Review: “Rise of the Chosen (Lifeblood #1)” by Anna Kopp

A review by Amanda.

Samantha Shields lives in a post-apocalyptic world, but it isn’t exactly the one we were expecting based on movies and books. Almost two decades ago, a mysterious blood disease began infecting every person on the planet. Called Lifeblood, it wakes the dead (no matter the cause of death), turning 99% of them into mindless creatures with enhanced strength and senses. Unlike traditional zombies, the Woken have no interest in devouring flesh or brains; they only want to kill as many people as quickly as they can. A small percentage of the infected become Chosen instead. These lucky few get the super strength and enhanced senses but retain their sense of self.

Some cities, like Savannah, Georgia, where Sam lives, are protected by the Watch, a military-like installment that exists to protect the living. Steel walls surround the city, with guarded gates to let people pass in and out. The Watch is made up of both humans and Chosen, sworn to protect the citizens from the Woken. At eighteen, Sam is about to be given her first official Watch assignment when a series of tragedies strike, changing the course of her future and bringing new information to light. She has to make one difficult decision after another, without knowing who she can truly trust.

Rise Of The Chosen took a unique approach to the post-apocalyptic genre. The city of Savannah is described as safe, clean, and comfortable. Technology did not cease when the world ended, it simply adapted to suit the world’s new needs. The use of tech in this world was both creative and logical, and the overall world-building was excellent. The characters, however, were lacking just enough depth that they did not feel complete. Perhaps this had to do with the Chosen’s emotional limitations, which could be expanded upon in the next book. Sam was likable, if naive and indecisive, as teenagers occasionally are. She was revealed early on to be bisexual, which was a nice change from the typical romantic storylines in the YA genre. Some of the writing felt disjointed, as though the author jumped from one scene to another without the necessary transitions, but otherwise this book had me intrigued. It ended on a curious note and I am interested in seeing how the story continues in book two.

Fans of Struck by Jennifer Bosworth, Amy Tintera’s Reboot series or Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris may enjoy this book.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Butterfly Bones” By Rebecca Carpenter

Review: "Butterfly Bones" By Rebecca Carpenter

A review by Domoni.

Bethany was born with a rare bone condition. She wasn’t supposed to live past 6 months, but her scientist father will stop at nothing to save her. Especially since his wife, Bethany’s mother, died of cancer when Bethany was only 2. So he created a treatment and Bethany has been getting injections that strengthen her bones and keep her alive. At the age of 15 she easily passes for an elementary student due to her size and the fact that puberty hasn’t come her way yet. Which makes Bethany a prime target for bullies in high school. The only bright spot is her best friend Jeremiah, who just happens to be the hottest boy in school. Since all the girls want the hot football player, especially the new girl Zoey, this makes an even bigger target on Bethany’s back when jealous girls want her out of the way.  Bethany’s final teenage torment is she is also in love with Jeremiah, but it seems he only sees her as a friend.

Bethany spends most of her free time in her father’s lab at home. This is the only way she seems to have his attention. When they observe the mice he has been treating with the same new treatment he is giving Bethany behaving strangely, that’s when things get really weird. The injections use caterpillar DNA, now suddenly the mice have made cocoons. Is this what is in store for Bethany now too? If she is going to survive the metamorphosis, what will she become?

I loved this book. It had some creepy yet fascinating moments and it brought up many emotions. The author did an amazing job crafting the world around Bethany. The characters had depth and motivation, you could understand who they were and their reasons for their behaviors. I found myself angered over the constant bullying Bethany had to endure and horrified that the adults in the school turned a blind eye or shifted blame to the petite girl. As the story progressed I started to have anxiety waiting to find out what was going to happen. The ending blew me away. I will gladly read more in this series.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Butterfly Bones

by Rebecca L. Carpenter

Genre: YA Sci-fi

Lakewater Press

Summary:

Bethany should be dead, just like the doctors predicted. But along came the butterflies, altering the order of nature.
And now nature is hell bent on revenge.
Because when fate’s path is disrupted, it’s only a matter of time before balance must be restored.

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Rebecca Carpenter

About the Author

Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with four amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. In her spare time, she freelances as a copy editor, helping others attain their writing dreams. She finds solace and clarity while spending time with her husband exploring the beautiful mountains of Colorado.

 

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BOOK TOUR Review: “Carmine” by Alan Janney

Review:

A review by Domoni.

She wakes up alone, naked, and with no real memory inside a Walmart. She knows her world has changed. She knows she is a variant. Kidnapped and experimented on, she is stronger than a human. The other changed beings flock to her. She is only 18, but she is strong and they need a leader. She doesn’t remember being Katie Lopez. But she will be Carmine and she will protect them. America is divided. The humans fear the variants, they are hunting them. Some of the strongest infected ones want to use their abilities to rule the country. Carmine just wants peace, for variants and humans alike. Her kingdom of New Los Angeles will be a land where those who work, will eat. Those who follow the rules, will be protected.

I really enjoyed this story. The way it was written was unique and captivating. From the first paragraph to the end, I was pulled through the story and didn’t want to put it down. Carmine is a great character. She has depth and complexities. Her personality and conflict make her more interesting. Watching her battle who she is and what she was created to be while grappling with a past she does not fully remember gave me a deeper connection to her story.

The variants have a strange need to be lead and bond closely with the strong person in charge. Carmine has amassed a large following and given them a purpose outside of the destructive force they were created to be. This makes her a target of the other strong changed ones. She has many enemies and allies she did not want. One of those allies is The Outlaw Chase Jackson, who just happens to be Katie Lopez’s boyfriend. Though Carmine does not remember him, the pieces of Katie that survive in her crave him. His undying devotion to Katie also makes him hard for Carmine to resist. He is stronger than her in his abilities and this evokes the inner warrior drive in the variants who follow Carmine, which can be a problem. It is hard to decide how you feel about someone when all of your people want to kill him, and you kind of do too.

All of the characters are well developed and the decaying city of Los Angeles is crafted well. It is easy to fall into the world created by the author and embrace the battle for basic rights. This book is an easy to read stand alone story that has captured my attention enough that I will be purchasing and reading all of the Outcast series and learning more about The Outlaw and this world he lives in.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Carmine by
Alan Janney
Genre:
YA
Dystopian/Adventure/Romance
Sparkle Press
Summary:
She wakes as society crumbles
She wakes up with no memory
She wakes up a queen
The girl once known as Katie Lopez wakes up in an abandoned Wal-Mart with no memory, possessing only the vague sense that something has happened. Where is her family? Where is her boyfriend? She has a faint recollection of him, a ghost of a memory. The world, she discovers, is staggering from the weight of rampaging mutants, victims of a bizarre surgery gone wrong. Once intended to bring about a utopia, now the victims threaten societal meltdown. Much to her surprise, the girl with no memory discovers she is their queen.
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BOOK TOUR Review: “A Criminal Magic” by Lee Kelly

BOOK TOUR Review, "A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly

A review by Domoni.

Joan is desperate to take care of her family. Since the awful day her mother died, her main concern is caring for her young sister Ruby and making sure to keep a roof over the heads of her sister, cousin, and even the uncle she despises. Their family barely survives off the money they make selling her uncle’s shine. In Prohibition times, the bottled magic gives a high that can’t be beat. But that magic is illegal and since her uncle drinks as much as he makes, the money doesn’t come in as much as it is needed. Joan hid her own magic abilities from everyone in her life. Until the day that Gunn came offering her uncle an opportunity to turn their fortunes around.  When her uncle Jeb’s wasted form doesn’t impress the gangster, Joan steps up and confesses her abilities. Now she is caught up in a job that could save her family, or ruin her.

Alex despises magic and its allure. He used to help his father bottle shine before his father’s arrest. Then he hid his abilities and even began training to become a Prohibition agent. He claims to hate magic, but really he just hates the life he lost with his father’s arrest. When he is brought before some top Prohibition agents and unmasked as a sorcerer, he can either go undercover as a sorcerer to the mob, or face prosecution of his own. Maybe he can get back the life he wants, but trying to take down this gang could take all he has left.

This book takes place in an alternate reality. The time of Prohibition and gangs ruling the streets are alive and well, but magic is the center, not alcohol. The world the author created was a shadow to the story though. I found myself often forgetting the era that was supposed to be portrayed. It could literally be anytime or place. So if you are looking for a story that embraces the mob culture, this is not it.  That does not make this a bad story though. I did enjoy the tale.

Joan and Alex are well developed characters with personalities and conflicts that evolve and grow through the story. With their evolution, my enjoyment and opinions of the characters also changed. I found myself becoming more invested in Alex as time passed and more disappointed in Joan. The smaller characters were not as fleshed out and I do wish there was a bit more about them included in the story. In the end, the idea of the story itself held me more than the events taking place in the pages of this book.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: "A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly

A Criminal Magic
Lee Kelly
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult

THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new crossover fantasy novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

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Lee Kelly

Author Bio:

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. She is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages. Visit her at http://www.NewWriteCity.com.

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Review: “Shadow Fall (Shadow Fall #1)” by Audrey Grey

Shadow Fall (Shadow Fall #1) by Audrey Grey

A review by Amanda.

Maia Graystone lives in a world held hostage by catastrophe. An asteroid is poised to pass so closely to Earth that utter destruction is unavoidable. The Emperor has seized this opportunity to solidify the elitist segregation that keeps him in power. Those of Gold and Silver status have a secure place in the space station that was built when the danger first became clear. Those of Bronze status will have to earn one of the limited remaining spots by competing in the Shadow Trials; a series of challenges designed to weed out the weak and unworthy.

Maia is the child of a Gold mother and a Bronze father. She was Chosen, matched with a Prince to be married at eighteen, and elevate her from a life of comfortable means to one of luxury. However, when her mother abandons the family and her father is executed for treason, young Maia and Max are forced to beg and steal to live. Maia is caught stealing and thrown into the Pit to be forgotten. After six years of fighting for survival, she escapes with assistance from an enigmatic group of rebels. In exchange for her help in a dangerous mission, they will help her find her brother. For the mission to succeed, she must ally with a brooding and murderous boy from the Pit. She must also become someone else entirely to compete in the Shadow Trials. Can she fool those who knew her as Maia into believing the lie?

This book has the bones of an excellent apocalyptic story. The characters are complex and interesting and the plot is fascinating at its core. The first half of the story sets up the world, the danger, and introduces the heroes and villains, but it moves too slowly to keep the reader’s attention for long. There are also too many elements introduced too soon, making the plot feel over-complicated and convoluted. The second half moves at a faster pace and has a simplified feel to it. In contrast to the first part, readers will be glued to the pages, waiting to find out the fates of Maia and her cohorts. There are similarities to The Hunger Games franchise, but nothing that screams “rip-off” in an obvious manner. The romantic allusions are somewhat cliché but it doesn’t detract from the story once the over-arcing plot gains traction. I will be interested to see where the story goes from here, and will pick up the next book.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR Review: “The Fourth Piece (Order’s Last Play #1)” by E. Ardell

The Fourth Piece (Order’s Last Play #1) by E. Ardell

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Earth 2022 is not much different than 2016. Except for the aliens. Visitors have been officially visiting for 5 years, though they have been visiting unofficially much longer. There are embassies for other planets and government relations are being made, though humans remain the same. Hostility against offworld visitors, disrespectfully called vadors, and children of mixed descent, called vullatos, runs rampant. Viral videos of attacks on the nonhuman population are a daily event. Fear leads to anger, and violence is human nature.

Three brothers just want to live their lives. They know their father was from off world, but they appear human and are happy to pass. When the youngest brother Lawrie, always a daredevil and adrenaline junkie, pulls a stunt that doesn’t quite work out, the boys are set on a path to find their destiny and fulfill a prophecy, whether they want to or not.

While their parents are away, the brothers throw a party. Lawrie decides to ride a big-wheel down a slide into a pool. When he hits the water, a bright green glow surrounds him and he sees a bloody man drowning beneath him. Reaching out to save the man, Lawrie starts to drown. Lyle and his twin Devon are suddenly mentally trapped with Lawrie watching this man drown. Lyle, being a telempath, is able to better understand what is happening. Devon does not have psychic abilities like his twin. Though he possesses inhuman strength and healing, he is determined to never be outed and persecuted. He balks at trying to understand the vision the brothers share. When Lyle dreamwalks and learns that the drowning man is their eldest brother Evan, long removed from Earth by their father, he pushes his siblings to help save him.

As the brothers are pushed into a life they didn’t ask for, their powers emerge, stronger than should be possible. When Lawrie witnesses a vullato being attacked, he has to help. But when he is injured in the onslaught, his elemental powers burst from him, causing an earthquake, and catches him up in a fight that outs him and his brothers to the world and sets them on the path to fight a war between many worlds.

This story is written so that each chapter is from the view of a different brother and rotates so you follow along and get their individual turmoil as the story progresses. The author did a wonderful job of creating four distinct and moving characters and a story that flowed and captured my attention quickly. I understood each brother’s view and was conflicted as the story moved forward and they all had little choice in what happened to them. The brothers were so human, with strengths and faults, bravery and mistakes. It has been years since I enjoyed such well developed personalities.

The author created a world around her characters that made everything seem very real. I was worried that the constant switching between views would impede the flow of the story and the world around the brothers, but it enhanced it in a way I haven’t seen in other stories written that way. I read this story in one day as I could not put it down. When it ended, I was angry that I have to wait to find out what happens to the boys. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

This would be a great book for teens, especially young men. Rarely do I find books that are written about strong teen boy characters that I can recommend to my sons. The language is appropriate and the violence and romance aspects are not gratuitous. This book will be in my top 5 list of 2016.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR

The Fourth Piece (Order’s Last Play #1)
by E. Ardell
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Fantasy
Release Date: July 8th 2016
48fourteen

Summary from Goodreads:

Admitting what you are will end everything you know. Embracing who you are will start a war…

Life is great when you’re good-looking and popular…so long as no one knows you’re a vulatto. Being half-alien gets you labeled “loser” quicker than being a full vader. So it’s a good thing Devon, Lyle, and Lawrence can easily pass for human—until the night of the party. Nothing kills a good time faster than three brothers sharing a psychic vision of a fourth brother who’s off-world and going to die unless they do something. But when your brother’s emergency happens off-planet, calling 9-1-1 really isn’t an option. 

In their attempt to save a brother they barely remember, Devon, Lyle and Lawrence expose themselves to mortal danger and inherit a destiny that killed the last four guys cursed with it. In 2022, there are humans and aliens, heroes and monsters, choices and prophecies—and four brothers with the power to choose what’s left when the gods decide they’re through playing games.

Book I in the Order’s Last Play series 

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About the Author

E. Ardell

Ardell spent her childhood in Houston, Texas, obsessed with anything science fiction, fantastic, paranormal or just plain weird. She loves to write stories that feature young people with extraordinary talents thrown into strange and dangerous situations. She took her obsession to the next level, earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine where she specialized in young adult genre fiction. She’s a big kid at heart and loves her job as a teen librarian at Monterey Public Library in Monterey, California, where she voluntarily shuts herself in rooms with hungry hordes of teenagers and runs crazy after-school programs for them. When she’s not working, she’s reading, writing, running writers critique groups, trying to keep up with a blog, and even writing fan fiction as her guilty pleasure.

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Review: “Eclipse The Flame (Ignite The Shadows)” by Ingrid Seymour

Eclipse The Flame (Ignite The Shadows) by Ingrid Seymour

A review by Amanda.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers from book one, Ignite The Shadows. This review was also proposed by the author.

Two weeks have passed since Marci was unceremoniously kicked out of IgNiTe. Two weeks since she found out that her seemingly perfect twin brother is an Eklyptor. It’s also been two weeks of bliss, now that she’s dating her best friend. Marci and Xave couldn’t be happier or more in love despite the fact that he still works for James and IgNiTe, helping with the dangerous missions and tracking down the evil parasites, who seem to be growing in number at an alarming rate. When she isn’t with Xave, Marci is trying to get back into James’s good graces by spying on Luke, trying to find out the truth and find answers to all of the burning questions she has – like why she can’t sense the Eklyptor agent inside Luke.

One of Xave’s missions takes him to the same club that Luke is frequenting, so Marci follows him hoping to keep them both safe and get some answers. Before she can do anything, a fight breaks out with devastating consequences. That fight sets off a chain of tragic events, all affecting Marci deeply. Reckless and desperate, she takes matters into her own hands and ends up buried up to her neck in trouble. With help from unlikely allies, Marci makes sacrifice after sacrifice doing whatever it takes to save the world. Can she keep her mind intact or will her heroic efforts cost her everything?

This book immediately absorbed all of my attention and held it until the very end. Marci was a dynamic character, full of depths that even she didn’t know existed. Romance, intrigue, heartbreak, betrayal… this story has it all. It will draw the reader in and wring them dry, emotionally. All of that is in addition to the main plot, which is plenty captivating on its own. This is one of those books that will have you up all night, turning page after page, and leading to a book hangover of epic proportions.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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