Solo

soloAuthor: Kwame Alexander

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A stunning tale of finding one’s self and realizing the most important things in life. Told in poetic verse, Solo is a tale that is touching and real down to the heart.

Solo is the story of Blade Morrison, a seventeen-year-old of a rock star that has fallen from grace.  Blade is tired of living the life of glitz and glamour and wants to find more in life.  His mother died when he was nine leaving him and his sister to deal with the aftermath of their father’s addictions.  When Blade discovers a deep held secret within the family, it threatens to throw everything into a tailspin and threaten his relationship with everyone around him.  This sets him on a journey across the country to discover the truth about who he is and how that will shape the rest of his life.

Solo is one of the clearest examples of not judging a book by its cover I have ever read.  The premise sounded very interesting, but when I opened and realized it was told in poetic verse I was initially turned off.  Poetry is usually not my kind of thing.  I have a hard time getting into poetry and the flow of the story told that way.  I decided to give Solo a chance and as the story progressed with each poem, I found myself entranced and pulled into the story.  There was such an intimacy to the characters and the way they interacted with one another.  I read this in one day and enjoyed the flow much more than I imagined I would.  This is the type of story that is for poetry readers, but also for those that enjoy a good story with heart and will leave readers thinking of their family and friends in a different way.  So, if you are like me and open the pages of this book and think it isn’t going to be your cup of tea, give it a few pages and enjoy the story for what it is.  You won’t be disappointed!

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

In 27 Days

In 27 DaysAuthor: Alison Gervais

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A hard hitting, emotional roller coaster that will leave readers pulling at their heart-strings and wiping a tear from their eyes by the last page.

When Archer Morales commits suicide, his classmate Hadley Jamison is surprised by how much it affects her. She knew him from freshman English class, but that’s about it.  He was the kind of guy that pretty much kept to himself.  Hadley decides to attend Archer’s funeral for some closure.  As she is leaving the funeral, she runs into a man who calls himself Death.  Death offers Hadley a deal; he will send her back in time twenty-seven days to try and stop Archer from killing himself.  It doesn’t take much to convince Hadley that this is something she must do.  She agrees but finds that it is not going to be an easy task.  Archer has kept himself isolated for several reasons, none of which he is especially eager to share with anyone.  As Hadley works to gain his confidence, strange accidents start to occur that keep Hadley and Archer farther from each other and make Hadley wonder if she is really ready to risk everything, including her own life, to accomplish her mission.

All I can say is WOW!. When I started In 27 Days, I had no idea where it would lead me.  It was one of the most raw, real, and amazing books I have read in a very long time.  The way these characters and their storyline laid out was unbelievable.  This is the kind of writing I would expect from someone with decades of experience.  Alison Gervais is an author that has the potential to take off and never look back at where her writing can take her and her readers.  The way the story of Hadley and Archer came together was absolutely beautiful.  I never once felt as if anything was forced or rushed between the characters or with their actions.  Out of all the books I have read this year, this is going quickly to the top of my list.  With the rampant amount of bullying going on in our society, this is a story that needs to be read by many.  I highly recommend this to all readers, especially anyone that might be struggling with feeling alone or how to help someone in that position.

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

Unraveling

UnravelingAuthor: Sara Ella

Series: Unblemished #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The second installment in the Unblemished trilogy is a great read that will leave you aching for more.

Eliyana Ember has always wanted her world to be a fairy tale. After a defeating her grandfather and saving the second Reflection, El starts to only trust what she can see and touch.  The Kiss of Infinity she once shared is nothing but a memory and now that she is becoming queen she doesn’t know if she is prepared to deal with any of it.  The Verity is cast within her soul and therefore leaves Joshua by her side ready to rule her birth land.  Even with all she has, she feels something is missing.  The Callings, she and others have had as magical powers, begin to fail and El wonders if her connection to Ky Rhyen is somehow involved.  Light and dark cannot coexist and El needs to find the answers before the Callings disappear altogether.

This book is outstanding, as long as you have read the first. If you come into this having as a standalone or don’t have Unblemished fresh in your mind, you will likely have difficulties.  There is so much that is set up in the first book that is relevant to Unraveling in order for everything to make sense that it is very important to have the first firmly in your mind when starting this one.  The characters develop much more fully here along with the world.  This is very different from our own, but also similar in many, many ways.  I enjoyed the introduction of new characters and the interaction they had with already established characters.  One of the best aspects is it is a very clean book without losing the intensity of the story, a very rare trait to be found today.  Other than making sure you have read the first book, I can’t think of anything negative to say about this book.  I can’t wait to see what the third installment has in store.

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

Wilders

WildersAuthor: Brenda Cooper

Series: Project Earth #1

Publisher: PYR

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another dystopian novel that is a bit more unique than you might think.

Coryn Williams has grown up in the metropolis of Seacouver, Washington. A town that has been developed under a weather dome.  This is a new generation of smart city that is completely connected with each person and tells them when they need certain items or when to go to the doctor.  But the city is not for everyone, many suffer from it.  Coryn’s parents each took their life and her older sister must get out of the city before it drives her to the same fate, so she sets of to work for a rewilding foundation that is reestablishing the ecosystem that humans have destroyed.

Three years later, Coryn is set to graduate from school and must head into a career. Instead she decides to do the unthinkable; voluntarily go outside of the dome to find her sister.  But will her sister want to see her?  And will the city let her back in?

Dystopian novels are rapidly becoming a dime a dozen. It’s hard to find something new and fresh that doesn’t build upon an already realized idea.  However, Cooper definitely piqued my interests with this one.  I’ve done a lot of research into smart cities and how they currently interact versus how they are planning to connect in the future with the internet of things.  This book easily brings my fears into place with the amount of data that the city knows and how the city can protect itself.

Coryn was an interesting character. She was very independent (and stubborn) and set out to find her sister with no thoughts of what could happen to her.  But she got more than what she bargained for once she found her.  I’m curious if the storms were a result of the damaged ecosphere, but that may come in a future book.

There is some occasional harsh language for a YA novel, which is why I took it down to 4 stars. Even so, it is a really good read.

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

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow

Sofi SnowAuthor: Mary Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you were to combine The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Host you would be looking at The Evaporation of Sofi Snow.  So much going on it will easily leave you wanting more.

It has been eleven years since the alien race, Delonese, and their ice-planet arrived in Earth’s atmosphere. Since that time, Sofi Snow has had vivid dreams of the aliens.  Earth is now ruled by corporations instead of governments and Sofi and her brother have been forced by these corporations to participate in fantasy fighting.  Sofi is the gamer while her brother, Shilo, is in the arena.  During one of the games a bomb explodes in the arena killing many, including Shilo, or at least that is what everyone but Sofi believe.  She has dreams he is alive and is certain he has been taken by the Delonese.  She must get to the planet and find her brother; the only problem is the only ones allowed are the ambassadors.  Sofi convinces, Miguel, the youngest ambassador who she was close to once, to take her with him to the planet.  Miguel has found himself in trouble as he is being blackmailed to make sure a certain corporation is blamed for the attack.  Together Sofi and Miguel find more trouble, deceit, and unthinkable things than they could have imagined.

Patience. That is the word that comes to mind when describing this book. If you are not patient with what is happening and willing to give it time, at least more than what you would an average book, you are not going to enjoy it.  I really thought I might not finish this one but am very glad I did.  The beginning was slow to get going, very confusing with the set up, and the world the characters found themselves in.  I am not a gamer, which is probably a good target audience for this one, and I think that slowed me down at the beginning. Once I was about halfway through, it didn’t matter that I am not into video games because the story took off in a direction that didn’t have very much to do with the games.  At this point, I was very happy I decided to stick with the book.  The story was engaging and the characters kept me guessing as to what was about to happen with them.  The ending left it wide open for a sequel, which I am anxiously looking forward to.  It is refreshing to see a YA sci-fi thriller out there that kids can really enjoy.  There were several points that I give the author credit for surprising me with the twists and turns I didn’t see coming.  I recommend this book to YA readers that are looking for a thrill ride in the gaming world and so, so much more.

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

Blood Rose Rebellion

Blood Rose RebellionAuthor: Rosalyn Eves

Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An enchanted tale of romance, magic, and family drama that brings the tension to new levels.

Anna Arden is sixteen years old and has been shunned by her family and society for a blood defect. Her family is part of a powerful magic group called the Luminate.  However, she is Barren and unable to perform the simplest of spells.  Everything goes wrong for Anna when she breaks her sister’s debutante spell, without even realizing she is doing it, and becomes exiled by her family and sent with her grandmother to Hungary.  Things seem worse than ever when she finds that things are not as she thought.  She is living with her cousins and starts to discover that magic and those around her are not as she was led to believe.  A rebellion is quickly spreading across the country and Anna finds herself in the middle of the conflict with many believing she might be what they need if she will embrace her ability and help those she cares about.

Rosallyn Eves has woven a tale that will make you think of others out there but is its own story in many ways. There is magic and love that must be interwoven in order for the story to work, and it does work.  For me, the story took a little bit to get going, but once it did, I enjoyed it and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  Anna was her own kind of hero; she didn’t believe in herself until she realized everyone else was counting on her and she really could make a difference.  Being set in the past and in such a different location I would have liked to see a little more world building to set the story in motion.  The character development was done very well and was easy to connect with Anna and the others.  Overall it was a very enjoyable read and one I will recommend to readers that enjoy YA and mystical reads.

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

Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue

Kitty Hawk3Author: Iain Reading

Series: Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #3

Publisher: Create Space

Release Date: April 19, 2013

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Kitty Hawk is back on her next adventure that takes her to the rugged landscape of Iceland and her strangest case yet.

Continuing her flight around the world, Kitty Hawk arrives in Reykjavik Iceland. Her friend Charlie has found her a nice place to stay with friends of his to help her get the real, authentic Icelandic experience.  As she finds herself in the land of Vikings, volcanoes, and even trolls and elves, she discovers the true beauty of the land and what some of the locals are willing to do to keep it from being changed too much.  As she explores and makes new friends, Kitty finds herself in more danger and surrounded by more mystery and intrigue than ever before.

As the third installment in the Kitty Hawk series takes us to Iceland, I found myself having trouble warming up to this one. The story itself is good and fast paced, but for me it didn’t take me as deep into the story as I would have liked.  I just didn’t feel a real connection with the characters as I did in the first two.  Kitty herself is still on top of finding herself in the middle of a whole mess of trouble.  It seems that she has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in order to help solve the mystery, but isn’t that the case with most mysteries?  This series is still a great read for young adults looking for adventure and to learn a little about different areas around the world.  The setting was set up very well and maybe that was part of my problem, this is not an area I have a desire to go so it didn’t interest me as much.  I will recommend this to young readers ready for an adventure and even older readers looking to familiarize themselves with the landscape before going.

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