Tuesday, July 31, 2018

#Review - Between Frost and Fury by Chani Lynn Feener #YALit #SyFy #Romance

Series: The Xenith Trilogy (#2)
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / SyFy / Romance

Snarky, sarcastic, and definitely not happy about being back in space, our faux princess returns in this YA sequel to Amid Stars and Darkness.
Delaney has been kidnapped by aliens. Again. After only a month back on Earth with her hot new alien boyfriend Ruckus, the deadly and devastatingly handsome prince Trystan has dragged her right back to his planet.

While some girls may dream of winning a prince’s heart, Delaney just wishes this one would leave her alone. Instead, she finds herself at the center of both a tense political battle between two alien kingdoms and Trystan’s romantic attentions, both of which are absolutely ruining the life she’s built on Earth. Not to mention the fact that she’s about to be crowned queen of a planet she’s barely even visited. Just another day in the life of an ordinary human girl.

Readers won’t want to miss Between Frost and Fury, the compelling, fast-paced sequel to Chani Lynn Feener’s Amid Stars and Darkness.

Between Frost and Fury, by author Chani Lynn Feener, is the second installment in the authors The Xenith Trilogy. It is pretty much imperative that you read the first installment, Amid Stars and Darkness, in order to understand the characters, and the world that our protagonist Delaney, has been dragged into and can't seem to escape. For the second time in her life, and after only a month of being home from her previous excursion off planet, Delaney has been kidnapped, and taken away from Earth.

This time it is Prince Trystan who does the kidnapping. This time, it is for high stakes political maneuvers that could end up with her dead if she fails and Earth conquered by a brutal dictator. All Delaney wants is a normal life and to be with her new boyfriend Ruckus and not worry about intergalactic politics, and the threat of constant war. She doesn't want to have to impersonate Princess Olena any more like she did in the first installment. But, fate, and Trystan have other ideas.

Ideas that include Delaney being herself. Her true self with her red hair and her very human characteristics, not as Olena. Ideas that include Delaney marrying Trystan and becoming the heir apparent to the Vakar crown. Trystan demands that Delaney accept her role as Lissa Delaney representing the Vakar & Earth, especially since she voluntarily took an oath in the first installment. Delaney finds herself in the odd position of being able to protect Vakar and Earth because she’s technically a representative of both.

As Delaney's spouse to be, Trystan would be honor-bound to protect the home(s) of his spouse thus keeping his father from invading and conquering Earth. After Ruckus fails to rescue Delaney, and ends up in a prison cell instead, Delaney is forced to go through the betrothal protocol for her new planet. She thinks she has made a deal with Trystan that will allow her to do enough to satisfy his father but ultimately be allowed to return home. Only Trystan's father - the Rex - has his own plans and Delaney's happiness doesn't matter to him at all. 

Rex appears to be several steps ahead of Trystan, and even knows things that he shouldn't have access to. Rex, my dear readers, is a real bastard and a villain who needs to be taken down by any means necessary. But, I have to say he makes a marvelous villain.  The thing that stuck out to me the most was Trystan's solid character growth in this story. By the end of the book, he didn't have me wanting to choke him to death for the way he treated Delaney. I dare say that I wanted to see Trystan and Delaney in a better place than she was with Ruckus.

My rating is based on the fact that Delaney and Trystan spend the whole book together and there are only minor glimpses of Ruckus, and that's only when she gets a visit with him. Throughout the book, Delaney and Trystan have to go through things like facing a bonding coordinator who needs to find out if there is any compatibility between the two, or having Delaney realize that she did, in fact, take the Uprising oath and there's no getting away from her new responsibilities as the presumed new ruler of Vakar. While Delaney and Trystan are spending time together, Delaney frets over Ruckus and her own personal freedoms. Is it any wonder that I found the ending the absolute best in the entire story? There was so much emotion, and pain, and Delaney making a choice that will definitely have lasting impact on what happens in the final chapter.    


Monday, July 30, 2018

#Review - Sanctuary (Sanctuary #1) by Caryn Lix #YALIT #SyFy

Series: Sanctuary # 1
Format: E-Galley, 480 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Alien Contact

Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds in this thrilling debut novel about prison-guard-in-training, Kenzie, who is taken hostage by the superpowered criminal teens of the Sanctuary space station—only to have to band together with them when the station is attacked by mysterious creatures.

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

Caryn Lix's Sanctuary is the first book in the author's Sanctuary series. When I read Aliens meet The Darkest Minds on NetGalley, I immediately jumped to request the book. I was not disappointed. The book takes place onboard a place called Sanctuary, where an AI runs the entire show. Sanctuary is staffed by 6 humans who oversee a prison of hundreds of superpowered teens. These teens have been told that they are abominations, dangerous, and need to be taken out of society. 

The story is told in the first POV by 17-year old Kenzie Cord. Kenzie, a junior prison guard, has been on the station for 3 months having risen to the top of her class with perfect scores. She's had to fight her way to even get to this point, even with her mother, Angela Cord, as the Commander in charge of the station. Kenzie grew up knowing she is blessed and indebted to Omnistellar for always providing for her and her parents who are fiercely loyal. In this world, you either live in a corporate controlled city where you are provided with everything or a government controlled city where you fight for every scrap you can find. 

During what is supposed to be a routine AI emergency preparedness drill, a system that tests of Sanctuary's team, something seems off to Kenzie. She begins to explore possible scenarios which leads her to meeting Sector 5 prisoners. After three of the 6 humans who run the station leave the station for Earth, and a distress signal sends a fourth to discover if they can offer assistance, Kenzie finds herself in deep trouble after the prisoners somehow manage to get out of their cells and take her hostage with the intent of getting off the station. But, they didn't count on what happens next. 

What the teens didn't count on, is the unexpected arrival of unwanted alien visitors who throw all of their plans into disarray. Here is where the Alien comparison comes in for me. These Aliens are nasty pieces of work with sharp claws, and teeth. They are not only lethal, but highly intelligent as well. The only question is why they're on Sanctuary and what do they want? Kenzie quickly learns that everything she's been told about the prisoners is far from the truth. Especially after meeting Cage, Mia, Rune, Alexi, Matt and Tyler who were all sent to Sanctuary for having superpowered abilities.

My only hesitation in liking the story even more than I did were two factors: Romance, and how abrupt things change from chapter to chapter, and maybe the ending. I am not a fan of insta-lust romances, and never will be. I think Kenzie knew that she was falling too fast and too hard, going as to call it the Stockholm Syndrome. But, it still didn't stop her from basically going all in. Especially after her own secret is revealed, and she realizes that her whole life is filled with questions. 

I know this is science fiction, and therefore things are supposed to action packed. Well, you pretty much get all the action you need plus a bit of horror mixed in. I thought the ending was pretty much what you can expect from the first book in what is apparently a series. It leaves readers set up to explore even more of this world, and these characters, and see what happens now that Kenzie's has lost so much but gained an entire new group of friends. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

#Stacking the Shelves # 293 - Week ending 07/28/2018

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!
Hope you had a great week! This haul consists of the past two weeks.
Hope you find something you like!
Have a fantastic weekend!

This Weeks Reviews: 

 Monday - Strange New World by Rachel Vincent (YA, Dystopian)

Tuesday - Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (Psych Thriller)

Thursday - Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (YA, Fantasy)

 Friday - The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead (YA, Fantasy)

*REC'D Via NetGalley, & Edelweiss & Publishers *

*1st 3 are Finished Copies*

Friday, July 27, 2018

#Review - A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: A Court of Thorns & Roses # 3.1
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy 

A new, original novel in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series that picks up several months after the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin.

Months after the explosive events in A Court of Wings and Ruin, Feyre, Rhys, and their companions are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated—scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Frost and Starlight takes place months after the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin. This is a book that really didn't necessarily have to be written. This is a book that is more or less a placemat in the next step in this series, which appears to be 3 more books, as well as something to keep loyal readers happy until Kingdom of Ash, the final installment in the Throne of Glass series is released in October. Oh, by the way, did anyone see where Kingdom of Ash is almost 1,000 pages long? ::head desk::

So, let me summarize this book for you. This is a book that alternates POV's between Feyre, the High Lady of the Night Court, who was blessed or cursed with gifts from all courts, as well as Cassian, Rhysand, & Morrigan. It has been 2 years since she killed a wolf and was dragged into the Spring Court. It is 1 year since Rhys called in his bargain which led to a major war and Feyre choosing Rhys over Tamlin. Oh, by the way, did anyone notice the switch from first POV, to third when the others were being featured?

Now, as the Fey are about ready to celebrate the Winter Solstice, things are still not settled to the point where Rhys allies are ready to stand down. Oh, no, there is a whole lot more coming and it's just a matter of time who feels like being froggy and jumping first. You have the Illyrians are are angry at Cass and Rhys and rumblings of a rebellion brew in the ranks. The Human Queens, who we never saw in the previous installment, are still hiding away. You have Fey courts who are eager to gobble of human lands.  

Let's not forget about the forgettable mate bond between Lucien and Elian. I am all in favor of having that mate bond destroyed, and let Elian and Azrael have their happy ending. Elian doesn't want anything to do with Lucian, and Lucien isn't the same character we met in previous books. Ah, let's not forget about the dark cloud hanging over Feyre's head. That dark clouds name just happens to be Nestra who is still pissed about being turned into a High Fae. 

But, if we are talking about Nestra, why not Tamlin? Tamlin is in a bad, bad place. It doesn't really do me any good to say he deserves the mess he is in. He made the wrong choices. He needs to find his way again, and soon. The best part of this book? The author gives readers a sneak peak into the next installment in this series, and the possibility of who is going to be featured characters. I don't think this book was necessary. I know readers that will gobble up any crumb that the author provides them, but this book doesn't do anything to push the series forward, or answer any unanswered questions about Cassian, or Azrael, or even Morrigan. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

#Review - The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead #Fantasy #Romance

Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy / Romance

The dazzling conclusion to #1 New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead's The Glittering Court series.

Meet Tamsin, the Glittering Court's hard-angled emerald. Her outsized aspirations make her a fierce competitor, rising to the top of the ranks. But when the ship she boards for the New World is tragically lost at sea, she is quite literally thrown off-course.

The Emerald Sea, by author Richelle Mead, is the third and final installment in the Glittering Court trilogy. The book answers the trilogy’s biggest question: what is the secret that drives Tamsin to win at all costs? Tamsin Wright is unstoppable. She must become the Glittering Court's diamond: the girl with the highest test scores, the most glamorous wardrobe, and the greatest opportunities to match with an elite suitor in the New World in order to guarantee a future for her family.

Training alongside other girls in the Glittering Court, Tamsin immerses herself completely in lessons about etiquette, history, and music--everything a high-society wife would need to know. Once she's married, she'll hopefully be able to afford a better life for her family, so the sacrifice will hopefully be worth it if she can be the best. When her friendship with Mira and Adelaide, her roommates at the Glittering Court, threatens her status as the top-ranked prospect, she does the only thing she knows will keep her on track: she cuts them out of her life.

If you've read the first book, or even the second one, you know that Tamsin chose to travel to Adora onboard the Gray Gull with the girls from the competing house. You also know that Tamsin's ship ends up being caught in a storm and sent so far north, that they ended shipwrecked. Tamsin uses her unrelenting grit and determination to survive the harsh winter far north of her intended destination of Cape Triumph in hopes of making it back to the Glittering Court in time to secure a proposal--and a comfortable future for her family. 

Experiencing new cultures and beliefs for the first time, Tamsin realizes that her careful studies haven't prepared her for everything, including conniving, backstabbing, easily offended characters who are jealous of Tamsin's abilities and her training. With new alliances formed with roguish tradesman Jago Robinson and good-natured minister Gideon Stewart, Tamsin's heart begins to be pulled in different directions. But she can't let her brewing attraction get in the way of her ultimate goal: protecting the secret she holds closest to her heart, the one that would unravel everything she's worked for if it's uncovered.

The Emerald Sea, like its predecessors, begins at the Glittering Court, and ends in Cape Triumph. While we know what happened to Adelaide and Mira, if you read the books that is, we now learn what drives Tamsin. This is the story where a huge secret will be revealed that will either make you change your mind about Tamsin as a character, or will offer even more questions. If you can get past what happened between Tamsin, Mira and Adelaide and why the testing was so important for Tamsin's future that she needed to be on top, I believe you will change your mind about her. 

I definitely did. I can't imagine holding such a secret from everyone, including her so called best friends. I can only imagine the drive and the determination that someone like Tamsin has to put herself through in order to be able to have any hope of a bright future and to save the person who owns her heart. Tamsin doesn't whine, or moan, or throw hissy fits when things don't go her way. She puts on her big girl panties and takes charge and makes sure everyone ends up where they are supposed to be. Tamsin has to deal with not only the people of Grashond who look down on her, but a pending war between the Icori, and her people. 

As with the previous books, they all cross at one point in the story, or another. Tamsin's journey is definitely more appealing since she has to find her way from being stranded, to being stuck in a community called Grashond, to meeting interesting new characters like Orla Micnimara, and of course, Jago Robinson and Gideon Stewart. She knows that she is working against the clock for when her secret will arrive in Adoria, and she needs to be prepared. Prepared doesn't exactly fit what happens when Tamsin and Jago hit it off. 

Jago is such a wonderful character. He comes out of nowhere and suddenly Tamsin's world is so much more exciting and much more colorful. He doesn't get angry when Tamsin shocks him. He is happy to help with her secret, and even offers to help. Whereas Gideon kind of graded on my nerves, to be perfectly honest. How many times must you say no to a person before they get the hint? This is an interesting world, don't you think? I have read possible ideas for the setting. Osfro is England. Adoria is the New World before there were colonies. Heirs of Uros, I agree are like puritans, while Balanquans are Native Indians. Anyone disagree? 

#Review - Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh #YALIT #Fantasy

Series: FLAME IN THE MIST (#2)
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Release Date:  June 5, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Sons
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The highly anticipated sequel to New York Times bestselling Flame in the Mist—an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice—to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead.

With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and the very safety of the empire.

Smoke in the Sun, by author Renee Ahdieh, is the second installment in the author's Flame in the Mist duology. The story picks up right where the previous book left off. Set against the backdrop of feudal Japan, Smoke in the Sun is the breathless, not-to-be-missed fiery conclusion to a spellbinding adventure. For weeks, seventeen-year-old Mariko pretended to be a boy to infiltrate the notorious Black Clan and bring her would-be murderer to justice. She didn't expect to find a place for herself among the group of fighters—a life of usefulness—and she certainly didn't expect to fall in love with the mysterious Ōkami.

Now she heads to the imperial castle to resume a life she never wanted in order to save the boy she loves. As Mariko settles into her days at court—making both friends and enemies—and attempting Ōkami's rescue at night, the secrets of the royal court begin to unravel as competing agendas collide. One arrow sets into motion a series of deadly events even the most powerful magic cannot contain. Mariko and Ōkami risk everything to right past wrongs and restore the honor of a kingdom thrown into chaos by a sudden war, hoping against hope that when the dust settles, they will find a way to be together.

This book isn't just Mariko's story to tell. It's also Kanako, the Emperor's scheming consort who wants nothing more than to see her son become the next Emperor. It is also Yumi, a geisha who is fighting against her brother's misogyny in not allowing her more freedom to work with his group, as well as injustices done to her people. It's Tsuneoki Asano who is the spirited leader of the Black Clan. It's Kenshin, the twin brother of Mariko, a Samurai who is lost in his own world after losing the woman he loves. It's Prince Raiden, Mariko's soon to be husband, and the brother of the newly named Emperor Roku, who is by far the most destructive, and the most violent character in this book.

I could almost forgive Kenshin for his behavior, but not the way he treats his own sister. On the other side of the coin, Roku should have had his own narrative. Readers don't really get a chance to get into his head like we do the rest of the already mentioned characters. I for one would have loved having his side of things explained instead of cheering for his fall from grace. I am also happy that this book is the ending of the series. One could say that the series could have ended after the first book, but I'm glad that Ahdieh was able to bring this series to a satisfying conclusion. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#Review - A Study in Treason by Leonard Goldberg #Mystery #Historical

Series: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries (#2) 
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Mystery & Detective / Historical

A continuation of USA TODAY bestselling author Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Treason is a new intriguing locked room mystery for Joanna and the Watsons to solve.

The following case has not previously been disclosed to the public due to the sensitive information on foreign affairs. All those involved were previously bound by the Official Secrets Act. With the passage of time and the onset of the Great War, these impediments have been removed and the story can now be safely told.

When an executed original of a secret treaty between England and France, known as the French Treaty, is stolen from the country estate of Lord Halifax, Scotland Yard asks Joanna, Dr. John Watson, Jr., and Dr. John Watson, Sr. to use their keen detective skills to participate in the hunt for the missing treaty. As the government becomes more restless to find the missing document and traditional investigative means fail to turn up the culprit, Joanna is forced to devise a clever plan to trap the thief and recover the missing treaty.

Told from the point of view of Dr. John Watson, Jr. in a style similar to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, A Study in Treason is based partly on facts in our world and partly on the facts left to us by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Full of excitement and intrigue, this mystery is sure to be enjoyed by fans of Sherlock Holmes as well as the works of Laurie R. King and Charles Finch.

A Study in Treason is the second installment in author Leonard Goldberg's The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries. The year is 1914, protagonist Joanne Blalock, the daughter of Sherlock Holmes, is now married to John Watson, Jr. the son of Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes partner and chronicler. This time out, the trio is summoned by Sir Harold Whitlock, First Sea Lord in His Majesty's Navy to solve a case that has the utmost national security implications for England. A case that needs to be solved quickly, or thousands of lives may be lost.

“The most unifying explanation is most likely to be correct.”

As it so happens, a highly secret document called the French Treaty, has gone missing. Scotland Yard's Inspector Lestrade is on the case, but we all know that in this world, Scotland Yard tends to bungle things up worse than they already were. The document was last seen at the estate of Duke Winchester, so, this is where most of the story takes place. With the winds of war now blowing across Europe, and a secretive paper missing, and quite possibly in the wrong hands, it will take a whole lot of that old Sherlock Holmes ingenuity, and cunning to solve the case.

We now have three characters, not just Joanna, tossing things back and forth to see what they can come up with. Even with Dr. Watson's health issues, you can't keep a good man from doing what he believes in. Like her father, Joanna has a keen intellectual mind and is relentless in her pursuit of the villain or villains who may be involved in what will become a national security nightmare if the Treaty ends up in the wrong hands. Joanna loves to get in the faces of those like Lestrade, and a new character from Naval Intelligence, Leftenant Dunn.

While explaining away contradictions and impossibilities right and left, Joanna has the humility and good grace to accept that if an answer doesn’t make sense, it is likely because she doesn’t yet have all the facts. In this way, she stalwartly seeks out the facts and thereby appears to let the mystery solve itself. In this story, anyone could be the culpert, and then again, nobody could be the culpert. When a witness dies, and a prime suspect disappears, Joanna and company must not lose focus on the general scheme of things for fear of being accused of incompetence.

So, in closing, I have a few negatives to report. I will be a happy camper if I never see or hear the words Nevertheless and Persisted in a story again! Holy crap does the author over use these words. In a span of several chapters, it seems as though these two worlds are the only words he can think of for certain situations the characters find themselves in. Not such a negative. There is a symmetry in having the daughter of Sherlock Holmes, the son of Dr. Watson, the son of the original Inspector Lestrade, as well as the offspring of the original tracker dog Toby once again appear in Goldberg's story. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

#Review - Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott #Thrillers #Psychological

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Thrillers / Psychological / Suspense

A life-changing secret destroys an unlikely friendship in this "magnetic" (Meg Wolitzer) psychological thriller from the Edgar Award-winning author of Dare Me.

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane's academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them.

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she's put Diane behind her forever and she's begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.

“Haven’t you ever done something in the blink of an eye and then realized it was wrong? That it was all wrong?”

Megan Abbott's Give Me Your Hand is a story about two complex and flawed female characters told in Kit Carson's POV. The story alternates between 12 years ago, and the present. 12 years ago, Kit was a fairly smart student who stumbled her way through high school, while also working part time at the local burger joint since it is only her and her mother. Over summer, Kit met a girl by the name of Diane Fleming and they seem to hit it off remarkably well. Months later, Diane arrives for their Senior year. Diane sees something in Kit that Kit failed to see in herself; passion and untapped ambition. 

She pushes Kit like she's never been pushed before. Kit goes from a girl who is smart, to a girl who challenges herself to apply for a much coveted Severin Scholarship to work alongside Dr Lena Severin, a genius in the area of PMS. The scholarship would mean so much for Kit since it would pay all of her tuition, her room and board, plus stipend. Then one day, Diane tells Kit the worst secret that anyone has ever told her. Kit's conclusion becomes that Diane is a horrible person. Diane & Kits relationship cools, and they end up going their separate ways. To be fair, Kit also told a secret to Diane when they were at summer camp. 

12 years later, Kit is working as a research scientist for Severin Labs which has received an NIH grant to study *PMDD. Kit believes her goals are finally within her grasp. Then the shocking news that Diane Fleming has been hired by Dr. Severin. Diane and Kit will be vying for the same position working under a brilliant scientist whom they both idolize. Dr. Severin is once again front and center of a major grant that will change the lives of women who most doctors refuse to believe or understand. Can Kit and Diane resolve their past issues, or will Diane's presence push Kit over the edge?

From the first moment we meet Diane, she is a lock box filled with secrets. She comes from a well off but dysfunctional family. She is sent to alternately live with her father and mother then her grandfather. Diane is brilliant, strange, and extraordinary. But, for Kit, she is an unwanted distraction that she no longer needs in her life. For both women, they have each excelled through the years. One of the things Diane states is, "Remember, you don't have a self until you have a secret." For Diane, her secret revealed destroyed a friendship. Will her return into Kit's life destroy Kit's hopes and dreams? 

Abbott is really good at getting into the minds of females and ripping out their deepest, darkest feelings, and motivations. We often associate the worst things a person can do to men, but forget that women are often much more cunning when getting away with murder, or stabbing someone in the back. Women often go through depths and lengths that men can't touch to get what we want. Even when it comes to friendships, or job offers, or wearing the same dress and then going on Twitter or Facebook and shaming our once best friend. I appreciated that Abbott drives her story towards the sciences. More young women need to apply for these positions. Yes, it is still a male dominated world, but a great majority of women are now graduating from college and the future looks bright.

*By the way, PMDD is a real disorder and I encourage you to go online and see for yourselves. Women who suffer from consistently severe mood swings during their menstrual periods are now being diagnosed with mental illness. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), sometimes referred to as 'PMS on steroids', is formally recognized in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Monday, July 23, 2018

#Review - Strange New World by Rachel Vincent #YALIT #Dystopian

Series: Brave New Girl # 2
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Dystopian

In a world where everyone is the same, one girl is the unthinkable: unique. The second and final book in this high-stakes, fast-paced sci-fi series from New York Times bestselling author RACHEL VINCENT.

Dahlia 16’s life is a lie. The city of Lakeview isn’t a utopia that raises individuals for the greater good; it is a clone farm that mass-produces servants for the elite. And because Dahlia breaks the rules, her sisters—the 4,999 girls who share her face—are destroyed. She and Trigger 17, the soldier who risked his life for hers, go on the run, escaping into the wild outside the city walls. But it turns out Dahlia has one remaining identical, one who shouldn’t even exist.

Waverly Whitmore is teenage royalty, a media sensation with millions of fans who broadcasts her every move—including every detail of her wedding planning, leading up to the day she marries Hennessy Chapman. Waverly lives a perfect life built on the labors of clones like Dahlia. She has no idea that she too is a clone…until she comes face to face with Dahlia.

One deadly secret. Two genetic sisters. And a world that isn’t big enough for both of them.

Rachel Vincent's Strange New World is the second and final installment in the Brave New Girl duology. The story picks up right where Brave New Girl left off with the shocking meeting between what will become co-protagonists Dahlia 16, and 18-year old Waverly Whitmore. Since the story now alternates between the two characters, let's begin with Waverly. Waverly is known as the people's princess. She's got her own TV crew and millions followers who keep track of everything that she does, including her run up to her pending nuptials with Hennessy Chapman who she adores wholeheartedly.

Waverly also has two supportive parents and lives the a perfect life built on the labors of clones like Dahlia. She has no idea that she too is a clone…until she comes face to face with Dahlia. Waverly must face the truth about her own beginnings, her own choices, as well as that of her mother's before she is able to move forward and stand against the Administrator who knows her secrets. If you are looking for a character who grows the most, I would have to say that would be Waverly.  

For Dahlia, the big lie about all the things that she's been told, including the reason for Lakeview, is ready to bubble up and blow things wide open everyone. Dahlia is part of a group of 5,000 clones who all look alike and were made for a certain job. After Dahlia and Trigger escaped, Dahlia believes that all of her sisters have been destroyed which leads to questions as to why Waverly is still alive, and what makes her so special. In this world, there aren't supposed to be any individuals. There's not supposed to be conception by old ways any longer. Only by cloning. Or, so Dahlia was told.

Dahlia, who is really the original, not Waverly, and Trigger who is a special forces clone with superb understanding of technology, are supposed to be manufactured clones which are sold around the country as part of the Administrator's "business plan." The issue? All clones have an expiration date, except for Dahlia. The story really gets twisted when Dahlia accidentally gets Waverly's wedding day tattooed on her arm and has to pretend to be Waverly until the time when she is able to have it redone. 

Dahlia takes an unexpected stand against the treatment of clones which will definitely set things up for a really good ending to the series. Dahlia's stand opens the eyes of Waverly who goes from a spoiled princess, to someone who finally sees the world through the eyes of those less fortunate than herself. While Dahlia spent 16 years of her life in isolation from the outside world, Dahlia lived the American dream. As Waverly teaches Dahlia to be more like her so she can pass the public's scrutiny, she also begins to grow closer to a servant named Julienne and learns what Lakeview does to clones right before they send them out into the public for various uses. I'll admit. Dahlia definitely was the character who grew the most, and had to in order for this final installment to work. 

In the end, this is a entertaining finale with just the right mix of romance, action, suspense, and adventure. I think that I am still on the fence over the idea of using clones to work jobs that supposedly nobody else wants. Imagine a future where out of control corporations are allowed to clone as many workers as they want. Imagine that clones humans out of work forever. Would there be a resounding anger against this idea? Or, would society be happy that they no longer had to deal with low skill job sets? I dare say that I hope I am not alive when that day arrives.

With my foot tapping an impatient rhythm on the floor, I poke the air in the direction of the transparent screen covering the far wall of my bedroom. A clock appears in the center. It’s 12:08 a.m. Seren Locke’s birthday party has just ended, and my friends will be posting about it on their way home.

I flop back onto my bed. I’m not going to look. Only a loser would obsess over a party she missed.

For two whole minutes, I stare at the ceiling of my room. Then, with a groan, I give in and poke one of the icons on the screen. A long stream of messages covers my wall. To the left of each message is a photo of the person who posted it. Some of the messages are pictures. Others are short video clips, playing silently because I’ve disabled the sound; I don’t want to hear about all the fun my friends had without me.

My bedroom door slides open with a whisper, startling me, and I swipe my hand at the screen, closing the message stream. The e-glass fogs over, then becomes transparent again, showing the wall behind it, which is painted in subtle stripes of ivory and honey milk. Or, as my fiance describes the colors, white and a little less white.

“Knock, knock,” my father says from the doorway, though the door is open. I’ve set it to let him in but to keep my mother out. Of course, she can override the settings, but the fact that I want to keep her out is enough to make my point.

My dad doesn’t say anything, but he saw my screen. He knows I was secretly stalking my friends. “What, no camera crew today?” He glances around my room in mock disbelief as he steps inside, carrying a covered tray.

“What would be the point?” I get up, and the pink-and-white comforter smooths itself out, leaving a flawless, wrinkle-free finish. “Why would the world want to see me sitting here staring at the wall?”

He smiles as he sets the tray on my dresser. “The world wants to see everything ‘the people’s princess’ does.”

I shrug. I have fun playing princess on camera, but my father knows me like my followers and cyberstalkers never will.

“You know, we have servants to do that.” I lift my chin at the tray.

“I am aware. But when your daughter already has everything, sometimes the only thing left to give her is a personal touch.”

“That is so cheesy.” I roll my eyes, but I can’t hide my smile.

“Actually, it’s chocolaty.” He pulls the lid from the tray, revealing two steaming mugs of something divinely sweet-smelling. “Organic Swiss cocoa.”

“Mom’s cocoa?”

He nods. “First shipment of the season.”

Okay, yes, it’s just hot chocolate. Except that the cocoa beans this chocolate comes from are organically harvested from a farm overseas. Grown in actual dirt and watered by hand. Harvested by hand. Dried and processed by hand. Packaged by hand.

All that specialized labor makes the cocoa insanely expensive.

My mother has a cup with breakfast every morning.

“And .?.?.” My father lifts a smaller dome lid from an opaque glass bowl at the back of the tray. “Hand-cut chocolate-hazelnut marshmallows.”

“Does Mom know you dug into her stash?” I take a mug and use a tiny pair of tongs to drop two large, fluffy marshmallows into it. A glance at the thermostat on the side of the mug tells me it’s set to keep the contents at perfect sipping temperature.

“We’re celebrating. Let me worry about your mother.” My dad picks up his own mug, then settles into my desk chair as I sit on the edge of my bed. “I assume you’ve seen the ratings?”

“The second they were posted.” I consider a modest shrug, but modesty isn’t really my thing. So I give him a huge grin. “Highest viewership of a reality show ever recorded. The proposal episode broke the record.”

“My daughter, the most famous person in the world.” He takes a sip. “So why aren’t you swinging from the chandelier?”

I give him a look. He knows exactly why I’m sulking. How ridiculous is it that I am the single most valuable asset on network and I’m grounded?

“Waverly, are you really going to let one missed party overshadow the good news? Why wouldn’t she let you go, anyway?”

I tuck my legs beneath me on the bed and blow into my mug. “I honestly have no idea.” My father arches one brow at me, but I talk over his skepticism. “No, really. She just said I couldn’t go. No reason. She won’t even talk about it.”

“That’s strange.”

Normally, my mother is logical to a fault, but .?.?. “It’s like she has something against Seren. She grounded me last year on his birthday too.” I pluck a marshmallow from my cocoa and bite into it, frowning as I chew. “And she dragged us all on vacation during Sofia’s birthday party this year, remember? Maybe it’s not just Seren she doesn’t like, but the whole Locke family.?.?.?.”

“I think you’re reading a little too much into it,” my dad says.

“Or maybe it’s Seren and Sofia’s mother. The Administrator could creep anyone out.” I take the first sip from my mug. The cocoa is decadently sweet and creamy. The kind of thing I should be enjoying on camera.

“So why is missing this party such a tragedy, anyway? There’s still a cyber-blackout at Lakeview, right?”

My silent sip tells him more than actually answering would.

“Ah. That’s it,” he says. “What happens in Lakeview stays in Lakeview, right? Because of the blackout.”

There are only two parties a year in Lakeview—Seren’s birthday party and Sofia’s birthday party—and because the Lakeview compound is a digital dark zone, you can do whatever you want without worrying about video showing up online. While you’re there, it’s like you don’t really exist, except to the other people at the party. It’s liberating, in an oddly low-tech way.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard.