Friday, August 17, 2018

#Review - Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre #YALit #Suspense

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense 
Young Adult / Romance / Contemporary

Liv Burnham thinks nobody knows Morgan Frost like she does, but a terrible accident pushes her down the rabbit hole where Morgan's secrets hide and she'll be lucky to make it out alive....

On a hot summer night, Liv, Morgan, Clay and Nathan are on the way home from a party in Clay's convertible. Best friends dating brothers? It doesn't get better than that. But the joyride ends in sudden impact, a screech of brakes, and shattering glass. On that lonely country road, four lives change forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital. At first she's confused when they call her Morgan, but she assumes it's a case of mistaken identity. Yet when the bandages come off, it's not her face in the mirror anymore. It's Morgan's.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life. But as Liv tries to fit herself into Morgan's world, she discovers endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety and a dark task to finish...if she doesn't lose her mind first.

Forced to confront the disturbing truths that Morgan kept hidden in life, Liv must navigate a world of long-buried murder, a dangerous love affair—and a romance that feels like a betrayal.

Ann Aguirre's Like Never and Always is a dark, romantic, Young Adult suspense novel edged with a bit of paranormal. There's plenty of angst for those who love that sort of thing, mixed with layered secrets, a screwy love triangle, and the underlying story about how well we really know the person we claim to know best. The plot centers on a supernatural soul-switching/body-switching theme achieved a perfect balance between being goosebumps-inducing, fascinating, and singular.

One summer evening, best friends Olivia (Liv) Burnham and Morgan Frost are passengers in a car along with their boyfriends, brothers Clay and Nathan Claymore, when an accident changes all their lives forever. Liv wakes up in the hospital, but the visitors by her bedside are not her parents or her boyfriend Nathan, but Mr. Frost, Morgan’s father, and Clay, Morgan’s boyfriend. They all call Morgan by Liv by her best friend’s name, which frightens and confuses her—especially when they break the news that Liv did not survive the crash.

Any hopes that this is just a horrible case of mistaken identity are dashed, however, when they remove Liv’s bandages and it is Morgan’s face starring back at her in the mirror. Not wanting to appear crazy or upset anyone further, Liv decides to go along with it in order to buy some time to figure out what’s going on. But, becoming Morgan and stepping into her life is turning out to be more difficult than Liv realized. Her best friend, heiress to her father’s successful tech company, has lived in privilege and luxury, but her life had not been as well put together as anyone thought. 

Liv also discovers that, despite being popular and beautiful, Morgan Frost was a lonely girl with not a lot of close friends. And underneath that perfect and happy exterior, she was hiding all kinds of dangerous secrets, including an underage affair with a married man. All of it was part of Morgan’s plan to uncover the truth behind her mother’s mysterious death ten years ago, and now it is up to Liv to finish what her best friend started.  

I was conflicted at times and not because the story was boring. I was trying to cut through the cliche of whether this was a YA Romance novel, or a YA Suspense novel, or a combination of a whole bunch of genre's, including a bit of paranormal when Morgan has to decide whether or not she is really Morgan, or Liv, or a combination of the two characters mixed together. Liv (trapped in Morgan’s body) is a very compelling narrator, not the self-centered and overly dramatic teen we’ve come to expect in YA contemporaries. 

Liv is a relatable character. Totally out of her depth, in an unimaginable situation, she manages to survive, and do the one thing her best friend asked her to do. With no one who truly understands her situation, she is alone in dealing with her grief, both for her best friend and for her own life. She's caring and considerate, but also smart and strategic. I agree with others in that the best parts of this book were when Liv/Morgan had to decide who she really was, and how she is expected to move forward. Then there is the dreaded love triangle.....nope, I'll skip it, but thanks! I will say that there is definitely an edge that stands behind Clay, while wanting to totally dismiss Nathan who just doesn't do anything to help the story along.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#Review - Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: Dance of Thieves #1
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Romance / Dystopian

A new novel in the New York Times–bestselling Remnant Chronicles universe, in which a reformed thief and the young leader of an outlaw dynasty lock wits in a battle that may cost them their lives—and their hearts.

When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty's resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.

Dance of Thieves is the first book of what appears to be a duology by author Mary E. Pearson. The series is a spin-off from the authors The Remnant Chronicles. It is set in the same world, but 6 years after the Great Battle which readers would have read about in The Beauty of Darkness. Dance of Thieves it told in alternating POVs with Kazimyrah of Brightmist (Kazi, or Ten), and Jase Ballenger as the main characters. 

"Before you go about the task I have given you, see the devastation and remember what they did. What could happen again. Know what is at stake. Dragons eventually wake and crawl from their dark dens.”

Kazi is a street rat/talented thief turned Rahtan soldier. She and her fellow Rahtan, Wren, & Synove, are been sent by Queen Jesalia to find Captain Illarion, the man who betrayed his kingdom and one of only a few architects of the war not captured or killed. He is the most hated and the most hunted fugitive on the continent, and if you actually read The Beauty of Darkness you'll know why. Rumor has it he's in Hell's mouth, a city that's supposed to be under Venda's jurisdiction, but that's actually under the control of the Ballenger family.

Jase and family have been called an illegal dynasty by those who want access to Hell's Mouth, Tor's Watch, and the impressive trading arena. The Ballengers have been fighting for a long time to be recognized as the first kingdom, but they've never been able to and now is a particularly bad time because the last Patrei (the ruler) has just died. Jase has just become the new Patrei and has lots of challenges ahead of him, including from his own family and some underhanded cousins who are willing to undermine his authority. Jase is like the Don of a mafioso family that has it's hands in everything.

Soon after arrival, Kazi and Jase find themselves captured by hunters, shackled together, and forced to work together in order to survive and avoid anyone with bad intentions from recapturing them. Kazi is a surprising character, and I mean that in a good way. She's known as Ten because after years of being a thief, she still has all ten fingers. She survived the relentless Komizar rule, and the disappearance of her mother, and was made part of Lia's guard because of her daring actions. 

Jase is all about his family, and they are absolutely brilliant. From his mother down to the youngest, you can't really ignore any of them. Kazi and Jase, while constantly dancing around each others feelings and each others responsibilities, she to the Queen, he to his family, grow closer as they tackle a multitude of problems and their growing feelings for one another.  I have to say that this is definitely a book of many different storylines. 

First, there is the relationships between Kaz and her Rahtan which I loved. All three women shouldn't be taken for granted, nor should you turn your back to them. Then there's the back and forth between Kaz and Jase, between Jase and his family, including an overbearing and untrustworthy cousin. There's a whole lot of drama between Kaz and Jase, including the fact that they fell for each other rather quickly, and have to sift through a crap load of twists and turns in order to attempt to move forward. 

I am going to mention that Lia does show up in this story. It's towards the end, so readers can take a deep breath and not worry that the two series wouldn't somehow connect. The climax of the story felt like everything was going to be wrapped up nicely, until the final chapter when you are thrown for a loop with one of the more diabolical endings you will read about. Vow of Thieves is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2019. I'll be there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#Review - Bright We Burn by Kiersten White #YALIT #Historical #Fantasy

Series: And I Darken (#3)
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Historical / Medieval

The tumultuous, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the New York Times bestselling AND I DARKEN series—the epic saga that reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones…if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Who will live? Who will die? And who will rule triumphant?

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever…and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed…and would he even want it?

Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before—including her relationships—can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

Bright We Burn, by author Kiersten White, is the third and final installment in the authors The Conqueror's Saga trilogy. Bright We Burn delivers all the action and intensity of the first two books and is the epic conclusion fans have been waiting for. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. 

The story is being compared to Game of Thrones due to the dark, sophisticated, and bloody nature of the series. There are castles, secrets, murders, political intrigue, war, betrayals, violent uprisings, and romance.  The story takes place in 15th Century Transylvania (historical region in the central part of Romania); Wallachia (historical and geographical region of Romania); as well as Constantinople which has been conquered by the Ottoman Empire. 

“She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all.” 

The story opens right where Now I Rise finished. Lada Dracul is in Wallachia where people are telling exaggerated stories about her escapades, but they're not far from the actual truth. Lada is taking out her enemies while imposing new rules which really don't get a whole lot of respect. She's now the Prince she was always hoping to be, but there are enemies surrounding her on all sides, and allies who would gladly stab her in the back in order to keep on the new Ottoman Empire's Sultan, Mehmed good side. 

Lada basically spits in the face of Mehmed and tells him and Radu to come get her by not only refusing to become a vassal state like other countries, but by going to war on his troops who have committed crimes against her people. Good idea? Bad Idea? The point is that Lada isn't a heroine. She may be considered an anti-heroine in all reality, and I'm perfectly fine with villain stories. She isn't afraid of killing and slaughtering and getting her hands bloody if it fits her narrative. She's broken. 

She's been left behind by her own brother who she promised to protect. She feints love for someone she grew up with, but it's basically just for sexual enjoyment.  She's urged to return to Mehmed where she knows she won't be in charge of her own destiny. In Wallachia, she fights for her land, her people, and forms a strange kinship with both. Wallachia’s hardened landscape isn't for everyone, as Mehmed soon learns. 

Folks, let me just say this. You all knew going into this series that the author was doing a retelling of Vlad Dracul, except by flipping the genders and making Vlad, Lada. So, if you are at all unhappy with the way this series ends, please refer back to history and you will definitely see a correlation.

Meanwhile, Radu is called back to Constantinople by Mehmed like a good little dog whenever its master calls him home. But, he's a changed man. His indecision cost people their lives and now on the other side of the fence, he no longer knows what he’s fighting for. Radu is driven now more than anytime before by love for his family made up of Nazira, Fatma, and even Cyprian. Radu is not Lada or Mehmed. Where their decisions come from a place of ruthlessness and ambition, his comes from a place of love and mercy. I think the most poignant scene in all the book was when Radu and Lada reunite and they both have to look at their lives since being sold to Mehmed's people when they were children.

I'm not going to talk about Mehmed all that much since he really is a historical character. But, he genuinely pissed me off by the way he completely disregards Lada’s ambitions, and the way he underestimated her intentions when it came to her home. He acted as though Lada is something to be conquered and possessed. His desire to kidnap & drag back Lada to where HE believes she should be, was a perfect example of someone not wanting a woman like Lada to have any sort of happiness.  

I am absolutely OK with how this story and series ends. If it had ended any other way, then it would have been considered alternative history fiction. 

1454, Wallachia
Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get the castle.
That did not mean she wanted to spend time in it. It was a relief to escape the capital. She understood the need for a seat of power, but she hated that it was Tirgoviste. She could not sleep in those stone rooms, empty and yet still crowded with the ghosts of all the princes who had come before her.
With too far to go before reaching Nicolae, Lada planned to camp for the night. Solitude was increasingly precious—and yet another resource she was sorely lacking. But a tiny village tucked away from the frosted road beckoned her. During one of the last summers before she and Radu were traded to the Ottomans, they had traveled this same path with their father. It had been one of the happiest seasons of her life. Though it was winter now, nostalgia and melancholy slowed her until she decided to stay.
Outside the village, she spent a few frigid minutes changing into clothes more standard than her usual selection of black trousers and tunics. They were noteworthy enough that she risked being recognized. She put on skirts and a blouse—but with mail underneath. Always that. To the untrained eye, there was nothing to mark her as prince.
She found lodging in a stone cottage. Because there was not enough planting land for boyars to bother with here, the peasants could own small patches of it. Not enough to prosper, but enough to survive. An older woman seated Lada by the fire with bread and stew as soon as coins had exchanged hands. The woman had a daughter, a small thing wearing much-patched and too-large clothes.
They also had a cat, who, in spite of Lada’s utter indifference to the creature, insisted on rubbing against her leg and purring. The little girl sat almost as close. “Her name is Prince,” the girl said, reaching down to scratch the cat’s ears.
Lada raised an eyebrow. “That is an odd name for a female cat.”
The girl grinned, showing all the childhood gaps among her teeth. “But princes can be girls now, too.”
“Ah, yes.” Lada tried not to smile. “Tell me, what do you think of our new prince?”
“I have never seen her. But I want to! I think she must be the prettiest girl alive.”
Lada snorted at the same time as the girl’s mother. The woman sat down in a chair across from Lada. “I have heard she is nothing to look at. A blessing. Perhaps it can keep her out of a marriage.”
“Oh?” Lada stirred her stew. “You do not think she should get married?”
The woman leaned forward intently. “You came here by yourself. A woman? Traveling alone? A year ago such a thing would have been impossible. This last harvest we were able to take our crops to Tirgoviste without paying robbers’ fees every league along the road. We made two times again as much money as we ever have. And my sister no longer has to teach her boys to pretend to be stupid to avoid being taken for the sultan’s accursed Janissary troops.”
Lada nodded as though hesitant to agree. “But the prince killed all those boyars. I hear she is depraved.”
The woman huffed, waving a hand. “What did the boyars ever do for us? She had her reasons. I heard—” She leaned forward so quickly and with such animation half her stew spilled, unnoticed. “I heard she is giving land to anyone. Can you imagine? No family name, no boyar line. She gives it to those who deserve it. So I hope she never marries. I hope she lives to be a hundred years old, breathing fire and drinking the blood of our enemies.”
The little girl grabbed the cat, settling it on her lap. “Did you hear the story of the golden goblet?” she asked, eyes bright and shining.
Lada smiled. “Tell me.”
And so Lada heard new stories about herself, from her own people. They were exaggerated and stretched, but they were based on things she had actually done. The ways she had improved her country for her people.
Lada slept well that night.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#Review - Magic Triumphs by @ilona_andrews @AceRocBooks (Urban Fantasy)

Series: Kate Daniels (#10)
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: ACE
Source: Finished Copy Via Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Urban

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

Magic Triumphs is the tenth and final installment in Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series. What an absolutely brilliant way to end the series that got me started as a blogger. True fact! The series is set in alternative Atlanta where mercenary Kate Daniels-Lennart has kept the paranormal elements of Atlanta, which includes shapeshifters, vampires, witches, mages, mercenaries, and necromancers, in check along with her husband Curran. 

As the story opens, readers are introduced to the brightest, the cutest, the most dangerous baby you will ever meet; Conlan Lennart. Unfortunately, Kate's father Roland desires the baby for himself to do what he did to Hugh, and would have done to Kate had she not escaped. It is all hands on deck in order to prevent Roland from winning. If Roland takes the baby, it is the end of everything that truly matters. 

The story then moves 13 months into the future where we find Kate dealing with a new role as mother of an extraordinary child. as well as going back to work at Cutting Edge. But, something really bad happens which leads to a stunning revelation. When Kate receives a strange gift, she knows that things are quickly moving towards a major conflict with a villain who might be more powerful than Roland. The fact is, Kate's family has met this villain and wasn't the winners.

As much of a threat that Roland is on his own, this new villain is supercharged, and has an army that could easily ride through Atlanta and destroy everything and everyone Kate loves. It's nice that the authors have come up with such a dynamic villain along with his followers who we've seen before ::hint hint:: I have said this before, I shall say this again, please do yourself a huge favor and read Hugh and Elara's book. What happens in Hugh's book, happens in Kate's finale in a much, much grander way.

Even though there are some who consider Kate to be too powerful, she attempts to do the impossible. Bring all factions together in order to save Atlanta and defeat the villain. From the Pack, to the Order, to The Guild, to The People, and everyone else who stands alongside Kate in her desire to keep the newest villain from not only destroying Atlanta, but the world as well. In all honesty folks, even though I give this book FIVE huge stars, I would have loved to have one final battle between Kate and Roland, with Hugh, Elara, Conlan, Erra, Evdokia, Andrea, Teddy Jo, Raphael, Derrick, Saiman, Christopher, and Julie to name a few on Kate's side. 

I have to say, that while I am sad that this is the end, I absolutely believe it is the right time to walk away. Who knows readers, we might see Kate, Curran and the crew back for yet another visit sometime down the road. As I peer into my crystal ball, I foresee a series featuring Conlan Lennart. He is so adorable, and badass, and every single time he was in a scene I was laughing and laughing, and I couldn't help not wanting a Conlan of my own! I am happy that my wish was granted in that Hugh and Elara came to help Kate and mended some battered fences. After all, who is more of a brother than Hugh? Kind of curious where the authors will take a few others characters from here. You know that they will most likely continue with Julie and Derek sooner, rather than later. You know that Hugh and Elara have another book or two to come. Wherever they go, I will be there.
In the immortal words of the group known as the Doors:
This is the end, beautiful friend
 This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
It hurts to set you free
The end of laughter and soft lies, the end.

Monday, August 13, 2018

#Review - Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill #Paranormal #Fantasy

Series: Heirs Of Chicagoland # 1
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Urban

In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill’s spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

As the only vampire child ever born, some believed Elisa Sullivan had all the luck. But the magic that helped bring her into the world left her with a dark secret. Shifter Connor Keene, the only son of North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, is the only one she trusts with it. But she’s a vampire and the daughter of a Master and a Sentinel, and he’s prince of the Pack and its future king.

When the assassination of a diplomat brings old feuds to the fore again, Elisa and Connor must choose between love and family, between honor and obligation, before Chicago disappears forever.

Story Locale: Chicago, IL

Series Overview:
Vampire Elisa Sullivan and shifter Connor Keene must overcome paranormal feuds in the city of Chicago.

Wild Hunger is the first installment in author Chloe Neill's Heirs of Chicagoland spin-off series. For those who haven't yet read the book, let me summarize as best as I can without any spoilers. First, this story picks up 23 years after the finale of Blade Bound. Alas, there is also a novella called Slaying It that you can also read before picking up this new series, but I don't think it's actually necessary. I've read where reviewers are calling the novella a bridge between the series.

Let's next start out by not calling Elisa Sullivan mini-Merit, or mini-Ethan. Elisa, now 23, and having lived in Paris for the past 4 years, is something the world has never seen before. The first vampire born, not made. Therefore, there are some things that definitely separate her from her parents who were once humans. Readers should also know that Elisa interesting twists to her character which I'm not going to talk about. But, you have it on good authority that the author will explain how she ended up the way she is.

After 4 years in Paris, and attending the Dumas School for Supernaturals, Elisa agreed to a one year mandatory armed service escorting delegates for the Maison Dumas Vampire House. Now, things are going to get a bit wild. First, the story does start out with a bit of suspense. This comes as Elisa is preparing to return to Chicago where a major peace conference is to take place. The conference features all the major vampire houses of Europe, as well as the usual suspects, IE, Merit and Ethan's Cadogan House.

Elisa is thrust into a mystery when one of her friends, shifter Riley Sixkiller, is accused of murder. Something just doesn't add up. Does this incident have anything to do with what happened in Paris? Elisa chooses to investigate along with the new members of the Ombudsmen office, her best friend Lulu Carmichael, and Connor Keene, the heir apparent to the North American Central Park and her childhood nemesis. The investigation will bring back an old nemesis of her parents, as well as a new villain who focuses on Elisa.

Do I have to mention who Lulu's mother & father are? Do I have to mention who Connor's father is? I thought not. I liked Lulu, but I am curious as to where the author is going to take her story. She isn't like her mother, at all and that's probably a good thing. She's also really good with a certain sword thanks to her father. I liked Lulu & Elisa's friendship. It reminds me of the beginning when Merit and Mallory lived together before she became a vampire. 

Let's chat briefly about Connor and Elisa. The author actually includes a prologue of Elisa and Conner as kids so that you get an understanding of their history. Even though they are often found bickering at each other, you can clearly tell that Connor has made it his job to keep an eye out for her. Yes, he might have been a nuisance as a child, but he's the only one who knows what she is really capable of. Let's call this a slow burn romance, and not be shocked that it happens at all.

The conflict in this story is a long time coming, especially if you read the final 3 books in Merit's series. The political intrigue and players are not subtle, especially not the Fae. It is clear from the get go who the main threats are. Elisa has some real issues to deal with. Can Connor be the voice that she needs to deal with her so called prophecy? Why is it that the author had to name drop like 30 characters before moving on to the good parts of the story? Why is the real action takes place in the final 1/3 of the story? And, why does the author always wrap thing up too quickly? Things to think about while enjoying the story.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 293 - Week ending 08/11/2018

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Thanks for Stopping by!

I sincerely hope you've had a better week than I did. I found myself standing up for myself, or standing my ground, against a vicious psychopath outside of my own home and am glad to say that I am still alive and not in the hospital or worse. I do have severe contusions on my arm and a black eye to show for the assault and battery. Police have told me that I was in the right, and the person will hopefully be caught and prosecuted.

Now onto better news. This weeks collection features a huge haul from the past two weeks. I apologize in advance, but I do hope you find something you like!

Have a fantastic weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Monday - The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken (YA, Dystopian)

Tuesday - Sea Witch by Sarah Henning (YA, Fantasy)

Wednesday - Shadow's Bane by Karen Chance (Urban)

Thursday - The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell (YA, Fantasy)

 Friday - These Rebel Waves by Sarah Raasch (YA, Fantasy)

Weekend - The Point by John Dixon (SyFy, Military)

*REC'D Via NetGalley & Edelweiss *

Friday, August 10, 2018

Weekend #Review - The Point by John Dixon #SyFy #Military

Series: Unknown
Format: E-Galley, 320 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction / Military

What if you had a power you had to hide from everyone—until now? In this bold sci-fi action thriller, a secret training program at West Point is turning misfits into a new generation of heroes.
Scarlett Winter has always been an outsider, and not only because she’s a hardcore daredevil and born troublemaker—she has been hiding superhuman powers she doesn’t yet understand. Now she’s been recruited by a secret West Point unit for cadets with extraordinary abilities. Scarlett and her fellow students are learning to hone their skills, from telekinetic combat to running recon missions through strangers’ dreamscapes. 
At The Point, Scarlett discovers that she may be the most powerful cadet of all. With the power to control pure energy, she’s a human nuclear bomb—and she’s not sure she can control her powers much longer. Even in this army of outsiders, Scarlett feels like a misfit all over again, but when a threat arises from the school’s dark past that endangers her fellow students at The Point, duty calls and Scarlett must make a choice between being herself and becoming something even greater: a hero.

Story Locale: West Point Academy, New York, near future

John Dixon's The Point is a story that could easily be called X-Men at the US Military Academy. Instead of calling those with strange powers mutants, let's instead call them post-humans. The protagonist of the story is 18-year old Scarlett Winter a rebel by nature who chaffs against responsibility. Winter's father is a retired Master Sergeant in the Army, while her older brother is a Sergeant in the Marines.
After skipping out on her graduation party for a drunken reverie and some fun, Scarlet later tries to attend a party of her former best friend which doesn't go as planned. Scarlet stumbles onto the scene of 3 people planting a bomb and instead of running for her life, she jumps on the bomb which goes off. Wouldn't be a story if Scarlett died this quickly, would it? Nope. Scarlett actually takes all the kinetic energy inside of her and saves who knows how many lives.
None of them will ever know how close they came to dying. Why? Because Scarlett is soon visited by two men; Colonel Oscar Rhodes, and Captain Fuller who gives her an option. Either she can spends time in prison, or she can attend West Point for 4 years, with an additional 4 years of active duty. The catch is that this isn't the West Point Military Academy. This is The Point where those who are called Post Humans are trained, tested, and yes, experimented on to see what category they fall in. 
For Scarlett, she is something else that hasn't been seen. She is considered Level III which means that she is able to absorb an ungodly amount of energy and release it in ways that could make her a weapon. Others fall into cat I or II which could mean anything from telekinesis, to super speed, super strength, and the ability to walk into a person's dreamscapes. When a dangerous threat invades the school and almost everyone falls prey to the villains magnetism, Scarlett stands alone against a variety of hard core villains, including those from the school.
I have to say that Scarlett isn't a character who I am going to ever take a backward step and say, well isn't that special. She's not a dumb person. She's smart, she's good at every sport she's ever tried, but she is easily bored and ends up quitting. Except when the chips are down, and someone is planning to use her as a weapon against the school she has come to respect and admire. I think that this is a good story for other teens struggling with responsibilities and finding their way in the world. Scarlett learns a great deal about consequences from the beginning of the story, to the end. She also finds something that she hasn't before. Home where she can be who she wants to be. 

This book is apparently a standalone, however, I would love to see the author revisit as a sequel some day down the road. Dixon's other works include Phoenix Island, and Devil's Pocket