Tag Archive | arc

Review: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

Series: Dare Mighty Things #1

dare mighty things -heather kaczynskiTHE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.


3 Drink Me Potions


**Dare Mighty Things comes out October 10, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Dare Mighty Things holds tightly to a suspenseful twist that underlies the simplicity of the main plotline, and is surprisingly thrilling upon its reveal. It definitely shocked me out of the predictable rut I had placed it in.

There’s a lot of interesting things that were a first for me in this book. Although it was marketed as a selection process similar to The Selection, it’s a lot more grueling academically and physically. Brilliant young minds from across all of the world competing for a spot in NASA’s joint program in sending someone into space with a crew of seasoned astronauts? Believe me when I say the words here sometimes get so big that even my science-loving brain is trying to figure out the physics.

This bunch of young adults ranging in age from 18 to 25 or so were written in such a realistic way that it felt you could’ve met someone them in person. Their personalities weren’t so cliched as the socially awkward yet ridiculously smart nerds. Instead, they were completely multi-faceted and wholly tangible.

That included the protagonist, Cassie Gupta, an Indian-American girl who identified as asexual. This little tidbit wasn’t made clear straight off the bat, but it was kind of implied under the surface for a while even before it was explicitly identified. Personally, I liked her, all of her. Her mind was brilliant, but seeing how she interacted with others and how she developed from the most anti-social person I’ve read about yet to someone who truly valued the friendships she’s made throughout selection was above all intriguing. Her good friends, Emilio and Mitsuko, were both fun yet understandable characters to keep the story engaging but also relatable. I thought the whole cast was well-written.

There was always a hint of potential romance with foreign diplomat, Luka. Considering she’s asexual, there is still a considerable amount of underlying tension going on that was fun. Whether a true romance in any sense would develop, I’m satisfied with the way things are relationship-wise. Heather did a great job in making it so that we, the readers, aren’t terribly dissatisfied with an element of any YA story that a ton of people look forward to (myself included).

While I’ve been raving about firsts and things that were great, the setback still remains the pacing of the plot. I honestly think the selection process took too long to get through. Nothing much happens until you hit the 70% mark. Sure, people slowly dwindle away as the competition are kicked out of the program, but it kept bothering me that the SECRET about the program wouldn’t reveal itself until almost the end. That’s when the true suspense and action really started ratcheting up. I had to satisfy myself with rampant theories about what it could be until then (I secretly was wondering if the competition wasn’t really getting sent home but might’ve led to a more sinister outcome upon rejection from the program).

I can’t say if I loved the way the story twisted at the end or not. It was a bit surprising, although the more I think about it, the more I should’ve seen it coming. I suppose I was pretty far down the rabbit hole I had dug out for this story in my wild theories to have considered another alternative. But anyhow, Dare Mighty Things brings with it a mighty strong debut filled with a cast of intelligent yet different individuals who have to ask themselves one huge question: just how far are they willing to go to make history for mankind in the vast unknowns?

Overall Recommendation:
Dare Mighty Things has many things that should intrigue a fan of sci-fi, including a mysterious program with an unknown objective into space exploration and a cast of diverse characters. Regardless of the lack of romance that occurs in this book, the friendships Cassie develops (which says a lot for a competitive anti-social girl like her) are just a thrilling as she navigates the challenges in attaining the prized spot among the space crew. I loved the science – albeit the sci-fi type that pushes the plausible – and the simmering suspense of what lay ahead for these brilliant minds to discover. If it wasn’t for the ridiculously slow plot, I’d say this would make it one solid debut. As it is, this book should still satisfy lovers of space and sci-fi.

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Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1

before she ignites -jodi meadowsBefore

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.


3 Drink Me Potions


**Before She Ignites comes out September 12, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

What can I truly say about this novel, hmm? I know there are several factors that have gotten everyone excited. Dragons being namely the biggest one. In a world post-Game of Thrones popularity, dragons are a wonderful thing to have in a story. But does this do it justice? Or the rest of the story, for that matter?

Here’s what I liked and disliked about Before She Ignites.

LIKES:

There was a lot of interesting worldbuilding going on, although it came together very slowly. The 7 islands and their corresponding gods that ultimately belonged to a larger story of creation. I loved that although each island followed and portrayed the traits of their particular god, each Book of rules that they followed ultimately reflected similar beliefs and values. I’ve become pretty invested in how each island looks on situations differently, and how they may hopefully come to see each other from the other’s perspective.

The amazing morals of equality, both by race and by gender.
At the heart of this book is a fight for equality among all the islanders, without one group being lowered compared to all the rest. Our protagonist, Mira, really stood up for the Treaty she was named for and that she believed wholeheartedly where peace and equality could be found among everyone.

-That brings me to the growth of Mira.
It was slow and steady, but it did progress over time. She was a little naive and definitely unlearned in trials of hardship when she first was thrown into prison. I always love a good story that tests and allows the protagonist to find out just what she is made of. I’m glad to say that Jodi Meadows really honed in on this as Mira had so many difficult choices to make throughout the book.

The intrigue and mystery of what had brought Mira to the prisons in the first place.
She was the face of the Mira Treaty that provided new rules for peace among the islands. She was basically a political figure (without having all the power of one since there was a council acting behind her), so the downfall into a prisoner definitely played a major part in keeping me with this book, even with all the dislikes (SEE BELOW).
Plus, a good secret always got my blood tingling and makes me ridiculously stubborn in figuring it out.

Here it is, of course, the dragons are a plus.
Getting to read about how dragons were revered as children of the gods and were kept safe in sanctuaries to preserve them from extinction was a lot of fun. I think Meadows had a lot of fun with it, creating different Latin names for the various species and their particular abilities and features. I think she should make a glossary at the back to make it even more clear and enjoyable for all the dragon fans out there, but otherwise, I was impressed enough with the amount of detail provided here.

DISLIKES:

-The slowness. Moving at like a glacier’s pace.
I’m not kidding. By 50% of the book, I was wondering if Mira was ever going to see the outside of her prison walls. I truly thought that this book would probably just be in this one setting: the darkest prison of all the islands.
The only action took place when she was being tormented by her rival, aka a guard who seemed to have taken a particular interest in Mira’s secret. Otherwise, it was pages of what should I do? and let’s mimic the girl in the dungeon across from me in her cell exercises. It was frankly tiring at times and I wished for a change in scenery (besides the BEFORE flashbacks that occur between chapters).

-A romance with Aaru?
I put this in the dislikes simply because I’m uncertain if there is one? I think it’s hinted but it’s hard to tell as Aaru is from the island of Idris, known for being silent. Their secret coded language (aka like the Morse code) was cool enough, I suppose, but at this rate it seems their relationship is rather cool and on level with a good friendship. Who knows? I may start cheering for something to happen with her bestie and personal guard, Hristo. Since nothing literally fired up my heart between any of the characters.
And that would have at least made things more exciting.

I’m not sure how to sum up my feelings, even after finishing this novel for a while now. Before She Ignites has its merits and I can plainly see that book two is being set up for great things. It’s just getting through the foundational stuff here that can be slow and somewhat confusing at times as the pieces slowly start to fall into place. I regrettably say that I have mixed feelings about the book.

Overall Recommendation:
Before She Ignites really lays it on with the world building and its secrets. Jodi Meadows holds these secrets close to her chest as we slowly figure out what has brought upon the downfall of beloved political figure, Mira. The suspense is slow in simmering, and the pace can feel utterly exhausting at times, but as secrets start unfolding and the bits of action occur, there are wondrous things that this book could do to me. If you can last through the slow layout of the core foundations to this world building, I believe this book could truly astound with a protagonist who learned more about who she is and what her role is among her beloved islands. Before She Ignites has the potential to blow us away – especially in book 2.

Review: The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

the secret history of us -jessi kirbyGorgeously written and emotionally charged, The Secret History of Us explores the difficult journey of a teenage girl who must piece her life together after losing her memory in a near-fatal accident.

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.


3.5 Drink Me Potions


**The Secret History of Us came out August 1, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

A heartfelt and fast-paced read, The Secret History of Us had me guessing along with Liv as she tried piecing her life back together without her memories. I’ve enjoyed many of Jessi Kirby’s previous books for their grit and ability to make readers think about the deeper questions in life, and likewise this one has been another interesting novel to ponder over.

What if you lost 4-5 years of your life’s memories? Do those experiences shape who we are today or is there something about you intrinsically that defines you?

The emotional journey Liv takes captured me. How loved ones who have your best interests at heart may still want to define you in a way that they think is best. How some relationships may come out of a single moment that might not be reformed in the same way again. These were things plaguing our protagonist and I’m glad that it was the focus of the book.

Relationships were a huge deal too. I liked that her family wasn’t your typical dysfunctional group, but your average American family with 2.5 kids. The family dynamic was still real as they too dealt with the loss of those years almost as personally as Liv did. The exploration of changing friendships such as with middle school besties was also interesting and posed the real question about how one can lose people without really intending for that to happen.

But the highlight of this story was on finding ones identity. Whether that be with what Liv loved to do or the guy she was dating, what made her her? The romantic aspect was present as she couldn’t remember her boyfriend, and there seemed to be a new love interesting forming, but this added to everything else the book was exploring. Can we find our way back to someone we fell for without the relationship history there?

It’s so hard to explain still, but the feelings and emotions reading Liv’s story was truly thought provoking. The only thing that could be improved was the length. Everything happened quite fast and organically, but I kind of wish that the ending was developed more. The romance with Walker was almost non-existent. Honestly, I would’ve been fine if she had decided she needed some quality time alone and single in order to better find herself again.

Whatever it may have lacked near the end, the journey throughout the rest of the book was quick and deep. Jessi Kirby is a master of producing stories that tug at my heartstrings with her almost-lyrical prose and expertly weaved plot that makes the romantic in me sigh.

Overall Recommendation:
The Secret History of Us was a compelling story that I flew through, a story about a girl finding out who she was again. Liv had lost 4 years of her life’s memories, crucial years in high school where so many things had shaped her into the young woman she was. Forgetting both people whom she loved and how she lost a best friend, the emotional journey she takes in figuring out what made her her was poignant and heartfelt. Though the story was a little short and the ending could’ve been developed more, Jessi Kirby makes another thought provoking book, and I’m still a huge fan of hers.


Reading this book made me really think. And the below is a question I’d like to pose to you too.

What events in your life do you think defines who you are? What if you one day lost them? Would you still be you?