Book Review ~ Gemina (Illuminae Files #2)

📓 Gemina, the second book of the Illuminae Files series, is a Young Adult Sci-Fi thriller set in the future that takes place in space. If you haven’t read the first book, be warned –  this review is full of spoilers. 📚 😌 Both books are a compilation of emails, instant messages, security camera footage, pictures, and “regular” narrative.

Gemina

 

Title: Gemina

Author: Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Thriller

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date published: October 2016

Page Count: 659

 

 

synopsis

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.”

My Review

Survivors of the Kerenza attack on January 29th, 2575 fled aboard the Hypatia, Copernicus, and Alexander. Pursued by the Lincoln, a Beitech Industries spaceship, Hypatia is the only remaining ship. Reaching the Heimdall Jump Station is their only hope to escape and let the rest of the universe know what Beitech has done. According to a comment Jay Kristoff made on Goodreads, Gemina begins 5 minutes after Illuminae ends, 15 days prior to Hypatia’s estimated arrival at the Heimdall Jump Station (home to over 10,000 people).

Mikhail Malikov is the leader of the House of Knives. Living on the Heimdall, he and his nephew, Niklas, inject worm-like creatures into living cow’s brains to create an addictive drug called “dust”. Nik is Hanna Donnelly’s drug dealer. She is the Heimdall‘s commander’s daughter, and is dating the incredibly handsome Jackson Merrick. A highly trained crew hired by Beitech attack the Heimdall, planning to use the jump station to reach Hypatia, destroy all people and evidence of the Kerenza attack.

In a strange turn of events, Hanna and Nik find themselves having to work together to try to save Heimdall and Hypatia.

Hanna is a lot like Kady, the main character from Illuminae. I love reading about smart, bad-ass women like Hanna and Kady. Nik is the bad boy that you’d love to date, Merrick is the guy you introduce to Dad. As you’ve probably guessed Hanna and Nik end up crushing on each other. The slow-burn/romantic triangle is slightly annoying at times, but I was able to put it aside thanks to the relatively fast-moving plot. My FAVORITE character is Nik’s cousin Ella, a genius 15-year-old hacker.

Gemina is a fast-paced, action filled page turning thriller that made me laugh.

I didn’t like that we don’t read about the character’s from Illuminae until the 55% mark. Even though the mixed-media delivery of this novel does make this a fast read for a book with over 600 pages, there is a lot that could have been cut. Even though they are strong, female leads, Hanna and Kady feel like the same character. The way they talk in the emails and instant messages felt like it could be the same person. I also had a hard time believing 18 year olds could outsmart well-trained adult agents.

I rate this one a strong 3.5 stars. Illuminae Files had better characters, Gemina had a better plot, I’m hoping the third book Obsidio will give me both. I would not recommend the e-book version, it just doesn’t work very well with the book format.

In case you’re interested, here’s my review for Illuminae Files.

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One of the best books I’ve read this year – The Astonishing Color of After #BookReview

I feel incredibly grateful to have received an advanced copy of The Astonishing Color of After in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. This is one of my most favorite books ever. I can’t wait to buy my own copy!

the astonishing color of after

 

Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Genre: Teen/YA Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Date published: Expected March 20, 2018

Page Count: 480

 

 

synopsis

“Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.”

My Review

The Astonishing Color of After is a freeing, haunting, quirky, contemporary romance novel about depression, suicide, grief, family secrets, forgiveness, and love. This story takes place in America and Taiwan. Told with luxuriant writing, I wish I could share some of my favorite passages, however because this is an advance copy I’m not allowed. The writing quality is exquisite.

Leigh, the main character, is a girl who thinks of every life event as a color, yet only sketches in black and white. Leigh’s best friend is a guy named Axel, who creates pictures using colors and shapes to match the song in his head, then he makes the music to match the image. He calls it opera electronica. And yes, he is as cool as he sounds. Though Leigh has a secret crush on Axel, this is not an insta-love situation. Her other close friend, Caro, is a lesbian with a super quirky, loving family. Caro’s grandparents are absolutely adorable, and definitely a couple of my favorite characters.

When Leigh travels to Taiwan we get to meet her grandparents. As Leigh travels around Taiwan, visiting her mother’s favorite places, we get to learn a lot about the food and places. Feng is a close family friend who accompanies Leigh during her travels, teaching her more about the traditions and language. In her room at her grandparents place, Leigh finds some very dark sticks of incense. Burning each incense stick transports Leigh to a world of “Smoke & Memories” where she gets to relive moments of the past from her loved ones perspective. Flashbacks can sometimes be annoying, however these “Smoke & Memories” chapters are absolutely fantastic. Leigh’s mother always wore a cicada necklace, and I was curious about what the symbolism was for this. I learned that the cicada is a symbol of immortality or rebirth, which fits perfectly.

I appreciate how much time and careful consideration it must have taken to create a narrative centered on suicide in such an authentic and gracious manner. I smiled, I laughed, I cried tears of sadness and joy. I even got goosebumps many times reading the last 15% of this magical tale. I can’t recommend this one enough – 5 STARS!

 

About the author.jpg

Emily X.R. Pan lives in Brooklyn, New York, but was born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is a co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology, and a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi. She logs the books she reads in an Excel spreadsheet and a secret other Goodreads account.Goodreads

Emily Pan’s Website

Pre-Order “The Astonishing Color of After”

Together At Midnight ~ Spoiler-Free Book Review 🗽 💕 🎄 🎆

Together at MidnightTogether at Midnight

Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Expected Publication: January 2, 2017
352 pages

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss, for allowing me to review.

Together At Midnight begins with Kendall making a list of “Things to do to make next year not suck”. She is back in her family home after finishing a Movable School Program where she got to travel to Paris, Rome, London, and Ireland as part of her high school curriculum. After Christmas Kendall spontaneously decides to tag along with her brother and his boyfriend who are heading back to their apartment in New York City.
Instead of going to Brown University Max decided to take a year off and work. His father asks him to stay with Max’s cranky Grandfather Ezra for a few days while his aunt looks for a new home aide. Max loves NYC and is happy to take some time to enjoy the city before heading back to work.
Kendall makes plans to meet up with Jamie, a boy who broke her heart when he said he only liked her as a friend, but while she was studying abroad he emailed her. They’ve emailed back and forth and now have made plans to hang out in NYC. As they are walking around they bump into Jamie’s friend – Max. The three of them witness a young woman being hit by a bus. This incident inspires Max and Kendall to set a goal of doing seven Random Acts of Kindness before the new year begins.
When Max and Kendall help random people in NYC we get short chapters from the perspective of the person they helped. It’s really great to get a little back story on the people they are helping because we get to see how one tiny act of kindness can make a huge impact on someone. We simply never know what battles other people are fighting.

My Thoughts

Together at Midnight might be categorized as a contemporary romance, but I have to say it’s not all about the romance, it’s not insta-love either. The relationships feel extremely authentic. Kendall has ADHD and I love that although it may change the way she does certain things, it doesn’t hold her back. Kendall reminds me of my younger self. I love her sense of adventure and admire her self-awareness. Max is loyal, committed, selfless, loving, but has insecurities that keep him adorably humble. If I had to pick a favourite character I think it would be Max.
Together at Midnight doesn’t have the typical happily ever after ending, which is refreshing. I liked how the story ended – crossing my fingers there will be more books about Max and/or Kendall.
The first chapter introduced a lot of characters which I often find overwhelming and annoying. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way or if I’m just weird. LOL
Together at Midnight would be a fantastic read during the Holiday season. I highly recommend you check this cozy, touching book. FIVE STAR read for me. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

About The Author

Jennifer Castle
Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her debut, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” book. YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE was a 2015 Florida Teens Read selection. Her most recent novel, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, was published in June 2016. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.

Friday Reads! What are you reading this weekend? 😀 📚 🤠 🐦

I can’t wait to fit in some reading this weekend. This weekend I’m reading…

Six of Crows.jpgSix of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

YA, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, LGBT
Published September 2015
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.“

If I somehow manage to finish it this weekend then I’ll be reading another ARC…

The shoe on the roofThe Shoe on the Roof

Expected Publication October 17, 2017
Adult Fiction (Canadian, Mystery, Relationships, Psychology, Humour)
Imagine…meeting someone with the same name, the same history, the same family, the same identity as you. Now, imagine meeting another person making the same exact claim. What would that do to you?
From the Giller Prize–winning novelist of 419 comes the startling, funny, and heartbreaking story of a psychological experiment gone wrong.

Ever since his girlfriend ended their relationship, Thomas Rosanoff’s life has been on a downward spiral. A gifted med student, he has spent his entire adulthood struggling to escape the legacy of his father, an esteemed psychiatrist who used him as a test subject when he was a boy. Thomas lived his entire young life as the “Boy in the Box,” watched by researchers behind two-way glass.
But now the tables have turned. Thomas is the researcher, and his subjects are three homeless men, all of whom claim to be messiahs—but no three people can be the one and only saviour of the world. Thomas is determined to “cure” the three men of their delusions, and in so doing save his career—and maybe even his love life. But when Thomas’s father intervenes in the experiment, events spin out of control, and Thomas must confront the voices he hears in the labyrinth of his own mind.

The Shoe on the Roof is an explosively imaginative tour de force, a novel that questions our definitions of sanity and madness, while exploring the magical reality that lies just beyond the world of scientific fact.“

What are you reading this weekend?

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The Raven Boys By Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review #SpoilerFree

The Raven Boys

Published 2012 by Scholastic Press (Goodreads Photo)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is a unique, hard-to-put-down young adult fiction novel. It’s not your typical fantasy romance story. A few of the characters have some real shit going on their life. When I say hard-to-put-down I mean it. I picked this up when I could fit in a page or two here and there throughout my day. If I wasn’t a mom with “adulting” responsibilities I could have devoured the entire book in one sitting. I want to put aside the rest of my August TBR and see if the library has the second book of The Raven Cycle series…Okay, I checked. The library does have it. The next book is The Dream Thieves. I put it on hold LOL (P.S. if you didn’t know you can put a hold on a book, so when it is available they call you for pick up).

 

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads Photo)

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.” (Goodreads Blurb: Author Page)

The Raven Boys main character is Blue Sargent, the teenage-daughter of a medium, Maura Sargent. They live with Maura’s psychic best friends, Persephone and Calla, in a house at 300 Fox Way, Henrietta, Virginia. Maura and other mediums have told Blue that she will cause her true love to die. Unlike her family and house-mates Blue is not psychic, but when she is near she’s like an amplifier, helping Maura, Persephone, and Calla make predictions and read tarot cards.

On April 24, St. Mark’s Eve, Blue accompanies her mother’s half-sister, Neeve, on the church watch. This is the night where mediums can see the souls of the people who will die within the next 12 months. Blue jots down notes as Neeve asks each spirit their name. Neeve, Maura and their psychic friends will use this information to let clients know their fate. For the first time Blue can see one of the ghosts making his way to the church doors. He wouldn’t tell Neeve his name, hence Neeve asks Blue to get his name. Blue has to ask a few times before he finally tells her that his name is Gansey.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue. Either you’re his true love,” Neeve said, “or you killed him.”

Richard Campbell Gansey III is an “all-American” rich boy who attends Aglionby Academy, a private all boys school. The Aglionby uniform includes a raven emblem, and therefore students have the nickname “the raven boys”. Gansey’s friends are Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Adam is an incredibly polite boy who attends Aglionby Academy thanks to a partial scholarship. Ronan likes to make people feel uncomfortable. He’s a bad-boy struggling with his father’s death. Noah is extremely shy, with pale skin and combed-back fair hair. Gansey, Ronan and Noah live in an old abandoned manufacturing building once called Monmouth Manufacturing.

On St. Mark’s Eve, Gansey had also been sitting at the old church with his recorder, hoping to hear the dead. He’s attempting to find a ley line which will lead him to the tomb of Owain Glyndwr (Glendower), the Raven King. Legend says the one who wakes the Glendower will receive a favor.

Gansey longed for him like Arthur longed for the grail, drawn by a desperate but nebulous need to be useful to the world, to make sure his life meant something beyond champagne parties and white collars, by some complicated longing to settle an argument that waged deep inside himself.

Adam, on the other hand, needed that royal favor.

And that meant they needed to be the ones to wake Glendower. They needed to be the ones to find him first.”

Gansey captured the discussion between Blue and his ghost. The recording gets the boys, especially Gansey and Adam, excited that they are on the right track to finding the ley line. Gansey schedules a reading with Blue’s mom to hopefully gain information about hidden energy fields in Henrietta. This is when Blue and Gansey will meet, and the adventure begins…

My favorite character is a toss-up between Persephone and Adam. Persephone, one of Maura’s best friends, has wavy white-blond hair down to the back of her thighs, black eyes, and speaks in a very soft voice. In my mind she reminds me of Lady Amalthea in The Last Unicorn, which is my most favorite movie of all-time. Ronan blames his bad choices on his hard life, where Adam uses his dreary life as fuel to improve. Adam is mature well beyond his years and I just can’t help but want him to find happiness.

My one complaint is that I had a hard time connecting with Neeve. She was interesting, yet for some reason I just couldn’t picture her in my mind and didn’t understand her motivations.

The Raven Boys is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m anxious to pick up the next book to see what will happen next. I recommend this book to anyone who likes teenage friendship quest stories, with a little paranormal ghost stuff weaved in.

Maggie Stiefvater’s website: https://www.maggiestiefvater.com/

Best Book I’ve read this year! Dress Codes For Small Towns by Courtney Stevens ] Spoiler-Free #BookReview

Dress Codes for Small Towns is an endearing young adult fictional romantic contemporary novel about a tomboy teenage girl finding herself among the rumor-mill of a small town. Courtney Stevens starts an interesting conversation about gender, sexuality, friendship, love, expectations, perceptions, identity, and family.

Dress Codes for Small Towns

 

Dress Codes For Small Towns

By: Courtney Stevens

On Sale: August 22nd, 2017

http://www.courtneycstevens.com/

 

Eight year old Elizabeth “Billie” McCaffrey is aware that she doesn’t fit in with most girls. She bonds with Woods Carrington, and over the next nine years they form a tight-knit group of misfit friends. They call themselves the hexagon; Billie, Janie Lee Miller (the pixie), Woods “Woods” Carrington (the president), Robert “Fifty” Tilghman (the douchebag), Kevin “Mash” Vilmer (the puker) and Mash’s cousin, David “Davey” Winters (the pretender).

Billie’s father, Scott McCaffrey, is the preacher of Otters Holt, a small town in western Kentucky. In an effort to keep teens on the “right track” Brother McCaffrey has set up a youth room in the church filled with fun things to keep the teens entertained and out of trouble. Ironically, the hexagon accidentally set the youth room on fire. While in the parking lot waiting for the fire to be put out the kids find out that Tyson “Big T” Vilmer, Davey and Mash’s grandfather, has died.

Big T was the financial backing for the Harvest Festival, and now that he has died there is talk around town that the festival will not be happening anymore. The Harvest Festival is when the mayor picks the winner of the corn dolly, awarded to the most “deserving” woman who will then be the first to dance at the Sadie Hawkins dance. Many women strive to win the corn dolly, many men are proud of their women who win, or even get nominated.

Due to the destruction the hexagon have done to the church with the fire they are given the punishment of construction – helping elderly people around town with odd jobs. Woods then gets the bright idea that the hexagon will help raise money to save the Harvest Festival.

While the hexagon attempt to save the Harvest Festival Billie is discovering the difference between friendship love, and love love. She feels incredibly confused about her gender and sexuality. Being the daughter of a preacher doesn’t make anything easier. I adore Billie’s character, even when she’s making bad decisions I’m always routing for her to prove that girls can do anything.

Janie is one of my favorite character’s. She’s not your typical “pixie” girl. Her father is in jail, her mom runs a laundromat but there are rumors she sells drugs. Janie is counting down to when she will leave Otters Holt.

Honestly, I loved every character. I can see pieces of me in each one. At first they appear to be a straight-forward stereotype, but with each chapter Stevens unveils how complicated the characters are. I would read a novel about each of their lives. For example, Fifty seems to be the stereotypical teenage boy attracted to danger – but then we find out he has four older brothers, so his idea of showing love is shoving, punching, wrestling. I can’t help but wonder what is going on in his mind? What is his life like?

I laughed, I cried, I held my breath in anticipation and pulled my hair in frustration. I think this is an important read for everyone over the age of fourteen, and highly recommend you check this one out!

I was kindly sent an advance reader’s e-proof courtesy of the publisher HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

 

“The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away.” ~ Leland Val Van De Wall

July Wrap Up

The Books of Magic

The Books of Magic

By Neil Gaiman

Illustrated By: John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson

Published January 2013 (first published 1993)

Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Fiction, Fantasy

My Review: The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman #spoilerfree #bookreview #fantasybingo

 

Little Deaths

Little Deaths

By Emma Flint

Published January 2017

Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery, Historical, Thriller, Crime

My Review: Little Deaths: #SpoilerFree #BookReview

 

 

 

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

By Stephen King

Published October 2016 (First published June 1982)

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

The Gunslinger by Stephen King #FirstChapterFirstParagraph

My Review: The Gunslinger Book One of #TheDarkTower by #StephenKing

 

 

 

 

 

The Edge of EverythingThe Edge of Everything

By Jeff Giles

Published February 2017

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: The Edge of Everything By Jeff Giles #spoilerfree #bookreview

The Edge of Everything By Jeff Giles #spoilerfree #bookreview

The Edge of EverythingThe Edge of Everything

By: Jeff Giles

Published February 1st, 2017 by Bloomsbury Children Books

360 pages

ISBN: 9781619637535

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy (Paranormal), Romance, Adventure, Family Dynamics

“Holed up in their missing neighbors’ cabin in a Montana blizzard, seventeen-year-old Zoe and her little brother are rescued from an intruder by X, a bounty hunter sent from the Lowlands to claim the souls of evil men.”

Zoe and her family have had a horrible year. Her father died in an accident while exploring a dangerous cave. His body hasn’t been recovered and Zoe wants the cops to retrieve his remains in order to help her and her family have closure. Zoe’s neighbors, who were like family, were kidnapped by an intruder and never seen again.

Her eight-year-old brother Jonah has ADHD and reminded me of my own eight-year-old son. He’s funny, a little odd, but very smart in his own way. He quickly became my favorite character. Jonah was playing outside while Zoe was inside waiting for their mom to come home when the storm suddenly picked up. For some insane reason she didn’t ask Jonah to come inside, and instead went around the house taping the windows. If the storm was bad enough to feel the need to tape the windows why in the world did she not get Jonah and the dogs inside?

Zoe was written as a strong, independent, resourceful teenage girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but sadly she’s also incredibly selfish and uncaring towards others. I had a really hard time relating to her and found her unlikable. When she finally goes outside to get Jonah she finds he is missing, and follows his tracks into the woods towards Bert and Betty’s house. It’s getting colder and colder, and she’s searching for her brother for what seems like a long time, when she finally finds him laying underneath the dogs (who had saved his life by laying on top of him to keep him warm). She carries Jonah to their neighbors abandoned house for shelter to wait out the storm.

While at the house a truck arrives driven by Stan the Man, who claims to know Bert, Betty, the dogs, and Zoe – but she doesn’t know him. He attempts to drown the dogs, but they are saved by a mysterious stranger who is pale, with long messy hair, wearing a long dark blue coat. This stranger projects a movie of Stan’s sinful actions onto his back, and when Stan looks away the stranger moves the projection onto the house, and the snow.

Zoe realizes that she can talk to the stranger in his mind, and he in hers. They both feel an insta-bond. With her mind she tells him to have mercy and let Stan go free. The stranger tells Stan to flee, and Stan runs away into the woods. The stranger carries Zoe and Jonah home, then leaves.

Zoe decided to take a picture of the stranger projecting Stan’s sins on his skin and later when she’s at her house uploads the pic to Instagram? WHAT THE HELL?! She’s had an incredibly stressful evening where her brother was missing in a blizzard, they are attacked by Stan who attempts to kill their dogs, then a strange man did some crazy shit and she decides to go on Instagram! It’s like she has no emotion!

In the morning Zoe wakes to hear her mother downstairs talking to three cops, Chief Baldino (bad cop), Maerz (dopy cop), and Sergeant Vilkomerson (good cop). The cops attempt to question her because they had seen the picture she put on Instagram. Zoe’s mom shuts the conversation down pretty quickly and the cops leave.

Zoe, Jonah, and their mom hear loud noises coming from the shed and upon investigation find the stranger who’s in really bad shape, burning up with a fever. “The fever that racked his body was called the Trembling. It was his punishment for letting Stan go.”…..The Trembling wouldn’t leave until X resumed his search for Stan, somehow being near Zoe made the Trembling and pain decrease.

Zoe convinces her mom to let him stay with them and again I am confused because her mom lets this strange, ragged-looking man stay with them! I am a mom with two kids and there is no way on earth that I would allow some strange man to stay in my house! Call the cops, “Hey the guy in the pic he’s here man come get him.” Anyhow I could rant about that topic so let’s move on.

The stranger, who they decide to call X, claims he is from the Lowlands (Hell), and is a bounty hunter sent to take Stan’s soul as punishment for his sinful actions. The bounty hunters and other prisoners are ruled by the lords who are ferocious creatures. X tells them all bounty hunters are also prisoners who had their soul taken because they did something bad, but X claims he is innocent and hasn’t even been told the reason why he’s in the Lowlands. (and for some reason they believe him! Seriously!)

There’s some major insta-love happening in this story, which I’m not a fan of, especially in YA novels. I don’t think teens should read stories like this where characters claim they love each other after knowing each other for less than a day – and then risk their life trying to save the other. It just felt ludicrous to me and inauthentic.

I also had a problem with how Stan’s character was written. From the way Stan the Man speaks most of the time he seems uneducated but somehow used the words “contentious” and “acrimonious” in a sentence which I found unbelievable.

There wasn’t much world building about the Lowlands, which is a shame because that place sounds fascinating.

One thing I did like was the sense of humour, it reminded me of Rick Riordan’s writing style. I also think that many of the characters were extremely well-developed and interesting.

All in all, The Edge of Everything is a quick read, fast-paced, mysterious adventure. Even though it has some flaws, it is an easy read. As a series debut I feel like it can only get better from here and I will be checking out the next book of the series once it’s published.

Have you read The Edge of Everything? What did you think?

 

 

Outlander: Spoiler Free Book Review

Outlander is Diana Gabaldon’s debut historical fiction, romance, adventure, Sci-Fi, fantasy novel published in June 1991. It’s the first book in a series that has also produced novellas, graphic novel, spin-off book series, and a tv show (the first two seasons can be found on Netflix).

“In a remarkable debut – vigorous, eloquent, and wholly original – Diana Gabaldon fuses a wry modern sensibility with the drama and passion of the eighteenth century, and vividly brings to life a heroine whose journey through time forces her to make an agonizing and fateful choice.” (part of the book cover blurb)

 

It’s 1945 in Scotland, and many are celebrating the end of the war. Claire, a royal army nurse, is off on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank, a history professor. They’ve been married for seven years, but have spent the majority of those years apart due to the war.

Claire and Frank witness a strange moonlit dance at a stone circle. The next day Claire returns to the site in order to fetch some flowers she spied the previous day. While doing so she hears a buzzing noise coming from the stone. As she lays her hands on it she is transported two hundred years into the past.

Moonlit stone circle.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The past is a very different country, boiling with rumors of the Jacobite Pretender’s Rising, beset with ignorance and superstition, ravaged by pestilence and disease. Alone where no lady should be alone, and far from the familiar comforts of her other life, Claire’s usual resourcefulness is tested to the limit. The merciless English garrison captain so feared by others bears a disturbing resemblance to the husband she has just left behind. Her own odd appearance and even odder behavior expose her to accusations of witchcraft. And the strands of a political intrigue she doesn’t understand threaten to ensnare her at every turn” (part of the book cover blurb)

Jamie Fraser.jpg

From IMDB

A group of Scottish warriors save her from being raped. In this group of Highlanders is Jamie, a tall, broad, muscular,  fetching young warrior with blazing red hair and sky blue eyes. Believing she may be a spy, the Scots take her with them back to Castle Leoch. When Claire sees a castle that was nothing but remnants the last time she saw it, now at it’s best, she realizes she was most likely in the 18th Century.

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Outlander Wiki page

Claire plots her escape, so she can find the magical stones which can take her back to 1945. As she gathers info, waiting for the perfect moment, she is forced to marry Jamie in order to keep her from harm. Jamie takes to calling her Sassenach – which means “Englishman” or “Outlander”. Their marriage gives them permission to admit to the love they have had for each other since they first met.

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IMDB

“Claire is forced to choose between the future she has left and the past she now inhabits. And, having been plunged into an adventure that is at once unimaginably bizarre and unmistakably real, she learns an unforgettable lesson: that a man’s instinct to protect the woman he loves is as old as time.”

At 627 pages, with small lettering, Outlander is quite a lengthy novel packed with big themes; love, lust, trust, infidelity, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse, war, and adventure highlighting the fact that there are always good and evil people, no matter what time period we find ourselves in.

Gabaldon did a fantastic job conveying the Scottish accent in the dialogue. I could clearly picture every character’s appearance and voice. Her writing is positively splendid. I often found myself reading aloud, attempting to imitate accents. The words nicely slip off your tongue. I didn’t notice any awkward sentences (something I am guilty of doing at times and hence notice in other people’s writing). Here is a passage that I found quite striking:

“There was a feeling, not sudden, but complete, as though I had been given a small object to hold unseen in my hands. Precious as opal, smooth as jade, weighty as a river stone, more fragile than a bird’s egg. Infinitely still, live as the root of Creation. Not a gift, but a trust. Fiercely to cherish, softly to guard. The words spoke themselves and disappeared into the groined shadows of the roof.”

hugh munroOne of my favourite characters has quite a small part, and I wish we got to know more of him. Hugh Munro is an interesting man with a “jack-o-lantern” grin, orange-brown leathery skin, and bright blue eyes. His broad shoulders are off balance with one higher than the other, and he speaks sign language because he had his tongue cut out. He can also write Latin, as he was once a school teacher. I mean – doesn’t he just sound fascinating!? I could read an entire novel about his life.

There were some strange fantastical moments thrown in to this story which I feel weren’t necessary such as Claire seeing the Loch Ness “waterhorse”. I also had a really hard time getting over the fact that Jamie beat Claire and somehow she’s to blame. The fact that he hit her violates the oath he took at their wedding that he would protect her until his last drop of blood. I could write an entire blog post on this topic…in fact, in University I wrote an entire research report for an Anthropology class about domestic violence in Medieval England. But that discussion is for another place, another time. 😉

The TV show follows the novel pretty closely, with some liberties taken from parts of the plot, and the ending was slightly altered. The casting director chose quite well for Jamie’s part, he is exactly as I had imagined in my mind. I had imagined Claire to look and speak differently, and at first I didn’t like the Claire in the TV show, but within a few episodes she grew on me.

I recommend both the book and the TV show to anyone who enjoys an adventurous story, filled with love, war, and sex (at times graphic).  ***warning*** There are many scenes of graphic violence, including flogging, injuries, and rape.