Book Review: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price. 

This whole book is basically the episode of Doctor Who, Season 4, Episode 11 “Turn Left.” Each decision has a specific reaction that could change the outcome of the universe and Jane, Unlimited takes that idea to 5 different extremes.

At first glance, Cashore’s novel seems like a fun romp of an orphaned girl going to a private island with her rich acquaintance to get away from the hardships of every day life.  But it becomes so much more than that

I need a Jane Umbrella.

once the first part’s introduction is done.

This is a spoiler, so if you are looking for non-spoilery…I’m sorry, I find it almost impossible to review this book properly without being able to explain a certain aspect of the plot.  That is the theory of the multiverse.

Cashore does an excellent job creating what could be almost 5 separate novels based on one decision by Jane toward the beginning of the book.

Jane is a complex and yet somehow still simple character. I love that the umbrellas she creates represent her need to protect herself from the outside world that robbed her of her parents and her aunt. It’s excellent.

I think the crowning achievement in this is that the ending makes it seem like it is up to the reader to decide which ending is THE ending, if that makes sense.  Sure, there is the last scenario in the possibilities as explained in the novel, but it isn’t definitive that this is the clear ending. I love it.

I know this novel is probably going to be divisive between Cashore fans and those readers who haven’t read her previously, because of the nature of the narrative.

However, for my purposes I’m giving this book 4 Bards. It has romance, diversity, intrigue, fantasy, and so much more.

Give it a shot, I promise it will be an interesting read.

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. 

Truth time: I’ve only read the Legend series by Marie Lu and I am now kicking myself in the ass for not reading my copies of The Young Elites before now because holy hell Warcross kept me on my toes and was absolutely wonderful.

It has everything a modern reader could want: advanced technology, a love story, rags to riches narrative, an intricate game, and so much more.

This book was addicting!

Emika is a seriously relatable character. I found myself completely invested in her narrative, the struggle she had from her parental background and her monetary problems. (Let’s be honest, what millennial wouldn’t relate to that?) Her intense love for art in all forms, her hair, her father’s, and the graphics of Warcross was so believable and it made Emika truly breathe off of the page.

I was completely engrossed in this story from start to finish.

Lu picks up with a chase for a criminal and then snowballs into a hacker being given all she ever dreamed of…but it comes with a price.

I think the only thing I wish had been elaborated on further was the friendships created within the Phoenix Riders.  Why? Well, I just wish I could have spent more time with these characters that Lu created. I know that they should be back for the sequel and I can only hope we get more of their development as well. Although I know the narrative for Warcross was so fast paced (and it needed to be) that some of this development had to be sacrificed, I just wish there was more!

On Twitter there were people complaining about one of the twists in the novel and I have to say that I whole heartedly disagree with their feedback on that. I found it absolutely twisted and excellent. Kudos to Lu for putting that in. Want to know what it is? Buy a copy of the book now.

4.5 Bards for Warcross

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

 

 

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!

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

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

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Release Date: November 1, 2016

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the epic conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites . . . and only one can win.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

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Release Date: January 3, 2017

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.

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

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Release Date: January 17, 2017

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuve, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive — or to destroy one another.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: May 24, 2016

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

 

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lovethatsplittheworldNatalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
 
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
 
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau. 

Release Date: January 26, 2016

I’m going to guess that you may have reacted the same way I did when you read the title of this book.  I remember thinking, “Wow, that is a bit dramatic.”  But now that I’ve finished the novel, I can tell you that my personal reaction to the ending was something like this:

So now I firmly believe that the title was really just a metaphor for what the story did to my heart.  Henry should just rename it The Love that Split Jessica’s Heart.

This book has the absolute wonderful ability to showcase some of the lesser known Native American myths, mixed with common anglo-saxon religious stories, some time travel theories, and alternate realities.  Whew, that sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Well, it seems like it would be, but it all comes together extremely well.

Henry did such a great job with the characterization in The Love that Split the World, and I have to say that most teens and young adults I know can definitely understand and identify with Natalie’s main problem: trying to find who they are and where they fit into the world.  Seriously, I’m in my twenties and I completely identify with those questions.  Granted, Natalie has some pretty specific reasons behind her need to find herself and her place, but they can be universally applied and it really causes you to be emotionally invested almost immediately.

Quickly the reader will realize that Natalie isn’t exactly a run of the mill teenager.  She has been visited off and on her entire life during her sleep by a mysterious entity she calls “Grandmother,” and on her last visit Natalie is warned that she has three months to save HIM.  Naturally we all assume that the him is the guy mentioned in the synopsis, but there are actually three other male characters not mentioned in the synopsis that this possibly applies to!

Beau is the typical bad boy with a good heart, but that doesn’t make him any less complex or interesting in this context.  He comes in and out of Natalie’s life in flashes and their time together is precious and full of ALL the romantic and sexual tension (Kudos, Henry).

I’m not going to give away any other spoilers but there’s definitely a River Song and Doctor vibe going here with Natalie and Beau’s relationship.  If you are a Whovian then the correlation should be pretty obvious and make you want to read this even more.  If you aren’t a Whovian, then read this book and go watch Doctor Who! It’s on Netflix for crying out loud!

4.5 Bards for The Love that Split the World! Don’t forget to enter to win a copy below!

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 

 

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