control her increasingly erratic and dangerous Sleepwalking ability and leave the Firstwood. But Ashala doesn’t realise that Ember is harbouring terrible secrets and is trying to shield the Tribe and all Illegals from a devastating new threat – her own past

My Review:

All is not well with the Tribe. They may have had a triumph at Detention Centre 3 but life is far from peaceful for the residents in the Firstwood. Ashala Wolf has gone and embraced her wolf and is running with the pack. Ember Crow went to Gull City months ago and never returned – leaving Ashala only a dog and a memory to reassure her that Ember is okay. Not one to stand back when her tribe family are in danger, Ashala starts digging into Ember’s disappearance to try and find her best friend. Things come out that make Ember’s cryptic leaving and parting message seem even more complicated and dangerous than Ashala ever considered.

Starting a few months after the end of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, this second book of the Tribe series has Ashala still feeling the effects from her actions at the end of the first book. She can’t trust her dreams, her ability or her feelings for her loved ones. Feeling it’s safer to run with the Pack Master, Ashala abandons her human self and becomes the wolf to protect the Tribe – from herself. Her relationship with Connor is on edge after Ashala doesn’t believe that she is good for him.

Ashala’s grandfather, the Serpent, who lives beneath the lake, is full of obscure and confusing advice wanting Ashala to “beware the angels“.Nothing is making sense and Ashala’s need to keep her tribe safe may be conflicting with what’s best for them.

I enjoy Ambelin’s writing. She’s brutal on her characters – we get to see the best and worst from them and I like them more for it. Ashala is flawed and doesn’t always know what’s best for everyone but she’s a good leader because she accepts her faults and learns from her mistakes. She loves fiercely with her whole being and is unapologetic about always thinking the best of her tribe and family. Ember is someone I was fascinated by after the first book and it was great to see more about her and her ability through this book. There are some incredible new characters introduced in this novel (like Jules!) and many familiar faces popping up again.

Whereas the first book took place over a few days – not including memories – The Disappearance of Ember Crow is setting the series up for the long game. Months pass and we get to see a lot of character development. People are growing and changing as the world takes its toll and as relationships mature. The Firstwood is a character in itself with the beauty and majesty of the forest evident throughout the novel.

This series is quickly becoming a favourite of mine and both The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance of Ember Crow have been some of my favourite reads this year. The writing is vivid and beautiful, the story is creative and brilliantly executed. I love that the romance is there but not distracting from the plot nor is it too intense. I will definitely be continuing this series when the third book, The Foretelling of Georgia Spider, is released in the future.

Purchase the novel from:

Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Author Bio

Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina loves reading sci-fi/fantasy books, and has wanted to write a novel since she was six years old. She comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading she works in cultural heritage, illustrates picture books, and hangs out with her dogs. She has written a number of children’s books, both alone and with other members of her family. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is her first novel.
Thanks for visiting my stop on the Disappearance of Ember Crow blog tour. Feel free to stop by Aussie Reviews for the next stop on the tour!

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

Cover Reveal: Range & The Magpie Bridge by J.A. Huss

 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

RANGE
I Am Not Junco, Book 4
by J. A. Huss 
 Release date: April 1, 2013


 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

Two years have passed since Inanna stole Junco away from Lucan. Two years of unimaginable pain. Two years of isolation, mutilation and torture. Two years of fear and loneliness in a morph tank. And that’s not something you just get over, even if you are psycho-assassin, Junco Coot.


Now Junco has to learn to live with the consequences. Her Siblings are suspicious and angry, half her team is dead, Tier is wreaking death and destruction, Lucan is holding his secrets close, and she is spiraling out of control.

There is only one partnership that matters anymore – only one person she will trust and take direction from – and only one way out of the Hell she’s been sentenced to.

Junco is tired of fighting and death. She’s had enough and this time she means to end it – once and for all.

 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

BOOK TRAILER REVEAL

COVER REVEAL TWO

 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

The Magpie Bridge
A Tier Novella
I Am Not Junco Book 4.5
by J. A. Huss
 Release date: April 1, 2013

Raubtier Aves, 039-1, a.k.a TIER
Son of Lucan
Ranking Officer of the Avian military
Powerful
Ruthless
And devoted to Junco, no matter what


Tier was left with one specific order and he’s not about to screw it up. He might lose all his allies, his brothers, his shot at defeating the High Order, and his own Eternal Salvation – but he’s willing to risk it all to keep one small girl alive.

Tier reveals his part in the epic tale of The Seven Siblings, spilling secrets and motivations that will leave you breathless and wanting more.  The Magpie Bridge paves the way for the final installment in the new adult Series, I Am Just Junco.  The final book in the Junco Epic, RETURN, will be released on December 2, 2013.
 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss

 I am Not Junco - Range by J. A. Huss


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 photo author_photo_JA_Huss_zpsc00208fe.jpg

J. A. Huss likes to write new adult books that make you think and keep you guessing. Her favorite genre to read is space opera, but since practically no one reads those books, she writes new adult science fiction, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and books about Junco (who refuses to be saddled with a label).

She has an undergraduate degree in horses, (yes, really–Thank you, Colorado State University) and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Florida. She used to have a job driving around Colorado doing pretty much nothing but shooting the breeze with farmers, but now she just writes, runs the New Adult Addiction and Clean Teen Reads Book Blogs, and runs an online science classroom for homeschoolers.