Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Clash of the Clans: The Unleashed by Sarah Dalton

Overall Rating:  3 stars
Addiction Level:  I read it when I had spare time.
Believe-ability:  The setting is believable.
Dystopia Factor:  The world is starting to disintegrate.


Overall I liked the story, and Dalton wrapped up the loose ends. The ending is a little sappy, but the reader has a solid conclusion. The reader also knows the characters will continue to live on.  

Of the whole series I believe The Blemished is the best. In The Unleashed I found the drama and conflict/resolution cycle frustrating and predictable. (I am the last person to pick up on clues; I would make a terrible detective.)

What I liked most about the series is Dalton got me thinking.
  1. While we do not always understand people, especially our parents, for the most part I believe that parents love their children. As humans we are flawed, and the expression of love is also flawed. Hold onto the good and the love we have for one another.
  2. An equal society could never exist. Many have tried, and many have failed. Take Animal Farm for example.
  3. Someone or group will always want and take power. Many will not be the best leaders.
  4. As part of the power struggle, those in power have to assert it over other people. I do not understand this. It may be because in my heart I believe all people have the potential to be good.
  5. The Unleashed is a tale of rebellion and taking back the power. What will it take for me to begin to stand up for injustice?
Love those around. Fight for injustice. Long live freedom!

Many thanks to Sarah Dalton for an Advanced Reader's Copy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fantasy Friday: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Overall Rating: 5 stars
Addiction Level:  I ignored the husband and puppy until I finished the book.
Believe-ability:  I daydream and dream about it.


Female assassins?  Check.  Who serve the god of Death?  Check.  Historical Fiction from the 15th century?  Check.  Strong male and female characters?  Check.  Sprinkle it with an authentic love story?  Count me in!
Once I began the story I could not put the book down.  LaFevers drew me into her world; I had no doubts about its authenticity.  The mission is simple:  Save the duchess from those who would overthrow her.

What I loved:

  • Ismae:  Her character was naïve, loyal, fierce, and likable.  She is real.  She struggles with her place in this world and how to juggle her job and her devotion to her god.
  • Duval:  He is a strong male character who values life.  He is honorable and not a “pig.” (There were plenty of pigs to go around.)  His best friends Beast and de Lornay are a testament to his good character; they will do anything for him.  Friendships like those are rare.
  • Beast:  LaFevers was able to capture his personality in a page.  Like Ismae I instantly liked him.  He reminds of Veronica Rossi’s Roar in Under the Never Sky. (My only complaint…I want more!)
  • The Love Story:  It was believable.  It was not insta-love.  I was smitten way before Ismae, and I had to wait impatiently for her to realize her true feelings.
  • The ending:  The ending gave me peace.  While I need want more, I can walk away satisfied knowing the characters will continue to live.
  • Not having to wait for Dark Triumph!

What I disliked:
  • Having to guess at ages.  I know it is a young adult tale, so ages are important.  There are some clues, but spell it out for me.
  • D’Albret!  Ew!  All I have to say is ew…and what a pig.  Good writing.

  • As I read about Ismae’s devotion to Mortain, I thought about my devotion to God.  Do I love Him that much?  Is my first thought always on His will?  How can I please Him?
Thanks to Esso for this new series!  Off to read Dark Triumph!

P.S.  In case you are keeping track, yes this is the second post for Grave Mercy.  We liked the book so much, we wanted to post again!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not Your Typical Assassin Story: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Just the facts:

Overall:  3 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it every waking moment. (It only took an afternoon.)

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: Eh. It’s “normal” life.


            The Assassin’s Curse takes place in a fantasy setting where a young pirate girl named Ananna is preparing to marry a man she’s never met from another pirate family. Ananna decides that she wants to make life plans for herself, including captaining her own pirate ship and decides to run away before she is married off and loses control over her own decisions. Unfortunately, this is taken as an insult (wouldn’t you be upset, too?) and her fiancée’s family sends an assassin after her to make amends for the snub. 

            After hiding out for a bit, it becomes clear to Ananna that she and the assassin, Naji, will eventually have a showdown and decides to take a stand. While in the midst of their face-off Ananna saves Naji’s life on a knee jerk reaction (which was pretty under-whelming, by the way) and activates a curse that binds the two together. When realization of this sets in, Ananna and Naji set off on a quest to break the curse and allow the two of them to resume their lives as best they can.

             Seeing as I’ve rated this book at 3 stars there are obviously some things that I didn’t like, though overall, I did enjoy the story. My biggest complaint is that there are aspects of the story that are not fully developed; and were they developed the story would be much more fulfilling. The biggest of these revolves around Naji himself. I like Naji as a character but I didn’t feel like there was a very clear picture of who he is. There was almost no back-story, only small hints that made me want to know more. Who is he really? Why did he become an assassin? Will we find out the answers to these questions in book two? The story also relies heavily on the use of magic, but I still feel like magic wasn’t really connected to the story. There was something missing. And what role do assassins really play in this story world? I could understand the story world but still felt a little lost.

            However, the book did have many redeeming qualities too. I really enjoyed a story where there was no insta-love. Eventually Ananna realizes she has feelings for Naji, but I’m not really sure that she knows what or why she likes him, and that’s okay. I like that Ananna is not overly dependent on Naji but also is not overly feminist in her attitudes and beliefs. It seems that authors often feel that in order to make a strong female character that the character must be anti-male in their beliefs. This is not true. A female character can still be strong and need or want the help of a man. Usually a feminist character just comes across as bitchy and unpleasant, to me at least. I think Ananna strikes a nice balance.

            The story ends at a bit of an odd point but I am actually looking forward to finishing the story in the sequel. I have lots of questions that I would like answered and the only way to find out is to read on! I will say that even though the story could be more developed it is an easy read and some of my hang-ups kind of melted away if I just took the story at face value and didn’t over think my stumbling blocks. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Surviving an Alien Invasion: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Overall Rating: 5 stars
Addiction Level:  I ignored the husband and puppy until I finished the book.
Believe-ability:  I daydream about the created world and know I would have died in the first wave.
Dystopia Factor:  The world has been turned upside down, all hope is lost, but maybe our hero and heroine can save it.


What can I say about this book?  It is awesome!  Aliens have come to our world, invaded our lives, and are trying to extinguish us.  If you like Falling Skies, you will love this book!
Cassie is a strong female character.  It is not hard to root for her.  She is trying to survive the invasion and find her brother.  Both admirable goals.  She has moments of doubt, but she succeeds more than I would have in an apocalypse. 
Evan is a mystery.  He is both a good guy and a bad guy.  Like Cassie I have my doubts about him, but I cannot place my finger on what is off about him.  In the end he redeems himself beyond doubt, and I love that about his character.
Zombie is a mess.  It is inspiring to see him leave his old life behind and embrace his new life.  He is a great example of how to overcome hardship.  His real identity is both shocking and expected.
I love the following quotes, because they are so poignant: 
“One day I was outside,” he says, “hanging up some sheets to dry on the clothesline, and this weird feeling came over me.  Like something had popped me in the chest.  I mean, it was totally physical, not mental, not a little voice inside my head telling me…telling me that Lauren was gone.  It felt like someone had punched me hard.  And I knew.  So I dropped the sheet and hauled ass to her house…” (Yancey, p. 271).
“I’ve decided to trust him, but like somebody once said, you can’t force yourself to trust.  So you put all your doubts in a little box and bury it deep and then try to forget where you buried it.  My problem is that buried box is like a scab I can’t stop picking at” (Yancey, p. 340).
“There's an old saying about truth setting you free. Don't buy it. Sometimes the truth slams the cell door shut and throws a thousand bolts.”
I think the picture Yancey paints is pretty accurate.  I am little nervous for the sequel, but I cannot wait to see where the story goes next.  Who will survive?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Will the Deception Ever End?: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Just the facts:

Overall: 4.5 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it every waking moment.

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: Eh. It’s “normal” life.


            Ketchup Clouds is not set in a dystopian world. It is not set in a fantasy world with sword play and action. In fact there really isn’t any action. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s just YA fiction. Plain ‘ole fiction. I read it. And I really, truly liked it. Ketchup Clouds is obviously a huge deviation from my normal reading habits and I can’t really tell you what drew me to it. I guess the snippet from the first chapter is what got my attention. Attention enough that I actually requested it from the library to find out what happens. And so, in lieu of actually giving you a quick summary of the plot I’m going to give you the same snippet that drew me in, in hopes that you’ll find it intriguing too.

Dear Mr. S. Harris,
            Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It’s jam, not blood, though I don’t think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn’t your wife’s jam the police found on your shoe.
            I know what it’s like.
            Mine wasn’t a woman. Mine was a boy. And I killed him three months ago exactly.

             Ketchup Clouds really has a lot going for it. The story brings to light a whole slew of issues from family relations to love and more, but by far the one that stands out most to me, is the power of lies and deception. So many of the issues that arise in the book can be traced back to deceit and by the end I wondered if Zoe would even be writing to a convicted murder if not for the deception that she allowed in her life.

            As much as this story made me wrestle with the daily choices we all make, my favorite aspect of the book has nothing to do with the challenges that Zoe faces. In fact, my favorite part of the book is the relationship that grows between Zoe and Stuart. You might not think that this is very special, but I assure you it is. I don’t think many authors can make a relationship happen between two characters when we NEVER have a response from Stuart. He is such a major character to me and yet he never actually participates in the story. He doesn’t have so much as one line to contribute and yet I often found myself thinking about him, wondering what reaction he might be having to reading Zoe’s letters, and trying to figure out if he even cared. Pitcher effectively uses their relationship to create an even bigger story than it seems, or a story within a story, if you will.

            I’m clearly not well versed in the area of “just plain” YA fiction so I don’t have much to compare Ketchup Clouds to, but it is a definite recommendation from me. I think I will even pick up other books from Pitcher because I enjoyed this one so immensely. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Most Anticipated Books of 2014

To kick the year off right, we at Apocalypse Reads are happy to share with you our list of most anticipated books of 2014. In addition to our “Best Of” list, this is one of the posts I most look forward to writing. It’s always so fun to look over our TBR shelves and see what is there that we forgot about or have been waiting eons (it seems) to read. So, here it is.
 Our Most Anticipated Books of 2014:

Rebecca’s list includes:

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
  This is the conclusion of one of my favorite series.  How will Perry and Aria save the day?

Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky
  How will the series end?  Will digital school by demolished? Will Maddie and Justin stay together? Who will be betrayed?

Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara
  I love this series.  What awaits Kaylin Neya now? Will she finally meet the Dragon Emperor?

Esso’s list includes:

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo
   I love this series so much! I need to know how Alina manages in the end. And Sturmhond? Will we get to meet up again with this great character? I hope so.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
   The Monstrumologist series has finally ended, but The 5th Wave series will continue. I’m excited to jump back into this world and find out what happens next.

The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch
   This fantasy book has been on my Goodreads TBR shelf for months, but an actually copy has still evaded me here in the U.S. Eventually, I will get my hands on a copy of this book and when I do….

What are you looking forward to reading this year?