Monday, August 21, 2017

Article Three (Systemet #1) by Anna Jakobsson Lund

 Article Three by Anna Jakobson Lund
Trust will get you killed - and trust will keep you alive.
In a world where the System governs everything, Ava's a rebel - one who can control other people's thoughts with her mind. As part of a resistance movement preparing for war, this is a useful skill.
Levi stopped believing in the struggle for freedom when it snatched his parents from him. Now he's just trying to live a quiet life and control the voices that threaten his sanity. 
One night Levi's sister is arrested. To free her, he has to break old promises and get involved with people he swore he'd never associate with. Ava's ordered to help him, and together, they leave on a rescue mission. She says he has to trust the rebels. But should they?

About the Author:

I've always been a daydreamer. As a kid, I wasn't that interested in other children. I wanted to be left alone with my mind and let it tell me stories. Distant worlds and time travel were frequently reoccurring topics. I was usually the hero, with the occasional side-kick. Writing came naturally to me, as a way to try to catch the stories, and later on, to share those with the friends I did manage to get, despite being somewhat strange.

Adulthood didn't stop the daydreaming, but it made me use less of it in my writing. Instead, I wrote poetry and more conventional stories. Boring stories.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I'd enough of them. I'd self-published one novel; a neat piece of relationship drama where nothing happened. I loved the characters, but the plot was too slow. Writing, publishing and marketing were hard work, and if I was going to do it again, it would not be with a boring story.

My brain rescued me by playing me a scene I'd first come up with as a teen. I knew that the street depicted was from the future, and that the boy getting beat up was on a quest to save his sister. I also had the idea that the girl saving him (who had been me in the original story, of course) was part of a resistance movement.

I ran with that, started writing and discovered the kind of writer's high I hadn't experienced since I was a kid. As I finished that first book (Article Three), more ideas kept entering my daydreams. Not just about the other two parts of what would be The System trilogy, but ideas that could be turned into short stories and new novels. My mind is as creative now that it has ever been, which is no small blessing for a mum of small children.

The wonderful thing about sci-fi and fantasy is that you don't have to be tied down by norms and rules of the ordinary world. You're still able to address modern day issues, though. I try to use this in my writing by exploring themes that make the reader question his or her own views as well as society's. I use characters that are not often depicted in main-stream literature. People I find interesting, who stretch our notion about what parts people usually play in literature. In my writing, there's no alpha-dogs and no damsels in distress. I've even declared my books love-triangle free. It sounds like a joke, but I want other things for my readers that the questions about which hot guy the main character is going to choose at the end.

I'm an indie-publisher, which is equal part funny and exhausting, and I have four novels published in Swedish. The idea to get my novels translated professionally and try to reach a larger audience is more than a little crazy, but as I started discussing it with fellow writers, I couldn't quite shake it. As I grow older, I get increasingly less afraid, and also crazier, and I feel like I would be stupid not to follow my dreams while I have the chance.

Social Media Links from the Author:

Instagram: @anna_jakobsson_Lund
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/articlethreedystopian/

Review

Let me first say, that I immediately fell in love with the author about reading her About the Author section! I cannot recall how many books I've read that the story is awesome, but the author takes away the focus from the awesome story by inserting a cookie-cutter love triangle and trying to make the focus more about which guy the main character will choose. I am definitely interested in reading books by any author devoted to abstaining from that practice!

Also, I would much rather read about super strong, badass female main characters than damsels in distress. So, before I even started this book, I was already into it.

These were the only expectations I had when I started reading the book. Truthfully, I couldn't really remember what the book was about. All I knew is that it sounded interesting enough for me to request a copy to read and review. I like doing it that way! It makes it easier to choose which book to read next... I just pick a bunch of books that sound interesting, then read them in the order they are due or due back to the library. 

This book was AWESOME! The author stuck to her word, and there was no cookie cutter love triangle stuck in the middle of the story. The focus remained on the characters and their story, and she did an excellent job with both!

I zoomed through this book! The author did an amazing job at world building and depicting such complex characters. 

I am also super impressed that the author wrote this book in Swedish and had it translated to English. I wouldn't have known if I didn't read the author's comment about it in her bio. The translation is excellent, and it seems like it was written in English originally. 

This book takes a lot of aspects that I've seen in different YA fantasy book, then the author makes them her own and combines them in such a unique way. 

I love the main characters! Levi is stubborn but brave and completely devoted to his sister. Ava is a badass, struggling with the past, and Leymah... goodness, I love Leymah! She is more of a free spirit, with a thirst for knowledge, in a world where both of those things are pretty much dead.

If you couldn't tell from this review, I immediately became a fan of Anna Jakobsson Lund before even starting this book! I hope all of her stories are translated into English! I plan to read all of them! 

Most of all, I hope the sequel to this book is in the works for an English translation! I want to be one of the first to read it!

I am so excited to see what happens next with Levi and Ava and Leymah! The only negative thing I have to say about this book is how sad I am that the sequel isn't out yet, and I can't pick it up right now and keep reading!

Besides my impatience, I have nothing negative to say about this book. It's AWESOME, and I definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the author, via The Review Chain, in exchange for an honest review. 



Monday, August 14, 2017

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night
From the bestselling author of All is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...
From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...
One night, three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family, Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated, and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Review

When I first heard about this book, it reminded me a little of Room or Baby Doll, or something along those lines, but this book goes a completely different direction.

Yes, it tells the story of two sisters who were kidnapped, but it also tells their family's story and focuses on what was going on that made the girls leave in the first place.

Me, with my psych degree and working on my masters in mental health counseling, of course that aspect was right up my alley! I loved Room and Baby Doll, and this book added another aspect that I loved!

This book had me hooked almost immediately! I started trying to diagnose the mother before the psychologist even came into the story.

Holy crap! I knew that this book would have surprises, but I definitely did not see this ending coming! Maybe that's because my training is in counseling, not forensic psych, or maybe the author is just that awesome... probably a combination of both!

This book sucks you in and has you hanging on every word, trying to figure out exactly what happened and what led up to it, throughout the whole book. I thought I had an idea, but I never could have guessed everything that is uncovered at the end.

This book was AWESOME! If you like books like Room or Baby Doll, or psychological thrillers, I definitely recommend this book! Even if none of this sounds good to you, this book has such a surprising, touching ending that even made me cry, which is no easy task.

I absolutely ♥ ♥ ♥ this book! From the beginning to the end, I was HOOKED! The characters were so complex. The author did an excellent job of giving a complete background, followup and analysis of a story which seems like it would be ripped from the news headlines or an ABC 20/20 special. She developed such complex characters, with complex psychological profiles and put them in even more complex situations. Yet, she put all this together in a way that anyone without any knowledge of psychology could not only understand, but enjoy.

I also ♥ed Dr. Winter. She was always one step ahead of everyone else. I won't say anything else, because I don't want to give away any spoilers. All I have to say is READ THIS BOOK! It is awesome!

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Walking Barefoot by Grace Coleman

Walking Barefoot
Set in a futuristic London, in a world ravaged by war, Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will, past and present. The cocksure eighteen year old who, in a bid to find himself, goes travelling and the city-living adult, who despite his well paid job, upper quadrant apartment and sexy girlfriend, struggles to be happy. When nightmares begin to haunt his sleeping and waking life, Will is unsure whether he is suffering from the illness that killed his father or being led by unseen forces to uncover a city-wide conspiracy. As his paranoia heightens, he must ask himself - is he willing to lose himself to find the truth?

About the Author:

Born in South Africa. Made in Sussex. After an uneventful upbringing, I've found myself in London, trying to make it in the unglamorous world of Television. Writing has always been a part of my life, but discipline and distraction are an issue. My favourite authors are Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Douglas Adams, although I don't pretend to possess any of their wit, genius or heart. When not pretending to be an author or TV hotshot, I like country walks, visiting the zoo and sitting in pubs. 

Social Media Links for the Author:

Review:

I went into this book totally blind. I know that I must have been interested in reading it, after reading the description, since I requested a copy. I don't remember what it was about, though, and I didn't read the book description again before starting it. Sometimes I love going into books like that though!

I really liked this book, but some things about it bugged me. 

The author did a good job with world building, and it was a very unique premise for a story. Some aspects of it almost reminded me of 1984. It sucked me in, but I would have loved for there to be more about Will's travels. I also think it ended very abruptly. I would love for the author to write a sequel and address many of the questions that this book left unanswered. 

I really did enjoy reading this book, the end just left me asking questions and wanting more. That could have been the author's intent, but I like getting my questions answered.#1stWorldProblems

Overall, it was a really good book, and I raced through it! I had class during the day all weekend and homework at night, and I still finished it in 3 days. 

I will definitely be looking for more books by Grace Coleman, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian books.

I received a copy of this book for free, in exchange for an honest review.


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

The Readymade Thief

From  August Rose's website
An addictive literary puzzle that introduces an unforgettable young heroine, plunged into the twisted world of a secret society with a dark agenda.
 Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run, alone on the streets of Philadelphia.  
After taking the fall for a rich friend, Lee reluctantly accepts refuge in the Crystal Castle - a cooperative of homeless kids squatting in an austere, derelict building. But homeless kids are disappearing from the streets in suspicious numbers, and Lee quickly discovers that the secret society's charitable fa├žade is too good to be true. She finds an unexpected ally in Tomi, a young artist and hacker whose knowledge of the internet's black market is rivaled only by his ability to break into and out of buildings. From abandoned aquariums, to highly patrolled museums, to the homes of vacationing Philadelphians. Tomi and Lee can always chart a way to the next, perfect hideout. 
But the harder Lee tries to escape into the unmapped corners of the city, the closer she unwittingly gets to uncovering the disturbing agenda of the very men who pull the strings of the secret society she's hoped to elude, a group of fanatics obsessed with the secrets encoded in the work of early-twentieth-century artist Marcel Duchamp. What these men want is more twisted than anything Lee could've imagined. and they believe Lee holds the key to it all.
The Readymade Thief heralds the arrival of an astoundingly imaginative and propulsive new voice in fiction for fans of Marisha Pessl and Ernest Cline. 

Review

I don't know what exactly I expected from this book, but it definitely wasn't this. For some reason, I thought this book was a memoir. The first part of it reads like one. I thought it was going to be a memoir about an angsty teen, with a crappy home life, but then it takes a crazy turn, and then another even crazier one, then another, and another, each crazier than the last... So, it is written as kind of a memoir, but a fictional one.

The first line of the book explains that Lee was 6 when she first stole something. The first few pages explains her parents not getting along, her mom always being angry, her dad being a charming singer/songwriter that everyone was drawn to and could have made it big "if things had been different." She loved hearing him sitting with his friends, laughing and telling stories, but he sometimes disappeared for a few days at a time, and at 7 years old, he left for good, disappearing without a word. She noticed that he took mote than he usually did, but she expected him to return any day. After a week, she asked her mom. "Her mom looked down at her dispassionately. 'He might come back tomorrow, or he might never come back. I can't tell you which, I think you better just get used to it.'"

Again, I don't know what I expected when I started this book. The beginning was about what I expected, but then, it took a bunch of crazy turns, and ended up being a story I never would have anticipated from the title.

Lee's father is gone. He disappeared. Her mother is a shell of who she once was, and her new crazy boyfriend moves with without Lee even noticing. Then, she gains a friend who wants to "save" her, and that goes horribly wrong.

However, while the first chapter might have given me some background, the next chapters is what the book is really about. This book starts out with an introverted teenager, who started stealing at an early age, and takes such drastic turns, that the beginning of this story could be a separate book than the second half of the story.

Actually, the further I got into the book, the beginning chapters could have been several different books. The authors takes what starts out reading like a memoir and turns it into an AMAZING work of fiction that entertains, shocks, surprises, and makes readers laugh, cry, and feel a whole range of emotions in between that I know I didn't expect to feel, going into a book with a tie like The Readymade Thief. The book just goes in so many different directions that no one would ever expect.

I didn't quite get most of the art references, but I did get some of the scientific & physics references. That didn't really matter too much in the end, though. Even if you know nothing about art and don't understand the references or explanations, I guarantee you will understand the rest of the book, especially the ending.

I was in total shock of this book before I finished it.

The author did an excellent job of including little details that at first may seem unsubstantial, but later end up making a huge impact in the story.

Anyone who likes conspiracy theories or has ever found themselves wrapped up in learning about one will love this book, but even those who have never believed in or been fascinated by a conspiracy theory will like it, because in the end, its not about the conspiracy theory, its about a young girl and the relationships she makes trying to figure out where to go and what to do after being betrayed by her family and friends.

This book had me hooked almost immediately, even when I thought it was a completely different story! I read this book in two nights, and I would have read it in one, if I didn't absolutely have to do to bed at 2am the first night or could have started reading earlier, instead of doing homework that night...

This book really just baffled and delighted me! It was smart, suspenseful, well written, funny at moments, and just an all-around gripping story! I definitely recommend it to anyone!

I received a copy of this book for free from the publishers, via First to Read, in exchange for an honest review.

Image result for readymade thief

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Union Series Book Blitz & Giveaway $25 Amazon and ebook


The Union
T.H. Hernandez
(The Union #1)
Publication date: November 18th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.
Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.
When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving her boyfriend, Bryce, her ideal world is turned upside down. What she learns while in the Ruins shakes her faith in everything she’s ever known, from Bryce, to her family, and even the Union itself.
Now Evan must choose whether to stay with Cyrus, the sexy, resourceful survivor who believes she’s in the Ruins for a reason, or return to the only life she’s ever known. But when she stumbles upon a dangerous plot that threatens both worlds, her decision could tear her apart.
The Union is a futuristic young adult romantic adventure.
The complete series:
The Union – book 1 – is only 99¢ for a limited time!
EXCERPT FROM THE UNION:
My eyes flutter open to complete darkness, my brain cloudy. My shoulders ache and my arms are numb from sleeping on them. When I try to sit up, the moments before I blacked out come rushing back, filling me with dread.
My hands are tied behind my back, so the best I can do is roll to my side. I strain into the darkness to make sense of my surroundings. I’m inside something that’s moving. It’s too dark to make out anything, so I rely on my ears. A train. But not the L-Train, nor a commuter train. Maybe a cargo. My pulse throbs behind my eyelids and I fight the urge to vomit.
Shit, shit, shit. Tears fill my eyes, but I can’t afford to cry. I need to figure a way out of this mess. Lisa and Colin must have looked for me when I didn’t come back. That only provides small comfort though, since I have no idea where I am or how they’d find me.
None of this makes any sense. The only kidnappings in the Union are due to custody disputes. Maybe Eddie had me kidnapped. Except that’s completely crazy. If he was going to do that, why wait until I’m almost an adult and already on my way to see him?
This must be about money. A ransom or something. That seems so fantastic though, like straight out of a movie. There was that one kid who disappeared a couple of years ago, but it turned out he’d just run away.
Maybe it’s got something to do with my Uncle David. As one of only seven governors, he has an incredible amount of power. Only the Prime Minister has more. Unfortunately, it’s the only thing that makes sense. If I have any hope of surviving, he might have to give them what they want.


Author Bio:
T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he’s a cat, affectionately referred to as “the puppycat.”
You can find her online at http://thhernandez.com

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vanguard (Razorland #4) by Ann Aguirre

Vanguard (Razorland, #4)
The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship's doctor, she can't wait. It's past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.
Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number, Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn't allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew. 

Review

I read the first 3 Razorland books a couple of years ago and absolutely loved them! So, I was super excited to see that the author wrote another book in the series! As soon as I learned another book would be released, I searched NetGalley to try to get an ARC and lucked out! I had my doubts, since it was scheduled to be released in a couple of weeks. 

This book starts out 10 months after The War of the River, and it incorporates all the major-ish payers that have now become legends throughout the territories. 

♥ ♥ ♥ the characters in this book and how it shifts from different POVs! I especially liked reading from Szarok's POV. 

I had almost forgot how much I loved the Razorland series, and I definitely had no idea that I would get the chance to read about what happened in the aftermath of Horde from someone else's POV. I am SO glad I got to read this book!

This book was AWESOME! Since I ed the other Razorland books so much, I definitely has SUPER HIGH expectations for this book, and it exceeded them! I was hooked immediately and couldn't wait to see what happened next, throughout the whole book! 

This book was so great! It was like nothing I've ever read, and there was absolutely nothing that I did not love about it!

As always, the author kept up the great writing and world building that was in the other three Razorland book. 

When I finished The Great Library series, I was so upset that I would have to wait to read the rest of the books int he series. 

I want to say more about this book, but I cant say more about the things that I ed withouth giving away some big spoilers... So, I'll just stick with saying that I ♥ed EVERYTHING about this book! 

If you haven't read the Razorland series, I definitely encourage you to start! The first three books are absolutely amazing, and this book was no exception!

I received a copy of this book for free from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3)
Words can kill.
Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now, a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny...
Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library's rule.
Their time is running out. To survive, they'll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies - and to save the very soul of the Great Library...

Review

As expected, just like Ink and BonePaper and Fire left off in a totally expected way. Needless to say, I was super excited to jump into the third book in the series! Thank goodness I was able to download an ARC from NetGalley, shortly before it was released!

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but my reaction after finishing this book:

OMG! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

This book was non-stop action, like the first two books, but I expected this book to bring some feelings of closure. However, I think this book ended with an even bigger cliffhanger than either of the first two in the series!

I was seriously upset after finishing this book. I arranged to read the first three books back to back, and at that time, I thought The Great Library was a trilogy. After finishing this book, I discovered that there will be two more books in the series. 

Again, this book brought about so many twists and turns in the plot that there would be no way to guess what would happen next. I definitely did not expect it to end the way it did. Of course, I hoped that this book might wrap some things up, not because I don't want to read more books in this series; on the contrary, I just want to be able to read them now and see what happens next!

I never ever would have expected the ending. I don't want to put any spoilers here, but it was almost like the author had put so many crazy plot twists in, with situations that no one would ever guess the characters would get in to, that she decided at the end to throw in something that might be an obvious in any other book. Yet, I NEVER would have guessed it, since the rest of the book has much more complex methods of problem solving. 

If these books sound even remotely interesting to you, READ THEM! I guarantee you will enjoy them, and I hope you love them as much as I did! 

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from this book:
No one with a book is ever along, even in the darkest moments.
When all the world is a clock, bow, you don't make a key. You become a key. 
After getting over my initial shock, I did a little research and it looks like there are going to be (at least) two more books in the series. However, they do not have titles or cover art yet. Considering that this book was just released on July 11th, the next two books may not even be written yet. :( 

On one hand, I am super excited to be able to keep reading and see what happens nect in the story, especially since I was not sure exactly how I felt about the way this book ended. Again, I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I won't reveal any more. 

On the other hand, I'm going to have to wait SOOOO LOOONG to see what happens next, which sucks hard! It makes it even worse that I have no idea how long yet. I know I will be scouring the internet to try to get ARCs, though! 

Putting my feelings about waiting to see what happens next aside: I ABSOLUTELY ♥ ♥ ♥ed this book! Finishing it has just left me with such mixed emotions! Finishing it, I feel sad and super anxious about waiting to see what happens next. Reading the book made me feel a whole different range of emotions, though!

However, I am kind of glad that I didn't do this research before reading this book. I think I would have gone into it with a different perspective, if I knew that there will be two more books. 

Also, I will say that I definitely understand why there will be (at least) two more books in The Great Library series. Each book has been so jam packed with action. I don't see how the author could have ended the story with this book, without either doubling it in length or taking out some major aspects of the story. 

Again, I ♥ed this book, and I know that the next two will be great! I am just sad that they are not in my hands right now! I will be waiting super impatiently for the next two books to be released! 

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire (The Great Library, #2)
With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, and in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books. 
Jess Brighwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, bu serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.
After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library's deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way from London.
But Jess's home isn't safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control...

Review

Ink and Bone was AH-MAY-ZING! So, I couldn't wait to read this book. I downloaded it immediately after finishing Ink and Bone and started reading, even though it was getting late and I knew I would probably stay up way too late reading (which I did). 

I love the characters in this book! The author did an excellent job with character development. The deeper you get into the story, the more you learn about them, but the author also does a great job of keeping some things a mystery so that you just want to keep learning more about them. Even some of the characters that I hated in the first book continue to develop in this book and make you like them more and more. Even those that I still didn't like at the end of this book, I definitely understood them better. 

You have to admire the teenagers int his book! They are all super brave a courageous when something happens to the people they care about, they will go to the ends of the earth to help save them, even if it is reckless and dangerous. 

I wondered if the author was inspired by the growing popularity of digital books today and the fact that more and more people are seeing physical books as almost obsolete. The way everyone in the book can get "blanks" to read, which are basically magical digital books, that instead of loading from the internet, an Obscurist sends the book they want to their blank. The Library holds all the originals, and chooses which content the people can access. However, Jess craves the sensations of reading real, physical, leather-bound, handwritten "originals."I have heard many avid readers explain the similar feelings about reading digital books today and just wanting to feel the book in their hands, smell the paper and be able to dog-ear pages (NOT ME! I consider this sacrilege, but some people do it! I have a slight obsession with keeping my books in pristine condition.). The way that Jess talked about and longs for "originals" is very reminiscent of this, on a whole other level though, since it is actually illegal to own them. 
Jess missed handling originals. He'd grown so addicted to the feel of those books - the individual differences in the bindings, the leather or fabric covers, the weight of papers, the smell. They were very different experiences than these Blanks, which felt so... sterile, somehow. Words that could be readily discarded and replaced didn't have the same moral heft to them, to him, but he recognized he was a rebel and an outcast, even among those who love the Library. 
I found an interview with the author explains some of her inspiration from the book. While in the book, people must request for their blanks to be filled with content that they select from a directory of books approved by the Library, the author explains that although so many books are available digitally today, but there are still so many that are not and only physical copies exist. Also, if you purchase a digital copy of a book, you cannot resell it, and the rights-holder can remove your access if they want. Click here to read that interview. In it she says:
So, I wanted to talk about how in a world where ebooks (i.e., Blanks and their contents) are controlled by the Library, physical books are an act of real rebellion and sedition. The Library doesn't own it, and can't control it. And for them, that's dangerous.
OMG! This book was even better than I anticipated! There were so many surprises that I never could have guessed would happen. 

I was so excited to see what followed the first book, and while I thought a few things in this book might happen, I had not idea that most of this book would happen. It addresses much more than the questions I had after finishing the first book but left me with quite a few more. 

This book is super action-packed! Something big that is essential to the story is constantly happening. 

In short, this book was just as good, if not better than the first! Forgive me for not writing more, I just downloaded the third book in the series, Ash and Quill, and absolutely cannot wait another minute to start reading it! I'll post my review soon!




Monday, July 17, 2017

Red Fire: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution by Wei Yang Chao

Red Fire: Growing Up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution

In August 1966, a 14-year-old boy in Beijing is thrust into violence and chaos as the Cultural Revolution begins to blaze across China. Fifty years later, Red Fire, Growing up During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, offers the first intimate account from someone who lived through these events and survived. 
What was the Cultural Revolution like as seen through the eyes of a child? How do people surrender themselves to ideological frenzy? How does one break free? Wei Yang Chao tells a riveting story: how rebels attached and publicly humiliated his family, upended his education, and sent him out into a country rendered unrecognizable by violence and radical ideology. At heart a gentle boy, when he is swept up by the Red Guards, he finds himself at the center of a bloody revolution. The unflinchingly observant narrator or Red Fire reveals his families' struggles in an increasingly isolated and hostile culture. 
Sent to boarding school in Beijing, young Wei Yang finds that beyond the gates enclosing that peculiar, closed world, conflict roils in Chinese society. After mass rallies at Tiananmen Square, he witnesses attacks on teachers and professors, and the disintegration of his partents' lives as tolerance and freedom begin to crumble and he himself is cast into exile. Red Fire chronicles social upheaval through the keen yet naive eyes of a teenager, giving readers a fascinating and unprecedented glimpse into the Chinese Cultural Revolution. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real force and heartbreaking honesty. 

Review

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book. Truthfully, I didn't know much about the Chinese Cultural Revolution (CCR), going into it. I had definately heard the name Chairman Mao, but my knowledge from past history lessons failed me, and I didn't know much more than he was a bad guy (I know, that's sad).

The first chapter of the book, in which the author starts to explain the violence and humiliation that his family experienced started to give me an idea of what to expect, though. I do know alot about traditional Asian culture and how important family honor is, so I understood the significance of the public humiliation they suffered and how devestating it must have been. 

To give a little background, in case you are as clueless as I was before I read this book about the CCR: The CCR started in May of 1966. It was a political movement inaugurated by Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao. Mao grew up a peasant and "organized other peasants to eventually bring revolution to all of China, forcing his great rival Chiang Kai-shek to flee to Taiwan." 

Chairman Mao was worried that China would fall victim to what then President, Nixon, called a "peaceful evolution from socialism back to capitalism," something he believed the Soviet Union had already fallen victim to and he would not allow China to follow suit. However, Liu Shaoqi, the country's president, had very different ideas from Mao, who believed that China should "transform itself into a powerful nation state," which would require a cultural revolution. 

Mao made his conflict with Liu Shaoqi known publicly in 1966, writing and publishing a public notice, denouncing the Party and referring to Shaoqi as "people like Nikita Khrushchev, referring to Stalins successor and leader of the Soviet Union. Even though The May Sixteenth notice became the framework for the CCR, it was met with resistance at first and most high-level officials remained loyal to Li Shaoqi, which made Mao furious. For the first time since becoming the Communist Party's leader, his "authority seemed less than absolute." In 1959, Mao had given temporary leadership to Liu Shaoqi and by 1966, many officials backed Shaoqi, and he "had become powerful enough to challenge Mao's authority." 

Although Mao never actually feared a power struggle, he knew that the situation must be remedied. The author explains:
From earliest childhood, I was taught that the West - America especially - was on the verge of extinction. America was dying. No, it was already dead, destroyed by greed and decadence.
The author also explains how in school, at the beginning of the CCR, they were asked to list things that were "Yes" (good for the State) and "No" (Bourgeois inclinations). Under the "No" category, they listed things like nylon stockings, stylish hairstyles, and for some reason, a pork dish that one of his class mates enjoyed, so his mother packed it for him to bring to school. The author described that classmate as the most innocent victim of exercise. 

During the CCR, Mao was equivalent to a god and a billion copies of a book of his quotes was published, making it one of the most widely printed books ever, and during the CCR, it was almost illegal not to own and carry a copy. One of the first pages of this book shows a picture of the author and his two siblings, each holding a copy of the little red book. 

I also was not aware of the existence of the Red Guards and was shocked at how young they were. The author was present a the same site, the day they first met and were officially established. The Red Guard started as a group of middle schoolers, ready to fight to the death to defend Mao and "Mao thought," and anyone "threatening the revolution." 

I also knew nothing about the Big-Character-Posters (BCP) that were so prevalent during this time. Even though paper was so scarce that even obtaining toilet paper was rare in some places ,the BCPs were plastered EVERYWHERE - on the outside and inside of every building, including government offices, businesses, schools, and even outside of the city, in the country.

The author explains that they were everywhere inside his school, in classes, in the hallways, in the bathrooms, etc. There were so many what when there was no more space, people simply posted new ones on top of previously posted BCPs. These BCPs ruined lives and caused tradgedy in the 20 odd years the phenomena lasted (the CCR  lasted a decade). The author explains:
In some respects, BCPs constituted the first real opportunity for free expression within the country's legal system. They were considered 'the best route to a people's democracy' and 'a very effective weapon of a new generation.'
They were anywhere and everywhere, all different colors and sizes, and could consist of anything the writer wanted to express. They could consist of slogans, poems, a passage from a book, an essay or even a cartoon, but even though the format varied widely, the content always aimed to shock.

No one was spared; anyone's dignity and privacy could be violated. Taking a person's remarks out of context, grossly exaggerating their actions - even slander or libel didn't raise eyebrows so long as the writer claimed 'a revolutionary stance' or 'a revolutionary purpose.' The only risk, should you have engaged in this practice, was that someone would retaliate by writing a poster to take you down too.

Here are a few pictures I found online (not from the book):

Image result for Big-Character-Posters Image result for Big-Character-PostersImage result for Big-Character-Posters

The author actually saw the first widely publicized BCP, two days after it was posted, and witnessed its author, a woman in her 40's, arguing with a group of men in front of it at Peking University, during his first trip to the campus. Mao had the message from the BCP broadcasted everywhere, which brought about more BCPs, with people arguing over who was for Mao and the revolution and who was against it, which fed into Mao's strategy to create disorder and achieve "great order from great disorder under the heavens."

This incited violence all over campuses in China, with Peking University being a "forerunner in many respects."
As the huge and almost uncontrolled political energy inspired by the BCPs grew, revolutionary fever spread through teh whole University campus. Students began to torture their instructors, which only spurred more violence at other campuses across the country. 
The author was unfortunately part of the first case. He didn't understand everything that was happening and he went to Peking University to see what was happening, to try to better understand but still didn't understand why professors were being called "monsters" and "devils," words he had only heard in stories and fairy tales.

Even at his middle school, students created a BCP titled "Fight to the Death for the Proletarian Dictatporship - Mao Thought" and posted it in a large classroom. It targeted the school administration, which furthered the agenda of the Red Guards, whose oldest members were 19, and the youngest only 13 years old.

I couldn't believe some of the things I read in this book, and I couldn't believe that I had never heard about any of this before! Children from every school, incited by Mao and his call for a cultural revolution, humiliated, beat and even killed many of their instructors and other school staff and faculty! It got so bad that many instructors committed suicide to avoid more violence.

The one thing I kept thinking over and over throughout this book, was how these were children - just middle schoolers and some high school age - carrying out the "revolution." Children who dragged their teachers out of classrooms and dragged people out of their houses and businesses - beating and sometimes killing them, for sometimes something as small as the name of their restaurant, their family's background, even the clothes and shoes they wore, or the way they styled their hair! And more incredulous: the government and law enforcement ENCOURAGED this!

I kept thinking about how I've been seeing/reading about kids today taunting people that don't look like them. We've all heard about the violence that has been happening all over the country, after the election, but what's going on in schools has been talked about less. Like the stories in this article: Kids Quoting Trump to Bully their Classmates and Teachers don't know what to do about it.

After a school assembly at a school that is 1/3 Latino, in which dozens of students chanted "Build that wall!" the principal talked with some of the kids and found that most had no idea what it meant. They were simply joining in, because others next to them were. Similarly, the author explains that he initially wanted to and later felt pressure to participate in the CCR with his peers.

There are tons of articles online, telling of the similar incidents all across the country, fueled by the so-called "president" and the things they hear from their parents. Although I don't foresee anyone plastering Trump's tweets up on the sides of buildings across the country, they might as well be, with all of the media coverage they get. Reading this book made me think long and hard about the similarities with the things that are happening on our country today, and what if all of the children who are chanting about building walls were to decide that their teachers are part of the problem. I have no doubt in my mind that Trump would support them.

I can't fathom what the author and his family experienced. They were treated horribly for reasons that would have never occurred to them as being "bad" or "traitorous." This book, like many other autobiographies by people who have survived such trauma, strengthens my faith in humanity and the power of hope among even the most hopeless.

I loved the ending! Although I was expecting... well, I don't exactly know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this ending!

I love how the author's life was changed by such an unexpected turn of events.

I am amazed at the things that happened during the CCR and am in awe of the author and his achievements, despite everything that his family went through. However, I cannot help relating things that I have been seeing/hearing/reading about what is happening today. While I know that the words/tweets of the so-called "president" would never be considered to be up there with the bible, there are too many people taking our not-so-great leader's words way too seriously.

Just like the holocaust, the Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor, and other tragedies, I think it is more important, now more than ever, for people to learn about the tragedies of the past so that we don't relive them in the future.

I really enjoyed this book. The author's writing was extraordinary, and the resilience and resolve he showed at such a young age is admirable. For most, it would have been easier to take the hand he was dealt and live the life that was forced upon him. Instead, he found a way to educate himself and lived to write this great book that taught me so much about Chinese history!

I received this book for free from the publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time...
Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly - but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.
Jess Brightwell believed in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family's spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library's service.
When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life - and soon both heretics and books will burn...
Review

I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time, so when I saw it listed on Blogging for Books, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. Within the next couple of days after requesting it, I also found a book called Ash and Quill on NetGalley and requested it, just because it sounded awesome. Little did I know that Ash and Quill is the third book in The Great Library Series! So, I immediately put a hold on the second book, Paper and Fire, to download it through the library, hoping the hold would be up by the time I read this book so that I wouldn't have to wait and could read all three, back to back. 

By the way, with a name like The Great Library, how could this series not be awesome?! All of the other books I've read about magical libraries have been AWESOME (i.e. The Library at Mount Char and The Invisible Library series)! Who doesn't love a book about books?!

The very beginning of the book starts with a letter from ancient Egypt, talking about the Pharaoh banning women from studying at the library, before jumping into the story. Here is an exerpt:
His divine  wisdom can kiss my common arse. We bling and hobble half of the world, through such ignorance and I will not have it. Women shall study at the Serapeum as they might be inclined. Let him execute me if he wishes, but I have seen enough of minds wasted in this world. I have a daughter.
My daughter will learn.
When I read this, I knew immediately that I would like this book!

Then the prologue starts to get into the story, beginning by explaining that Jess runs books (literally RUNS with them), which are super rare, around London with his family, which is illegal. Owning some books carries the death penalty.

They are called cutters, which are children and teenagers, that literally run books around London. However, they ran in packs, with most of them only carrying trash, in case they were caught, which was often, whether by the Garda or by people wanting money for turning them over to the Garda. The prologue explains one trip where Jess runs a book to an old man that doesn't go quite as planned.

Jess' father was in charge of their family's operation, which is famous for smuggling books. He collected the books, hired the cutters, and mapped out their routes, which they were to stick to at all costs, as at first, they started together in a pack, then spread out, taking individual paths to stretch the Garda thin.

Jess' brother died, because he was caught but kept silent about his identity and his family to protect them. Liam was only 17 years old at the time, and Jess was only 10 and had no idea how he would ever live up to his brother's legend. 

After reading the prologue, I knew I would LOVE this book! And all of this happens before the book even properly begins. 

The actual story starts when Jess is 16 and his father signs him up to train to work for the Library and spy for him. 

I also loved the aspects of historical fiction in this book! Although it is set in the future, it takes place in a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, and it now rules the world.

The Library's propaganda says, "When you steal a book, you steal from the world."
Imagine a world in which anyone, anywhere, could create and distribute their own words, however ignorant or flawed! ... We cannot be weak if the Library is to resist this invasive, persistent disease of progress. 
There are excerpts between chapters, with bits of history that contribute to the story, usually letters from historical figures, and some current important figures in the Library. 

I particularly liked this excerpt. This is from a letter from Thomas Paine in 1795, voicing the Burner philosophy against the Library. Of course, access to this is strictly controlled and only accessible by the highest levels of the Library.
There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge, and wisdom. A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge, in itself, is not wisdom.
The Library holds itself to be the keeper of both knowledge and wisdom, but it is not true. So much should never be held in the hands of so few, for it is a natural, venal habit of men to hold power. And knowledge is the purist form of power.
But there is no wisdom without knowledge, no progress without danger, and I am not the Library's child! I must argue my own information, build my own knowledge, and through experience, transform it into the treasured gold of wisdom.
This book went so many different directions that I never would have expected! It is fast-paced, and I loved everything about it! It made me laugh, it made me cry, and feel a whole wide range of emotions in between.

After finishing this book, I immediately downloaded Paper and Fire and started reading it, even though it was super late, and I probably should have just gone to bed...

Stay tuned for reviews for the next two books in the series! I'm about half-way done with Paper and Fire now.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers, through Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Numbers Raging (Numbers Game #3) by Rebecca Rode

Numbers Raging (Numbers Game, #3)
THE THRILLING CONCLUSION IS HERE.
It's been ten weeks since Treena returned to NORA. The council has rejected her war preparations at every turn, and Dresden is backpedaling on his promises. Treena's secret followers push her to unseat Dresden and take control - something she refuses to consider, now with NORA on the brink of war. 
Vance has is own set of troubles. Drought has made his settlement's future bleak, and infighting has begun. Joining NORA seems inevitable, but Vance refuses to give in - not if it means putting his younger sisters and his people in danger. Then Treena asks him to join her at the peace convention overseas, forcing Vance to choose between his responsibilities and his heart.
Finally together, Treena and Vance must navigate the political undercurrents of a strange new country, stay together despite their enemies' determination to tear them apart, and convince an indifferent world to help them fight the most powerful and deadly foe they've faced yet.

Review

Warning: This first part is not actually about the book, but it speaks volumes to the awesomeness of this series and the quality of Rebecca Rode's writing.

First of all, I bought this book.

I know that wouldn't even be stated in most reviews, but let me regale you with my cheapness.

I have not actually purchased a book in years. Anything that I can't get from the library or request to read and review, I usually just wait until I can. To emphasize my point, let me give you an example, a few of the best series I've read in the past couple of years, I was literally DYING to read the next book in the series. Even after being super upset at having to wait 6 months to a year for the next book to be released, I waited until I could download a copy through the library, even though there were a ton of people that had it on hold in front of me, and it ended up taking at least another couple of months. 

Now that I have given you a little insight at just how cheap I am when it comes to reading, let me reiterate it for you: I BOUGHT this book!!

I read Numbers Game and Numbers Ignite, then read Chan's Story and Ruby's Story, which Rebecca Rode sent me for free, for signing up for her newsletter, through her website!  

I have ♥ed EVERYTHING about this series and just couldn't wait to see what happened in the last book! I am so cheap that I probably would have bought this book sooner, had I not been debating whether I could get a copy to review at some point, but right after finishing Ruby's Story, I immediately pulled up Amazon and downloaded Numbers Raging

Rebecca Rode didn't disappoint! This was an awesome ending to the series! I loved that Treena got to explore so much in this book, before returning to NORA. 

I still ♥ ♥ ♥ Treena! I ♥ her courage and faith in people. However, I did get a little frustrated at how trusting and naive she seemed at times, but Vance was usually there to look out for her and at least tray to talk some sense into her. 

This book was great, and I definitely don't regret actually paying for it one bit! It was a great way to wrap up the first two books. I hope this isn't the end of Treena and Vance's story though! I noticed that the author ended it in a way that would allow for another book... I hope that's not just wishful thinking! :) 

This book took a little bit of what I loved about the first 2 books, threw in some new aspects (that were totally surprising), and weaved them all together to create an amazing third book! 

Side note: I was so happy to see Chan and Maizel in this book! If you haven't already, I definitely recommend reading Chan's Story before reading this book. You can get it free, if you sign up for Rebecca Rode's newsletter. When I first read Chan's Story, I was a little confused why his story was so significant, but I was so thankful that I read it before starting this book, when I first saw his name in it. It will give you a great background story that will help you understand Chan and why he is doing what he does.


Friday, June 30, 2017

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)
The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies - think Doctor Who with librarian spies!
Irene must be at the top of her game or she'll be off the case - permanently...
 Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.
Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creature and unpredictable magic. Irene's new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. 
Soon, she's up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option - the nature of reality itself is at stake. 

Review

I have wanted to read The Masked City so bad, since it was first released, but I never came across a copy and there were a lot of people ahead of me, on hold to download a copy from the library. So, it would have taken forever.

Then, I came across The Burning Page on NetGalley. I read the description and was interested, not even realizing that it was the third (and I until just not, what I thought was the final, but keep reading) book in the same series as The Masked City.

I wasn't even aware of this fact until I was approved to receive a review copy of the book, and thus began my wonderful journey through this magnificent series.

Background from Book One, The Invisible Library:

The first book explains all about the secret library that exists across worlds in an alternative reality. The Librarians' purpose is to "obtain" (and sometimes steal) rare books from various worlds in order to preserve them, which helps them maintain order. The first book is the first of such adventures for Irene, a junior Librarian, and her new assistant, Kai.

Throughout the story, all kinds of obstacles prevent them from retrieving the book in a world filled with chaos and magic. They make friends and enemies along the way, and the ending is the perfect set up for the second book, The Masked City.

No spoilers, but oh boy was a happy that I waited to read The Masked City.

The Masked City (The Invisible Library, #2)

The Masked City was worth the wait, but I am soooo glad that I didn't have to wait to read if after finishing The Invisible Library. I would have cried.

Instead of crying and wishing that I had a time machine to travel to the point in the future where I could pick up a copy, I was able to start reading the second book immediately after finishing the first.

The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, #3)

While I like the cover that is listed on the main GoodReads site for The Burning Page, I have to show you the cover that was presented on the NetGalley site and was used for some editions of the book.

The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, #3)

So, I received my copy of The Burning Page and realized that I absolutely had to get copies of the first two books so that I could review it. I know, torture, right?! 

The Burning Page starts out with an Inter-Library notice of the status of several alternate worlds, letting the Librarians know which worlds are safe, and which are prohibited from travel. Some are at war, some are experiencing power struggles between the fae (who crave chaos) and the dragons (who strive for order), and some have been looking a little too closely into the Library's dealings, making them not safe for travel, as Librarians must never reveal the existence of the Library or their relationship to it. 

Apparently some worlds have cloned dinosaurs. I particularly like this quote in one of the notices:

In fact, we wish to remind all Librarians that they are here to collect books, not dinosaurs. Those Librarians who have problems distinguishing between the two should take a refresher course in Library basics.

Again, I am so glad that I did not have to wait read this book! I would have cried if I had to wait to see how the story ends...

At the time I wrote the above statement, I thought that The Burning Page was the last book in the series. However, just now, as I was pulling the covers for this post, I saw that another book has been added, and I cannot contain by excitement! Here is the cover that is posted for The Lost Plot, scheduled to be released this December.

The Lost Plot (The Invisible Library, #4)

The description was finally added for The Lost Plot yet on GoodReads!
The fourth title in Genevieve Cogman's witty and wonderful The Invisible Library series, The Lost Plot is an action-packed literary adventure. 
In a 1930s-esque Chigago, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses and tommy gus are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon vs. dragon contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can't extricate him, there could be serious political repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war. 
Irene and Kai find themselves trapped in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They'll face gansters, blackmail and fiendish security systems. And if this doesn't end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene's job. And, incidentally, for her life...
So, thank you, NetGalley for alleviating my sorrow at having to wait to read The Burning Page. I will be anxiously waiting for the chance to read The Lost Plot!