Ella, The Slayer by A.W. Exley

25840278The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks.
Except it wasn’t flu and death gave them back.

Seventeen-year-old Ella copes the best she can; caring for her war-injured father, scrubbing the floors, and slaying the undead that attack the locals. ‘Vermin’ they’re called, like rats they spread pestilence with their bite. Ella’s world collides with another when she nearly decapitates a handsome stranger, who is very much alive.

Seth deMage, the new Duke of Leithfield, has returned to his ancestral home with a mission from the War Office — to control the plague of vermin in rural Somerset. He needs help; he just didn’t expect to find it in a katana-wielding scullery maid.

Working alongside Seth blurs the line between their positions, and Ella glimpses a future she never dreamed was possible. But in overstepping society’s boundaries, Ella could lose everything – home, head and her heart… – Goodreads

I’m gonna be honest—I hate the shit out of zombies. World War Z? Hell no. The Walking Dead? No effing thank you. Zombieland? Go away.

Cinderella retelling? Well, okay!

I loved this retelling, despite the icky ‘vermin’, or zombies. I though Ella was a great MC and I really enjoyed the story. Hell, it pulled me out of my reading slump and I finished it in less than 24 hours and I couldn’t put it down, so that’s always a good.

There’s a handsome love interest (a duke, not a prince), evil stepsisters, an asshole stepmother, and plenty of chores to go around—killing zombies just happens to be one of them.

I really enjoyed the slow build of the romance in this book. I was concerned that it was instalove at the beginning, but it was more instaattraction than anything.

I also loved the worldbuilding. There’s a definite twist of historical fiction, making this cross-genre novel different and interesting.

My biggest gripe? The number of typos and errors. I found myself getting distracted by them, which wasn’t cool.

In all, I really enjoyed this story! I’ll be trying more of AW Exley’s work. I really hope there are more installments in the Ella series, though, as the ending was left open-ended! 4/5 on Goodreads.

L

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Blood, Ink & Fire by Ashley Mansour

23434550Imagine a world without books…
In the future, books are a distant memory. The written word has been replaced by an ever-present stream of images known as Verity. In the controlling dominion of the United Vales of Fell, reading is obsolete and forbidden, and readers themselves do not—cannot—exist.
But where others see images in the stream, teenager Noelle Hartley sees words. She’s obsessed with what they mean, where they came from, and why they found her.

Noelle’s been keeping her dangerous fixation with words a secret, but on the night before her seventeenth birthday, a rare interruption in the stream leads her to a mysterious volume linked to an underworld of rebel book lovers known as the Nine of the Rising. With the help of the Risers and the beguiling boy Ledger, Noelle discovers that the words within her are precious clues to the books of the earlier time—and as a child of their bookless age, she might be the world’s last hope of bringing them back.

Blood, Ink & Fire is a gripping, evocative tale that asks, who would we be without books? – Goodreads

For one, a world a without books is my worst goddamn nightmare. Why would it be important to eradicate books and forbid reading? So your citizens don’t ask questions and don’t use their imaginations, that’s why. If they don’t question things and can’t imagine things, they’re much easier to keep in line and rule.

For starters, the worldbuilding was great. There was a lot of thought, detail and planning that went into it—it was obvious. So obvious, though, that it turned into a constant stream of infodumping. I found myself reading and rereading just to make sure I understood, which became frustrating and overwhelming.

I really love the concept of this story—I most of all loved all of the bookish quotes in the beginning. It was also interesting to see someone discover books for the first time, which reminded me why I love books so much. Books are power, books are imagination, books create different worlds and encourage readers to think and ask questions and criticize.

The pacing of the story was confusing to me—the book itself is long (464 pages) yet some of the most interesting, intense scenes are incredibly rushed. The boring scenes take forever.

The character building was alright. I kind of felt that I got to know Noelle, but her character felt very inconsistent and I never really connected with her. Sometimes she was badass and smart and sometimes she was dumb about really stupid things. I think that the characters definitely could have been developed more.

And don’t even get me started on the love triangle.

This debut wasn’t bad—but I do think it failed to deliver. The premise of the story is fantastic and had a lot of potential, but I thought it fell a little flat. I rated it a 3/5.

L

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Gambit by C.L. Denault

19314543In Earth’s battle-ridden future, humans have evolved. Those with extraordinary skills rise to power and fame. Those without live in poverty.

Sixteen-year-old Willow Kent believed she was normal. But when a genetically-advanced military officer shows up in her village and questions her identity, long-buried secrets begin to emerge. With remarkable skills and a shocking genetic code the Core and its enemies will do anything to obtain, Willow suddenly finds the freedom she craves slipping through her fingers. Greed, corruption, and genetic tampering threaten every aspect of her existence as she’s thrust, unwilling, into the sophisticated culture of the elite Core city. To ensure peace, she must leave the past behind, marry a man she’s never met, and submit to the authority of a relentless officer with a hidden agenda of his own.

Her life has become a dangerous game. How much will she sacrifice in order to win? – Goodreads

This one was a confusing one for me — the first half of it really intrigued me and kept me turning pages, often late into the night (not good for someone who has to wake up at 0400 the next morning).

The second half had me snoozing, turning pages just to finish it so I could start another book.

Let me begin with the worldbuilding. The story is set in future Earth—Europe. Willow lives in the Outlying Lands, in the technologically-starved and impoverished villages. The Core is where the rich, upper class people live—they have all of the technology, from smart cars to bandaids to tablets. These two locations rarely interact with each other and are night and day different. The scenes were descriptive and portrayed these differences well—it vaguely mentions that The Core is in London and that there are different Cores around the world. I would guess (based on Willow’s dialect) that the Outlying Lands are stationed in Ireland.

The characters. Och. The characters. I really enjoyed Willow for the first half of the book—until she started deteriorating into a tantrum-throwing two-year-old.

“Tantrum? What do I look like, a toddler?”

Yes, you do, something that Reece (her head of security) continues to point out as he accuses her of throwing tantrums and referring to her as a “child” and “brat”.

Willow started out as a strong, independent, dagger-wielding woman—as soon as she got to the Core, she transformed into a whiny, selfish brat who only focused on how horrible her life was since being torn away from her family.

Also, side rant: I got really sick of reading about her inner tiger. It reminded me of the inner goddess in Fifty Shades of Grey. Stop. You do not have an actual tiger in your belly raising her head and shit. Every time the tiger “chuffed” or raised her head or what the hell ever, I got a little more angry.

And Reece. Don’t get me started. I don’t want to divulge any spoilers, but his complete lack of control really pissed me off.

The first half of the book was romantic tension—but as soon as the tension was broken and wishes were fulfilled, I lost interest. This story had so much opportunity to be a kickass story of a girl who discovers she has two prodigal skills and has to survive in the Core—nope.

This series has a lot of potential and I’m halfway interested in what happens. Because I liked the first half, I rated it a 2.5/5 on Goodreads.

L

Two Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. – Goodreads

I loved this one. Not head-over-heels, shout-it-from-the-rooftops-and-carry-a-boombox kind of love, but I did enjoy it and will be recommending it to others.

For starters, I liked the originality of the alien attacks. I liked the mystery surrounding the aliens. I liked how dark and gritty it was—it was real. There is no such thing as a happy ending when most of the world’s population has been wiped out.

In the first wave, the power grid goes out. Cars, computers, cell phones—zap. Done. In the second wave, the aliens mess with the fault lines and wipe out the coasts. In the third wave, a terrible plague. In the fourth wave, the Silencers—alien assassins sent to pick off the survivors.

It’s now time for the 5th wave.

I was constantly on the edge of my seat for this one—biting my nails for each of the characters that spoke. The book is told from four points-of-view—Cassie, Zombie, Sammy, and Evan. It’s awesome. Usually I would hate that style, but Rick Yancey does it right. It works really, really well.

I loved the character development. I was very attached to all of the main characters—I was rooting for them, worried for them, sad for them. Their personalities are portrayed very well—but it was their emotions that really got me.

In all, I rated this a 4/5 and definitely recommend! There is some talk of sex and limited use of the F word, so I would recommend 15+.

L

This book was so different than any other dystopian/alien story I’ve ever read and I loved it for that! The characters were all different and it was interesting to see the different takes from each of them throughout the story.

The way the aliens did things – the waves that they sent to Earth – were so real it was creepy. If aliens actually did show up, this is exactly how I’d picture them doing things and that freaks me out. The first wave, when the power grid goes out, was the freakiest because the power in our town kept going out while we were reading it. Lauren & I joked a lot about how the Others had finally arrived but truthfully – it could really happen.

Overall, the story was really good. It was full of suspense and right as something was about to happen, it would jump to another character – normally I hate this, Yancy did it right and kept me interested for the entire book. Seeing how different age groups, genders, etc. viewed the entire situation was also really nice – we were experiencing it from many different points instead of a stagnant single one.

I rated The 5th Wave 4/5 on Goodreads and I DEFINITELY recommend it!

K

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

CPLies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive. – Goodreads

So I have this issue where I only read what I’m in the mood to read – and my mood constantly changes. This is why I stopped putting in for Goodreads contests and getting books from Blogging for Books or similar sites – because if I’m in the mood for a certain book in a moment, getting it weeks later means it’s unlikely I’ll read it. This is why it took me until now to read a book I got for Christmas… almost a year people! That’s ridiculous. Anyway…

I was actually really surprised by Chasing Power. Like I said in that long-winded paragraph above – I bought it on impulse and once it arrived… I put it on my shelf, never to be picked up again. Obviously there was a reason I bought it, but when it comes to physical copies vs. Nook copies, I’m much more likely to pick up my Nook even though I have SO many physical books lying around. So I committed myself to getting by TBR pile as small as possible over a single long weekend – and I did it! I knocked out 4 books, and I’m so glad Chasing Power was one of them.

This story reminds me a lot of that old Hayden Christensen movie, Jumper. Daniel has basically the same powers as Hayden’s character did, so there was a huge similarity there. However, this story is completely different – Daniel is trying to save his mom and he needs Kayla’s help in order to do it. Kayla has a power I’ve never read about before, and the story itself was completely new as well. I love picking up books that aren’t the same old story with a “new spin” or whatever people try to do. The story line is so good and so intriguing! How they got their powers, how their parents are all involved, Kayla’s past, everything. It’s very, very attention grabbing because it’s so different.

I loved the world-building in this too – even though it’s set in our world, there was still a lot of details about where they were, the characters themselves, everything that went into it and made it such a good story. I love the way that Durst writes! My favorite stories and books are the ones that I feel like I’m there, I’m IN the story itself, living it with the characters – and that definitely was the case here. I love Kayla and her mom (despite her overprotectiveness and lying), Daniel drove me a bit mad but in the end, he was a good dude too. I love that there wasn’t a stupid love triangle, that Kayla’s best friend supported her 100%, and that whatever love did/didn’t develop (not giving anything away!) was not out of the blue or super quick.

Chasing Power is just all around a really good book and I ended up rating it 4/5 on Goodreads. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a story that takes place in our world but has a little bit extra thrown in too.

K

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

16068780The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. – Goodreads

Well, this one was a let down.

Maybe I’m just sick of the same dystopian storyline over and over and over, but this felt like a bad mashup of The Hunger Games, The Selection and Matched. And surrogacy.

Girl from the poor part of town ends up being forced to live in the rich part of town, doesn’t get to make own choices or live life, finds love interest, decides to escape, finds out allllll of the horrible things the brainwashing rich people do to fool the poor people. In a nutshell.

I finished it because the writing wasn’t the worst thing in the world and I needed to finish it for a reading challenge I’m doing. Otherwise I would have DNFd it a while ago.

Violet was selfish and pretty stupid. I get it—you’re being forced into becoming a surrogate for a mean old lady—that is incredibly terrible and definitely not okay. But to put literally everyone around you in severe danger just to meet your lover behind your mistress’s back (when the punishment is death) and trying to escape (and drawing shitloads of attention to yourself by ACTING OUT) which would mean the death of your family—you’re an idiot and asking for the people you love to get hurt. Common sense, dummy. Stop making out for ten seconds and think about your mom, sister and brother.

The instalove was nauseating. Ten seconds after meeting Ash:

“I’ve never thought much about kissing, but the idea of Ash’s lips against mine—” – Page 192

And ten seconds after that:

“My lips are glossed pink, my eyes lined in pale purple, making their color stand out even more. I wonder if Ash will think I look pretty. Stop it, Violet, I tell myself. It doesn’t matter what he thinks.

It’s only been a couple hours since I met him, but he’s somehow more handsome than I remember. My whole body feels like it’s blushing.” -Page 193

-_-

Anyway. This one didn’t do it for me in any way. I think many people would enjoy this if they’re still into the dystopian genre, but I’m over it.

L

Legend by Marie Lu

legendWhat was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. – Goodreads

If I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this book. I got it over 6 months ago (almost a year actually…) & have never had the desire to pick it up. I think that the whole ‘dystopian’ thing has been super overdone & I just didn’t feel like getting into another series like that. But I’m so glad I did!

I love Day and I love June. They are such good characters and so similar in so many ways. I’m genuinely curious about the things that their government is doing and I love that there are so many familiar terms (Congress, Los Angeles, etc.). Incorporating those made it so much more realistic to me, like something similar could actually happen. I love how different it was from the typical dystopian novel, and even though I could predict a few things (like Day & June’s relationship), there were still quite a few surprises (like Thomas…) and I loved that. It’s SO refreshing to read something that feels familiar with new twists. I can’t wait to see what happens in the rest of the series.

I gave Legend 4/5 stars on Goodreads and I’ll be picking up the next book in the series soon. I definitely recommend giving this one a shot!

 

K