Ferocious

FerorciousAuthor: Paula Stokes

Series: Vicarious #2

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: August 15, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Winter Kim is back and ready for revenge in this explosive follow up to Vicarious.

Winter Kim is on a mission. After her sister was murdered and the only ones she loves were taken from her, she finds out she has a brother she never knew about.  His life is in danger if she doesn’t travel to South Korea and confront Kyung, the man responsible for all the misery in her life.  Helping her along the way are her friends, Jesse and Sebastian.  Together they gain access to Kyung’s corporation and try to gather as much information as possible to get her brother to safety and get out alive herself.  Winter must decide if the revenge she is seeking is worth risking everything or will she be able to release the darkness within her.

The follow up to Vicarious picks up right where things lift off in the first one. Vicarious was very action packed and moved at a quick pace, Ferocious takes things down a notch and moves slower for several different reasons.  The main point of this story is the revenge Winter is seeking.  Revenge takes planning, planning takes time, which ended up making the story less action packed and slower.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the set-up of what Winter was going to do was well laid out giving the characters more depth.  Even though I can’t call this as action packed as the first, there certainly were a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end.  As far as I can tell, there isn’t another book to follow in the series.  I can see the story mostly wrapped up here but there are still a few threads that could be played out further if the author decided to pursue the storyline further.  I recommend this book to an older YA audience that enjoys thrillers with plenty to keep them guessing.  It is marketed as a YA but I don’t think a few of the themes would be appropriate for the younger YA audience.

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

Vicarious

VicariousAuthor: Paula Stokes

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: August 16, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A total thrill ride with mind-bending twists and turns throughout that will leave the reader craving more.

The bond between sisters is a strong one, and almost none compared to that of Winter Kim and her sister Rose. They work for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, who has them engaging in dangerous and exciting activities while he records their neural impulses making a Vicarious Sensory Experience for others he calls ViSEs.  Their adventures include shark diving, hooking up with celebrities at dance clubs, and any and all thrills anyone would want to experience safely for a price.  Winter’s world is turned upside down when her sister disappears and her murder is recorded on a ViSe and sent to Gideon.  Winter can’t do anything until she finds her sister’s killer and becomes consumed with revenge.  With each clue, she uncovers the story of what happened to her sister doesn’t add up and Winter starts to question everything she has known to trust and believe in.

I love a good YA book that keeps up with the direction the world is going and Vicarious is just that kind of book. Each chapter flows into the next bringing the story and the characters into more chaos that will leave the reader aching for more. The characters are strong and even though they go through challenges they learn from each and every obstacle they encounter and use that to push them forward.  There is a romance in the story but it is played out in a very different way than most books, which I really enjoyed.  This is classified as a YA/Teen book and it is good for that in most areas, the only problem I have is the occasional language and sexual scenes throughout.  I don’t like to see those in books marketed to a younger audience but feel like it wasn’t played up nearly as much as it could have been and for that I am thankful.  This is the kind of book that so many readers will be able to find something to enjoy.  I recommend this book to teens and adults that like a good thriller with a sci-fi undertone to it.

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

Fault Lines

Fault LInesAuthor: Thomas Locke

Series: Fault Lines

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As riveting as always, Locke throws his series in the opposite direction!

Charlie Hazard is a security specialist and is very good at his job. One day, a young woman named Gabriella Speciale shows up and throws a wrench into his work and his life.  After a high-speed chase when they manage to get away from some rouge bikers, Gabriella talks Charlie into becoming a part of a secret psychological experiment which changes Charlie’s perspective on life.  There is corporate opposition that is threatened by what breakthroughs might occur by this group and they are out to put an end to the research and to the team.  After relocating the lab from Florida to Europe, Charlie must decide how to best protect his team and to find if he can trust Gabriella.

So, this seemed to be more of a prequel to the first two installments. When reading Trial Run, Charlie is already part of the team and here we get to see his first interactions with Gabriella and see how more of this started.  It was a little confusing at first, but then it all started falling into place.  Granted, I had to go back and reread Trial Run so that I could remember everything that had gone on previously and I’m glad that I did!  I had to put everything b ack into perspective with Charlie, Gabriella, Brett, and of course Reese Clawson.  She just keeps reappearing like a bad penny.

This series has been really fun to read as it makes me look at the world differently. What if what they are doing is actually true; being able to have a conscious out of body experience and witness what else is happening in the world would be incredible.  If you haven’t started this series, I highly recommend starting with this one and then moving onto Trial Run and Flash Point.  It will make it seem like one quick story!

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

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.