Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shattered Veil

When everything that defines you is stripped away, who do you become?

War has invaded Atalanta's quiet villages and lush woodlands, igniting whispered worries in its glittering capitol. Far from the front lines, 18-year-old Aris Haan, a talented wingjet flyer, has little cause for concern. Until her beloved Calix is thrust into the fray, and a stranger makes her an impossible offer: the chance to join a secret army of women embedded within the all-male military.

Aris's choice to follow Calix to war will do more than put her in physical danger; it will make her question everything she believes about herself. When she and her enigmatic commander uncover a deadly conspiracy, her expert flying might be the only hope for her dominion's survival...and her own.

It's Mulan meets Battlestar Galactica, with a heroine who is strong enough to save a nation...but only if she's willing to sacrifice everything, even the one promise she swore she'd never break.

Beth says 5 Stars...
When a book bills itself as Mulan meets Battlestar Galactica it a) is immediately interesting to me and b) has very high expectations to live up to, especially when coupled with a lovely cover.  I was a bit worried going into this since I've been burned recently by a bunch of books.  Luckily for me, this book is all manner of awesome!  I absolutely devoured it and could barely put it down once I started.  The world is complex, complete with a dystopian style job selection process.  Although I generally dislike books that switch between different perspectives, it felt right with this narrative.  It allowed the scope of the book to widen, encompassing some of the politics behind the war as well as what was happening on the front lines.  The threads of the story all came together at the end in a satisfactory manner, complete with a little twist or two.  The plotting was tightly paced and keeps interest throughout the whole book.

Aris was fragile and strong, depending on the situation.  Constantly underestimated by those who know her and coddled because of a childhood illness, nobody expected her to do anything save stay in her small town.  After Calix is unexpectedly placed in a military position, she accepts the challenges that come with having to hide who she is because of joining the all-male military.  Her response to various stresses throughout the book showed growth as she began to believe in herself and her abilities.  By the end, Aris grew into her own and started to develop her own reasons for moving forward.  The supporting characters, particularly having Galena's perspective, added to the story without being placeholders.  Everyone served some purpose, or at least there was a hint of one to come later on in the series.

Overall, this book was wonderful and completely fulfilled my expectations. The world was well drawn and the society outlined just enough to feel interesting and leave room for growth.  I can't wait to see more of this series and will grab the next one as soon as I can.
ebook from Netgalley

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rose Under Fire

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.


Beth says 4.5 Stars...
In what appears to be a common sentiment, I was both excited and nervous to read this book.  I absolutely adored Code Name Verity and have since made it one of my top books to recommend to both lovers and naysayers of YA.  I was worried that this follow-up would be disappointing and leave me wanting.  Although not as good as its predecessor, I wasn't left wanting.  It takes a bit to get to the main action of the plot, with the beginning acting as an introduction telling of Rose's life pre-capture.  There's then a brief interlude where we hear of Rose's disappearance from other characters via letters and notes.  The plot itself doesn't move aggressively forward, but instead meanders while detailing various episodes from the camp.  As with any well-written Holocaust book, your heart will break in a million different ways during reading.  The book feels like a memoir rather than a novel, which gives even more of an emotional impact.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention the poetry that Rose writes that peppers the novel.  Although I'm not a huge poetry fan, I liked how it added another layer to the story.

Rose is a well drawn character and I enjoyed seeing the world though her eyes.  Hearing about the struggles of those in the camps and getting glimpses into the heartbreak of those they left behind was really powerful.  The Rabbits were something that it's shocking to know was true and it's appalling to consider what happened to real people in the name of "science."  All of the girls/women were different and brought their own stories to the overarching structure of the novel.  Roza in particular, with her specific brand of fiery resistance, provided a great deal of emotional impact.  Her life in the camp defined her entire existence and her courage in the face of absolute evil creates a fascinating character.  I particularly love how the book placed good in the most dire of places and unexpected of characters.

Overall, this is a wonderful companion to Code Name Verity.  When taken on its own it becomes even better, with a complex cast of characters that will pull on your heartstrings.  For a different view on the horrors of concentration camps, pick up both this book and a box of tissues.
book from library

Monday, July 7, 2014

She Is Not Invisible

Laureth Peak's father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers--a skill at which she's remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.


Beth says 3.5 Stars...
I've heard lots of good things recently about Marcus Sedgwick and decided to grab this one when I saw it at the library.  I didn't really pay attention to what the story was actually about and went in without much knowledge at all.  The plot definitely veers widely away from the typical romances and that at the very least made it enjoyable.  However, the mystery ended up as not particularly captivating and oddly paced.  For a book where an obession with coincidence plays a major role the significance of things wasn't always well-described.  I did adore the formatting of the book.  Bits of Laureth's dad's journal are interspersed throughout the novel and add nicely to the story.  They provide a window into the mind of the disappeared and serve as potential clues to his whereabouts.  I must say that Sedgwick's writing is quite nice and a pleasure to read.

Laureth (in posession of a supremely awesome name) had the potential to be super cool, but fell a short of the goal.  Although I assume that being blind would be a huge part of someone's identity, it seemed to be Laureth's primary defining charactaristic.  The she constantly equated letting people know she's blind with weakness was highly irritating.  Some situations would have been so much simpler had she just been honest at the outset.  There were some lovely moments, though, that had me thinking about what trying to navigate an unfamiliar city would be like if I was blind.  The secondary characters were definitely different and a change of pace from the expected.  Not all were fully realiyed, but none of them felt like stock placeholders either.

Although there are definitely some problems with the book, it's a decent read.  I'm planning on reading some of Sedgwick's other books since they're evidently darker and a bit better.  If you want something that's different and contemporary go ahead and pick this up.
book from library

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t as long ago as Seth Sangre. His past is literally thousands of years ago. Seth’s life led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now and just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams that college will be a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself and not fall for the handsome Seth. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses, Mari learns that Seth might just have a life of his own that’s actually from the past. Suddenly Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be and maybe the player isn’t who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

Beth says 1.5 Stars...
There are some moments where a pretty cover gets the better of me.  This book is certainly an example of my weakness.  The plot had me interested, but I just couldn't resist when I saw the stunning image.  Unfortunately, nothing about the novel lived up to expectations.  The only good part was that the plot was fast paced.  There wasn't that much waiting around for the action.  Besides that, everything else was rather bad.  The plot itself wavered between predictable and totally absurd, with many questions left completely unanswered.  At the end of the book it seemed as though no progress had been made towards reaching the main goal of the story.  Either that or the author just forgot to enlighten the readers.  The writing was also sub par.  Information was repeated constantly.  I now have an aversion to the number 23, which is evidently the number of girls dated by the totally amazing Seth Sangre.

Mari was a great big nothing as a character.  Her motives, like her characterization, never gained significant depth.  Her obsession with putting people in nice little boxes got wearying quite quickly, especially since the first bit of the book consisted primarily of talking about how Seth seemed like a player and she was done dating players.  As the novel progresses her identity becomes increasingly wrapped up in that of another individual.  Instead of being her own person, she's defined by her position as part of a pair, thus hitting straight on another one of my pet peeves.  Seth ended up as too perfect; some flaws make for a much more interesting character.  The only non-stock individual was Ty.  More page time for him might have helped the book a bit.

Overall, this isn't worth your time.  It's a shame to waste such a pretty cover, but sometimes looks are deceiving. 
ebook from Netgalley