Book Blast & Giveaway for When Stars Die-Amber Skye Forbes

A couple months ago I received an ARC of When Stars Die for review. It was one of my top books for 2013 and so I eagerly joined this book blast. When Stars Die is unlike any YA book I’ve read to date. Set in a convent? Go figure. But truly, it’s a wonderfully creative and beautifully written book that sparks many serious internal questions. The interplay between faith and magic presents a conflicted, raw, and incredibly real protagonist that will have you cheering her on even through her darkest trials.

I gave this book 5 STARS. If you’re interested in reading my review, I’ll be reblogging it tomorrow so check back!

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“Being able to power through one’s own weakness is a sign that one had the strength to endure this type of life. You weren’t ready, Amelia. You weren’t ready to accept that weakness is an inevitable part of life, and that true strength lies in not giving in to that weakness, but accepting that weakness as a part of yourself and using it to find strength.”

Summary: “Yet, even when stars die, they leave a lasting impact through their light, their diamond brilliance as they scatter their material to form new stars. When people die, they leave the same impact with the footprints they leave on people’s hearts. Even the ones who feel insignificant go out, leaving behind dust that can nourish the world anew.”

Amelia Gareth wants nothing more than to save her brother Nathaniel from eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell. Nathaniel is a witch. This alone is enough to condemn him. Born of a Seven Deadly Sin, witches are not only a product of sin but their families are destined to be destroyed by it. In a heroic, desperate effort to escape this fate, Amelia and Nathaniel flee to Cathedral Reims where she hopes to become a professed nun. This is no small sacrifice. The steps to become a nun are a grueling system of devotion to Deus and blind supplication. Girls go through years of training before reaching the trial stage. These trials are a tortuous test of endurance, mixing flagellation, blood-letting, isolation, and fear. Many do not pass with approval from the head nun but Amelia is determined to prevail despite the pain.

Everything is going according to plan, and with the trials looming, the end is finally in sight after 3 hard years. That is, until Amelia starts seeing things. Shadowmen; dark, sinister , blistering cold beings roam the halls of Cathedral Reims searching like madmen for those who can see them. Amelia thinks that she’s going crazy, her hallucinations spiraling out of control like one of the girls who couldn’t handle the pressure of sisterhood and committed suicide. As the Shadowmen draw ever closer, Amelia can no longer doubt their existence. After a horrible accident involving her best friend, who has terrible burns that no one but Amelia can see, she is faced with two life-altering realities: first, that she, like her brother, is a witch and second, that the Shadowmen are very real and have their sights set on witches within the Cathedral.

Amelia, more confused than ever, and in serious danger, doesn’t know where to turn, whether she should continue down her path to professing as a nun-even though she’s a witch and there’s no chance at heavenly paradise-or to flee from the Shadowmen that threaten to take not only her life but to destroy those she loves.

Meet the Author: WSD2Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn’t like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward…again. But she doesn’t care because her cat is a superhero who will break her out. 

You can find Amber at Amber’s Official Website or Amber’s Blog

Purchase Links:

When Stars Die on Amazon

When Stars Die on Smashwords

When Stars Die on Kobo

When Stars Die for Nook

GIVEAWAY:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading everyone and really, this is a great book, if you’re a Girl of Fire and Thorns fan looking for a new read this is for you.

-BB

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Review: The Mockingbirds-Daisy Whitney

3/5 Stars

The Mockingbirds (The Mockingbirds, #1)-Daisy Whitney

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Plot: Alex attends the prestigious Themis Academy, a boarding school where the administration is largely passive and finds a system built on the honor code to be the most effective. A notorious group known as The Mockingbirds, a secret society of teens, runs the school on a combination of vigilante justice and sleuthing. Alex never knew that The Mockingbirds existed until she unfortunately became desperately in need of their unique brand of crime solving. Alex is a pretty quiet girl, her focus is on mastering her violin and getting accepted at her dream school-Julliard. One night, while seeing on of her favorite bands with a few friends at a club, things get out of hand, Alex gets wasted and she wakes up the next day in Carter’s bed with no idea how she got there. Alex is mortified and sickened that she lost her virginity, something she cherished and wanted to be special, to a night of drunken stupidity. However, as flashbacks of that night come back to her, Alex is not so sure that it was consensual. Alex is pretty sure she has been date-raped. So begins Alex’s quest to figure out what truly happened that night, how to deal with it, and her partnership with The Mockingbirds to sniff out clues, and bring justice to Themis Academy.

PROS:

  • I wanted to love The Mockingbirds because the story deals with serious issues that are not only relevant to teens but people of every age and not talked about enough. Date-rape is a terrible, traumatic thing that is all too often brushed over or not talked about because it causes people to feel uncomfortable or people are scared (the reasons are endless and all important), it’s a hard subject and props to Daisy Whitney for tackling it. One of the best elements of this story is how realistic and true to emotions Alex is. Daisy really captured the horrible sense of guilt, the idea that the victim thinks they’re at fault, that they could have done something more to protect themselves. Alex’s reactions were heartbreaking, emotionally poignant, and so easy to identify with. Everyone has felt that gnawing feeling of uncertainty when something bad happens that tosses them into a whirlwind of doubt, the quintessential if only I had…maybe I should have…thoughts.
  • Alex. Although she’s a little naĂŻve, she’s willing to fight for justice, to believe in herself, and to push through her own insecurities over what happened to her to truly grow as a person.
  • The Mockingbirds as a group of teens willing to solve crimes, dig through dirt, weigh stories, and deal out their own form of justice is really a great idea, especially if, like in the book, the administration would only cause a bigger mess or simply not care at all. The concept of taking away what matters most to the loser of the case is a harsh but much better alternative to the slap on the wrist or suspension that most bullies would have gotten.

CONS:

  • The plot is a little slow and really drags in some parts as Alex spirals into depression but livens up as the Mockingbirds clues become more pronounced. If you’re looking for a book that is thrilling, fast-paced, and has lots of plot twists, this is NOT for you.
  • The characters are fuzzy, like shadows, they feel incomplete. It’s hard to become invested in the characters when there are so many, a bunch of substories, and really not much development or focus on their character journey-except for Alex.
  • One of my issues with the Mockingbirds is that they’re really vigilantes, they take advantage of the system and don’t only take away the accused’s (if found guilty) most loved hobby but they start with taking away their privileges before they even know they committed the crime for sure and then say, oh, if they’re innocent we’ll pay them back later. The problem with this is that most of the time, later is at the end of the school year when paying people back really doesn’t make up for a semester or so of hell.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:*

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***I’m really not sure what to recommend for this one so take these titles with a little leeway.

Pleasant reading and have a wonderful weekend,

-BB

Review: Rot & Ruin-Jonathan Maberry

3.5/5 Stars

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura, #1)-Jonathan Maberry

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There are moments that define a person’s whole life. Moments in which everything they are and everything they may possibly become balance on a single decision. Life and death, hope and despair, victory and failure teeter precariously on the decision made at that moment. These are moments ungoverned by happenstance, untroubled by luck. These are moments in which a person earns the right to live, or not.

***

“Eat me,” said Benny with a grin.

“Zombies wouldn’t eat you. They have standards.”

Plot: Benny Imura doesn’t remember a time without zoms (zombies). After First Night, the day with the world fell to the living dead, the zoms have taken over the country, electricity is a thing of the past and people are limited to small villages. Although Benny was only an infant when First Night happened, he remembers his parents and their horrific death. Benny is haunted by visions of his mother screaming, his father bloody and ravenous, hands clenched around his mothers neck eager for flesh. After that night, a deep-rooted hatred of zoms and his cowardly brother is all he knows and all he lives for.  Even though his brother Tom is a famous zombie-slayer, Tom scoffs, he knows the truth, when it really mattered, when he had the chance to save Benny’s mother from death he ran scared. Leaving his mother for dead is unforgivable to Benny and drives a mile-wide wedge between the brothers. Benny recently turned 15 and in this dystopian land of heartache and terror, 15 year olds are considered adults and must find a job or have their food rations cut in half. The problem is that jobs are not hard to come by but desirable ones are coveted and snatched up long before eligibility. As the deadline draws near, Benny must do something he swore he never would, ask his brother for help. Forced to join the family business of zombie-hunting or starve, Benny and Tom venture out into Rot and Ruin, what used to be the United States. Benny is met with an evil so sinister that he questions everything he thought he knew, his reality disintegrates and he slowly is met with a bleak reality that will leave him hollow and confused. Rot and Ruin is nothing like he expected nor is his brother. Deadly secrets, twisted, grotesque murders, and corruption are all part of Rot and Ruin and Benny is caught right in the middle. When Benny is confronted with an insurmountable choice that threatens to break him, he becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. With the help of his brother and some surprising new friends, Benny embarks on a dangerous rescue mission that will have you second-guessing the nature of zombies, humanity, and morality.

PROS:

  • Benny. Although as you’ll read below in the cons section that he’s slow on the uptake and pigheaded, his development is fantastic. It’s wonderfully inspirational to watch Benny transform from a naive 15 year old boy to a determined, powerful young adult. As he grows in character, he questions who he is as a person, who he wants to become, and reevaluates what he thought he knew for the first 15 years of his life. He thought zombies were blood-thirsty killers who took away his chance at a loving family but when out in Rot and Ruin he learns about mercy, humanity, and just how far someone will go to save the ones they love from pain. By the end of the book he’s no longer the foolhardy little brat he was in the beginning but a smart, calculated, risky hero on the rise. He puts his life on the line, battling through hordes of zombies, bounty hunters, and spring-trapped terrain to save innocent lives form the horrors of greedy, seedy men.
  • Tom Imura is one badass, sexy slayer. He’s full of compassion, zen, and understanding. He sees the world in a way that’s unique and makes your heart bleed and eyes water. He’s a beautifully compelling character who still has enough sympathy to put zombies at rest and embrace the world with open eyes and hope. Plus he’s a masterful fighter with wicked samurai skills.
  • The men in this story are unafraid to cry with such perfect, gut-wrenching abandon that you really feel a connection.
  • Lilah or the Lost Girl. A little whacked, 10 shades creepy, and a whole lot of terrifying, this girl can kill without mercy, she’s cold, vicious, and on a mission to take out the bounty hunters that took away her childhood, robbed her of her sister, and destroyed her life. Lilah is a feral mix of love and ruthless determination that will leave you wondering what you would have done had you been as wronged and wrecked by man; you’ll find a new understanding for the simplicity of zombies as former humans.
  • Nix. Nix is a fiery redhead with a sassy attitude, a dreamy design for a future outside of her small village and aims to write a nonfiction book on zombies. She fights for her life, kicking and punching her way through always to get back to Benny. She never gives up and puts herself in the line of fire to help those in need.
  • There are some slow points but generally the plot is fast-paced, fueled by mystery and bloodshed. The zombie descriptions and mutilations are gruesomely descriptive in that great way that will leave little to the imagination and might give you a nightmare or two.

CONS:

  • Benny is kind of an idiot. He’s completely and utterly stubborn, so much so that when the truth slaps him in the face he still has his doubts. He can’t get past the assumption that his brother is a weak sham of a zombie-slayer and so his relationship with his only relative is stunted and sad. His temper escalated quickly and is rife with assertions that are off-base and ridiculous. Furthermore, he’s completely daft; sometimes he’ll make a comment or ask a question and you’ll feel compelled to face palm, like come on kid, seriously?
  • There’s little development of characters apart from the 4 main ones; Benny’s friendships are there but there’s not enough that you feel any real compassion or connection to them. Although there are some humorous passages, they’re immature and fall flat.
  • The awkward semi-romantic scenes are somewhat painful to read. If there had been some playful banter or teasing or something to lighten the tragic mood a teensy bit it would have been okay but instead read like a sulky, weird mess.

If you enjoyed any of the following, you’d probably like this:

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ThroughGlass COVER REVEAL

Happy reading,

-BB

 

Review: Onyx-Jennifer L. Armentrout

5/5 Stars

Onyx (Lux, #2)-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Holy hell, where do I even begin? It’s not often that a sequel trumps the first book in a series but seriously, I started reading this book last night as I was trying to fall asleep and at 4am was so disappointed because I had 9am class and ALL I wanted to do was finish this book. I contemplated pulling an all-nighter, and for someone who spends countless days only staying awake to research massive papers, this was far too tempting.

As you guys know, this semester is gruesomely, ridiculously hard, and just so much research I don’t even have time to work on this blog, which, if you guys can’t tell, is like therapy for me. I love books and love sharing my thoughts with you. In light of my recent crises, i.e. 3, 20 (min) page research papers and 2 long presentations are all due this month. The end of the semester is drawing near, and I wish time would slow the hell down a little so I could get everything done. This is my notice of temporary blog hiatus until December when I’ll have a bunch of new releases, cover reveals, and blog tour posts for you but as of right now, I’m so stressed I’m barely coherent. When I was applying for grad school, a Huffington Post article came out about the extremely high rate of depression in grad students. TOTALLY see why. I took 18 credits a semester as an undergrad and compared to my work now, that was a breeze.

This may well be my second to last blog post this month, and for that I’m sorry but know that I would much rather be on here chatting with you wonderful readers and kindred spirits than trekking through libraries with a pounding headache, and back pain from being hunched over taking notes for hours on end. IT SUCKS. Coffee is my savior and sanity right now. Back to the review and I’ll get back to blogging soon. Don’t worry. I’ll miss you guys.

There was something soul-burningly beautiful about being on the brink of losing control, tumbling over into the unknown, and I wanted to fall and never resurface.

***

Words were the most powerful tool. Simple and so often underestimated. They could heal. They could destroy.

***

“Can you turn off the light?” Darkness descended without him moving. Several moments passed. “That’s a handy ability.” “It is.” My eyes focused on the pale light peeking through the curtains. “Maybe one day I can be just as lazy as you and turn off the lights without moving.” “That’s something to aspire to.” I relaxed a fraction of an inch and smiled. “God, you’re so modest.” “Modesty is for saints and losers. I’m neither.”

***

Daemon kissed like he was a man starving for water, taking long, breathless drafts. His teeth caught my lower lip when he pulled away, only to come back for more. A heady mix of emotions warred inside me. I didn’t want this, because it was just the connection between us. I kept telling myself that, even as I slid my hands up his chest and circled them around his neck . When his hands inched under my shirt, it was as though he reached deep inside me, warming every cell, filling every dark space within me with the heat from his skin.

Touching him, kissing him, was like having a fever all over again. I was on fire. My body burned. The world burned. Sparks flew. Against his mouth, I moaned. 

Plot from Goodreads: 

Being connected to Daemon Black sucksÂ…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to townÂ…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there’s this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that’s possible. Against all common sense, I’m falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changesÂ…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the liesÂ…

PROS:

  • CHEMISTRY! The sexual tension is all-consuming, reckless, addictive. You will want to punch Daemon in the face several times but EVERY SINGLE SECOND of his pushy, occasionally obnoxious behavior is worth the sexy.
  • Daemon and Katy are magnetic, their sarcastic, passionately angsty banter is dialogue to PERFECTION. If you’re an aspiring writer and you’re having trouble, read this book, check out the natural, witty flirtation mixed with genuine adoration, it’s fantastic.
  • The plot. If you thought the first book was action-packed you are in for quite a ride. The many plot twists and dangers are enough to put anyone on the edge. It’s thrilling, adrenaline-filled, and just all around an exciting read.
  • Katy’s character goes through a marvelous transformation. Although with Daemon she’s always been pushy, domineering, and generally stuck up for herself, this time around she is a powerhouse heroine with skills to match. Katy has finally discovered her strength and is not afraid to use it. She goes out of her way to protect those she loves, putting her life on the line without a second thought. She is fierce!
  • There are many blush-worthy, steamy scenes that will have you consumed, deep in the book oblivious to the outside world. The word choice, the general description is addictive.
  • Surprise after surprise after devastating, crushing surprise, this book will leave you mouth agape, struggling to process some of the insane events.
  • The feels. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sigh, you’ll scream in frustration. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

CONS:

  • Blake. Blake is a controlling, insidious, bland flake. He comes into the story, bursting with masculine wiles and charm eager to sweep Katy off her feet, and is just BORING. Up until the big revelation his character is pretty much a jerk on an ego-trip fighting with Daemon for Katy.

If you liked any of the following you’d probably enjoy this:

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ThroughGlass COVER REVEAL

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strange and familiar 5.30

Pleasant reading,

-BB

Review: Obsidian-Jennifer L. Armentrout

Hi guys! I’m excited to share with you some news! Tomorrow, I am participating in a Book Blast Blog Tour and will be featuring Twisted by KayCee R. For those of you who may be interested, it is YA, it is supernatural, and there are many sexy male characters. Check it out.

I’m 50% done with Allegiant. There are several negative reviews on Amazon, 1-Star ratings. Let me tell you right now, for those of you who trust my judgement as a book reviewer, there’s no way I would consider this a 1-Star book, though everyone is entitled to their opinions. I should finish and post a review this weekend for those who are dying to read it, it will not be spoilery!

Also, for those of you who take part in Epic Reads TeaTime, I fully nerded out to the Spreecast today and my texts were on the live screen feed! If you want a recap on what was discussed, you can see that here: Allegiant Party

TBH moment: This book has been sitting on my TBR pile forever. Now that I’ve read it, I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner.

4.5/5 Stars

Obsidian (Lux, #1)-Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Beautiful face. Beautiful body. Horrible attitude. It was the holy trinity of hot boys.

***

A sweet, hot fire washed over my skin, and I squeezed my eyes shut. Every inch of me was hyper-aware of him. Of how my body fit against his, the way his thighs were pressed against mine, the hardness of his stomach under my hand. My hormones kicked in with the power of a dropkick to the stomach. Heated lightning zipped through my veins. For a moment, I pretended.

Plot: After the death of her father, Katy is just trying to live her life. Thinking they needed a drastic change after the tragic event, her mother decided to whisk her away to a new state, in a small town. Katy had her doubts about West Virginia. She assumed she’d be bored to death within hours of moving there, or at least, have her ear talked off by people with strong southern accents. What Katy didn’t expect was the smoking hot guy next door with the dazzling, sensual green eyes, and the toned, drool-worthy body. Never has Katy ever been so attracted to a guy before, that is, until he opens his mouth. Katy knocked on the door to get some directions, thinking hey, southern hospitality, and gets a verbal slap in the face. Not only does Daemon insult her, but he dismisses her as if she isn’t worth his time. When Dee, Daemon’s twin sister surprises her at the grocery store to apologize for her brother’s behavior, Katy is more than apprehensive. She can’t help but notice the way the townspeople shy away from Dee, and stare. Katy knows that there’s something off about Dee but she’s dying for a friend, and once she gets to know what a sweetheart Dee is, she’s thrust into a wonderful new friendship. Unfortunately, Dee and Daemon are a package deal. As dangers heat up, mysteries increase, and more questions are left unanswered, Katy uncovers the truth about her neighbors. Plus, Katy is just not sure what to do about Daemon. As much as he annoys her, she can’t deny her attraction, one she knows for a fact is mutual. When girls start getting attacked, Katy finds herself in the middle of an epic battle of good vs. evil.

PROS:

  • The chemistry between Daemon and Katy is magnetic. It’s the kind of infuriating sexual tension that is as steamy, and passionate as it is angry. Their love/hate relationship is fueled by witty, sarcastic taunts, and innuendos that will have you speeding through the pages looking for their next interaction. The descriptions. Holy hell. Fireworks! Even that is an understatement. Every touch, sensation, feeling is highlighted, and really allows you to experience, and embrace the compelling connection between Daemon and Katy.
  • Daemon is arrogant, gorgeous, and often rude but with a hidden compassionate side. Most of the time, he’s a bit of an ass. His pointed, teasing comments will almost always insight laughter, and fury to the point of wanting to strangle him.
  • Katy is a stubborn, hot-headed, yet reserved girl who sometimes lets her emotions get the best of her. She can hold her own in a fight, is a book blogger (she gets bonus points for that), loves to read, and is unbelievably brave. She’s willing to make sacrifices, and take risks that could get her killed and doesn’t even stop to think. Katy is a heroic, down-to-earth wonder girl. Occasionally she lets her assumptions get the best of her but all in all, she’s pretty awesome, and easy to relate to.
  • Lesa is my personal favorite character. For having such a small role, she packs a lot of punch. She is an unabashed pervert, and very open with her opinions on the subject. Her lines are hilarious, warm, and a tad blush-worthy.
  • What Daemon is is a huge mystery that will leave you guessing…as long as you don’t read the full Goodreads blurb. Tisk tisk.
  • The world of the Lux is creative, complex, and intricate.

CONS:

  • The explanation of the Lux was confusing, a lot of information at one time, and while fascinating, was bogged down with details. More space between reveals would have been less overwhelming.

If you enjoyed any of the following, you’d probably like this:

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ThroughGlass COVER REVEAL

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strange and familiar 5.30

Pleasant reading,

-BB

P.S. I’m a guest blogger over on thoughtfulmindsunited.wordpress.com. There I talk about a variety of things but will probably focus on reviewing the adult books I read. If you’re interested, there are several authors, and many subjects.

Review: Burn for Burn-Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

3/5 Stars

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)-Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 

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Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. -William Congreve 

Plot: Burn for Burn is the age-old didactic tale of a woman scorned, or more simply, a story of revenge. Lillia, Kat, and Mary are girls from different social classes, levels of popularity, and home lives but they have one thing in common, the dangerous rage and thirst for vengeance after they’d been wronged. The story is told from three perspectives:

Lillia is one of the most popular, beautiful, likeable girls in school. She’s genuine, caring, and yet is trapped; she’s surrounded by the stereotypical mean girl-her best friend Rennie, a cheerleader-the jocks, and the typical bobble head other friend Ashlin. Up until this point, Lillia realizes that she’s made some mistakes in the past, one that she regrets more than anything (I don’t blame her), and starts to question whether her friendship with Rennie is worth it. When she finds out her baby sister Nadia got drunk and had a sleepover at Alex’s (her best guy friend) she feels more than betrayed, she feels raw, bruised, and wants nothing more than to get him back for taking advantage of her sweet, naĂŻve little sister.

Kat use to be best friends with Lillia and Rennie until they dropped her and started treating her like she had the plague-i.e. poverty. Kat resents the abrupt way they left her behind in the dust, rose to popularity, and Rennie goes out of her way to spread atrocious, catty rumors about her. Kat wants payback for all the hate she’s suffered at the hands of her former BFFs and she plans on mercilessly dealing out punishment.

Mary is the same age as Kat and Lillia, use to live on the island but after a traumatic experience moves to the mainland for serious therapy, and is set back a year in school. Mary returns to the island years later to face her demons of the past, hoping to shove the new her down the throat of her tormentor. But as she settles down into high school life, he doesn’t even recognize her. This wounds her more than anything else. After all the pain, the torture he inflicted on her self-esteem that he would forget her was something she could not handle.

Teaming up with Lillia and Kat, Mary and the girls discover just how far they’re willing to go to make sure those who have wronged them get what’s coming to them, learn a little about themselves, and are able to transcend social hierarchies to find common ground with their strange partners in crime.

PROS:

  • Kat has an interesting, quirky personality with a sarcastic, fiery attitude that will have you rooting for her. Her creativity in coming up with the revenge plots is truly wicked. Kat also has a broken, sad past that is occasionally shown that reveals the deep scars the cold shoulder her BFFs gave her left.
  • There is a little something for everyone. The girls are relatable on many levels, and the bad experiences they’ve had become a shared hurt that is transcended by their partnership in their quest for revenge. Bullying, drunken mistakes, and changes in friendships that seem out of the blue, and without explanation are all something that most of us have dealt with on some level. Although revenge is probably not the best way to cope, sharing experiences with others is therapeutic in itself.
  • This is definitely a story of girl power, of unity, of overcoming the past, and learning who you want to become as an adult.
  • The fact that this is not a love story allows the focus to be on the development of these three girls, and really opens up exploration into their psyches.
  • Mary is such a tragic, heartbreaking character. Her pain, her blind hope, and recovery is reason enough to enjoy this book, and is inspiring to those of us who have been severely bullied, especially by those who we considered friends.

CONS: 

  • The semi-supernatural aspect was unnecessary, and detracted from the overall theme. Too Carrie.
  • There were a few typos.
  • Lillia is too soft, she puts up with the taunting, and snarky attitudes from her popular friends who she doesn’t even like just to be popular? For someone who is so self-righteous, and known as a good person, going along with the rude, nasty nature of her friends, and watching them victimize others makes her just as guilty.
  • All of the girls make assumptions based on little evidence, and react childishly.

If you like any of the following, you’d enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB

Review: Insignia-S.J. Kincaid

4.5/5 Stars

Insignia (Insignia, #1)-S.J. Kincaid

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“Gruesome murder always builds the foundation for a beautiful friendship.”

***

“Nah. Ugly. Face it, Tom,” Vik said, “no girl who fights like that can be hot, too. It would cause a huge imbalance in the cosmos that would unravel the space-time continuum and make the universe implode. And she won’t show you. That’s a red flag. Big, bright, waving red flag.”

Plot: Tom Raines is not your average hero. Living day by day in a downwardly spiraling series of virtual gaming, cons, and making just enough money to stay off the streets, and support his father’s dangerous gambling addiction, Tom yearns for stability, and finds solstice in the virtual world. In virtual games, Tom is more than a gawky, awkward, 14-year-old misfit with acne, he is a mastermind at beating the system. When Tom is approached by the Intrasolar Forces and offered a place as a new recruit he thinks that this could be his chance to truly make something of himself, to have a secure future.

In the midst of WWIII, the Earth is depleted of resources and war is now fought between big corporations in outer space, hoping to enterprise off of the rich minerals and substances of other planets. The Intrasolar Forces is a government special force that virtually fights for these corporations in epic battles that amount to the fate of planet Earth. These teens go through a series of training and simulations to prepare them as fighters in this virtual battle field. There are political bribes, and shadow wars between countries for space property. The biggest, best fighters are renown as saviors of humanity. Tom hopes to rise in rank, and make it to the virtual big leagues. Tom has always been wary of the government because of his cynical, jaded childhood with his broken father but has followed the war, eagerly rooting for the most creative fighters. Tom’s favorite is Medusa, and he endeavours to meet her. He doesn’t know how he knows she’s a female, but he’s almost positive.

Tom meets with Medusa and their relationship continues to blossom into a secret friendship that may or may not be illegal. But the danger is part of its seduction. Meanwhile, Tom builds friendships, and learns that though he gets in trouble for his insubordination, it’s one of his strongest assets.

Insignia follows Tom on his quest to be more than a homeless, geeky loner, to use his skills to save humanity, and maybe even get a girlfriend.

PROS:

  • The chemistry between characters is so easy, completely natural, and some of the best realistic dialogue I’ve seen. It’s witty, fun, sarcastic, and hysterically funny. Their interactions are relaxed, a flurry of teasing, and playfulness that draw you in and make it hard not to smile. Their fierce loyalty to one another even in the face of expulsion from the program or imprisonment is touching.
  • [SPOILERY, stop now!] Tom and Medusa are perfect for one another. Their blossoming relationship is laid back, fun, full of competitive, aggressive attraction and reckless abandon for the rules. Their secret meetings are some of the most compelling, creative scenarios in the book.
  • The premise of Insignia is innovative, ingenious, and has a little something for everyone. The idea that wars would be fought in the future through simulations off Earth to protect the environment, and minimize the casualties of war is a beautiful, really inspiring concept. Plus, the virtual reality, code writing, hacking, and mental training is wickedly awesome. This takes the dangers of technology to a whole new level, and makes them even more fascinating, and astounding than they already are.
  • Gaming itself as a complex arena of sponsorship, manipulation, money, and a go-between for shark-like corporate powers is as thrilling as it is evil. The lengths that these world powers will go to get the most talented gamers on their side is sickening and yet, surprising believable. The corruption is slimy, and repulsive but one of the most realistic aspects of the system.

CONS: 

  • The superficial emphasis on attractiveness was a little annoying. There are elements of clichĂ©d, high school drama within the training facility but generally, the characters transcend their stereotypes, those who don’t are the enemy characters. The makeover is also a bit much.

If you liked any of the following, you’d probably enjoy this:

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Happy reading,

-BB