Book Review: Cold Summer

Cold Summer – Gwen Cole – Sky Pony Press – Published 2 May 2017

♥♥

 

Synopsis

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

My thoughts

The premise for Cold Summer sounded amazing. A time traveller unable to control his travelling who experiences PTSD from his time spent fighting in World War II, coupled with a girl-next-door romance. Unfortunately the execution left a lot to be desired.

I’m sad to be giving this book such a low rating – surely it deserves an extra star just for the cover – but unfortunately it was the writing style, among other things, that I didn’t like about this book.

It’s a long book but it felt like nothing actually happened. There is a bit of action when Kale travels back to World War II, but otherwise it is mainly characters discussing Kale’s situation or Kale bemoaning his lot in life. In the summary, Harper discovers a record of Kale’s life in the past but this doesn’t happen right until the very end of the book. I also felt the story was anticlimactic. It had so much promise, was such a great idea, but I felt it was never developed into something amazing. So much of this book felt convenient or contrived. There are no explanations for why Kale can time travel, no exploration for deeper meaning about it all. Everything that might raise questions or challenges is simply brushed away or too easily resolved.

Continue reading

Book Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies – Rhoda Belleza – Razorbill – Published 7 February 2017

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

My thoughts

Empress of a Thousand Skies is compelling and action-driven science fiction. Planets and their moons, droids, holos, space craft, and a plot to keep the crown princess from taking her throne as Empress, it has a very Star Wars feel to it.

Rhee knows that she must one day take her place as Empress. But before that she plans to enact her revenge on the man who killed her family. Rhee has planned her revenge for years, but an attempt is made on her own life before she can act on her plans. Adrift in the galaxy, she is on the run. Meanwhile, Aly is framed for the princess’s murder and he too becomes entangled in the plot to return war to the planets.

Empress of a Thousand Skies is told in alternating chapters from Rhee and Aly’s perspectives. They come so very close to meeting many times in the novel and yet they never do connect. Instead their story lines run almost parallel as they uncover the motives behind those who killed Rhee’s parents and who plan to kill Rhee.

Continue reading

Book Review: Split The Sun

split-the-sun

Split The Sun – Tessa Elwood – Inherit The Stars Trilogy #2 – Running Kids Press – Published 6 December 2016

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

The Ruling Lord of the House of Galton is dead, and the nation is in shock—or celebrating, depending on the district. Kit Franks would be more than happy to join him.
Kit’s mother bombed the digital core of the House, killing several and upending the nation’s information structure. No one wants the daughter of a terrorist. Kit lost her job, her aunt wants her evicted, her father is using her as a shield against a drug lord, a group of political rebels need Kit to ignite an interplanetary war, and the boy two floors down keeps jacking up her suicide attempts—as if she has a life worth saving.
When Mom-the-terrorist starts showing up on feeds and causing planet-wide blackouts, everyone looks to Kit for an answer. The rebels want Mom on their side. The government needs to stop Mom’s digital virus from spreading before there’s no record of government left. Both sides will do anything, destroy anyone, to make Kit crack. They believe she’s the key to Mom’s agenda and the House’s future. Worst of all, they may be right.
Kit’s having dreams she can’t explain, remembering conversations that no longer seem innocent, understanding too much coded subtext in Mom’s universal feed messages. Everyone, from Mom to the rebels, has a vision of Kit’s fate—locked, sealed, and ready to roll. The question is, does Kit have a vision for herself?

My thoughts

Split The Sun mixes fast-paced and edgy drama, action, family, romance and one hell of a resilient character to create an addictive story.

Kit has achieved a status of notoriety thanks to her mother blowing up their planet’s archive. Kit is left feeling both guilt and hopelessness, despite her ignorance about her mother’s deadly plans, despite what the rest of the planet chooses to think about her. But it seems like no one will let Kit fade into the obscurity she craves – not the crowds who lay blame, the government who seek answers, a rebel group of protestors that think Kit might live up to her mother’s apparent glory, her family who only want to take from her, nor the boy who lives in the apartment above Kit. Kit will need to decide what she will fight for – if anything.

Split The Sun is the second book in the Inherit the Stars series. It is more like a companion book, with a different set of characters and different plot line, but set in the same world and with the same mix of action, sci-fi adventure and romance. I think I enjoyed Split The Sun more than I did Inherit The Stars. Both are great books but I really connected with Kit. I had initially expected Split the Sun to continue the story of Eagle and Asa from Inherit the Stars, but wasn’t disappointed at all in Kit. She is a fantastic character. Continually knocked down, she is on the very edge of giving up and yet she cares so much about people, does everything she can for the people that treat her like rubbish. Her resilience and strength is amazing. 

Continue reading

Book Review: Infinity

infinity

Infinity – Jus Accardo – The Infinity Division #1 – Entangled: Teen – Published 1 November 2016

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Jump dimensions. Find the bad guy. Don’t fall in love.

Nobody said being the daughter of an army general was easy. But when her dad sends a teenage subordinate to babysit her while he’s away? That’s taking it a step too far.

Cade, as beautiful as he is deadly, watches Kori with more than just interest. He looks at her like he knows her very soul. And when he saves her from a seemingly random attack, well, that’s when things get weird.

Turns out, Kori’s dad isn’t just an army general—he’s the head of a secret government project that has invented a way to travel between parallel dimensions. Dimensions where there are infinite Koris, infinite Cades…and apparently, on every other Earth, they’re madly in love.

Falling for a soldier is the last thing on Kori’s mind. Especially when she finds herself in a deadly crossfire, and someone from another Earth is hell-bent on revenge…

My thoughts

Infinity is the exciting start to a new series, with a complicated love story, sci-fi inter-world travel, a dangerous bad guy set on revenge across worlds, and an independent and feisty protagonist. It sets the scene for what promises to be a fun series.

Kori’s father, general in the US army, has left on duty once again. But not before laying down his punishment for her sneaking away from home in the middle of the night and contributing to her town’s artwork. Some might call it vandalism, she calls it bringing colour and beauty to dark places. But her new babysitters are unlike the stuffy soldiers her father usually sticks her with. Young, loud, messily dressed and hot, Private Cade and Recruit Noah are hiding secrets from Kori – secrets that could throw her life into chaos and change everything she has ever known about her world and family.

Continue reading

Book Review: Spare and Found Parts

Spare and Found Parts

Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin – Greenwillow Books – Published 4 October 2016

♥♥♥/♥

Synopsis

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

My thoughts

Spare and Found Parts is a steampunk-like sci-fi, set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world. It is a strange story, hopeful, intriguing and yet slightly off-putting, inspired by Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Nell lives in a world where computers are a word whispered in fear. Computers caused the sickness that spread through the city, killing many and leaving others missing arms, legs or ears. The city is slowly rebuilding and now tech is used only as body parts in place of those that were lost in the sickness. The idea of tech that can think for itself is terrifying. But not for Nell. She longs to construct a machine that can be brought to life, longs to uncover the meaning behind code and understand what computers could do for her city.

Continue reading

Book Review: Night Speed

Night Speed

Night Speed – Chris Howard – Katherine Tegen – Published 3 May 2016

♥♥♥

Synopsis

Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like the breakneck who nearly killed her kid brother.

On tetra, Alana is unstoppable. The rush makes her an explosive blur as she surges through New York City, battling to bring down breaknecks before they leave more people dead or injured in their wake. But with the clock ticking down to her eighteenth birthday, Alana will soon be too old for the rush…when just one more dose will prove deadly.

Supported only by her strong and steady handler, Tucker, Alana goes undercover, infiltrating an elite gang of breaknecks to stop the supply of their drug. But when Alana gets trapped on the wrong side of the law, she learns the breaknecks are not quite what they seem—especially Ethan, the artistic boy whose bottomless brown eyes seem to see the truth inside her. With her own dependency on tetra increasing, Alana must decide where her loyalties lie before the rush ends. Forever.

My thoughts

Night Speed is an action-packed thriller but I think it speaks louder as a statement about the tight hold drugs have over the mind and heart, the blurred lines between right and wrong and the fight addicts must go through to reclaim themselves.

Alana started her use of tetra in an effort to fight the breaknecks who take the drug to commit crimes, using the high speed rush to fuel their getaway. But Alana has become enamoured of the rush tetra provides and the distance between the good guys and the bad guys shrinks when Alana is blamed for a breakneck’s death. She decides to go undercover to take down the source of tetra once and for all.

Night Speed addresses a poignant topic considering the parallels to today’s prevalence of drug use. I spent the majority of the book unsure what the underlying message was, that drugs were okay if the rush was worth the fallout or that drugs take everything from you. I think this is reflective of the grey areas of life and it certainly kept me guessing. However, despite the high percentage of rush chases, shoot outs, fights and armed robbery, this was a slow read for me.     Continue reading

Book Review: The Love That Split the World

The Love that Split the World

The Love That Split the World – Emily Henry – Razorbill – Published 26 January 2016

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

My thoughts

Ahhhh. That ending. Perfect, yet… Arhhhh. Read it. It is so worth reading. Clever, frustrating, sad and charming, The Love That Split the World is an epic story.

It is Natalie Cleary’s last summer in her home town of Union, Kentucky, before she leaves for college. She can’t help but reflect on her friendships, her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and the way she has withdrawn from her life-as-it-used-to-be over the last three years. Natalie is accustomed to being different, both because she is the only Native American in the town and because throughout her childhood she saw and spoke to people no one else could see. It was the sudden absence of these people, particularly the loveable ‘Grandmother’, that changed her life. But when Nat once again starts to see things that ‘aren’t there’ and Grandmother returns to issue a warning “You have three months to save him”, things get complicated, fast, especially when she meets the gorgeous and mysterious Beau who seems to exist as if in another world.  Continue reading

Book Review: Inherit The Stars

Inherit the Stars

Inherit The Stars – Tessa Elwood – Inherit The Stars #1 – Running Press Kids – Published 8 December 2015

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

My thoughts

Great story – strong characters, intriguing plot and sweet romance. Oh, and space adventure involving a variety of planets, competing ruling kingdoms, and flightwings, skidcycles, and other cool space tech.

Asa’s kingdom is falling apart. Death, disease, riots and famine. But Asa will do anything to protect her dying sister and so, as the third daughter of the ruling House of Fane, she poses as her other sister who is to marry the heir of the House of Westlet in an arranged marriage, which is supposed to secure food and safety for their kingdom. But saving her sisters may have put both her kingdom and the kingdom she now belongs to in serious danger. Continue reading

Book Review: Until We Meet Again

until We Meet Again

Until We Meet Again – Renee Collins – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 3 November 2015

♥♥♥

Synopsis

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.

My thoughts

This book is about a girl from 2015 and a boy from 1925. When they first meet on their (shared via the centuries) private beach neither at first realises they hail from different centuries. As they continue to meet, and quickly fall in love, they soon discover that there may be more than just time that wishes to keep them apart.

I didn’t love this book. It was readable, just not totally believable. The time thing is never explained, just put down to the magic of destiny, and that would have been fine if I could get on board with the romance. Cass and Lawrence’s connection fell flat and happened too quickly for me. The only thing they seemed to have in common was a general broodyness and poetry. Again, this could have been fine, but for some reason I just didn’t care.

Continue reading

Book Review: Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight – R.C. Lewis – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015

♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

My thoughts

A clever fairytale reconstruction set in a world of advanced technology, interplanetary journeys and magic.

Firstly, I feel that I should point out that this is a companion to Stitching Snow in that it is a fairytale retelling. Spinning Starlight is set in a different world and has a completely new set of characters. It can be read as a standalone.

Liddi is heir to the Jantzen Technology Innovations company. She also can’t seem to create anything new or exciting or even near worthy of the Jantzen name. But when her eight older brothers are placed in danger it is up to Liddi to save them. Those threatening her family have also ensured that she can not speak and that she has no one to turn to for help. When her brothers manage to get her to moderate safety, she realises the world she knows is far larger and more diverse than she could have imagined and that the danger that threatens her family could also irrevocably destroy not only the seven planets of her home but the eighth planet on which she now takes refuge.

Continue reading