ARC Review: Phantom Wheel

Phantom Wheel: A Hackers Novel

 

**I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a LBYRPartner. This had no influence on my thoughts and opinions.**

 

This was one of those books that I was honestly curious to read since I haven’t read a lot of stories about teen hackers, or hackers in general. What I read was entertaining but I often became lost in the verbiage and felt as if I should have been smart enough to follow along easily. Unfortunately I’m not a coder or a hacker so when it came to all of the coding speak, and there was a lot, I had no clue what was being said.

Short recap: Six teens who had never met before believed they were being recruited by the CIA for their impressive hacking skills. If they won, they could win a college scholarship. Pretty tempting for anyone. Only one of the six teens refused to write the code asked of him, the other five wrote with no issue. It was’t until after the “testing” did they realize they were played. They were not being recruited by the CIA or any other government agency. The largest cell/technology company had these unassuming teens write code that when put together would create the most deadly virus every created. Now they have joined forces to put a stop to the virus known as Phantom Wheel from being released.

Sounds pretty amazing, no? Well, as I mentioned it was an entertaining read but it took me far longer to finish this novel then it should have. The characters were compelling, the story line was interesting, however, it was the heavy – and I do mean heavy – use of computer/tech speak that cause my eyes to glaze over. These six teens obviously knew their stuff, but making constant references to Red Hat and Linux coding was unnecessary. That meant nothing to me. I didn’t understand why it was so important. It was never explained why these coding languages were so important or what they were. It gave me the sense that I was not smart enough to understand what was going on and I am not a fan of that type of story. No reader should ever feel that way when reading a book.

That being said, there was also an enormous info-dump during the first third of the book that did not feel logical. Sure, backstory is important but it felt like overkill here. As mentioned, there were six characters but three to four POVs. That was okay as it helped give more depth to those characters, but why not give a voice to all characters? Why just those select few? Also, there were “character assessments” sprinkled randomly throughout the story but it wasn’t revealed who was compiling these assessments until the very end of the story. When the person was outed, it did not feel like a masterful reveal that blew my hair back. Instead, it caused me to say, “But… why?”

The pacing of the story itself felt a little off. There were sections that moved at lighting speed while others felt they lasted the length of the book. It was probably just me but the parts where the teens were coding felt to drag on, maybe because I didn’t understand half of what they were talking about or doing. When the story was coming to conclusion, things simply rocketed and the story was over. The ending felt incredibly rushed and wrapped up in a few pages. That did not sit well with me because it did not feel resolved. Maybe it is setting up for a sequel, I’m not sure but I know how I felt about what I read.

Overall, I was able to finish the story but this is not one I plan to ever read again. If you are curious, I urge you to give this one a try. It just did not work for me but that doesn’t mean you might not enjoy it.

 

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ARC Review: Otherearth

OtherEarth

 

I finished this a couple of days ago and still have mixed feelings about it. On one hand it is a very quick read and easy to get back into the story, on the other it felt unoriginal, as if it was a fanfic that combined Ready Player One and Warcross/Wildcard.

Short recap: Simon and his girlfriend, Kat, know the dark secret of OtherWorld – the creator has died and the Company is covering it all up. They also know that the patches or “disks” used to enter OtherWorld are not safe. If you die in OtherWorld, you die in real life. It is up to Simon, Kat, and two new friends to unravel the mysteries still hidden within OtherWorld before the new and improved Otherearth is released to the public.

While I loved the first book, this one suffered from Middle Book Syndrome big time. It did a good job of recapping what happened but most of the book was spent with the characters within the game of OtherWorld itself. Many chapters were spent describing new simulated characters, new Children, new worlds within the game. I felt there was just too much time spent describing things that did not matter to the overall story. Hence the reason I said this was a true Second Book.

On top of that, nothing really stood out to me. The characters did not have arcs like they should have, and if they did they were so slight that I missed it. Simon was still leading the misfit bunch of characters hellbent on discovering this secrets needed to bring The Company down. He would always walk around bold as brass in the game and sometimes in real life, but when it came to his girlfriend, he was still meek and shy. Either man up or don’t – quit going back and forth. Kat did not feel developed in this story. I knew she was there but she didn’t really stand out to me. As mentioned already, there are two new friends/characters added to the Simon/Kat team but I won’t spoil them here. Just know that they are very vague and felt like they were added for nothing more than convenience. They help the story line along but I never truly cared about them.

It is hard for me to say really what the plot of this story was about because again – vague. Most of this book is vague as if they authors were trying like hell to hook me (the reader) into sticking around for the final book. After what I read in this one, I’m not sure I will go on to the last book. This was overly cryptic for no reason I can figure out. Several ideas and concepts repeated many times over for some reason and that annoyed me. Plus, the ending made me wonder what the hell was happening because it made zero sense. NO SENSE. I’m quick to pick up on foreshadowing and repetition – this book was peppered with that. I’m not the biggest fan of books that constantly repeat themselves because it feels like filler, if that makes sense.

I’m not sorry I read this story but I am disappointed. This felt like someone read Ready Player One along with Warcross/Wildcard and decided to create their own fanfiction. The ideas within the story just did not feel original or originally done. I would read a scene and say, “Yep, that was done in RPO” or “Well, that is a scene straight from Warcross“. Talk about hurting my soul. Do I recommend this? EEEEEEHHHHHHHHHH… not really. Will I pick up the third book? That remains to be seen. As of this review, I don’t care what happens next but my mind may change by this time next year.

 

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The Last Wish of Sasha Cade: ARC Review and Giveaway

THE LAST WISH OF SASHA CADE

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Last Wish of Sasha Cade, TheAbout the Book:

Title: THE LAST WISH OF SASHA CADE

Author: Cheyanne Young

Pub. Date: October 2, 2018

Publisher: KCP Loft

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD

 

The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world — the best friend in the whole world — has died of cancer. Raquel can’t imagine life without her. She’s overwhelmed and brokenhearted.

And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from the afterlife?

In fact, Sasha has planned an elaborate scavenger hunt for Raquel, and when she follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha—and now Raquel—knows.

This boy, Elijah, might be just what Raquel needs to move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?

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Review:

If you follow me on GR (which you totally should…) you would have seen the brief updates I gave while reading this story. There were only a few as I devoured this book. This was one of those books that I tore through. I wanted to read it when I wasn’t reading it because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. That is the sign of an incredible story. As this is an ARC review, I will do my best to not give anything away but I will be hard pressed to contain my love for Sasha, Rocki, and Elijah.

This story broke my heart, put it back together, shattered it again, and then helped me heal. I will never be the same after this wonderful and heart-breaking story. I admit the characters are what really stole the show in my eyes. There are elements to the overall story that had me shedding tears within the first 20 pages, and many more times as the adventures continued. But it was the depth and development of the characters themselves that really captured my heart. Sasha herself was incredible. While she had a short presence in the beginning of the story, she most certainly did not fade away. She was ever-present and the way she loved Rocki and Elijah was the she did everything – fiercely and without regret. Who doesn’t want a friend like that? Who doesn’t want to be like that? Rocki, aka Raquel, was a powerhouse player herself. She also loved with no shame and with no fear. I adored her and wanted to be friends with her in real life. She was powerful and complex, I couldn’t get enough of her. And we also had Elijah, who I will secretly covet and swoon after. (Do you hear that, Cheyanne?! Claiming him as a book boyfriend NOW.) He was a bright and shinning star that helped make this story so magical.

Now you already know the premise of the story, how Sasha left tasks and adventures for these two people to complete. I am not going to give any of them away because please believe me when I say you want to experience them for yourself. I was grinning like a fool in public and crying tears of happiness at the same time. It was just breath-taking to be a part of.

The way the entire scavenger hunt plays out and the overall story unfolds was spellbinding. I knew Young could write but this blew my hair back. I was captivated the entire time and tried like hell to savor every page. This story went by too fast and I only say that because I loved it so much I didn’t want it to end. And talk about endings! HOLY CROW! I was laughing, crying, and screaming in frustration but in the best ways possible. I don’t say this often but that ending was perfect.

If you want a story that will stay with you long after you put the book down, this is what you want to read. I did not know I needed this story in my life until I read it. I know that sounds cliche but I promise you this book will make you think, it will make you feel, and it will touch your heart. This book needs to be on your list because you don’t want to miss out on getting to know Sasha Cade.

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About Cheyanne:

CheyanneCheyanne Young is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, and collecting nail polish. After nearly a decade of working in engineering, Cheyanne now writes books for young adults. She also runs a bookish Etsy shop.

Cheyanne lives near the beach with her family, one spoiled rotten puppy, and a cat that is most likely plotting to take over the world. Her newest book, The Last Wish of Sasha Cade, releases in 2018.

Cheyanne is represented by Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon

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Giveaway Details:

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of THE LAST WISH OF SASHA CADE, US Only.

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2804/?

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

9/24/2018- Literary Meanderings Interview

9/25/2018- Dani Reviews Things– Excerpt

9/26/2018- A Gingerly Review– Review

9/27/2018- Moonlight Rendezvous– Review

9/28/2018- Adventures Thru Wonderland Review

 

Week Two:

10/1/2018- BookHounds YA– Review

10/2/2018- Novel Novice– Guest Post

10/3/2018- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

10/4/2018- Do You Dog-ear?– Review

10/5/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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ARC Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen

 

**I received an arc from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I read this as a LBYRpartner**

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I have been struggling for days on how to properly write this review. Why the struggle? You know how it goes – if I don’t like a book I can easily type 5000 words or more and give in depth details as to why I didn’t like particular people/places/things. But if I love a story, the right words needed to express myself escape me. This story, my dear readers, is one that is still with me and I still feel everything for Evan. It is just so good that I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

Short recap: Evan Hansen was never the popular or outgoing kid in school. His mother even knows he leads an isolated life. Evan has a therapist to help him overcome some big issues. One thing he is tasked with is writing letters to himself… they are meant to be inspirational or whatever he is feeling at the time. He brings them to his sessions and they discuss. Pretty simple, no? Everything changes when one of Evan’s letters – a letter that is real and raw – is stolen from him by a bully, Connor Murphy. Things get even worse after something awful happens to Connor and Evan’s letter is found on him. It is implied that Connor and Evan were secret best friends. Suddenly Evan is the most popular boy in school, everyone loves him, everyone wants to talk to him and hear what he has to say… everything starts to go Evan’s way… if only he can keep up the lie. Can Evan keep stringing everyone along? Can he live in the fake friendship and world he has created?

I pretty much went into this story blind, as I do with most books. I only knew this was based on a musical but seeing as I have not been to many musicals, I did not know the particulars of the story. Be that as it may, I feel that not knowing about the musical did not improve or worsen my reading experience. I had nothing to compare the story to so I was free to experience fully and without reservation. I do believe that was the correct way to go. I allowed myself to welcome Evan into my life and go on this journey with him. And what a journey it was…

When I say everything about this story took hold of me, I mean it. The characters were the absolute shining star of the entire novel. Evan was brilliantly complex and believably flawed. He preferred to be alone but at the same time wanted to have friends. I’m sure we all feel that way at some point in our lives, I know I related to that trait. Maybe that’s why he chose to tell that little white lie that grew into something bigger than anyone could have ever imagined – the idea of being someone’s friend, the idea of mattering to someone. No lie, that’s a pretty powerful incentive in my book. But it was how Evan kept the lie going that really gripped me. I was bewitched by Evan and could not put his story down. I was in this one for the long haul.

The writing style seriously blew me away. I felt it was masterfully written and flowed so well. I was quickly turning the pages nonstop and before I knew it, the story was over. Talk about a quick read! But while it may have been a fast story to get through, it was not easy. There are very, very tough topics covered: suicide, bullying, lying, and more. Those are never easy to read but they cannot be easy to write about either. The authors of this novel did an excellent job of not making this a “preachy” story. I never felt it was an After-School Special. The topics within the pages of this book are handled very well.

You may be wondering when/if I will give more detail into exactly what happened … sorry! You won’t find those here. Other reviews, perhaps, but not here. You know how I operate. I want to hook you with the premise and hope that you give the book a chance for yourself. I know there is already a lot of hype around this book and I’m here to tell you that it is all deserved. This book was everything I wanted and hoped it might be. It had me wondering what I would do if I were in Evan’s place. I’d like to think I know what I would do but I wouldn’t know unless the situation presented itself.

I’m rambling! See what this book makes me do! Now this is me imploring you to add this to your TBR if you have not already. Borrow from your library or borrow from a friend (if your friends are the sort to lend their precious out…). If there is one book that I urge you to read this season, it is this book. You’ll thank me later.

 

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