blog tour, Reviews & Ramblings

Blog Tour Review. Snow by Ondine Sherman.

Before we begin, This is the second book in this series and if you are interested in reading my review for Sky, the first book, click this LINK to go to my GoodReads.

Thank you so much to Aus YA Bloggers and Pantera Press for organising this blog tour.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it!

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Snow by Ondine Sherman

3/5 Stars

Published July 15th 2019 by Pantera Press

GoodReads

Pantera Press

 

 

Snow starts where Sky finished, almost to the day. Which makes it extremely easy to follow. Sherman has also taken time to fill in the blanks from the previous book, so if you haven’t read the first book, you could comfortably read this one and not feel as though you were missing out on any major plot points.

In Snow, we see Sky turn sixteen, we see her struggle with learning truths about her father, struggle with friendships, new family ties and working out who she is and what she stands for. A big part of this book is Sky, truly finding herself and what is important to her.

That being said, I did struggle with Sky, as a character. I still feel that she doesn’t act, think or react as a fifteen/sixteen year old would. She feels much younger than the age that we are told. Some of her actions seem a little far-fetched also. Without getting too spoilery, she seems, for the most part to be a little conservative, yet suddenly she has the confidence to hitch-hike and lie and deceive. Actions that don’t feel true to her character.

I also found issue with her as a character in that she speaks of sticking to her beliefs and speaking up for animal rights, yet she isn’t very educated about the animals that she is trying to save. She goes out of her way to endanger herself, where guns are involved and showed very little remorse or accountability for her actions. Although this happens in real life, this is a book aimed at younger readers, so for me this seemed like a scene that may influence negatively.

My last dig at Sky is that she is hypocritical. She constantly is upset by her father not telling her the truth about his job, it gets brought up throughout the book, that him hiding the truth from her was horrible and how can she trust him now? Then we see Sky, herself, doing the same thing to her Boyfriend, Oliver, hiding all traces of Jaxon from him. Which in the end has the exact effect you would expect.

I know it seems I wasn’t a fan of this book, but I did enjoy it. Maybe I am too old to fully enjoy this book, but there were aspects of Sky’s personality that just didn’t sit well with me, as a reader. I can see how she will be relate-able for younger readers though.

Snow, like Sky, is incredibly easy to read, the pages turn so quickly, you blink and the book is finished. Sherman writes scenes that flow with such ease, as well as capturing the beauty of the Alaskan scenery and the depth of the characters emotions.

This book speaks to the child in all of us, holding on to the innocence of animals, the strength of family and the hard decisions that lead us to doing the right thing. I believe that under all the twists and turns, at the heart of this series, is family. We see Sky, struggle so much in this book, yet by the end of it, she realises just what she is willing to do, to forgive, to overlook, if it means she gets to be a part of her family again. That just because she doesn’t agree with someone else’s life choices, doesn’t make it okay to cut them out of her life completely.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens when she returns to Australia in book three, Star coming out in February, 2020.

 

As always, thank you for reading!

 

Julie.

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Reviews & Ramblings: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

As per usual, if you haven’t read the book, look away now, as things here tend to get a little spoilery. Here is the link to my non-spoiler review on GoodReads, if you want to get a feel for the book without having it spoiled for you.

Broken Things  – Lauren Oliver                                                                                                       Published: October 2nd 2018 by Harper Collins

Firstly, I had to post both covers, the AUS cover on the left, although lovely to look at, I am saddened that I didn’t get the US version. Look at it, it is so much moodier and fits better with the story. Why can’t they just have one cover for everyone… Other than they would be less fun to collect!

Okay into the nitty gritty, if you haven’t read this book, this is your last chance to look away to avoid spoilers.

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Wow this book. Wow the characters and wow just everything.

At first, I picked up this book, solely because it was a Lauren Oliver book, I didn’t know anything about it, other than she wrote it and it was about liars. Which seems to be a common theme in Young Adult Fiction at the moment. Anywho…

This story follows two friends who have had their lives torn apart by the death of their best friend. The death that they have been pegged for committing. The town they have lived in their whole lives turns against them, as do their friends, forcing them to move to home-school and to illicit drugs. Now, I have left a lot of plot from that brief summary, but you get the drift, they were accused of murdering their best friend and no one believes that they had nothing to do with it, other than each other and the boy who their dead friend was fooling around with.

This book does take quite a while to get going, very slow to start, but so, so worth it to be told the current story and the back story, before diving into the messy stuff, so if you are struggling with it, or you gave up on it due to this slowness, keep at it, you won’t be disappointed.

I in particular, love Brynne’s character. She is represented as this tough, rough, drug addict who doesn’t care what people think, but she is soft and sweet and undeniably concerned with how other people perceive her. But what I love the most about her character, is she always stays true to herself, even when things are tough or she feels like all hope is gone, she still is herself and I think that is something that we all can appreciate.

Let’s get to the elephant in the room, or the feeling of “hmm I have seen this relationship before”.. Let’s see…. Two completely different girls, from different worlds become best friends due to one, perky, blonde, stunning girl making them all into the best of friends, sounding familiar yet? This blonde girl is also super manipulative, has her finger in all of the pies and likes to play her two best friends against each other.. How about now? No? This blonde best friend also likes to tease her gay best friend saying “i know you want to kiss me”… Answer is, Pretty Little Liars. I feel like Summer from Broken Things is the spitting image of Allison DeLaurentis from Pretty Little Liars. I’m not saying she was copied or the story was copied, just that I am getting serious PLL vibes.

Summer is  and was the glue that holds Brynne and Mia together, they were the common ground making their friendship, but she was also the reason they started to fall apart, to feel ashamed of the people they were. Summer made Brynne feel ashamed of her sexuality, Sumer went as far as to tell the whole school that Brynne was gay and that she had a crush on her and it made her uncomfortable, all the while, behind closed doors, was encouraging Brynne to test the waters with her feelings, even staging a kiss between them.

Summer and Mia’s relationship was more innocent in a way, it was more based on Summer giving Mia the opportunity to experience new things, try things she usually wouldn’t try. But Summer pushed Mia outside of her comfort zone and expected her to play along, and for the most part she did. But the fact that Summer was constantly pushing her, made Mia feel as though she wasn’t enough.

This book is such a psychological thriller, but not in the traditional sense. It constantly left me thinking about my teenage years, about the manipulations of my friends that I was blind to, or that I chose to ignore. It is a powerful book in that respect, it really makes you see and feel that this is a very real topic. But the other powerful thing within this book, for me, is that the person who did murder Summer, was a teacher. Someone who is respected and trusted in the community; someone who you would never suspect. But this teacher didn’t just murder her, she supported and helped her with her dyslexia, with writing her fanfiction – Return to Lovelorn.

In the beginning, I thought it was pretty darn cool that the protagonists were writing a fanfiction, it gives us readers some sense of reality within a book? Does that even make sense? I think what I am trying to say is, there are so many of us out there who write fanfic and sometimes feel a little scared to show it, that seeing fanfic being written into a book, makes it okay? Makes it something to be proud of and share? Anyway returning to Lovelorn (see what I did there?) Lovelorn itself is a creepy as heck book, that Summer is obsessed with, to the point that she ends up believing in it, in a dark and cultish way. It truly becomes her life.

Wrapping up, I loved this book, I loved its rawness, I loved the way it left me sitting on the edge of my seat and constantly questioning Summer’s motives. I loved that, although lying is a very popular topic in YA at the moment, this book made it original and created its own little pocket within the genre. I am a huge fan of psychological thrillers within YA fiction, so this book was right up my ally!

Have you read Broken Things? What are your thoughts?

 

Thanks

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Reviews and Ramblings – Nyxia & Nyxia: Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Before I start, please be aware that this is going to be super spoilery! This is my review of both Nyxia and Nyxia: Unleashed. This post will have links to my original GoodReads reviews if you are interested in those, as well as my ramblings about these books, along the way.

So without further adieu.. lets get started!

Nyxia – Scott Reintgen

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Published 2017 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

The link to My GoodReads review is here if you are interested in my original review.

 

Wow, this book was such a different look at an inter-stellar universe. It had been on my TBR since it came out and I finally got around to reading it.

What originally drew me in, was that the reason these kids get drawn together is because this massive company, known as ‘Babel’ targets them because they come from low socio-economic places. They are kids who were raised in poverty, with nothing, with severe illnesses, kids that have always worked for everything they have, but what they had was never enough. Then this huge company swoops in and offers them millions of dollars, for participating in training for a space adventure.. and what 16-year-old with nothing, would turn that down?

Then things start getting weird. The training that these kids are put through is incredibly specific. Targeted training for what life is like on Eden, for swimming in rough oceans, for running on any and all terrain, for space travel and boat travel. And most importantly, manipulating Nyxia, the substance they are being sent there to mine.

What gets me, it that Babel is definitely untrustworthy, from the moment we learn how these kids are being trained, I had this feeling that they were using them, turning them into soldiers for some purpose other than mining. Why else would they have them fighting each other, to the death, if there were no ulterior motive.. They are pitting these children against each other, scoring them, ranking them and making sure they are constantly battling against each other, in all aspects of their lives aboard the ship.

Then bam… when everything has settled down, they introduce another Genesis team and the battles continue and get harder. But the worst thing is, this second team, Genesis 12, has been trained as exactly that, a team, which leaves Genesis 11 battling against a well oiled machine, when they are still conditioned to be working as individuals.

Babel’s deceptions are so ingrained into the culture of the ship that it is hard to tell deception from truth, but when Emmett and Kaya find an Adamite in the ships hull, things begin to get messy. Everything that the kids knew or thought they knew gets turned three-hundred and sixty degrees, completely confusing them before the biggest moment of their young lives.

Babel well and truly brain washes these kids, they turn them into soldiers, in every sense of the word, then send them up into space… But oh, no, it isn’t that simple. Right before they launch into the atmosphere for the decent into Eden, they are ambushed by past genesis applicants who didn’t make the cut, and are forced to fight to the death for a spot on  Eden. What the actual heck!

This book was fantastic, fast paced, emotionally charged. Well written and engaging. I was constantly asking myself, what the heck is going on? It is a fantastic representation of what big companies can do, that their reach is so great that they have more power than the president or prime-minister. They have their hands in so many pies and have so much financial backing, that the world is literally their oyster. I immediately went and bought Nyxia: Unleashed, I have to know what happens once they reach Eden!

Nyxia: Unleashed

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Published: 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

My review on GoodReads is here if you are interested in my review as well as my ramblings! Extremely spoilery down here, not as much re-telling the story, just my thoughts as I was reading the book.

 

 

Firstly I knew it! I knew Babel were trading Nyxia for babies! This company is so manipulative and have no idea what it is like to be truly human. The fact that they were willing to train up and convince a group of teenagers that they were going to a new planet to be miners and become millionaires, when in reality they were being sent to be miners and population savers. Off you go kids,  go make us millions of dollars while being used to re-populate a dying alien race!

The Imago (Not Adamite’s like Babel calls them) seem like, honest people. A little too into playing games but they seem to genuinely want what is best for their people. That being said, the way they treat their returned soldiers and poor people leaves little to be desired.

Speaker – this guy is a champion. I am a little worried he might double cross the gang at some point, because he just seems too good to be true, but fingers crossed he remains the overall good guy we are shown so far. He is like the Imago father figure that Emmett so desperately needed, a male figure who was in his court, to remind him of who he is.

Morning and Emmett – come on, as if you don’t ship them!? Yes Emmett and Kaya were super cute too but without Emmett losing Kaya, he wouldn’t be on the path he is now. He also wouldn’t have developed as a character, mentally he has grown intuitively into who he needs to be to protect his new family. Morning makes Emmett who he is, she gives him the courage to accept that others rely on him, that he is a leading figure. She makes him able to come to terms with the horror that they have been thrown into, she makes him strong, and in some ways he makes her weak.

This book shows us, in incredible fictional ways, that life isn’t always what you expect it to be. Even the most obvious agreements can have underlying falsehoods. We learn that people will always do what they need to, to survive. That desperate people will kill others to get ahead. I guess this is human nature, all fiction is based on these elements because we see it in real life, on the news every day.

What I love about this book is the raw honesty. It is gritty and vivid and doesn’t shy away from confronting imagery or controversial subjects. I also enjoy how Morning can have a male best friend and Emmett doesn’t lose his mind over it. Why is that kids? Because he trusts Morning. Boom. Minds blown. I know right. Who would have thought (apologies for my sarcasm… but not really though).

What an impossible position it is to put 16-year-old children in. Train them to be combat ready soldiers and dump them in a new planet… I do keep forgetting that they are so young. In my mind they are all in their early to mid 20s. The expectation Babel has that they will mine Nyxia, battle and kill Imagos and repopulate the planet is an incredibly difficult pill to swallow.

Finally, our Genesis crew make a deal with the Imago, to destroy Babel before they destroy the Imago and their planet. It all sounds amazing, the plan sounds fool proof and like finally the good guys are going to get a win, and bam, Babel is there for an ambush. How did they know where the Genesis and Imago would be!? Who is the traitor? We will have to wait for the third book to find out!

I loved the final chapter, mostly because Reintgen worked out what his readers needed, we needed to know that Genesis team was okay on Magnia (Eden), but he knew we also needed a win, even if it was a tiny one. And taking us back up to the Babel ship and showing us that Anton and Erone were kicking some serious but was just what I needed to lift the heavy sense of dread and death after the battle on Magnia.

This book was just as incredible as the first, I am literally dying because there is such a long wait until the third book comes out, and I need it now.. actually I needed it yesterday, so I could be reading it now… Well written with a writing style that makes you want to read on, incredibly diverse and interesting characters, each with their own back story, flaws and personalities that you grow to love (even the ones you think you hate).

I can’t wait to see how this trilogy (or Triad), wraps up. And finally, a little quote from my boy Emmett, who definitely sums up my feels for the final novel….

“Babel will burn: – Emmett Atwater.

 

Thanks

Julie