ARC Review: Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

proofGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

review

4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen

Proof of Lies is what’s missing in YA and exactly what I’ve been searching for. An adrenaline rush of mystery and danger, an intriguing and twisty plot, and characters that keep you invested, Proof of Lies is at the top of my 2017 reads. 

PROS:

  • The mystery is epic. It sucks you in and keeps you invested. I was dying to know what happened to Keira. The clues are all there and they’re tricky. Anastasia is basically sifting through trash to find gold and ends up lucking out. She follows the barest of clues and with the help of some tech savvy friends the mystery gets progressively more engaging. 
  • Twists. This story is like a narrow, winding road up Mount Everest. Complete with all the twists, deadly turns, near misses, and heart-pounding risks that are so unexpected. Usually I can guess what’s going to happen in the first few pages, Diana Rodriguez Wallach did a fantastic job at every turn…well except for one that was fairly obvious. I was super impressed. 
  • Anastasia isn’t perfect. She’s delightfully flawed. She realizes that she’s been an ungrateful brat and pretty terrible to her sister and endeavors to change. She recognizes her flaws and actively works to be better. I loved that about her. Plus, she’s trained in self-defense and martial arts, speaks multiple languages, and dives head first into danger. She’s a risk taker and she realizes that the choices she makes are totally stupid and owns up to it. I hate when characters know that they’re making bad decisions and are just like woops, yeah, no. Anastasia has a strong voice, she’s likable and so devoted to her mission that you can’t help but respect her drive. 
  • The romance. The few scenes that took place in high school setting were cute and memorable. Some were laugh out loud, others made me angry. The sheer racist b.s. that some kids go through. Sigh. But Anastasia is a true hero in those moments and Marcus is made of swoon. He’s got a bad boy look but is fiercely loyal, lovable, and complex. He is the arms that Anastasia needs to hold her up and the shoulder she can cry on. What’s best is that he lets her make her own decisions. He doesn’t prevent her from making choices. He knows she’s going to do crazy stuff and he’s like, I’ll back you up. ❤ I mean, who doesn’t adore a guy like that? And those makeout scenes are FIRE. 

CONS:

  • My biggest issue was the mourning section. I was having flashbacks to New Moon when it’s just a page with a month on it and nothing happens. That totally destroyed the pacing, but thankfully, once Anastasia was invested in sleuthing again it picked up quickly. 
  • There were some issues with secondary characters. They played key roles and yet felt like throwaways. I needed more personality, more interaction-just more to actually care about them. The subplot with Julian and Sofia was compelling, but didn’t fit into the story as well as it could have, it felt random, but definitely key. Towards the end, parts with Julian and Charlotte were rushed and more telling than showing. There, but not really. More for function than anything else. 

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

Thrilling reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

the-crueltyGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

review4/5 Stars 

Unpopular opinion time. It turns out that there’s a ton of controversy surrounding this book because of some dismissive and rude comments made by the author about the YA genre. Here’s the thing, I did not read anything about this book or any of the Goodreads comments before my rating. This is a 100% unbiased, non-influenced rating on the story alone. While I do not agree with the author’s perception of dystopia YA or some off the offhand comments made by Gwen within the story, authors and characters do not always share beliefs. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the author’s opinions from the character’s and vice versa. I thought I would preface this review by saying that whether or not I like the author has absolutely nothing to do with this review because so many of the Goodreads reviews are attacks on the author not the book. 

Now that that’s out of the way, I loved this book. This is exactly what I’ve been searching for in YA. A thriller. Spies, lies, cover ups, danger, it’s like Bourne Identity for teens. And there are so many important and eye-opening topics discussed within the story about crime, human trafficking, and other terrifying and unsavory aspects of society. While the story wasn’t perfect, it definitely kept me engaged and enthralled with Gwen and her quest to save her father. I kept asking myself how far I’d go to save my loved ones.

Gwen is made of reckoning and a hunger for vengeance. I adore her. She’s of Jewish heritage, thick-waisted, opinionated, speaks multiple languages, and likes jazz. I mean, come on, that alone is enough to keep you interested. When Gwen embraces her new identity at Sofia, we see her transformation and wow, what a switch. The girl she started as is still there, but her alias is a fighter. Sofia is a vixen. She’s manipulative, calculating, more like an agent. She has a huge heart. She will go to the ends of the earth for her father and then some, sacrificing herself in the process. She knows she might die, she might get assaulted or scarred, but she is willing as long as she gets her father back. That’s insane and incredibly brave. Gwen has to shut off her emotions or she’ll break and sometimes it’s truly hard and devastating for her. In several scenes, I almost had to look away because I was so scared for her. But she puts on cruelty like armor and is surprisingly successful for such a small amount of training. 

There are so made shades of women within this story and they’re all powerful in their own ways. From prostitutes to the women who serve the crime bosses, from the trafficked girls to the bully at the introduction of the story, all of these women are fighters and wise to the ways of the world. They accept that sometimes life is dirty and hard and terrible, that horrific things happen but they can’t collapse, they rise and rebuild and take everything for what it is. Every character was memorable, even the fleeting ones and others that I abhorred. They were developed, multidimensional, and made me ask questions. 

Yael. OMG this woman. She’s fierce, hardened, cruel when she needs to be and lives by a do whatever it takes attitude. Suck it up and do what needs to be done. Yael is at times heartless and cold, others she’s mildly concerned. You can tell she feels a little motherly towards Gwen. Yael is the kind of woman, Mossad, who would take her child who can’t swim, throw him in a lake and tell him to find his way out; he’d learn pretty quick. I loveddddd her. She’s an epic badass of a character. 

The story itself is layered and developed. It’s cross multiple countries and gets right into the seedy underbelly of the cities. I have not been to most of the countries mentioned, so I can’t say how accurate the portrayal was, but there wasn’t much in way of description anyway. Scott Bergstrom appears to be more about the character than the setting. I loved the cyphers and the danger. Every edge of your seat moment was a new rush and there are so many. 

What I did not like was the random romance between Gwen and Terrance. He’s barely there, there’s no building, hardly any foundation, and while he is functional, the emotions are severely lacking and then suddenly it’s supposed to be like fireworks for the reader-yeah, no. I was not the biggest fan of the way Gwen was introduced at Danton Academy. While it did function to present her place in the social hierarchy, establish her race and figure, it felt clichéd and predictable. In fact, I don’t really know why it was there at all. School is nothing in this story. It’s gone in like 2 days of book time. 

Sometimes the pacing was slow. When you think of a thriller/suspense, you expect fast, but spy work and investigating is sometimes just pushing paper and waiting for leads, so in that respect, it was accurate. 

That ending. YES.

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

Suspenseful reading, 

Jordan

Book Trailer Reveal: Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tilldeath-pm-cAmazon/B&N/iBooks/IndieBound/Goodreads

Release Date: Feb 28, 2017

syn

In New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . .

It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

trailer

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1483569632&f=nWBQQPmNYruuznYL0PEY8Q&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

Spotlight, Interview & Giveaway: Lifers by M.A. Griffin

***UPDATED FROM THE ORIGINAL POST TO INCLUDE INTERVIEW

lifersu7258_lifers_4cc-high-res-cmykAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Audible/Goodreads

syn

Fear haunts the streets of Preston’s city: a girl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. And deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine used to banish teenage criminals for their offenses.

Captured and condemned to a cavernous dimension, Preston is determined to escape. But this is no ordinary jail. Friendships will be forged and lives will be lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge–and revolution.

Set in a world all too similar to our own, Lifers is thrilling, pulse-pounding storytelling of the highest degree. 

int

Hi Jordan! It’s a pleasure to be part of your blog. Many thanks for inviting me along!

  1. Tell the plot of Lifers in a single sentence

A single sentence? That’s tough! OK, here goes: an insomniac kid on a mission to find his missing friend stumbles upon a sinister machine that seems to be the doorway to a disturbing and dark prison for young offenders.

Phew. (Takes deep breath.)

  1. What inspired you to write Lifers?

I teach A level students over here in the UK; that’s 16-19 year olds (senior high in your language!) One hot summer’s afternoon, following the collapse of spectacularly badly-planned lesson (totally my fault), we ditched the poem we were meant to be studying and got to talking instead. I remember one student telling us where she’d camp out if she ever ran away from home with her tent. She’d scoped out a place in the school grounds that was walled on three sides, sheltered, grassy. I remember saying, “Just imagine you discovered that the school opened again at midnight. And different students arrived in a different uniform and different teachers too!” We had a blast discussing this notion. What stayed with me afterwards was the idea that places can transform themselves at night; the familiar becomes weird and disconcerting. I wanted a story where that happened to a city. Preston, my protagonist, grew from this idea. I gave him a missing friend and a bunch of worries that made it impossible to sleep. Then I sent him out into the centre of Manchester to find something horrible that would change his life.

  1. How did you create the prison system in the book?

It took me ages! So many mis-fires and failed attempts. I wanted a prison system that favoured punishment over rehabilitation or reform, so I always knew I’d need somewhere designed purely to incarcerate. From there, I knew inmates would respond differently – like Golding’s Lord of the Flies or an episode of Lost – some would team up and try and stay sane, decent and human. Others would become feral and desperate. There’d be power-struggles, subcultures and clashing ideologies. So far so good, right? But it kept getting out of control and the characters wouldn’t behave themselves. I ended up writing the prison section of the novel three or four times trying to get the balance between hope and despair right. I hope I’ve got somewhere close!

  1. How does the world in Lifers compare to our own?

What a good question! I think in many ways you can measure the quality of a society by the way it treats its prisoners – the challenge, support, guidance and ultimately hope it gives them. In my opinion, we’re some way off a good system in the UK, so I wanted to explore ideas about choices, mistakes and punishment. There’s this English historian called Henry Buckle – writing in the mid-nineteenth century – who famously said “Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it.” (I’d like to pretend I picked up that quote reading highbrow history and philosophy but I first came across it on a Fun Lovin’ Criminals album sleeve. You take it where you find it, right?) In Lifers, I’ve created a nasty political party intent on a brutal prison regime. It’s a pretty significant exaggeration of where we are now. That said, 2016 has been a very worrying year…

  1. Do you have a favorite line from the book?

I used to be fairly consistent on this. But readers will often point out theirs and I’ll change my mind. (For example, recently I was speaking to a student following a presentation at a school and she said, “I wanted more Chowdhury! I love him!” He’s one of the guys in prison, a kind of mystic. We ended up trading Chowdhury lines for a bit.) Anyway, this time I’m going to turn to Preston’s pal Mace for inspiration. Mace is part conspiracy theorist, part coward and part bad poet. He’s always dictating his thoughts and impressions of a situation into his phone. “Manchester,” he says soulfully at one point. “City of cranes and rain.” It is, too. I live in a city that is constantly demolishing and rebuilding itself.

  1. What makes Preston a hero you can root for?

Well, he’s a hugely flawed kid and that’s part of the reason I love him. He’s a whole bundle of insecurities and he makes jaw-droppingly bad decisions. I remember that feeling very well – of being fourteen or fifteen, an age when every single decision seems massive, and making a mighty mess of a lot of mine. Preston’s the same. I wanted him to be driven by a sense of guilt, the only certain thing in a confusion of feelings, so he makes a terrible error early in the book that he somehow has to correct. That’s why I like the guy; despite everything, he’s got the courage and decency to try and fix this mistake even if the skills necessary to do so are frankly waaay beyond him. Poor lad!

      7. Tell me a little about your writing process.

I tell students something it took me way too long to learn: good ideas arrive in pieces, never all at once. I can’t afford hang about waiting for a complete idea to blossom, or a logical and elegant plot to arrrive. I have to gather together all my seemingly-terrible bits of ideas and somehow force them together into a coherent, crazy, ugly whole. Once I’ve got something that looks like it might have an outside chance of working, I start building a set of characters who might operate realistically in the situation, location or crazy circumstances that I’ve dreamed up. If I can get an inciting incident I’ve got the seeds of something. After that, I try and figure out how to escalate the drama whilst making it impossible for the protag to pull out or turn back. Then I try and prettify the whole thing so it looks as if it arrived in one complete piece. It’s so hard to do! I’m working on something now, for example, and all the same troubles are presenting themselves… it doesn’t seem to get any easier, unfortunately!

author

I’m a writer of children’s fiction, represented by Ben Illis at the B.I.A., available for workshops and school visits when I’m not chained to a laptop cursing my lack of progress and/or poverty of imagination.

My debut novel, The Poison Boy, was written as Fletcher Moss. My second novel, Lifers, is my first for teen readers. It arrives April 2016.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

giveaway

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LIFERS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR

Tour Schedule: 

Week One:

1/23/2017- YA Book Madness- Interview

1/24/2017-Here’s to Happy Endings- Review

1/25/2017-Novel Novice- Excerpt

1/26/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

1/27/2017- Fantasy Book Critic– Guest Post

Week Two:

1/30/2017- Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile- Review

1/31/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview

2/1/2017- Book-Keeping- Review

2/2/2017- Wishful Endings- Interview

2/3/2017- A Gingerly Review- Review

Thrilling reading, 

Jordan

Reviews: X-Files Origins-The Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry & Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

Let me preface these reviews by saying that there was no way, no way at all that I was skipping these books. No matter how apprehensive I was, no matter whether or not I was already a fan of the authors, or if I raised my eyebrow real high at Garcia writing Mulder and Maberry writing Scully, because THIS IS THE X-FILES. I’ll admit, these books were hard to review because the nostalgia and fandom is so strong…this is probably my strongest fandom connection because MULDER + SCULLY for LIFE. I mean, the characters…I digress. That being said, I tried to look at these more for the story and less from what I expected Scully and Mulder to be like as teens. There has been a ton of negative commentary-parts that fans say the authors are reaching and make zero sense. As an avid X-Files fan, I can see that, but these interpretations are not entirely off base…especially when it comes to Scully. It’s difficult when the character presence is so strong as adults, you come to expect very specific details about their lives as teens, what you assume they were like and why they became who they did. It’s hard to shake those preconceived ideas off, and those who are totally stuck in that place might be disappointed by what they find. If you’re a fan, you absolutely should read these and put them on your shelf next to your Mulder and Scully Funko Pops. I know I will. 

devilGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers in this young adult origin story.

The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate will explore the teen years of Dana Scully, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. Her story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news.

The book will follow Scully as she experiences life-changing events that set her on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

review

3/5 Stars 

Scully, Scully, Scully. I was so disappointed in her character, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. A lot of the criticism this book has faced from readers is because of Scully’s sixth sense. Which, if you’re looking at the Scully in the future, you’re probably thinking that Scully worships at the altar of science and this is ridiculous. But if you’ve experienced all of the lovely X-Files series, you’ll recall that Scully had more than one incident where she sees ghosts and has premonition-style visions, so it’s not that far off base and one of her biggest character conflicts has always been her faith and the paranormal. Mulder directly calls her out on the fact that she can so willingly believe in God, but something like aliens is too out there. It’s in her story arc.

Mini rant aside, Scully here is super young. She has no experience with boys, crushes, any responsiblity really. While she’s smart and reclusive, her forays into mysticism are more meditative than anything. Scully here looks up to her older sister. She’s a tag along that just goes wherever her sister takes her. THAT is what bothered me. That headstrong, take charge girl, the one who thinks, who studies, who calculates before coming to conclusions-that girl was absent (or barely visible). So many times Scully just hops right into danger and makes BOLD leaps, piecing things together without second guessing. That is NOT the Scully we know. It’s hard to talk about Scully in her youth without comparing her to who she is in the future. Here Scully isn’t really likable, she’s more wishy-washy and doesn’t have the strongest voice. This would have been okay, because she’s so young and naive, but she doesn’t really learn. Sure she feels remorse for her actions, but I didn’t see much growth. 

The plot is definitely an X-File, not your typical murder-mystery. There’s a sinister, supernatural element that is perplexing, confusing, and all sorts of crazy. It will keep you on your toes and uncertain of what will happen. It’s a chaotic mess, but the kind that pushes you to seek answers and wonder what the endgame is. Plus the idea itself-the whole premise for the villain is insanely clever and wickedly evil. There’s so much more than meets the eye. 

Pacing was so-so, but picks up a lot towards the end.

Scully’s love interest. I liked him. He seemed like a good fit. Smart, resourceful, protective, but also stubborn. Their interactions were awkward and bashful. So cute. There’s no intense attraction like is common in a lot of YA right now. It’s more uncertainty, confusion, and sudden feelings. Curiosity. I appreciated the change of pace. 

The killer and the government agents.YES. They are done so well. You see the corruption, the fear, the manipulation. They were some of my favorite people in the book. They were complex and vicious and the darkness!!! ❤

agent-of-chaosGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn
The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news.

The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

review

4/5 Stars 

I feel bizarre saying this but Mulder is pretty freaking hot. He’s awkward and nerdy and has no idea what he’s doing with his life. He’s kind of just going with it until he’s hit with this murder that he feels is connected to his sister’s disappearance and the obsession is born. There’s this blend of angst and intelligence. Of yearning after his pretty, Star Wars obsessed best friend, trying to connect with his father, the disappointment that comes with that neglect, and learning what he’s passionate about. This is truly the birth of his interest in catching killers and paranormal. It felt right. It made sense. I LOVE him. 

Secondary characters. You guys, every character is so alive. They’re developed, intriguing, totally compelling. You want to know them. I adored Phoebe. She’s witty, intelligent, gorgeous, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her, calls people out on their fears, and is just an all around awesome character. And she’s totally nerdy. She reads textbooks, knows complex mathematics, physics, etc. She’s one fierce girl who somehow feels relatable. Gimble. Yes. Just yes. He’s interesting, a total dork, and a basic ode to the time period. I loved his lines and enthusiasm. He’s the perfect sidekick. Gimble’s father!!! It’s weird, but I became so invested in Gimble’s father’s conspiracy theories and the way his mind worked. Fascinating. You can see where Mulder got his methods from. I got a nostalgic, this feels so familiar vibe. The government agents. Some of their scenes were full of acerbic wit and heavy sarcasm. 

The scenes of the crimes were intricate, graphic without going too dark, and left enough mystery to keep me guessing and trying to fill in the blanks. Towards the end, the suspense was high. I was on edge and sickened. 

My biggest issue with the book was not Garcia’s portrayal of Mulder, but the way the mystery fit together. There were too many pieces that slid into place in a sort of what are the odds way. It was too simple. Too coincidental and we all know there are no  coincidences. 

While I wasn’t a fan of the romantic elements, they were more of a shrug to me, I was glad that Mulder had someone to nurture and encourage him. Phoebe being there for him is what mattered, the romance was secondary, despite Mulder’s frisky teenaged hormones. 

Enjoy your trip down memory lane, 

Jordan

Blog Tour: Ruined in Retribution by Valia Lind

bt-bannerruined-in-retributionKINDLE US | KINDLE UK | KINDLE CA | KINDLE AU | GOODREADS

synGone. Gone. Gone.

For the past two months, it has taken all of Logan’s determination to just keep going. Losing Tasia to Kallos Enterprises shattered his world, but he is not about to give up on what she had started.

Together with her family, Logan works to destroy the company that ruined their lives. The corporation is growing bigger and stronger by the minute, weaponizing the drug and selling it to the highest bidder. But that’s not the only hurdle to overcome. Logan’s past is catching up to him, and the time has come to pay. His family’s secrets are unraveling everything he has built for himself and now, Logan is fighting on multiple fronts.

Save Tasia. Destroy Kallos Enterprises. Stay alive.

Such a simple list, such an impossible mission.

Time is running out and Logan is left with one question: can he save them all?

— TITANIUM SERIES —
Book 1: Pieces of Revenge: Amazon #FREE

Book 2: Scarred by Vengeance: Amazon
img_0437img_0074image2image1

author
Author. Photographer. Artist. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Valia Lind always had a love for the written word. She wrote her first full book on the bathroom floor of her dormitory, while procrastinating to study for her college classes. Upon graduation, she has moved her writing to more respectable places, and have found her voice in Young Adult fiction.

You can visit her online at www.valialind.wordpress.com or follow her on twitter, where she spends way too much time, @ValiaLind.

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

Lost Review & New Review: Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

iliGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Illuminae is a reading experience. The documents, interviews, emails, and recordings get the reader involved in every clue, panic attack, and bit of romance in this epic space thriller.

The pacing is inconsistent. At first, it’s an action-packed thrill ride that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The setting is insane. The danger, the terror of the invasion-it’s beyond intense. The middle part, despite the varied documents lags behind that initial hysteria only to pick up at the end with an unexpected and terrifying twist. 

Some scenes are gory and full of sickening detail. It’s awesome. The attacks are straight out of your favorite horror film and darkest nightmares. 

The world building is fierce and complex and full of politics that put profit over humanity. It’s cruel, despicable, and packed with drama. 

Kady is stellar as a protagonist. She’s conflicted in love, nostalgic, occasionally scared and so relatable, despite being a mad hacker on a space ship. Kady has skills. She uses her brain to dip into the computer systems and uncover secrets, take control, and steer everyone aboard away from utter destruction. The adrenaline is high. Her task has slim odds for survival and yet, Kady NEVER gives up. No matter how much is thrown at her, she fights and fights and keeps fighting for her people. 

The AI, wow. Unexpected and so cool. He’s got personality and such a presence. He’s dangerous, deadly, and struggles to understand emotion, but he’s sort of lovable in a weird way and the only thing saving our heroes from total devastation.

gemina

Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

review

4/5 Stars 

My core issue with Gemina was the lack of rehash early on. There’s no explanation of previous events in Illuminae so I spent most of the book wondering what was going on and when it would link up with the previous story. I was super confused for much of the book. 

Hanna has a big personality, maybe even more epic than Kady’s in book 1. She’s a total, unabashed B.A. character. She’s fierce, intelligent, sexy, and full of sass. She flirts and plays and is one heck of a vixen, but underneath her perky, blonde exterior is a deadly force. Her fighting skills, her Sun Tzu references, her tactical skills, she’s wicked awesome and completely refreshing. She owns her body, her life, and will mess up anyone that threatens her. I’m impressed with how she transforms from a party girl to a warrior. The transition is smooth, floating to the surface because it was always a part of her. 

The added dynamic of Russian gang life was a marvelous addition to this story. The danger, the intrigue, the stories that went along with the Knives, the drama, it totally swept me away. 

Cat and mouse game to the extreme. Man the hunt is deadly, bloody, full of gross description, and the code names alone-each and every character is different, has a strong personality, and has their own reason for trying to capture Hanna. 

There’s a twist. It’s made of science and theory, and is a little confusing but the illustration helps. Oh the illustrations. They’re beautiful and hilarious, part comic book style and part precise diagrams. 

Elena. Oh my gosh, I love her. She’s a sarcasm queen, witty, and full of life. She doesn’t take put downs from anyone and is a genius on the computer. She’s a heroine that may even trump Hanna. Her interactions with Nik are adorable and lively. They fight like siblings, but the love floats off the pages.

Nik is complex. He’s a pervert, a flirt, and his comebacks are hilarious. He’s got the House of Knives gang cred and the tattoos to prove it. He’s so much more than meets the eye. He’s a big softy underneath that tough exterior and loves so hard it will make you swoon. His story is made of drama and lies and twists that will keep you guessing about who he truly is. 

I loved the set up at the end. The parallel between Hanna and Nik, the use of color, the poetic way it works together as one narrative despite the circumstances *no spoilers*. You have to see it. Trust me, it’s genius. 

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

Intense reading,

Jordan