Review: Contagion

Contagion (Contagion, #1)

 

If anyone knows me, they know dystopian/sci-fi books are my JAM. This? Well… I wanted it to be my jam but sadly I had the toughest time connecting with any part of the story.

Short recap: This is the story of a mining ship crew responding to an SOS sent from what appears to be a deserted planet. The crew had no idea what kind of horrors they were heading to. They quickly discover the planet is full of lies, deceit, and very dark things that go bump in the night.

I have been struggling with this review because finding the right words to properly describe why I couldn’t connect to this story are escaping me. Maybe it was a combination of everything – less than mediocre story of space zombie mixed with an oddly placed love story. You read that correctly, everyone. There’s a love story trying to bloom while the crew of the ship is trying to fight for their lives against zombies. I mean, sure, it could happen but the timing really doesn’t work. I don’t believe I need to go into more detail.

The other thing about this story that made it difficult for me to enjoy was the amount of POVs. The story itself is told in a third-party voice but there are just far too many POVs. There are no less than six individual voices throughout the story, along with random short chapters from the POV of the zombie creatures. There are countless chapters like this so that means the number of POV chapters increase. If you want to talk to me about absolutely unnecessary and pointless, you come talk to me about those chapters. I did not care one iota about a 30 second narrative from someone that was bitten and going through The Change.

I do adore the author and she can typically write compelling characters, but I could not find them within this book. There are plenty of characters to be had here. The cast of the ship was very diverse and only somewhat interesting to read about. There was nothing that stood out nor was earth shattering. Everything about them came across as predictable at best. Their voices never truly sounded distinct so they all sounded the same after a while. That made it even harder for me to connect to anyone. I fell into my usual pattern of not caring what was happening to this cast of misfit crew members.

The overall plot was an interesting concept but the execution fell short of the intended mark. This was not a thrilling or gripping story for me. I was eye rolling more than anything because most scenes came across as campy rather than chilling. While the gore and bone-chilling terror were lacking from this sci-fi novel, the action was not. I will not and cannot fault Bowman’s ability to write a good action scene. Because I was unable to connect, the thrill that was necessary to make me feel this story never hit home with me. I wanted so much more from the story Bowman gave me. She hinted only at political intrigue and corporate conspiracies, but they felt like barely spoken words overheard while walking by someone. Only enough to make you think you heard it but no way to know for sure. I do hope Bowman expands on these in the next book because I really wanted to know the WHY behind the events that took place.

Sadly this book did not do it for me. I kept waiting for my hair to be blown back and goose flesh to happen. I’m still waiting, in fact. I am still undecided if I will continue with the series because this felt like a lack-luster series starter to me.

 

sara-signature11

Advertisements

Review: Sea Witch

Sea Witch

 

I am so sad. This book gave me a sad. Why? Because it was disappointing. This was not what I was expecting from this book. This will probably be a short review as I don’t have a lot of good things to say. I won’t speak ill of anyone or outright be mean, I’m going to state my reasons and move on.

I won’t give a recap because I don’t remember enough to tell you what it was really about. I know it was supposed to be a bit of an Ursula backstory but I’m not entirely sure. We’ll just go with that.

Here is what really made this story a tremendous struggle: The first two-thirds of the book were as slow as molasses in the winter. I was bored to tears. When I get bored with a book, I zone out and don’t pay attention. That is never a good sign. I will never understand why authors wait until the last 100 or less pages to actually do something with their story.  Because this book was slow as the day is long, I never connected with any part of this story. I didn’t connect or even remember anything about the characters. Great detail was put into large scenes that had nothing to do with anything. I didn’t need such in depth descriptions of dresses or meals, I wanted development of characters and movement of plot. Those were severely missing from this book.

I want to give the author credit for attempting an Ursula backstory but the execution missed the target by a country mile. This was nowhere close to an engaging or thrilling story. I forgot everything I read before I finished the book. Do I recommend this? Not in good faith, no. This was one of the biggest disappointments of 2018 for me.

 

sara-signature11

Review: Fake ID (Hunted #1)

Fake ID (Hunted, #1)

 

This is an older book but it was recently recommended to me through Audible. I’m sad to say this was a weak attempt at a mystery/suspense/thriller story. It was not very engaging or suspenseful.

Short recap: Chasity and her mother have constantly been on the move for as long as Chasity can remember. She doesn’t know why they are always moving but she does her best to adjust. On Chasity’s 16th birthday, her mom disappears. Suddenly Chasity has a very limited amount of time to locate her mother or the local police will put her into foster care.

Just writing the recap made me shake my head. There were so many things about this story that were either convenient or were just not believable. The premise itself promised mystery as a daughter tried to find her mother. What I read was completely different. Allow me to explain: the characters were poorly developed, the plot was weak and held no water, and the overall story was not believable.

First, Chasity isn’t even the daughter’s real name. Apparently she and her mother assume new identities every time they move. Chasity prefers to by “Chass” and rudely reminds everyone calls her by her her fake name. Rude. Second, I didn’t like Chasity’s character at all. She was whiny and “woe is me!” most of the story while trying to act all tough to find her mom. She swore she could find her mom better and faster than the police. Uh, you’re 16 with no formal training on anything. Calm down before you get yourself hurt. I never bought her tough girl routine and it got old really quick.

I am not a fan of things just conveniently falling into place for characters. I believe the author does it to help move the story along but it is never believable. Sadly it happened here and it was bad. Chasity seemed to have the best luck the entire story. Oh, your mom is missing but you suddenly remember a secret code you two have! That’s right! It just so happened that these two had a plan in place in case her mom went missing! Was this mentioned before it was convenient to move the story along? NOPE. Why would it be? Also, Chasity goes on the hunt for a very obscure, random, nondescript store in the middle of Nowhere America to purchase a fake ID and finds it on the first try. Get out of here with that nonsense. Do you know what made that scene worse? The random person who was at the store remembered her. Seriously stop. This girl could do no wrong and she found everything she was looking for. I could not stop rolling my eyes at the absurdity of it.

The overall story and reason behind why these two moved so much should have held merit but it was just so weak. Or perhaps it was the way things were revealed at the end that made me cringe and beg for the hours back I spent reading this book. Either way, it was just not good. This is one of the few books I have finished that makes me wish I hadn’t read it. This did nothing for me and I will not recommend to anyone.

 

sara-signature11

ARC Review: Light Years

Light Years

 

**I received an advance copy in exchange for my honest review as an LBYRPartner**

 

This is going to be another tough review to write as I greatly enjoyed this story. I enjoyed the setting, the characters, the plot, the twists, the turns, all of it. I am only upset about how long I have to wait to find out what happens.

Short recap: The Quatra Fleet Academy is doing something it has never done before – it is opening its doors to students from outer planets of the Quatra Federation to enroll. This means they will have the chance to be a part of their military, if their squad passes all of their courses and missions. Not everyone is keen to this idea of Settlers (what people from the outer planets are referred to as) having the same opportunity so mysterious (and bad) things start to happen. Four students from different backgrounds are assigned to the same squad will come up against unimaginable tests and challenges. Will it be enough to make their bond stronger? Can things work out for the Settlers in the Academy?

The way the story focused on four students was brilliantly done. They all had their own unique voice while blending together as a squad in a way that felt effortless. Cormack has had a very rough life. He came from a very poor settlement and had just suffered losing his brother, his only family. Desperate to get off of his planet that is full of toxic gas, he takes his brother’s place at the Academy. Vesper was the daughter of a very well known and respected high-ranking military officer. She is also a spoiled little rich girl that things higher of herself and lower of others. She only got into the Academy because her mother pulled strings, but it is up to Vesper to prove she belongs there. Arran was whip smart, brilliant to the point of being a genius, but very shy and reserved. His acceptance meant a better life for his mom. Orelia claimed to be from a well to do planet but that is not the truth. She was actually a spy for the Specters, a very well known enemy of Quatra Federation. The Specters want nothing more than to wipe the Federation out, and with Orelia hidden within the student population, they just might be able to do it.

Do you see how beautifully complex these individual stories are?! They all have their own secrets and inner tribulations they are trying desperately to hide, all while doing everything within their power to prove they are better than the station they were born into. I do have my favorite characters but I’m not giving them away here. There were twists and turns I never saw coming, though I should have. This was a fast-paced, edge of my seat thrilling adventure. I know that phrase may get thrown around a lot but it really holds true for this story. I tore through the pages and had this story devoured in two days.

One part of the story that I do hope is expanded upon in the next book is the reason for all of the ongoing wars within this universe. Nearly every planet is at war or has been attacked for some reason or another. I’d like to know more about the political thoughts behind that. That was the only underdeveloped part of the entire story but I really do believe it will be explained more in the second book.

I really do hope that this book is on your TBR because I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all. This was so much better than I expected and I had high hopes. If you are a fan of The Illuminae Files, then I say you need to give this a chance.

 

sara-signature11

ARC Review: What If It’s Us

What If It's Us

 

I want to let everyone know right now – this is going to be TOUGH to review. I loved… and I do mean **LOVED** this so much that I know I’m going to stumble over my words. I will do my best to give this story, Art and Ben’s story, the review they deserve.

Short recap: Arthur is spending the summer in New York interning at his mother’s law firm. His life changes forever after he pops into a post office and sees the most gorgeous specimen he’s ever laid eyes on – Ben. Ben is a native New Yorker who is at the post office trying to ship his ex’s things back to him. Before these two can share more than two awkward words, the universe separates them. They never exchanged contact information, IG handles, nothing. How are they going to find each other again, especially since they absolutely cannot stop thinking about the other? How far are they willing to go to find the other and see if they can make it work?

If the opening of the story doesn’t tear at your heart strings and stomp all over your emotions, you have to be a robot. I fell in love with this story on page 9. I openly admit that I went into this story with a lot of hesitation because the last books I read by both of these authors did not speak to me. Please don’t unfollow or attack me, but I did not like Becky’s second book, The Upside, nor did I like Adam’s History is All You Left Me. I know these authors have a massive following so I know I’m the unpopular opinion but I won’t ever deny my thoughts and feelings for books. I just did not click with those two so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this one. I am so, so, SO glad I gave this one a chance because I’m forever proudly shipping Ben & Art.

The main reason these two little lovebirds stole my heart was because their story felt real. It felt completely believable and I wanted to be a part of their journey. The story is told from both Ben and Arthur’s POV. I was a little worried they would have the same voice but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know which author wrote which voice but they effing nailed it. What these two created was pure genius. Arthur had recently come out in his hometown in Georgia so he had not ever had a boyfriend, or a relationship. He had his two best friends and that was it. Ben had been out and proud for the longest time, having been in relationships before. These two together created a chemistry that nearly set the pages of the book ON FIRE. It was nothing short of magic to behold.

Here is one of the best parts of this story: no instalove. WOO! *happy dance* These two do find each other (I will not tell you the particulars because you need to experience the adventure for yourself) and have several first-dates (do-overs). While this really is the story of these two discovering each other and who they are with the other, it is also a story about self-discovery. These two characters did not have a huge character arc or a lot of growth as they only had four weeks with each other. There isn’t a lot of time for Becky & Adam to change the characters that much. Even if they did, it would certainly not be believable. What happened between the pages was simply magic.

The other strong subject in this story is that of friendship. Both Ben and Arthur had strong friendships that they relied on heavily to help them through almost every situation. It was very refreshing to read about friends being supportive and not backstabbing. Once you read the story, you will discover that the friendships are not perfect – not even close – but they are real with their ups and downs. (My personal favorite was Dylan. If you have read – let me know what you think of him!)

Now I’ve talked about characters and relationships a lot. The other aspect of this story has to be the world building. This story took place in NYC and if you have been there, you will know exactly where they are and the places they visit simply by the way they are described. I felt as if I was in Times Square with this crazy couple. Even if I hadn’t visited New York, I would still feel as if I had been because the imaginary was so well done.

I am still trying so very hard to not give too much away other than my absolute excitement for this new ship. I found myself grinning like a damn fool throughout nearly the entire book and the ending had me IN TEARS. I am not figuratively saying that – I was legit crying. I almost never cry at books but this one got me right in the feels. The snark, the wit, the heart break, the HP references, the lengths these two went to find each other, all of it shattered me. But at the same time, it put me back together with only the smallest piece of my heart missing. Why is it missing? Well, that’s because it belongs to these two adorable creatures named Ben and Arthur.

 

sara-signature11

ARC Review: That’s Not What Happened

That's Not What Happened

 

 

This is one of those books that while it is very difficult to get through because of the topic, it is still needed and necessary.

Short recap: Lee and five other students survived a horrific school massacre. Every year on the anniversary the survivors typically spend the day together talking about memories, thoughts, and feelings. There is one survivor that moved out of the city (run out of town is more like it) and refuses to talk about what happened. On the third anniversary, Lee wants the truth to be known about what really happened with her best friend, Sarah. Sarah did not survive the shooting and was made into a martyr for what was perceived to have been said by her. Lee wants everyone to know what really happened but are the other survivors ready to share their story?

This was a heavy story to get through. Keplinger covered some very serious topics and she did it better than I expected. I am not trying to be crass when I say that, it’s that I have read books with similar topics that were not handled as well as they were here. Kudos to Keplinger for writing a story that I feel is necessary and needed in YA lit today.

The protagonist, Lee, was a formidable character if I have ever one. I admired her guts and determination to have the truth be told about what really happened to her best friend. She stuck to her morals and did what she thought was necessary, regardless of what everyone thought. I cannot fault her for that.

There were times I had to put the book down and walk away because I was becoming frustrated with characters not wanting to accept the truth over their perception of what happened. Take Lee’s best friend’s family. They wanted to believe with every ounce of their being that their daughter was the martyr the media was making her out to be because clearly their daughter had to be perfect. The fact that they would not even take into consideration that their daughter could be anyone other than this perfect image, Lee was chastised by them. They even had the town gang up on Lee and harass her! Could you imagine? I was floored.

The one thing that stood out the most from this story is how the name of the shooter is never mentioned. The name was always blacked out because this wasn’t a story about that person, it was a story of survival and finding inner strength. Well done, Keplinger.

I know this is a bit of a choppy review and that is because it was a difficult one to write. I enjoyed this story a lot and I want to do it justice. I want you to be interested enough to give it a chance. It may be a fast read but it is certainly not a light read or an easy read. I had times I was upset and uncomfortable, but that proves this author knows how to write a captivating story. Please check this out if you have not already.

 

sara-signature11

Review: Catwoman Soulstealer (DC Icons #3)

Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)

 

I went into this book with as much hesitation as one can. I had several reasons for being nervous about this story: 1) This would be my first Maas book ever; 2) I was afraid the MC would purrr a large chunk of her dialogue, and 3) I was afraid the storyline itself would fall flat. I was oh so correct on numbers 2 and 3. *le sigh*

Short recap: Selina Kyle has not had an easy life. Being forced to illegally fight was certainly not what she envisioned for her life. But Selina’s little sister has a terrible medical disease that is very expensive and their mom is a drug addict that left a while ago. When the authorities swoop in to take them away, Selina chooses to escape Gotham City and train to be an elite fighter. After she returns to Gotham City, she finds there is a new protector over the city – Batwing, who happens to be the very eligible (and rich) bachelor, Luke Fox. Can Selina and Luke deny the attraction they have for one another? At the same time, can Batwing bring down Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy before they take everything from Gotham City?

There was a lot going on in this story and not all of it worked. I did finish the story but I promise you that as soon as I was done, I forgot about it. There was not outstanding or marvelous about this story. Nothing stood out as an “OH MY GOSH!” because it was meh at best, or perhaps just fanfic that was published. I know that DC comics do not have the same following as Marvel but that doesn’t mean that as a comic book nerd I don’t know both universes. I’m sorry to say that this version of Catwoman was just all wrong. Maybe someday DC will get it right but it won’t be with this one.

Selina’s character was a big reason I never connected with this story. She felt flat and oh so one dimensional. There was no character arc for her. She started out fighting and conveniently knew gymnastics so could do elaborate flips, jumps, and whatnot. That was the beginning of things just working out in her favor. Give me a break. She left her sister behind knowing she would be taken care of only to return two years later to pick up the same cross she laid down and forgot? PFFFT. I don’t buy that. I get she wanted to take care of her sister but there had to be better ways of doing it. Leaving everything you know and love behind for a life of crime is never the answer (queue After School Special theme music). Instead of being a super awesome badass feminist protagonist, the character’s story line was pushed forward by abuse and PTSD. Both were absolutely not handled well within the pages of this book nor should they have been used as a well to propel a story.

Luke Fox was the other POV voice within the story. Was his voice necessary? No, not at all. I didn’t care for him nor was I interested in his spoiled rich boy is bored so he rides the coattails of his brilliant daddy story. I did not care that he and Selina started fooling around without know the secret identity of the other. The way he was tied into the overall DC Icons plot was absolute weaksauce – he trained with THE Bruce Wayne. Who freaking cares. Moving on because I cared so little for Fox that I don’t remember anything else about him.

The other major DC characters found within the story are Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Both were a complete let down and just as forgettable. It felt like they were written into the story simply to name drop. I don’t remember these characters ever teaming up in comics, movies, or cartoons but what I do I know as stranger things have happened. Both Ivy and Harley had the opportunity to be breakthrough characters but instead they were written in as page fillers. They were convenient so they were added. Maybe Maas could have expanded upon Ivy being an open lesbian but in true fashion, it was glazed over. So sad.

The biggest thing I did not enjoy about this story was the horrid representation of PTSD. Both Luke and Selina mention (very briefly) how they have PTSD. Apparently Fox was a marine that was recently discharged (it is never said why he left the military so don’t go looking for a reason why he left) and Selina claims it was from her abusive mom. Either way, Maas did a terrible job of portraying it within this story. Fox openly admits to Selina that he has PTSD and Selina proceeds to one up him by talking about HER PTSD. Sorry, honey, PTSD is not a game where you try to outdo the other person. Having PTSD myself, and not from military service, I can only speak to what I know. And what I know is that it was poorly executed and I was offended by most of what was said about it.

There was not anything redeeming about this story. The overall plot was weak, the pacing was off, the dialogue rivaled that of George Lucas when he wrote the third Star Wars movie, and the world building was nonexistent. There was nothing that made me ever want to reread or recommend this. I was not sure I could be this disappointed by a story but I I was wrong. Will I continue the series? Sure, I have already pre-ordered Superman as I will need a complete hardback set for my library. Will I go into it feeling like it will be a weak attempt to save the series? Probably. No matter what, I hope it will be better than what I read for this character that had so much potential.

 

sara-signature11