Book #72: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

When all hope is gone, how do you survive? 

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. 

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson is a sci-fi dystopian book from June’s OwlCrate box.  Some have called this book a mix between Lost and The Maze Runner series. To be honest, that may be true.

While reading, I kept thinking of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Not because everyone is on boats looking for the last piece of land. Eden and three other girls are complete strangers on their way to escape from a prison camp in an island. It’s a friggin’ concentration camp on an island. Now, the Waterworld thought comes in because there is a large amount of flooding that has destroyed and changed the world.

Most of the world is now ocean and islands.

Now, that might sound interesting and adding the almost Third Reich bad guys, called the Wolfpack, the book sounds pretty cool. Unfortunately, it didn’t really grab me. It was one of those books that wasn’t for me. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a well written book.

It is. Olson writes well, I liked the basis of her characters. It was just the world was pulling me away from the story and the characters. I felt disjointed and I didn’t care one way or another. It just wasn’t for me.

I do plan on giving my copy to my brother though. This is the kind of stuff he will like and I think he will be a bigger fan of the book than I am.

Book #71: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

This book took me three tries to read  it. The first time, I wasn’t impressed with the narrator on the audio. The second, this time for a FB book club (OwlCrate Book Club), I actually made a solid effort, but the story was taking too long to get into. The third, and final time, was another audio attempt.

I finished it in the third try.

I wanted to finish this book because all of my book club pals were reading the other books and I wanted to be a part of their experience. Fandom is a real form of peer pressure, only it’s almost free to be a fan.

To be honest, it was the last third of the book that got me. If you can get through two-thirds of world building and boring romance building, then the last third will get you. Or, at least, it did for me. I actually liked the last third and was rooting for Feyre all through it. I even found my favorite character, which isn’t Feyre.

This book is a romance first and foremost. It has an in depth world and it is rich in magic. The writing can feel a bit boring, but I’m more of an action girl. Give me guts and glory any day.

However, in all of this, I’m actually looking forward to continuing the world. Now that I understand Maas’ style, I’m more inclined to read her other books. I’m going to continue her work, but I’m not a Maasassin just yet. Though, I do love what the fandom calls themselves. Badass name, guys.

COVER REVEAL: Hickville Redemption by Mary Karlik

Hickville Redemption
Mary Karlik
Publication date: July 17th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

A 30 year old mystery…

A 15 year old sleuth.

Freshman Mackenzie Quinn wants nothing to do with the mysterious death of Cassidy Jones. But when her crush, Braden McGuire, declares he’s determined to uncover the truth, she is drawn into the cold case. The problem is her dad is the number one suspect. Things look pretty hopeless until her best friend, Travis Barns, loans her the secret diary of Cassidy Jones. His only stipulation is that she not share it with anybody else. But when her jealous boyfriend finds and exposes the diary, secrets come to life that could ruin MacKenzie’s whole family.

Can she find a way to clear her father’s name and atone for her own mistakes before it’s too late?

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Author Bio:

Following a career as a nursing instructor, award-winning author, Mary Karlik earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. A native Texan, Mary loves horses, dogs, cats, country music, and small town diners. Although life has taken her elsewhere, her heart remains in the Lone Star state.

Mary served as the VP of programs for the Young Adult Romance Authors of America (YARWA) from 2015 – 2016. She currently serves as the President of the YARWA.

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Book #70: Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub

When a graduate student with a passion for jazz arrived in New York to discover that a legendary saxophonist he had assumed long dead is not only still alive but playing in an East Village club, he spends night after night in awe-struck attendance.

And when the legend grants him an interview on Halloween, he jumps at the opportunity. What unfolds is an endless night filled with an extraordinary story told by a dying master: a story centered upon the Halloween night of his eleventh year, a white woman screaming in a shanty town, a killer and an unidentified man fleeing with a strange bundle in his arms. 

I received Pork Pie Hat by Peter Straub from a Nocturnal Readers box. It is a short story about a man interviewing a Jazz musician and that musician’s hidden traumatic secret.

I honestly didn’t care for this novella. I haven’t read anything from Straub, but this novella wasn’t a good representation for me. The writing is very well done. The story is a quick one and the writing has a fluid quality that seems to illustrate how Hat performs with his saxophone.

Now, beside that, I didn’t feel any emotion towards Hat. This is a thinking book more than a feeling book. I prefer a mixture of the two, a balance if you will. I want to feel the dread and excitement. However, I found myself only thinking what exactly happened. What did I just read? What did Hat witness?

So, yeah, this book was not for me.


Book #69: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.

The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 bestselling author of Follow You Home.

I received The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards from a Goodreads Giveaway. I have not been compensated for this review.

Mark Edwards is a hit and miss author for me. There was one book I read from him that I absolutely loved and there was another that was okay. This one didn’t grab me.

The story is broken down in different point of views and narration styles. About two thirds are in first person, one narrator being the serial killer and the other one of his future victims. The last third is in third person and follows the detective, Imogen, as she tries to stop the killer.

The victims are people who have lived a terrible life. Their lives begin to get better, almost as if their luck has changed. Once they are at the peak of their happiness, the killer kills them.

To be honest, I couldn’t get into the characters and the narration style put me off. I was unable to get into the story. This isn’t going to put me off of future Edwards reads, but I didn’t care for this one.

Book #68: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, is one of those books that I didn’t know what to think about. At least, in the beginning.

It has all the beginnings of an interesting fantasy story. There is a world divided into two factions: one with power and another with eternal serfdom. These factions are determined by a person’s blood. Not blood type, but the actual color of the blood. That’s right, their blood is a different color.

Silvers are the guys with the powers. They can manipulate an element according to their bloodline and do a whole bunch of stuff. Naturally, they see themselves as superior to the Reds.

Reds basically are just us. No special abilities.

Anyways, what I found both interesting and confusing is that I didn’t know what fantasy sub-genre this book is a part of. There is technology, so I originally thought dystopian. But then, there isn’t an explanation as to how there is a group of people with silver blood or how they have powers.

I’m not sure if this will ever be explained, but I feel that there’s some big answer that comes with this question that has to do with radiation or a great war that they are still fighting in the book.

The main character, Mare, is an interesting character. She’s caring, but not to a fault. She’s a pickpocket and is quick on her feet. This natural talent is both what gets her into trouble and what saves her life. She is quick to think, but isn’t book smart. And even though she does things to protect the ones she loves, she does feel guilty about her actions.

She isn’t a perfect character by any stretch of the imagination. She is a character with many flaws and I liked that about her.

All in all, it was a good book and I do plan on reading the second in the series.

COVER REVEAL: Mick & Michelle by Nina Rossing

Mick & Michelle
Nina Rossing
Published by: Harmony Ink Press
Publication date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult

Fifteen-year-old Mick Mullins has a great life: his parents are sweet, his sister is tolerable, and his friendships are solid. But as summer descends on Queens, he prepares to turn his carefree existence upside down by disclosing a secret he has kept long enough. It’s time to work up the courage to reveal that he is not a boy, but a girl—and that her name is Michelle. Having always been the perfect, good boy, Michelle is terrified that the complicated truth will disappoint, hurt, or push away the people closest to her. She can’t continue hiding for much longer, though, because her body is turning into that of a man’s, and she is desperate to stop the development—desperate enough to consider self-medicating with hormones.

Most of all, Michelle fears that Grandpa, who is in a nursing home after a near fatal stroke, won’t survive the shock if he finds out that his favorite grandchild, and the only boy, is a girl. If she kills her beloved Grandpa by leaving Mick behind, she isn’t sure embracing her real identity will be worth the loss.

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Author Bio:

Nina Rossing lives in Norway, where the winters are long and the summers short. Despite the brilliant nature surrounding her, she spends more time in front of her computer, or with a book in her hands, than in the great outdoors (though you may find her out on her mountain bike if the weather is good). She works as a high school teacher, which in her opinion is probably the best job in the world.

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