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.

 

The Divinity Bureau

Divinity bureauAuthor: Tessa Clare

Publisher: Asset Creative House

Release Date: September 21, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A love story put in danger by a government group set on controlling the population grown out of control by any means necessary.

The Divinity Bureau is a government agency that selects who lives and who dies. The world has become over populated making it unlivable with so many people and too few resources.  Roman Irvine works in the IT department and has always been complacent about his job and what it all means until he sees a name on the list he didn’t expect.  April McIntyre is too young to be selected, but her name winds up on the list anyway and Roman decides he can’t overlook this time.  He wants to know what kind of a person she is like.  After an initial meeting, Roman quickly finds himself falling for April and wants to do anything he can to save her live.  Roman finds the task of saving April’s life more difficult as someone else is determined to see April dead.

The Divinity Bureau reminds me of a cross between The Hunger Games and any number of love stories.  With the danger that Roman and April find themselves in, it is no surprise that their feelings for each other grow.  That part of the book, the romance, was inevitable and played out nicely.  A few of the characters got on my nerves including April’s mother, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as these characters were meant to be written that way.  There were a few instances of language that didn’t work for me, particularly the vulgar language.  The way that the book ends leaves it open for another to follow shows potential for it to continue.  I think there is more story to be told. For a debut novel, I think Clare did a great job with the story and keeping the suspense up throughout. There are a lot of dystopian books on the market out right now but this one has a different spin to it making it stick out.  I recommend this to readers that are fans of the dystopian novels on the market and also enjoy a technical aspect to the story.

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

Arena

arenaAuthor: Holly Jennings

Series: Arena #1

Publisher: Ace

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A unique story that takes a look at the gaming world and what out future of might just look like.

Kali Ling is one of the top gamers and is about to make history as the first female captain in the Virtual Gaming League’s RAGE tournament. RAGE is a competition where the top gamers in the world compete in a fight to the digital death.  Millions of people watch the fights and cheer for their favorite players.  The game and all its parts may be digital but that doesn’t mean the pain is, every player feels every killing blow.  When one of her teammates overdoses, Kali doesn’t know if she has what it takes to lead the team anymore.  As a new member is thrust into their mix in the middle of the tournament, the team has to find a way to come together in order to conquer their biggest battle yet.

I have mixed emotions about this book. The story itself was good, a bit predictable at times but enjoyable.  The drug usage, foul language and sex was a bit over done.  The images put forth by the author really made me picture the story playing out in my mind as I read it.  The romances, all of them, felt forced for the most part.  By the end a small percentage of the romances felt right and will be interesting to see where they go in the next story.  Kali and her team go through a lot in finding the right dynamic and in the end I enjoyed the way they found a way to fully work together as a team.  The theme of teamwork throughout was depicted well and something that everyone can take away as a useful lesson.

The ages of the main characters seem to be early twenties, could be a little younger, and so this book could be counted as a YA. If so, I don’t feel comfortable recommending to that target audience with the sex and language.  If it is an older audience, I think the book will be a very enjoyable read for those that especially enjoy the gaming world and virtual reality.

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