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.

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost

Kitty HawkAuthor: Iain Reading

Series: Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #2

Publisher: Create Space

Release Date: September 11, 2013

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun adventure for kids that is just as intriguing and better written than the first in the series.

Kitty Hawk is back on another crazy adventure. She still wants to follow in the footsteps of her hero Amelia Earhart and make her own epic flight around the world.  This time her travels take her to Florida where she plans to relax before continuing.  The Florida Keys is a magical place for many and Kitty gets caught up in the magic of shipwrecks, treasure and ghost stories of Ernest Hemingway she wonders if she is in over her head.

The second installment in the Kitty Hawk series is even better than the first. Reading seems to have found his grove in writing the young adventures.  There was a little more down time in this book that had Kitty just relaxing and not going strong, which made me yearn to get back to the action.  I enjoyed that compared to the previous book, this one did not have near the amount of harsh language, especially since these are geared towards young readers.  The setting was very beautifully done, it made me want to go explore the area.  There was a great history about the story and I loved the Hemingway aspect of it and how it tied in with the missing treasure.  The short chapters are a plus for young readers so they don’t get bored with long chapters.  My only concern with this book is with the format.  The chapters are short, which is great, but the print is so small it makes reading one page seem like reading three and that is a problem for the younger readers.  I will still recommend this to young readers that are looking for a fun adventure book.

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

It Started With Goodbye

It Started With GoodbyeAuthor: Christina June

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: May 9, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can lead to more than expected as Tatum Elsea finds out.

Tatum Elsea thinks she is about to have the worst summer of her life. She has just been given her punishment after being accused of a crime she didn’t commit.  She must pay a fine, do community service and be under the watchful eye of her stepmother.  To top it off, she has lost her best friend.  Her days are now filled with community service and working on her new graphic design business, something she is keeping secret from the rest of her family for now.  She is not the only one in the family keeping secrets, a fact that will change the relationships she has with those closest to her.  Tatum is ready for a fresh start and hoping for a happy ending.

It Started With Goodbye was a delightful read that had some of the best character development I have seen in a very long time.  The way the relationships with the characters changed throughout the course of the book was so natural.  Tatum’s relationship with many individuals changed so much and amazingly it all felt natural.  That is a difficult thing to accomplish.  I am spending a lot of time talking about the character development, but that is because it is the best I have seen in so long, it just blew me away.  I loved the way Christina June used the fact that sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.  Even if at first it seems horrible, it can turn out to be good.  There are lessons to be learned from every situation we find ourselves in if we just take the opportunity to look for the lesson and take all we can from it.  I recommend this book to young adults looking for a good read but also one that will give them something to think about.

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

Toward a Secret Sky

Secret Sky

Author: Heather Maclean

Publisher: Blink

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A deliciously intriguing story that can’t help but be devoured. An adventure that needs to be read again and again just to let it all sink in.  There better be another book to follow because I want more.

Maren Hamilton is seventeen and has just watched her mother be buried. She is now left all alone and is sent to live with her grandparents in Scotland.  That wouldn’t be so bad except she had never met them.  It is hard enough fitting in at a new school, let alone one in a new country.  Just when Maren thinks she is starting to relax and feel like it could be home, she receives some of her mother’s things from her work, including an encrypted journal that makes her realize she never really knew her mother or others around her.  Now, she is in danger along with anyone she gets close to.  One by one, she pieces together the clues left by her mother but not before her small town becomes the victim of something evil.  Maren needs the help of Gavin, her newly appointed guardian angel, who she has quickly fallen in love with even though it is against all rules.  He may be her angel but they are also dealing with demons and forces of evil the likes of which she could never have imagined.  Before all is said and done, Maren will learn some of the hardest life lessons and hopefully come out the other side alive and better for it, or maybe not.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this book. There was just the right amount of action, romance, suspense, drama and even supernatural to keep me hooked throughout.  All of those together can sometimes be a difficult combination but it worked here flawlessly.  Maclean did an excellent job of bringing these characters, and the different settings, to life in a dramatic and beautiful way.  The main setting in Scotland is set up mostly by Gavin, which I liked.  This is the kind of story that I can see fans of the Twilight series falling in love with.  There is a lot of push and pull between the characters, especially Maren and Gavin; they want to be together but know it isn’t permitted.  When you have characters in this kind of situation it can become tiresome with the back and forth, but for some strange reason it worked here.  Maybe it was because nothing felt forced.  The characters did what they would naturally do and it showed with the way it came across on the pages.  All I must say is there better be another book to follow because I want more.  The ending wrapped things up nicely but also left it open easily for another to come.  I highly recommend this to young adults looking for a thrilling supernatural read that will leave them wanting more well past the last page.

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