Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Oh, Frostblood.

This book kind of felt like coming home.

If coming home involves a typical love story between the woman with a secretly powerful ability and a quick wit and sarcastic nature who is forced to spend time with a caustic and aloof man who also has a powerful ability and a secret past. But think about it, for those of us who have been reading young adult for years will recognize this trope and the stereotypical nature of it.  Of course there is a girl who has a power like no other, and of course there is a guy who is her polar opposite (in the case of Frostblood, literally), but they have an undeniable connection.  I will say, I do love a good love story where the love interests start off hating one another and growing to love one another.  That slow burn gets me every time.

Ruby/Taylor

So, all of the above did not mean that this book was bad.  Yes, it followed a lot of clichés and the story at its bare bones is not wholly original, BUT I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.  I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and have been distracting myself with television, but sitting down and starting this…I read it all in one sitting.  It was fast-paced, which left little to be desired in the way of true character development, but the action was decent!  The world building needed a bit more expansion, in my opinion, mostly because there was just information on superstition and their religion, rather than anything serious.

I think the thing that did stick out to me was the amount of familial relationships that were explored in this novel.  Not just with Ruby and her mother, but with Arcus and Brother Thistle, the monks as a whole, Arcus and his brother, even the very secondary character of the small girl and her family of refugees traveling the countryside; that was my favorite part of this narrative.

The basics of the narrative kind of reflects a bit of a Marxist dichotomy between the bourgeois (the Frostbloods) and the proletariat (the Firebloods), except with even more murder and prejudice.

Overall, I found Frostblood to be a pretty average read. I didn’t absolutely adore it but I liked it just fine.  It’s definitely a story I think I’d actually keep up with, though.

3 Bards.

 

 

Book Review: Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot


The story of a teen girl’s struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.

Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that’s when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Release Date: February 28, 2017

A couple disclaimers before I get started. Jessica originally agreed to write an honest review of this book in exchange for an advanced copy. As someone in recovery for ED, she jumped on the chance to review a new book with positive representation, especially about a relatively unknown ED. However, before she received the book she read this anonymous review by another ED survivor. We talked about it and decided it might be too triggering for her to read it, so we had the book sent to me instead. Full disclosure, I do not have an eating disorder but I am familiar with Jess’s story and one of my best friends from high school almost died because of her struggle with her ED.

Okay, so I slept on it before writing this review and I’m still angry but I’ll try to keep the yelling out. First things first, I am not a fan of second person narration. While overall it was a quick read, it was irritating trying to get through it. Second, Pea spends this entire book putting down other girls, and even gets this idea reinforced from her boyfriend who says, “Maybe that’s what I expect girls to do, pick girlie colors, but you’re different,” and, later on, the quintessential quote, “You’re not like other girls.” Excuse me while I go scream for eternity that THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH OTHER GIRLS.

And that’s just what I thought was disappointing about this book. But Sad Perfect is more than just disappointing, it’s damaging on so many levels. When Pea first gets her diagnosis of ARFID she immediately starts one on one and group sessions of therapy. There’s not much focus on either of these things as part of her recovery. The things we do see of group therapy are her continued thoughts of otherness. She repeatedly mentions that her ED is different than the other girls (only girls, because obviously only white girls can have ED) and therefore somehow worse. This opinion does not change by the end of the book.

While she does continue therapy throughout the book, it seems that the only real help she gets is from her boyfriend whom she met in the very first chapter. She decides that he helps her so much that she stops taking her anti-depressants. So when they get into a fight, she starts self harming with a safety pin (way to glorify that by putting it on the cover of the book, btw). While self-harm can coexist with ED and other mental illnesses, her self-harm was literally a plot device to get her admitted to a hospital on suicide watch, where Elliot vilifies almost all hospital staff and makes gross stereotypes of the people that “need” to be there.

Pea’s stay in the hospital was her catalyst for wanting to get better and taking responsibility for her “monster.” She talks at length about how she created this monster and that really the monster is her and that her ED is her fault. She then goes on to say that she doesn’t deserve to be in the hospital when she has her family and Ben (who she has known for approximately 10 seconds) who love her. But these stereotypically low-income people need to be in the hospital because they don’t have anyone who loves them. There were multiple times that I wanted to throw this book, but during her whole hospital stay I had to physically restrain myself from actually doing so.

At the end of the book, we’re left with the message that Pea is still different from everyone else and that the power of a boy loving you will make you want to get better. I understand that Elliot’s daughter suffers from ARFID and she wanted to shed light on what her daughter and her family went through. However, it’s glaringly obvious that she has no knowledge whatsoever about any other ED and doesn’t care to.

For a better look at ED, check out Jessica’s review of Elena, Vanishing. And for more information about eating disorders and treatment visit the National Eating Disorder Association.

If I could give this zero bards, I would, but I guess I’ll settle for one.

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Release Date: January 24, 2017

I think one of the best things about the movement in young adult literature to include diverse authors and own voice narratives is that stories like Tiffany D. Jackson’s will become popular. This novel has all the things that make a good crime novel wonderful, it has a likable yet maybe untrustworthy narrator, a vicious and questionable crime, interesting family dynamics, insight into the criminal justice system when it comes to teenagers, and the dynamics of a group home.

Now, I realize that this is still a fictional narrative but there are a lot of similarities between this Mary’s story and that of the real life child murderer, Mary Bell.  Jackson doesn’t really delve into that in this novel, but she does have a secondary refer to Mary as Mary Bell in one interaction, so I thought it would be interesting to point out the similarities between the character and her real counterpart.

Mary Bell was around 10 years of age when she murdered two toddlers, she had a known strange relationship with her mother (who attempted to kill her a few times), it was an extremely sensationalized case, with her only receiving a minimum sentence since she was a child with diminished responsibility (much like our character).  Another part that is taken directly from reality is the last name of the victim, Richardson. Now, the average Young Adult reader probably wouldn’t be aware of these similarities, but I just happened to read a true crime book a few years ago that brought this up.

I applaud Jackson for bringing a story like this to the forefront, because as awful as it is to kill a child in a narrative, it is something that happens.

Jackson did such a great job of keeping the reader in the dark about certain aspects of the crime and of Mary’s life prior to the death of the child.  I think that the questions about Mary and her Mother really provide more mystery than the death itself.  It’s an interesting commentary on emotional abuse and the desperate relationship between these two characters, plus is raises the question of just how far you’d go for family.

In addition, Jackson was amazing at including linguistic representation of accents.  I find it lacking when an author sometimes just mentions that a character has a type of regional accent without showing this to the reader in dialogue. Bravo for including this, I loved it and it really put me IN those characters’ voices.

I’m giving this novel 4 Bards.  There is a very upsetting scene with an animal in this and violence between characters that doesn’t involve the murder of the child, so please be aware of this when purchasing it for your teen.

Book Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

Holy. Cow.

Let me start by saying, that I love time travel. However, time travel gives me a headache because it makes me think too much and ask too many questions. That being said, that only happened like three times over the course of these two books. This sequel is incredible. There’s always so much that’s going on but it never feels like too much. And at the same time, it’s at a pace where you can grasp how the mechanics of traveling work, without questioning it too much because you’re too invested in what’s going to happen next.

I was lucky enough to meet Alex Bracken (and Susan Dennard) on the WayWitch tour, and something that Alex said about how she constructs her characters really stuck out to me, “what about your world has caused you to be this way?” She does an excellent job of portraying that on the page, and for me, the biggest example of that is Nicholas. Not only in his motivations for independence and freedom from the Ironwoods, but in how Etta, and later Sophia and Julian, see him and how the recognize their privilege (the word privilege is actually used multiple times and it’s glorious).

I was so excited to get more of Sophia’s story in this book. Honestly, I loved her in the first one, even though she was always getting in the way. To me, it definitely always felt like there was more to her, and I am so so so glad that Bracken decided to expand on her character. And I’m even MORE glad that she explicitly says that she prefers women and always has. Nicholas’s response was also amazing. I love that they grudgingly come to rely on each other and even care about each other. Their journey and friendship is one of my favorite parts of the book.

In a book about time travel with ruthless people taking the idea of “the ends justify the means” a little too far, for me, this book was more about family. Every single character is on a journey that connects them with family, whether it is blood or found. But at the same time, it shows that family is messy and not perfect and sometimes you have to confront the fact that your parents can make mistakes.

I could talk about this book all day, honestly, I loved it a lot, 4.5 bards.

Book Review: Roseblood by A.G. Howard

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known. 

Release Date: January 10, 2017

As much as I love Phantom of the Opera, I wouldn’t 100% classify myself as a Pham, but I do enjoy the musical and the original novel by Gaston LeRoux.  Yeah, yeah, I was one of those obnoxious kids who absolutely had to read the original novel before ever seeing the play or the movie (the book is amazeballs, guys).

ANYWHO, anyone who has followed Midsummer for a while will know that I’m a giant fan of A.G. Howard’s Splintered series and *cough* MORPHEUS, so when it was announced that she was doing a modern retelling of Phantom I got pretty psyched. Now, I’d probably steer away from calling it a retelling after reading it all the way through, it’s more of a modern continuation of the story.  Erik (yes, that is the phantom’s name from the original novel) is STILL haunting the opera house, albeit he is pretty old and a bit creepier in a whole new way thanks to Howard’s take…I refuse to spoil this for you. It’s pretty brilliant.

So, I will admit to you that the novel does start off a bit slow as it seemed that the pacing just wasn’t 100% there at the beginning.  We immediately see our new Christine (Rune) arriving to her new boarding school, which we all know means some shenanigans will happen when the parents are gone!

Rune has some pretty deep mental scars, I mean her grandmother tried to drown her and set her house on fire, but music has always helped her get through.  She has a strange compulsion to sing upon hearing certain songs, and it honestly sounds like she is capable of hypnotizing those around her while she is singing (that’s important).

Low and behold, she finds the phantom haunting her….except her phantom is Thorn.  He’s crush worthy and described as absolutely beautiful. I immediately imagined Dominic Sherwood, but I think he will always be in my fan cast for Wintersong. Either way, their fates are clearly intertwined, and sometimes I absolutely love the fated couples trope, while other times I find it ridiculously cliche…but this one was one I was absolutely here for. Rune x Thorne…Rorne. RORNE STAN.

Anyway, I’m sure this book won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed reading it. (In a 5 hour period..worth it)

4.5 Bards for my love, A.G. Howard.

 

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Holy Hell in a hand-basket.

Stephanie Garber has created a world that I don’t want to leave, and characters I want to follow throughout their life stories.

I started this book on 9PM on a Sunday night, after I’d been sick for a week and sleeping as much as possible to get over it.  Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.  I found myself saying, “One more chapter,” okay, “Now, one more chapter,” over and over again until it was 1AM and I closed the book with a sigh. This doesn’t include the extra 30 minutes I sat there considering the ending and the complications that came along with it. I think in reality I maybe got 5 hours of sleep this night, but what is important is that I LOVED this book.

This world was created in such an organic way that nothing in the plot seemed like it was out of place or sudden.  Not only was Caraval such a richly developed story but the description of the characters and the locales within the novel were exquisite. I wish I could have seen the canopy bed in Scarlett’s room, had a sip of that crisp cider that enhances vision, or even run my hands over the gowns in the store where she sells two days of her life.

While I was totally proved wrong about who I assumed Julian was from the beginning (*shakes fist* tricky Garber, tricky!) he was a great example of a male character who comes off as such a…how to I put it…douchebag that really turns out to be a character with so many more layers than initially shown.  In fact, he was the saving grace for Scarlett (and the narrative) in many spots.

Probably an unpopular opinion: Dante? *fans self* A body covered in tattoos and a beautiful face to boot? *swoons*

Now, as someone who has had a struggle with her relationship with her sister (we are doing so much better as we’ve aged, by the way *Love you, Ginger!*), I think that for me what really made this story so impactful was the demonstration of absolute love and devotion between the two siblings.  Obviously it seems very one sided at the beginning as it is third person limited point of view, but the reader discovers it is a very equal love and something that both sisters suffered for.

All I can think of as I remember my mind blowing and wonderful late night read is that this is a story that I will come back to and re-read many times. Plus, who wouldn’t want to lose themselves in a fantasy world with Scarlett, Julian, and Tella?

**Trigger warning for parental physical abuse**

Pre-order a copy of Caraval now, I promise you won’t regret it.

4.5 Bards

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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 Illuminaecontinues 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.

So, I’m not going to lie to you: I liked Gemina soooooo much more than I liked Illuminae.  Not that Illuminae was bad, but I think that I really identified more with the Captain’s daughter with a naughty streak and her attraction to the bad boy with a golden heart. Hanna is sarcastic, a bit rebellious, maybe a little callus, but it masks her soft spots for her father and for her boyfriend.  Plus, what is more bad ass than a girl who has utilized her stranding on a remote waystation in space to get extremely strong and fast in a dojo?

Really, I mostly am just a giant Hanna fan, because she seems to continually prove to herself that she can do whatever she needs to survive in this situation.  Plus, when she doesn’t understand something scientifically, she just accepts that something needs to be done and gets it DONE. Nik, on the other hand, I was prepared to dislike a bit, if only because he was set up to seem like a guy who tried to hard. So it took a while for me to really grow to like him as a character.  Basically it was the scene with the cow that sold him to me.  I won’t spoil that for you, but you definitely should check that out.

Is it a stereotypical love connection? Probably.  BUT, the circumstances of everything that happens within this world is what makes it so much more fun to read.

Exactly like Illuminae, the story of Hanna and Nik is told through the style of dossiers, a case file that has redacted statements, etc.  However, I think that part of the reason I did enjoy this one more was the inclusion of hand drawn illustrations, which were provided by Marie Lu, and the ever growing bloodstain on the pages.

I think that one reason I’m really drawn to this series, and one that I’ll use as a suggestion for those looking for a Holiday gift for a Doctor Who fan, is that I really connected with these books on a Whovian level.

While neither are exact replicas of storylines on Who, both remind me of very specific episodes (See my Illuminae review for the episode comparison for that book).  Gemina is almost the story of Pete’s World or Doomsday from Season 2 of the new series with Rose and the Tenth Doctor.  *SPOILER ALERT* There are duplicate outcomes with different circumstances and in two different realities.  Death plays a role in both those episodes and the novel, and I really admire the scientific research that Kaufman and Kristoff did for the book to make it…easier to understand than it would have been normally.

I’m giving this one 4.5 Bards and recommend it as a Christmas gift!

#ReadIndie Book Review: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

This is going to be a little different as a review because this is the third time I’ve read this trilogy this year (if that tells you anything about my opinion), and I’ve also read all of the extra content available on Sakavic’s tumblr. After finishing the series, you can definitely see how Sakavic sets up for the final book and where the story is going to go. However, the first time I read it I had no idea where it was going, so if that happens to you, I encourage you to keep going. Especially, since this is a book about a demisexual character written by an aro/ace author. It was probably the first book I ever read about someone on the ace spectrum, so it’s definitely worth it to keep going.

The book starts out about a kid on the run from his father just trying to find some kind of happiness in playing a sport he loves. As it turns out, Neil’s running from more than just his father, he just didn’t know it. The story does get pretty dark and graphic as Neil’s complicated past catches up with him. What I love about Neil though is that he is a survivor. No matter what is thrown at him he continues to get back up and keep living, sometimes out of pure spite (which is definitely something I can relate to).

I do love every single character (that’s not trying to kill Neil) in this series. They’re all flawed and complicated and it makes them more real. But they’re also sarcastic little shits that make you shake your head and laugh in disbelief. Wymack is the perfect example of all bark and no bite when it comes to his team, he yells at them day in and day out, but would lay down his life for any one of them. Andrew becomes the steadying force in Neil’s life if only because he’s been through just as much as Neil and Neil comes to learn that relying on Andrew could be the easiest thing he’s ever done. The rest of the Foxes stick with Neil even through all the crazy drama he brings with him. They make him believe he can have nice things (if he doesn’t up his big mouth and call his biggest rival an asshole on National TV) and a home with them.

At the end of the day The Foxhole Court is a story about home and finding a family, and sticking around on a chance of hope, even when you don’t think you deserve it. That’s why this story resonates so much with me, why I’ve read it three times this year. The struggle to find a balance between what you’ve known your whole life and what you desperately want instead is something I think a lot of people can relate to.

I’d give the trilogy an overall 4.5 bards.

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This 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.

This book.

I don’t even know where to start.

I guess I’ll start with the formatting.

I’ve never read a book that is formatted the way this one is.  In all honesty, when I received the Advanced Reading Copy last year, I was so excited to read it until I opened it.  I saw that it was done in a series of redacted documents, instant message conversations, made up memos, etc, and I just put it aside and didn’t pick it up again until a few weeks before the release of the second installment.

Boy, do I regret the decision to put off reading this for so long.

Not only did the formatting only make the novel more exquisite as what I predict will become a novel to be taught in college young adult/adolescent literature courses, but also as an example in creative writing and how the standard novel format doesn’t necessarily have to be followed in order to tell an in depth story within it’s own story world. In fact, I’ve convinced a Graduate School friend of mine to possibly teach this novel to her class this upcoming Spring, and I really hope it inspires a whole generation of writers that want to do something outside of the box.

So, the love story seemed a bit extra to me in this story.  Honestly, they could have just made Kady, this super strong protagonist with all of these talents with the computer and her intelligence and I would have been a happy girl.  Ezra just kind of felt like a plot device to make the story more sellable to young adult readers.  Which isn’t a problem, I just think he was an extraneous part of the story.

AIDEN, on the other hand, was a more fruitful character than Ezra at every turn. Never have I ever thought that I could enjoy a computer generated and moderated program as much as AIDEN.  Sure, it has it’s faults and it isn’t exactly an ideal companion in a lot of ways, but it genuinely develops a rapport with Kady and *SPOILER ALERT* saves her life!

Now, I think that any reader that enjoyed Illuminae and is thinking about gifting it to someone who hasn’t read it yet should consider all of their Whovian friends.  Illuminae reminds me of one of my absolute favorite David Tennant episodes, The Waters of Mars.  Now, in most obvious ways it involves a disease that spreads easily and quickly throughout the crew and poses a great threat to those who haven’t been involved yet.  However, I think the part that reminds me the most of it is at the end, when the Doctor (AIDEN, people!!!) thinks that he is doing the right thing by saving those who may not have meant to be saved.

Either way, this book is one that should be gifted and discussed, for sure.

4 Bards

 

#ReadIndie Book Review: Colorblind by Siera Maley

read-indie

Team Midsummer is proud to support Indie Author, Siera Maley, in our first READ INDIE review of the month!  Special thanks to contributor, Lesley, for reading and reviewing this excellent Indie novel!

Harper has a secret…and it’s not that she likes girls. She has a rare and special gift: she can see how old other people will be when they pass away. Nothing she does changes this number, and that becomes especially clear when her mother dies in a car crash. With only one other person in the world who knows about and shares her gift, Harper is determined to keep her distance from everyone. Then she falls for Chloe… whose number is 16. That means that Chloe doesn’t have twelve months to live. She doesn’t even have six. She is going to be dead by the end of the summer, unless Harper can find a way to stop it.

Colorblind by Siera Maley is a story about two star-crossed teens that fall in love and fight the odds.

Harper, 17, can see the number of each person she meets and that number is the age at which the person will die.  Her best and only friend shares her “gift” and is the only person that really gets her.  This “gift”, coupled with the loss of her mother at a young age has made Harper cynical beyond her years.  A heavy dose of teenage angst plus unusual circumstances have caused Harper to close herself off to life and love.  Like so many of us, Harper avoids joy because she believes it will help her to avoid pain.  Enter Chloe, a self-proclaimed “adrenaline junkie” with pretty eyes and a precocious puppy.  Chloe is trying to live life to the fullest, taking risks and looking brightly into the future.  Only Harper knows that Chloe’s future will be cut short because her number is 16.

Chloe pursues Harper without shame and Harper likes her in return, although she won’t express that to Chloe.  Harper tries hard to fight her feelings, knowing how hard it will be to lose Chloe.  She also morbidly tries to figure out how Chloe will meet her end and how she can stop it.  An accident brings Harper to the conclusion that she has no control when Chloe will die and she resolves to help Chloe achieve a summer of no regrets. Eventually love overcomes fear and Harper gives Chloe her whole heart.  They have a beautiful few weeks filled with the magic of first love but as Chloe’s seventeenth birthday approaches, Harper begins to panic.

On the surface Colorblind is a teen romance where a fun-loving kid falls for an emo kid and they share a summer of firsts.  As I dug into Maley’s lovely story, I found so much more complexity.  Seeing life through Harper’s eyes, I saw the fears and insecurities of my youth.  I was afraid of everything; coming out, losing loved-ones, being alone or never achieving my dreams.  I allowed that fear to guide, even make my decisions.  At times that fear paralyzed me.  Like Harper, I learned that love overcomes fear.

Maley tackles some of life’s biggest questions in this book.  Do our choices have consequences?  Is life a random bunch of events or is everything predetermined?  If we knew when life would end, would we live it differently?  While I related very much with Harper, the most significant reminder that Siera Maley gives to readers is that joy is found in the everyday, that each day is a gift.

Reasons that I loved this book:

The characters were three dimensional and relatable.  The plot line was unique and avoided a lot of the tropes that queer story lines tend to fall into.  It was a queer love story but it wasn’t about queerness: the action was in the foreground and the lovers just happened to both be girls.

I give it Five Bards!!!

fivebards

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