The Scythian Trials

the scythian trialsAuthor: Elizabeth Isaacs

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A little bit of The Hunger Games mixed with The Valiant makes for a great read for a mature audience.

The Scythians are descendants of the Amazons and highly valued warriors. Nya Thalestris is one of the best in her generation and she has earned a spot in the Trials, a mating ritual responsible for the evolution of her species. Nya has a hard time letting anyone, especially men, get close to her or touch her, it sets her off violently. What she doesn’t remember is years ago she was abducted by their enemy, the Drahzda and tortured. Jax Nickius has been working with her for years to help her get past her abuse and he discovers hidden triggers in her mind. Jax has grown close to her and pursues her as a mate during the trials. When Nya’s memories start coming back, she realizes she has enemies within her own walls and her life is in more danger than she would have thought possible.

I was about to give up on this book but stuck with it and I am glad I did. The ending ramped up the tension and really made me care more about the characters. Nya is a real fighter and the kind of tough female lead character that is becoming more and more popular. However, I had mixed feelings about Jax. His devotion and feelings for Nya were clear and I didn’t have trouble relating to him on that level, but there was just something else about him that didn’t have me jumping to the edge of my seat when he was being written about. The secondary characters, especially the other warriors helped bring the story to life.  When Nya’s memories started returning and flashbacks showed what she had been through, I wanted more back-story and more scenes with Nya and Penn. While this is targeted to a Young adult audience, I have trouble recommending it to a young audience because of the language and sexual scenes throughout. With that being said, I do recommend this to readers that enjoy dystopian novels with plenty of action, tension, and romance throughout.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Rule of One

"Steely-vented hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei), perched on verbena plant, Costa Rica, July"Authors: Ashley Saunders, Leslie Saunders

Publisher: Skyscape

Release Date: October 1, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When telling the truth becomes more dangerous than telling a lie, a young girl’s life is turned upside down when her secret is exposed and she has to find the strength to fight for the truth.

In the future, the United States is not what it once was. A strict one child only policy has been enforced making everyone subject to the Rule of One.  Ava Goodwin is the daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, one of the highest positions in the country, and is therefore always under scrutiny.  This makes her secret even harder to keep, she has an identical twin sister, Mira.  The two have been living as one for the past eighteen years.  They have to keep every detail of their lives in order as they trade places day after day.  All is going fine until one day they are exposed and told to run by their father as he is taken into custody.  They are all labeled as traitors and the girls fugitives.  As they rush to find safety in a world out to get them, they find unlikely allies and an underground group favoring for the old America.

I thought the premise of this book sounded very interesting for several different reasons. First of all, I am a twin and wanted to see how the story would play out in that aspect.  Secondly, dystopian novels are all the rage right now and this one did a great job of world building in the future but keeping things relatable and easy to follow.  I enjoyed the back and forth between Ava and Mira, especially the way they came into their own as the book progressed.  Being a twin, I am aware more than most of the fact that it is easy to label twins as one person but each is their own individual and needs to be treated that way.  When times were tough, Ava and Mira were actually able to express themselves as individuals and we got to see them grow as characters.  A few of the minor characters could have been developed further and seemed too short and then abruptly ended.  The ending was just enough for this book, but left open for a follow up which I intend to read.  My one big critique would have to be the language, I know harsher language is becoming more common but I have a problem when it is in young adult novels.  The words were not strung out on every page but the few that were in the book were harsher than I would like to see in these novels for young readers.  Overall I would recommend this to a more mature audience and those that enjoy a good dystopian read.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Touch of Gold

A touch of goldAuthor: Annie Sullivan

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: August 14, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Filled with fun, adventure and a tale that kept me deeply intrigued by the richness of the story!

We all know the story of King Midas and his golden touch, but there is more to the story than many have heard. After his golden touch almost killed his daughter, Kora, King Midas had the golden touch taken back from him.  Princess Kora still shows the effects of her father’s curse, her skin has a golden shine and she is rumored to have secret powers of her own.  Afraid to be out in public, she stays hidden away in the castle and keeps her skin covered from everyone.  One day, a young duke arrives and helps Kora see that there might be some in the world who won’t run in fear from her. Things turn frantic when a thief steals her father’s gold and Kora is the only person able to track him.  She can sense the gold and sails off on an adventure unlike any she has ever had to keep the kingdom from falling apart and her father from fading away.

This is the first book I have read by Annie Sullivan as well as the first about King Midas. I was very intrigued by the premise of this story and it did not disappoint.  Each chapter brought new characters and adventures that propelled the story ever forward.  Kora was stronger than she realized, it just took being in a different location with different people for her to test her limits and see what she was capable of.  I loved the way the characters naturally flowed together, regardless of if they were for or against Kora and her mission. Even the secondary characters made an impact and I felt connected to each and every one of them.  There is a good bit of romance throughout but that just adds to the tension when things are not going the way the characters would like.  This story is one I can truly say is driven forward with tension, what each character desires most is put in danger, and what that may be is different for each character making the story tight and true to its purpose.  Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I recommend it to readers who enjoy adventure, suspense, a little romance, and a fun look at a fantastical tale.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Reaper at the Gates

ReaperAuthor: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes #3

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third book in this amazing series changes things up a bit keeping the main characters apart more than together but building for a follow up that is sure to be the very best yet.

As the threat of war within the empire grows, Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, has even more to worry about than protecting her people. Her sister, the only family she has left is now Emperor Marcus’s wife and he uses her to control Helene.  Marcus is haunted by his past and with each passing day he grows more unstable.  Using his weakness, Keris Veturia, the Commandant, puts her plan of gaining control of the empire into action causing Helene one more thing to worry about.  While the empire grows unsteady, Laia of Serra is working to stop the Nightbringer.  He is not her only problem though, she is suddenly thrust into a fight she never wanted to be a part of and doesn’t know if she can help win.  Elias Veturius is now the Soul Catcher, caught in the land between the living and the dead.  He has to put aside the part of him that wants to be with Laia and help the souls pass peacefully. Otherwise, the souls will wreak havoc on the rest of the world.

For some reason, when I started this book I was under the assumption it was going to be the last in the series. As I was reading through, especially when I reached the final few chapters, I was having trouble believing the story would be wrapped up neatly.  I am happy to say that this book itself is tied up but leaves a beautiful opening for the next in the series.  I loved the way things progressed and the characters found themselves independent instead of relying on each other to be complete.  With Laia and Elias spending so much time apart, it really shows them growing into the character I feel they are meant to be, which flowed very naturally.  The very best part is something I can’t say because I don’t want to spoil anything. There is a reveal with one of the characters that once you realize what is happening, it will put a smile on your face and have you remembering parts in the first two books in a very different light.  In writing a YA book, there are so many aspects that are different than most books and Sabaa Tahir has found a way to really embrace her writing and find her audience.  There was a little bit more language than I would have liked to have seen for a YA, but overall it wasn’t bad and it could have been a whole lot worse.  The book goes back and forth between the viewpoints of Laia, Elias, and The Blood Shrike, which gives the reader a full understanding of the world and fully encompassing what is happening and how our characters react to each situation.  I recommend this book to Young readers and those that love a great dystopian read.

Reclaiming Shilo Snow

Reclaiming Shilo SnowAuthor: Mary Weber

Series: Shilo Snow #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The perfect book for those that are into the gaming world including what it could turn into in the future. A little darker than the first but oh so good!

Seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is one of the world’s greatest hackers alive. She has left our world to go to the alien planet Delon to find her brother Shilo who everyone believes is dead. She knows that isn’t true, she can feel it.  With the help of Ambassador Miguel, they seek out the truth in finding her brother and also letting the people of Earth in on the secrets about the alien planet and what intentions it has for Earth.  However, this isn’t the first time she has been with the Delonese.  When she was younger, she and her brother were taken by them, but she has no memory of this time.  As the second installment in the Sofi Snow series, readers will see what is next for this brother and sister and how it will impact all of Earth and beyond.

Not all books in a series have to be read in order but this one most definitely does. If you haven’t read The Evaporation of Sofi Snow or don’t remember the story very well it will be difficult to connect to this one.  With that being said, if you have read it, get ready to pick up where it left off and see how the rest of the story unfolds.  The characters continue their journey and we seem them grow closer to each other as the story unfolds.  There is sacrifice and betrayal and all the things that make a good story great.  I loved how Weber continued with the multiple viewpoints to give readers a deeper sense of what was happening in the story instead of sticking with one POV and having to figure some of it out without really seeing it unfold.  There were times in the story that I felt confused and thought I needed to go back to clear something up but within a few pages it all seemed to work itself out for me.  Readers that love YA/Dystopian novels and have a passion for gaming will not want to miss this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Dayfall

DayfallAuthor: Michael David Ares

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Interesting concept, but could use more explanation.

Jon Phillips is a small time detective in Ephrata, Pennsylvania who has dreams of becoming a private investigator. He has been profiling a serial killer in Philadelphia, but no one will listen to his theories.  He decides to take measures into his own hands and discovers that his theory is correct and manages to single handedly take down the serial killer, almost at the cost of his own life.  Even though he survives, his career in law enforcement does not.  The Philadelphia chief of police visits him in the hospital to let him know that he can never join the City PD; however, there is another opportunity open to him.  The mayor of Manhattan needs help in catching the Dayfall Killer before Dayfall happens.  Manhattan has been shrouded in darkness for several years as a result of a nuclear winter which also caused sea levels to rise, submerging large portions of the island.  With only hours until everyone is exposed to hours of sunlight, answers are needed to ensure she can control the City and keep Gotham Security from taking over.  Several of the MPD officers are already on Gotham Security’s payroll and she needs someone she can trust.  With little to no options, Jon reluctantly takes on the case in hopes of a high profile takedown that can catalyst his PI career into the spotlight.

This was an interesting dystopian concept. Having the east coast completely covered in darkness and it becoming a norm to the residents so much so that when daylight did occur it started making people go crazy.  I wish that there had been more of an explanation of the reasoning behind it and why it didn’t affect other areas of the US and/or countries.  Even so, the story was still enjoyable.  Phillips partner in the MPD pretty much made the book for me.  The banter, shady dealings, and nicknames brought him to life really well.  The relationships felt a little forced at first, but things seemed to fall into place as the story continued.

There is quite a bit of harsh language as well as implied sex throughout the book mixed with some fairly graphic violence. I recommend this book to mature readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Top Futuristic/Dystopian

Next up are the top picks for stories set in the future or dystopia.  These are always fun to read to see what some of our favorite author’s imaginations can conjure up.

The Divide

1. The Divide by Jolina Petersheim

The previous installment left off with the Mennonite community being vacated and overrun by an angry mob with one of the main characters left for dead.   This is a terrific conclusion!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

contaigon

2. Contagion by Marcy G. Dyer

An altered strain of rabies that turns its victims into Zombies has been unleashed turning the world into chaos and leaving three families to fend for themselves and try to stay alive.  And it’s set in my home area!!!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

without warning

3. Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

The final installment of this trilogy gave us quite a shock with the ending!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilders

4. Wilders by Brenda Cooper

With major cities located in glass bubbles connected by tubes for travel, outside the glass can be a cruel place.

Read the full review here.