ARC REVIEW: Riven – by Belina Crawford

Title: Riven
(The Hero Rebellion #2)
Author: Belinda Crawford

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
First published: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Finished reading: April 29th 2017
Pages: 250

Instead, she reached out to touch her mum’s mind. And ran smack-bang into a mawberry-flavoured wall. She glared at Fink.

He twitched an ear. Manners, he thought to her.

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Riven is the second book of The Hero Rebellion series I started reading last year. It’s also probably one of the few YA sci-fi/fantasy series out there that is 100% romance free thanks to the fact that the author Belinda Crawford probably dislikes cheesy romance as much as I do. I enjoy reading the genre and tend to tolerate the romance since it seems to go with it, so not having to deal with it in The Hero Rebellion is definitely a rare treat. This story focuses on the worldbuilding of Jørn instead and is stuffed to its limit with action and more action. As soon as you start reading, you find yourself right in the middle of the action and that won’t stop until you reach the last page. The worldbuilding is interesting and I love the idea behind it; the Jørn creatures and the many street races are probably my favorite part of this series. The main character Hero’s powers and colorful ‘thought’-speaking can get a bit confusing if you are not used to it (it took me a bit longer to get used to this time), but there is no doubt it is one of the most original features of this sci-fi world. Riven ends with a cliffhanger that definitely makes me want to find out what happens next… Because there is still much to learn about Jørn and the main characters. I did feel the plot wasn’t as interesting as in book one, but that just might be because part of it was a preparation of what is still to come. If you enjoy the genre and like me are allergic to romance, this one is just for you!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Hero Regan is a telepath and the first of a new subspecies of human; an experiment to try and find a way for the human race to survive on Jørn. But something seems to be wrong after all that happened lately. Her brain is acting up, and that might just be directly related to the ‘bad thing’. Her genetically engineered companion Fink is acting up as well… And even though she already has too many things to deal with, the Librarian once again needs her help to save the world and it doesn’t seem like she has a choice in the matter. Will Hero be able to deal with all of this?

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Riven is without doubt an action-packed and entertaining sci-fi read and the best part is that it’s 100% romance free. I struggled a bit more to get used to the whole ‘thought-talking’ and ‘colored/scented thoughts’ thing, but it is without doubt a very original concept. The plot itself wasn’t as strong as in Hero, but it did sound promising for the things that are still to come. I will be looking forward to book three!


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BOOK REVIEW: Never Fade – by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Never Fade
(The Darkest Minds #2)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Paranormal
First published: October 15th 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Finished reading: April 10th 2017
Pages: 507

“Sometimes you’re the one speeding along in a panic, doing too much, not paying attention, wrecking things you don’t mean to. And sometimes life just happens to you, and you can’t dodge it. It crashes into you because it wants to see what you’re made of.”

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After reading and enjoying the first book back in January, I made a promise to read both sequels as soon as possible. It took me a bit longer than expected, but I finally picked up book number two this month… And I have to say that unfortunately Never Fade doesn’t live up to the first book at all for me. While I enjoyed The Darkest Minds even though the plot isn’t all that original anymore, I found Never Fade to be overlong and at times even on the border of boring. The writing style was as good as ever, but it sure took me a lot longer than expected to finish this one… And that is probably due to the fact that both the plot felt a bit thin and some of the characters started to annoy me. Basically, the sequel is about Ruby trying to find someone and messing up along the way, with various people betraying her or not being what they seem to be. Which might still be interesting, but it mostly felt like a ‘copy-repeat’ plot to me instead. Warning: this feeling might also be caused by the fact that Ruby started to frustrate me with the whole ‘I’m dangerous/I can’t be around others/I need to be alone’ thing. It does have a pretty explosive ending though! All in all not what I was expecting at all and yet another series that suffers from the ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’… I will still be reading the final book some time soon though, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed In The Afterlight will make me enjoy this series again.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Ruby never wanted her abilities in the first place and doesn’t like using them, but now she’s in the Children’s League she is forced to use them on a daily basis. She has to go on dangerous missions and get the truth out of their enemies, and she only agrees because it’s a way to keep the others safe. But then she finds out something that will change everything… And this new secret mission might just be the most dangerous one yet.

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I was really looking forward to this sequel, especially since I enjoyed The Darkest Minds that much. Unfortunately Never Fade turned out to be another case of ‘weak-sequel-syndrome’. I actually struggled to continue at points as the plot just felt too drawn out; I feel that a similar story could have been told with 150-200 pages less and would probably have been a lot more entertaining. This has nothing to do with the writing style itself though, because Never Fade is without doubt well written. It’s one of the reasons I’m still hopeful for the third book!


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ARC REVIEW: The First City – by Joe Hart

Title: The First City
(The Dominion Trilogy #3)
Author: Joe Hart

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Science Fiction
First published: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: March 24th 2017
Pages: 444

“There’s always hope, but change is the most difficult thing in the world for human beings to do. There is safety in static. Change is the great disrupter, even when it is for the good.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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The First City is the third and final installment of The Dominion Trilogy I started reading some time last year. I remember not being completely convinced by the first book, especially because of the not-so-original dystopian plot and annoying main character, but I enjoyed the second book a lot better. This improvement was probably the main reason I decided to request a copy of the third book, although I don’t like leaving series unfinished either. Unfortunately, I don’t think The First City continued the same line of improvement seen in book two. In fact, I had a really hard time finishing this third book… Like I said before, I never liked the main character Zoey, but in The First City she is becoming amost impossible to tolerate. I have even seriously considered DNFing it at various points… Her self-centered, annoying and whiney dialogues and actions made this read into a true struggle. An example? Her thoughts are basically all about how she is only putting others in danger and that she should do everything alone; sacrificing herself for the greater good; just put that on repeat indefinitely and you get the idea. Luckily the other POVs were slightly better and that’s probably why I decided to see it through. The plot yet again isn’t all that original and I’m not sure if everything is completely credible, but the ending was satisfying enough even though a bit cheesy. All in all the best of this series definitely came a bit early.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first  two books in this trilogy yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

It’s the 2030s and the world Zoey has grown up in hasn’t been an easy one for women. Little girls stopped being born suddenly years before, and the natural balance could never be restored. Zoey grew up in a research center (ARC) along with other girls, the investigators experimenting on them and trying to find a way to save the world. A lot of things have happened since then and Zoey is about to get a very shocking message: she might be the key and only hope for salvation.

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Like I said before, I mostly decided to read the final book of this trilogy because the second book was such an improvement. Unfortunately the main character didn’t change her way in The First City, and I ended up spending most of my time having my patience tested to its limit. It’s a shame a character can influence my feelings about a story in this way, but claiming otherwise would not have been honest. Also, the plot in general sounds too much like your typical dystopian story and some of it was farfetched, but Hiraku’s POV did add a little something extra to the plot.


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ARC REVIEW: The Wanderers – by Meg Howrey

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Title: The Wanderers
Author: Meg Howrey

Genre: Science Fiction, Contemporary
First published: February 7th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Finished reading: March 5th 2017
Pages: 384

“We can look and look, but it’s not like looking will give an answer. There isn’t a right or wrong decision to be made, just a decision.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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As soon as I heard about The Wanderers last year and the blurb mentioned things including its resemblance to The Martian, astraunauts and a mission to Mars, I just knew I had it to my list of most-anticipated releases. I was stoked to be granted an ARC copy and last weekend I had made preparations to be able to fully emerge myself into a wonderful story… But what I found was a completely different experience. First of all, I really feel The Wanderers suffers from false advertisement. Why? It’s being compared to The Martian (which is one of my all time favorite stories), and the two books just couldn’t have been more different.  I think I won’t be the only one to pick up this novel expecting something else, which is a shame because the right target group might enjoy this story a lot better than I did. The Wanderers is more about the psychological effects of the three astronauts who are TRAINING for a mission to Mars (yes, they don’t even go to Mars), and talks mostly about feelings, relationships and what effects such a mission can have on both the astronauts and their family. The story did started to grow on me later on, but I have to be honest to myself and say I don’t think I would have made it to that part if this wouldn’t have been an ARC. The writing is interesting, but a bit dense and combined with the slow pace it was quite a struggle to get through this book. I had also mixed experiences with the main characters. What I liked is that they represented a multi-cultural group and the diversity in characters is a huge bonus. The psychological effects of the long term Mars mission simulation are probably the most intriguing part of The Wanderers, but that doesn’t mean I actually liked every character. All in all not at all what I was expecting.

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In four years Prime Space will send the first humans to Mars, and the three selected astronauts will have to prove they are up for the job. Helen Kane, Yoshi Tanaka and Sergei Kutznetsov will have to spend the next seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created; a perfect simulation of the same mission they will start in four years if they succeed. For Helen, the MarsNOW mission is the last chance to return to space; the only place she’s ever truly felt at home. Yoshi sees it as an opportunity to prove himself worthy of his wife… And Sergei is willing to do what it takes if it gets him to Mars and set an example for his sons as well. Will they be able to show Prime Space that they are the best crew for the mission?

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I was really looking forward to this story, and I think part of reason I ended up being disappointed by it is the incorrect comparison to The Martian. Yes, both have astronauts and talk about a Mars mission, but that’s about it… The Wanderers is just a Mars mission SIMULATION, the story itself focuses mainly on the psychological effects of such a dangerous and long term mission and there isn’t a lot of excitement involved in general. On top of that, a slow pace and sometimes dense prose made it a lot harder to properly enjoy this story… And although the pace picks up a bit later on and the story started to grow on me, I don’t think this makes up for the initial disappointment. Such a shame!


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BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Library – by Genevieve Cogman

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Title: The Invisible Library
(The Invisible Library #1)
Author: Genevieve Cogman

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Mystery
First published: January 15th 2015
Publisher: Tor UK
Finished reading: March 4th 2017
Pages: 337

“She was a Librarian, and the deepest, most fundamental part of her life involved a love of books. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to shut the rest of the world out and have nothing to worry about except the next page of whatever she was reading,”

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I actually picked up this title on a whim since I needed a break from my ARCs and didn’t realize this was actually the first book of a series. Oops?! The title spoke to me when I was browsing my kindle, and I guess I was in the mood for a book about books. What I didn’t realize either is that The Invisible Library is actually a full blown science fiction/fantasy read stuffed with magic and mythical creatures like vampires, fae, werewolves and dragons. Definitely a surprise! The worldbuilding is without doubt interesting and I loved the idea behind the Librarians and Language, but in general the inclusion of so many different elements ended up feeling a bit chaotic. I also felt the many science fiction/steampunk and fantasy elements actually distracted from the originial Library idea and in a way it’s a shame… Because those descriptions are basically every booklover’s dream. The pace in The Invisible Library is also quite slow, making it harder to properly enjoy the story. I’m not saying this book actually is a bad read, but I did feel it didn’t reach its full potential and I wish the Library elements would have played a bigger role. I wasn’t completely sure about all the characters either; while I liked Kai and Vale, Irene didn’t manage to convince me. I will most likely still read the sequel at some point though to see if the Library itself gets more attention in that one.

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Irene is a Librarian and works for the mysterious Library, which harvests books from different realities. It’s her job to find rare copies of those books no matter what, and she is about to start a new mission. But she won’t be going alone this time… Her supervisor sends her to an alternative London along with Kai so he can get some field experience. This normally means easy missions, so Irene is surprised when she finds out that their book is actually potentially dangerous. And even worse: when they arrive, it’s already been stolen… And it won’t be easy to get it back, especially since this particular alternative London is also chaos-infested. An impossible mission or simply a challenge?

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I can’t deny The Invisible Library has a lot of potential and I loved the Library/Language elements, but I felt there were just too many different elements stuffed into one story to make sense. The Library and its magic, mythical creatures, science fiction/steampunk, detective, secret societies, an evil villain… All those elements sound great separately, but when they are all thrown together they start to distract from what is essentially the most original part of the plot. All in all not a bad read, but not as good as I was hoping for.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds – by Alexandra Bracken

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Title: The Darkest Minds
(The Darkest Minds #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: December 18th 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: January 21st 2017
Pages: 499
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“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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I still can’t believe it took me more than TWO years to finally pick up my copy of The Darkest Minds. I’ve been wanting to start this series for ages, but somehow I always ended up picking up a different title instead. But no longer. Now I’ve finally read the first book of this series Alexandra Bracken has me hooked. No more escape for the sequels, because I will be reading them VERY soon for another dose of my favorite Psi characters. I can definitely undestand what all the hype is about now… Sure, the plot isn’t all that original with its dystopian world where kids and teenagers develop a ‘superbrain’ and special powers. But it WAS written back in 2012 so I definitely kept that in mind. And more importantly, this story was just way too entertaining to worry about  the originality in the first place. I liked the main characters and their development, although little Zu is probably my absolute favorite. Ruby on the other hand can come over as a bit whiney at points, but I guess she did have some complicated memories to deal with… Another great feature of The Darkest Minds is without doubt the writing style and pace. The prose was so enjoyable to read and the story itself reads like a train. All in all a promising start of what has all the signs of being a great series!

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When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed even though she didn’t realize it at first. She found out soon enough when her parents locked her up in the garage and called the police instead of celebrating Ruby’s birthday with her. Instead, she was sent to the Thurmond camp along with all the other children who survived the mysterious disease and showed signs of having the new frightening abilities they could not control… And life at Thurmond is tough. Ruby is now sixteen and one of the dangerous ones. They put her in the wrong group when she arrived, saving her life at first but putting her in danger if the truth comes out. She has to escape, but that will only be possible with help from the inside…

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Like I said before, I feel really bad about not picking up this series earlier. As I already suspected, I really enjoyed reading The Darkest Minds and I will be reading the sequels (or at least the second book) next month without fail. Both the writing style and character are easy to like and even though the plot might not be all that original, I enjoyed diving into this dystopian world anyway. Recommended for YA dystopian fans!


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ARC REVIEW: Americosis Vol. 3 – by Haydn Wilks

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Title: Americosis Vol. 3
Author: Haydn Wilks

Genre: Short Stories, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 21st 2016
Publisher: Dead Bird Press
Finished reading: January 6th 2017
Pages: 60
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“Disuse. Disrepair. Despair. Three words that sum up the country three-and-a-half hundred million Americans are now living in.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I read the first two parts of this ongoing short story series by Haydn Wilks some time last year, and in the month in between I had forgotten just how weird and messed up they were. Because there is just no other way to describe Americosis other than call it absolute MADNESS. This third part follows yet again the various different storylines and is literally packed with action and descriptions of this crazy dystopian world. A bunch of different things are happening all at once in this extreme version of the US: a weird sexually transmitted disease taking over, aliens, time travel, violent attacks… The writing is very explicit and direct, and the sheer crazyiness of it all just draws you into the story straight away. The Savior bit of this third volume didn’t feel as strong as the previous two, but maybe it just was because he didn’t feel as present. If you are looking for something different and fullblown crazy dystopian, definitely check the Americosis volumes out. Slight warning: it is an ongoing series and the volumes have no proper ‘ending’, so you will be left wondering what happens next after each volume.

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Things are just getting more and more out of hand… Detroit is currently burning, and crazed buck naked freaks with crescent moon scars carved into their cheeks are everywhere, attacking people and biting whole faces off. The police and government are having a hard time keeing things under control… Is the madness finally winning? And what about the Savior and Libby, currently stuck in a time loop and lost in the desert?

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Americosis is without doubt the most crazy and messed up series I’ve been reading to this date. It is so full of madness and crazy events that the story is starting to grow on you, although I wish each volume wouldn’t stop right in the middle of the action without proper ending. The cliffhangers do help making you wonder just by how much the madness will increase next time… This story isn’t for everyone and you have to be in the mood to absorb such a high dose of crazy, but the right person will fall in love with the Americosis volumes.


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