Book Review – Forgive & Forget by Heather Ashby

Forgive and Forget by Heather Ashby

Forgive and Forget by Heather Ashby

Synopsis
There’s something about a man in uniform…but there’s something about a woman in one, too. When Hallie McCabe meets Philip Johnston at a picnic, she is drawn to his integrity. He is a gentleman. But also an officer. From her ship. Aware of the code against fraternization between officers and enlisted, Hallie conceals her Navy status, hopeful she and her secret will stay hidden on their aircraft carrier until she can figure out a way for them to sail off into the sunset together.

Caught in an emotional firestorm, Hallie faces a future without the man she loves, a career-shattering secret from the past, and the burden of being the one person who can prevent a terrorist attack on the ship she has sworn to protect with her life.

My Review
It started off strong, and built to a decent climax, but then it sort of fell apart at the end. Hallie meets a nice guy, who just happens to be wickedly sexy, that she really connects with. She likes him and wants it to be more than just a fling, until she discovers he serves on the same naval ship she does — a big no-no. It’s a great set-up for awesome romantic conflict. Even better, she doesn’t tell him, and the conflict intensifies. Throw in a terrorist on board who wants to take out the ship in epic fashion and what can go wrong?

Sadly, too much. Hallie starts out beautifully flawed but by the end, she’s so over-the top holier-than-thou that she becomes completely unlikeable. I literally couldn’t stand her by the time I hit the other side of the climax.  I feel this would have been better if it had ended about two chapters before it did and the previous two chapters had been compressed into one.

Plot 
The plot was good. A strong three-act structure that builds to a great climax, although I felt it took too long to get there, but the drawn out aftermath ruined it for me.

Characters
With the exception of Hallie’s transformation into “St. Hallie the Perfect” at the end, the characters are strong and believable. I particularly liked Skylark and Davis. I thought all of the supporting characters had depth and I liked that there was even growth in some of the tertiary characters, particularly the ship’s commander.

Bottom Line
The first two-thirds is a solid romance that builds nicely and the action is good.

Title: Forgive and Forget (Love in the Fleet)
Author: Heather Ashby
Publisher: Henery Press
Pages: 300
Category: Romantic Suspense
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Monument 14 by Emmy Labourne

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Synopsis
Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus. But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

My Review
The synopsis caught my attention and propelled me through the first couple of chapters of this book. The author, Emmy Laybourne in her debut novel, managed to build an intricate plot with layer upon layer of natural and manmade disasters that leave the small town of Monument, Colorado, utterly devastated.

The events take place in the not so distant future as a busload of students are on their way to school. Fourteen of the kids survive when their bus driver, taking a page out of the zombie apocalypse survival guide, goes to the nearest superstore and unloads the Monument 14 where they have access to drinking water, food, clothing, and shelter.

The story unfolds as the refugees, ranging from preteen up through seniors in high school, struggle with survival, pecking order, and rampant fear as they attempt to find out the fate of their families and loved ones with little to no access to information from the outside world. This is not Lord of the Flies, but there is enough conflict that the story moves and keeps the reader engaged.

Plot
The plot mostly works. Some of it is a little too far fetched, but then so are a lot of Hollywood disaster movies that still make millions of dollars. Sometimes you have to take things a few steps beyond plausible to get a story really ripping. And the plot does move at a pretty good pace for the  most part, but I did find it stalling in a few points.

Characters
The characters are varied, layered, and real, providing a good cross-section of student bodies everywhere. Readers will find someone to connect with, from Jake the jock, to Astrid the pretty popular girl, to our lovable nerd and protagonist, Dean. Ms. Labourne does an excellent job of capturing the voice of a teenage boy who never comes off sounding like an adult or a female, and we find ourselves rooting for him and his unrequited love for Astrid and we can identify with the sense of responsibility he feels for his younger brother, Alex.

Bottom Line
The tension is well done, the dialogue natural, and the relationships are realistic. I think I would have liked a little more action and a little more, something, I don’t know what, to take it to the next level for me. Still a solid four out of five stars.

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 352
Category: Young Adult, Adventure, SciFi
Rating: Four out of Five Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Synopsis
When seventeen-year-old Katy Swartz moved to West Virginia right before her senior year, she’d pretty much resigned herself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring, but then she spotted her hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up…until he opened his mouth.

Daemon Black is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. It’s hate at first sight, but when a stranger attacks her and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens. The hot guy next door? Well, he’s an alien. Turns out that Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities and Katy is caught in the crosshairs.

Daemon’s touch has lit her up like the Vegas Strip and the only way she’s getting out of this alive is by sticking close to him until her alien mojo fades. That is if she doesn’t kill him first.

My Review
As I started reading this book, I immediately thought of Twilight. New girl in town, hot guy who treats her like crap, makes friends with the sister, but make no mistake, Daemon is no Edward and Katy is absolutely no shrinking-violet Bella. Katy kicks butt and takes names! Unlike many books in this genre, it didn’t take long to suck me in. This one hooked me immediately, from the minute Daemon opened his smart-ass mouth. The conflict between Daemon and Katy sizzles, sparks, and catches fire instantly.

Sure it’s somewhat formulaic. The protagonist is attracted to smoldering hot guy, he’s an asshat to her, but ultimately he reveals he’s crazy about her. But I love that the author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, points it out herself. Because Katy reviews young adult romance novels for her blog, she mentions every cliche in her own life and keeps the reader from screaming it out loud. It’s there, but that’s okay, because Obsidian is a unexpected thrill ride that keeps you turning page after page (or swiping across your e-reader screen) until the wee hours of the morning.

Plot
The plot is fun, even if somewhat predictable in certain areas, but considering that it involves aliens living next door, anything can happen, and often does.

Characters
The characters may not be deeply developed, but they are a helluvalot of fun. This is definitely a plot-driven story, and that story is a rip-roaring roller coaster ride that leaves you breathless. I found some niggly inconsistencies and a few areas where I needed to suspend my disbelief to accept it, but I’m still giving this five out of five stars because it was just such a damn fun read!

Bottom Line
I absolutely love Obsidian. It was fun, hot, funny, and about a dozen things I can’t put into words because I’d need a few new ones to describe how much I enjoyed reading this book.

Title: Obsidian
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 294
Category: Young Adult, Adventure, SciFi
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

New Adult Book Review – Unlikely Allies by Tiffany King

Unlikely Allies by Tiffany King

Unlikely Allies by Tiffany King

Synopsis
Eighteen-year-old Kimberly gets the shock of her life when she learns the father she thought was dead is not only very much alive, but never even knew she existed. Angry with her mother for lying all these years, Kimberly flies to Colorado to meet the father she knows nothing about before heading off to college in the fall.

Her father’s world turns out to be nothing like she expected. Rather than the typical nine to five lifestyle, Kimberly’s father runs a summer foster camp that teaches young children skills to build their confidence and self-esteem. The Colorado Rocky Mountains are a different world than the sunny shores of California, taking Kimberly completely out of her element, and causing her to second-guess her spur of the moment decision.

Never being one to quit anything, Kimberly is determined to show her father that a surfer girl can fit into this rugged mountain wilderness. That is if she can deal with Mason, an arrogant nineteen-year-old guy who has made it his mission to point out every mistake she has made since her arrival. While she would love nothing more than to rub it in his know-it-all face, Kimberly can’t deny the feelings he stirs up inside her, or the chemistry between them, even during their verbal assaults.

When a tragic accident leaves them stranded in the mountains, Kimberly must use her shaky skills to save Mason and survive the elements. Suddenly, fighting is the last thing on their minds as they must rely on each other if they want to live. In their struggle for survival, they realize what they thought they knew about each other isn’t true after all.

My Review
I went into this thinking I was going to read a story about a girl coming to grips with the truth of her paternity and how her relationship with the father she never knew develops. And while that’s certainly a subplot, the main thrust of the story is some seriously sizzling unresolved sexual tension between Kimberly and super hot Mason. This is where the story really, really works — the tension is palpable.

Plot
The story is interesting, engaging and moves along without any extraneous side trips. There are a few subplots that move the main plot along that are also interesting in and of themselves. One is a young camper who is having difficulty at home. The other is her relationship with her estranged father. There were a couple of things I found a little to convenient. One is the relationship with her mother doesn’t seem to suffer at all despite the fact that her mother lied to her for her entire life about her father. The other is the nice neat ending. While I’m all for happy endings, it was a little to clean and neat to be believable.

Characters
The characters are well developed  and the chemistry between the two main characters sizzles and you know almost immediately that Kimberly (aka Beach Bunny) and Mason (aka Greeky) are meant to be together, if they could just get over themselves long enough to accept it. The supporting characters were also well developed and not just thrown in for a plot point.

Bottom Line
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and even though a few of the plot points mentioned above made it something less than a five-star read, I still highly recommend this book. Tiffany King is a master at generating heat between her characters without being overt in her treatment of sexual elements.

Title: Unlikely Allies
Author: Tiffany King
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 268
Category: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Adventure
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Synopsis
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

My Review
Set in the not-so-distant future, Article 5 kicks off with protagonist, Ember Miller, feeling frustrated by the post-war United States she lives in where the Bill of Rights has been replaced by the Moral Statutes. Article 5 of the Moral Statutes states that the only recognized family is a whole family with a mother, father, and children of that marriage. Ember’s family is non-compliant which sets up the story that turns into a roller coaster ride with a lot more twists and turns than I anticipated.

I was intrigued by the concept after reading The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, by Jeff Sharlet. It didn’t seem to be such a far-fetched idea. In fact it seems so disturbingly plausible that I felt myself getting sucked right into Ember’s world and never once questioned how something like that could happen, something I often find myself doing when reading dystopia.

Plot
The plot moves at a clipped pace and sometimes leaves you feeling breathless. It rarely slows down to let you catch your breath, either. I found this book extremely difficult to put down. There’s solid world building but one of the things I found lacking was a deeper understanding of what the government is really trying to achieve. While the world Simmons has drawn is realistic, scarily so, it’s not completely clear where this new government is going or what they want to accomplish. Especially when the Moral Militia, the soldiers tasked with upholding the Moral Statutes, are more than a dozen shades grayer than moral themselves.

Characters
The characters in Kristen Simmons young adult novel are well-drawn, believable, and deep. Ember is perhaps less likable than the conflicted soldier, Chase, who is hell bent on getting her to safety, despite Ember’s many attempts to sabotage him. But her inability to see what is so obvious to the reader is one of the things that keeps the story sizzling along.

Simmons background in psychology and social work helps make her characters come alive. She allows us deep inside Ember’s thoughts, and her understanding of the human psyche keeps Ember believable, even as we want to shake her and say, “Why can’t you see what’s really going on?”

Bottom Line
Article 5 is darker than most books I’ve read in the young adult dystopic genre. Ember’s world is darkly realistic and utterly devoid of any hope, but the realism and the emotion Simmons brings to the story holds it together and makes me want to hope for a better future for Ember and Chase.

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 365
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Time after Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Synopsis
Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn’t. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds. 

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work…until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn’t want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us’s Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.

My Review
As soon as I finished Time Between Us, I rushed out and picked up the sequel, Time After Time. I didn’t even read the synopsis to find out what it was about. I didn’t care. It continued the story of Bennett and Anna and that was all I needed to know. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book tells the story from Bennett’s point of view.

Tamara Ireland Stone does a wonderful job of distinguishing Bennett’s voice from Anna’s. I love that we get inside his head and understand what drives him to travel, what inspires him, and what haunts him. And the fact that half the scenes are set in my favorite city in the entire U.S., San Francisco, and mentions more of my favorite bands, hooked me even without the compelling plot.

Plot
But the plot is compelling, irresistibly so, and different from the first book. Many second books can’t live up to the promise of the first — the sophomore effect. But Time After Time does not suffer from any of that. The fresh voice and unique twists the author throws at our two main characters kept me turning the pages into the early morning hours.

Characters
What’s not to love? Bennett is still perfect, Anna is still adorable and the supporting cast is still fun and the introduction of Bennett’s sister is just one more character to love. Being inside Bennett’s head this time around and really see his character arc, watching him grow and develop and seeing him squirm and deal with his pain is what really makes this book so strong. Bennett was fascinating but somewhat mysterious at the end of Time Between Us, but now I feel like I really know him.

Bottom Line
One of the best books I’ve read in the young adult genre. And Tamara Ireland Stone is one of my new favorite authors. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s next from her.

Title: Time After Time
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 352
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Romance, SciFi
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Synopsis
The second installment in Kristen Simmons’s fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

My Review
Breaking Point picks up where Article 5 left off. Chase and Ember are now safely within the confines of the Resistance, where they’re trying to decide how  much, if at all, they want to be involved with the cause.

Ember has her sights set on rescuing Becca, the girl from the reformatory school she feels responsible for.  Chase has his sights set on keeping Ember safe. As always with these two, their goals are in conflict with one another and sparks fly.

While I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Article 5, it’s a good read and worth getting. It ‘s fast-paced, gripping, has plenty of angsty drama, and some really sweet and tender moments between Ember and Chase.

Plot
Generally, the plot was pretty good. It moved at a good pace, had strong conflict and more than a few surprises. Overall, it felt darker than Article 5 and that’s saying something but I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good thing. I also wasn’t wild about the ending, but only because it didn’t feel riveting enough. It’s setting us for book three, but it didn’t leave me on the edge, counting down until the last book the way Catching Fire or Insurgent did.

I also found some of the plot points unclear. I don’t fully understand what the FBR is all about. On the one hand, they’re trying to morally cleanse the country, but at the same time, they’re providing paid escorts to the soldiers. It makes me think something other than morality is at the root of what they’re up to.

Characters
As always, Kristen Simmons characters are authentic, well-developed, and deep. Ember is far more likeable in Breaking Point than she was in Article 5 and Chase is still swoonworthy and then some. I even find myself almost, but not quite, liking Tucker. New characters are equally intriguing, from Wallace and Billy to the hilarious Marco and Polo. And since I wanted to name my twin boys Marco and Polo (shot down by my husband), I’m immediately drawn to this duo.

Bottom Line
Breaking Point delivers, even without some of the things that made Article 5 so riveting. I give it four and half out of five stars and highly recommend the series.

Title: Breaking Point
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 401
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Always and Forever by Karla J. Nellenbach

Always and Forever by Karla J. Nellenbach

Always and Forever by Karla J. Nellenbach

Synopsis
Mia’s first reaction is outright disbelief. Obviously, a mistake has been made. Sixteen-year-old girls don’t die. But, when the diagnosis is confirmed, she dives headlong into anger. If she has to die, why should it be of cancer? In fact, anything would be preferable to cancer. Better for her to say when, where, and especially how.

Determined to meet death on her own terms, Mia devises scheme after scheme to get the job done. A “fall” down the basement stairs, driving her car off a bridge, and even a dance with a train all end in her survival.

And through it all, Mia keeps her family and friends at arms’ length with her destructive and hurtful behavior. With each failed suicide attempt and burned relationship, she slowly realizes that it’s not the dying that she’s afraid of, but the life she’ll be leaving behind. Now, that life is in a shambles. As time begins to slip through her fingers and death is upon her, Mia fights to rebuild the bridges she has destroyed, but can she do it before the clock runs out?

My Review
It’s not the sort of book I’d usually choose to read and I’m still not sure what possessed me to get it. It sat on my Kindle for several weeks before I even opened it. And then I took my time reading it. I needed to be in the right mindset to read about a teenage girl dying of cancer. But once I really let myself get into the story, I couldn’t put it down.

The writing is strong, the characters beautifully crafted, the story heartbreaking. But I knew that going into it. I knew Mia was going to die from the very first page. What I didn’t know was how. See Mia refuses to let the cancer take her. She wants to say when and how she’s going to die, refusing to let cancer dictate the terms.

She not only struggles with her own emotions but with those closest to her — her parents, her younger brother, her friends, including dreamy Kal, her “always and forever” best friend and next door neighbor. As Mia moves through the stages of grief, she attempts various ways at ending her life on her terms, on her schedule, alienating everyone around her with each attempt.

The author does a phenomenal job telling Mia’s story, taking us through each stage of the process right along with Mia. Even though we know we’re going to lose her, we can’t help pulling for her, rooting for her as she tries to repair the relationships she damaged before it’s too late.

Plot
The plot is strong, even though this is primarily a character-driven story. The way the author weaves Mia’s story through the five stages of grief is brilliant and beautiful. And there are no guarantees with a story like this. You want her to repair her relationships for everyone’s sake, but with such a tragic story, it’s not a given. That kept me turning the page.

Characters
The characters are…simply amazing. They’re deep and flawed and perfectly human in every sense of the word. Mia just begs us to love her without even trying and Kal is so deeply wounded, you cry for him almost as much as you cry for Mia. And the author doesn’t phone it in on the supporting characters either. Everyone is rich and dynamic and as real as Mia and Kal.

Bottom Line
No, this is not the sort of book I’d normally choose to read, but I’m so very glad that I did. I don’t know that I’ll choose another book like it, because it was painful. Beautifully so, but still painful. But I cannot say one negative thing about this book and I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a deep story with authentic characters told with grace and dignity. Five out of five stars and a bucketful of bittersweet tears.

Title: Always and Forever
Author: Karla J. Nellenbach
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 265
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Perception by Lee Strauss

Perception by Lee Strauss

Perception by Lee Strauss

Synopsis
Seventeen year old Zoe Vanderveen is a GAP—a genetically altered person. She lives in the security of a walled city on prime water-front property along-side other equally beautiful people with extended life spans.

Her brother Liam is missing.

Noah Brody is a natural who lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests the widening chasm they’ve created between those who have and those who don’t. He doesn’t like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like her specifically.

Zoe’s carefree life takes a traumatic turn. She’s in trouble and it turns out that Noah, the last guy on earth she should trust, is the only one who can help her.

My Review
I enjoyed the book. The plot was interesting, it had a good arc, the characters are well developed and I like where the story went. Perception is set in the not-too-distant future when genetically altered persons (GAPs) have a social and economic advantage over naturals.

Zoe and her older brother, Liam are GAPs. When Liam goes missing, she is hellbent on finding him, even if it means working with Noah, not just a natural, but the hired help, and with a chip bigger than the state of California on his shoulder against GAPs. Against all odds, Zoe finds herself falling for Noah as their lives take dangerous twists and turns.

Plot
The plot was interesting and some unique twists as far as dystopian/future books go. Not much was predictable except maybe the romantic angle, but it wasn’t a problem for me. I liked the setup and the world building is well developed.

Characters
Zoe is difficult to like at first. She’s self-centered and narcissistic, but that makes watching her evolve that much more fun. Noah is prejudiced but with good reason. But he also gets his own character arc. In fact the story is told from both points of view. Zoe’s is probably the first two thirds of the book and Noah’s is the last third.  The author does a good job of distinguishing between the two voices.

Bottom Line
Perception is the first book in a trilogy, and while I really liked the story, I think there are some issues with the pacing and there were more typos than I would like to see. I realize that many typos make it into traditionally published books, as well, but I almost think that self-published authors need to be even more diligent for that reason.

Those issues didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and giving it four out of five stars. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good teen adventure story with a romantic subplot. It won’t disappoint. And I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Title: Perception
Author: Lee Strauss
Publisher: ESB Publishing
Pages: 310
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble

Young Adult Book Review – Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Synopsis
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

My Review
Wow.  And that’s “wow” in the very best sense of the word, not the “wow” I said after finishing Allegiant.  In fact, I chose Time Between Us the day after I finished Allegiant because I wanted something new, fresh and hopeful to read and based on the synopsis, this sounded like exactly what my broken heart needed.

The concept is fresh and fun the the book is as warm and inviting as a hot latte on an early spring evening in a Chicago suburb. I curled up with this story and let it envelop me in its promise of something magical and utterly romantic. I love Anna and Bennett’s story and the possibilities it brings. I found the characters rich and fascinating and the plot riveting, but not grueling. It was more like a slow gentle run that gets the endorphins flowing rather than a gritty obstacle course that leaves you exhausted.

Plot
I adore the plot to this story. It’s unique and delightful, combining everything I love about stories and romance. And because it involves time travel, there was nothing formulaic about it. There was no given that things were going to work out one way or another. A love story that keeps you guessing is the best kind.

Characters
I can’t say enough positive things about the characters. All of them. Anna is the girl I wanted to be my BFF in high school and Bennett, well, any boy that time travels is beyond cool, and the fact that he loves the same music I do and travels through time to see these bands in concerts all over the world, well, lets just say I’m in love with a fictional character.

Bottom Line
I generally love all things time-travel related. My favorite Disney movie is Meet the Robinsons, I’ve seen Time after Time a dozen times and all three Back to the Future movies more times than I can count. So a book about teen romance and time travel is a book written for me, whether or not the author knew that’s what she was doing. Throw in two of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam and Phish, and this book is at the top of my five-star recommendations.

Title: Time Between Us
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 384
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Romance, SciFi
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble, iBooks

YA Book Review – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Synopsis
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

My Review
I read the book in record time, then sat on my review for almost a week. I really wanted to love this book. I wanted it so much. I waited for the release for nearly a year, pre-ordered the book and refreshed my Nook library repeatedly until it finally showed up. Sadly, I did not love this book. I’m struggling to decide if I even liked it.

I found the dual points of view a great concept, one I’ve seen executed brilliantly in a number of YA books. It didn’t work out for me with Allegiant. I felt the two voices were too similar and often and to refer back to remind myself which point of view I was reading. I thought the plot wandered, that too many things felt contrived.

I hated the ending. But not for the reasons you might assume.  It didn’t feel like a natural culmination of events, nor did it seem to serve the theme, character arc, or even the plot. I’m still scratching my head over it. The ending left me feeling flat, let down, unsatisfied. The trilogy is dystopia, my own genre, so I’m well aware that rainbows and unicorn endings are not part of the formula. But I do expect to feel satisfied.

Plot
The plot wandered and didn’t feel as concrete as the first two books in the series and I found a number of plot holes. Things that just didn’t make sense to me. This one lacked some of the interesting aspects and hope from the two previous books in the trilogy and some things just plain weren’t ever answered. And, some things were in direct conflict with the earlier books and the explanations felt forced.

Characters
I absolutely disliked Four/Tobias in this book. He came across as far less confident than in the previous books and he acted out of character far too often, to the point that I just didn’t believe he was the same character by the end. I always found him to be the most fascinating character in the series, but by the time I hit the epilogue, I found him to be pathetic and that just made me sad.

Bottom Line
I’m not sure I’d recommend this book. Ordinarily I’d flat out say no to anything rated 2.5 stars, but because Divergent and Insurgent are so amazing, I think you have to decide for yourself if you want to complete the series. I can’t give it a solid recommendation, or can I say don’t waste your time. This book is the ending of the author’s vision of the story she wanted to tell, so if you love the series, you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to complete it.

I read both Divergent and Insurgent three times. It is unlikely I will ever read Allegiant again. And that makes me sad because when you find a book you love enough to read over and over again, that’s what makes reading such a joy. And maybe saddest of all is that I doubt I will ever read Divergent or Insurgent again, because now that I know how it all ends, I’m.just.done.

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 545
Category: Teen and Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 2-1/2 out of 5 Stars
Links to PurchaseAmazonBarnes & Noble, iBooks