Welcome to the blog tour for Ascendancy, the second book in the young adult science fiction/dystopian romance series, The Van Winkle Project, by Karri Thompson. See below for my review of Mirror X, the first book in the series as well as details on her giveaway, and be sure to check back later in the week for my review of Ascendancy.
Mirror X (The Van Winkle Project #1) by Karri Thompson
Synopsis I was born more than a thousand years ago. Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I’ve finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future.
But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me.
Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets.
The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either.
When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it’s clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…
My Review Fellow young adult dystopian and San Diego author, Karri Thompson’s, novel intrigued me. The concept of a young woman frozen for more than 1,000 years, waking to a new world order is such a fascinating idea, I couldn’t wait to dig into it. The story weaves, bends, and twists through more than 350 pages of surprises, danger, and righteous indignation.
I thought it took a little long to really get going, but there are a lot of changes in the world Cassie wakes up in. Cassie, along with the reader, are slowly introduced to these changes, each new piece of information building upon the previous pieces. Just when we think we finally have a grasp of the situation, the author gives us a little more information, challenging everything we thought we knew. One of my favorite parts of the writing is the way Karri Thompson continually changes the playing field, keeping her characters and readers guessing.
The plot revolves around Cassie’s unique role in the world, and whether she’ll willingly embrace it, or succumb to it kicking and screaming. She vacillates a lot on exactly how she feels about what’s going on. Sometimes, I feel as if she’s too quick to give these people a pass and reason away their behavior. Other times, she’s the scared seventeen-year-old I expect her to be. There’s also a strong romantic plot that weaves through the story and drives many of her decisions.
I straight up didn’t care at all for Michael, the young doctor Cassie is instantly attracted to. He rubbed me the wrong way from the start and never redeemed himself in my eyes. Cassie is pretty believable as the conflicted teen in a Buck Rogers situation, but there were times I thought she didn’t seem as overwhelmed by her situation as I thought she should have been. The supporting characters are really my favorites. They’re all fascinating and easy to love or hate, depending on their role in the story.
Ending The ending was yet another twist I never saw coming, but wrapped up the main story of Mirror X well, leaving plenty open for a sequel, without being a cliffhanger. That can be tough to do, but I feel as if the author pulled it off well.
What Didn’t Work for Me
1. The romance. It felt forced from the very beginning. When Cassie wakes up more than a thousand years in the future, her immediate attraction to her young doctor seems to overshadow what should be grief over the loss of her family, friends, and way of life. Michael’s obsession with Cassie always came across as kind of creepy to me. There wasn’t any chemistry between the two of them. And the way Michael continually lied to her makes him completely unredeemable as boyfriend material in my eyes. I kept hoping for something romantic to develop between Cassie and Magnum, though, but their relationship is more like siblings. Too bad, because they have a truckload of chemistry. 2. 31st century Earth. I never fully was able to wrap my head around what the world looked like, particularly the buildings. All I really know is there’s not much vegetation, but I had a hard time picturing what this world looked like through the descriptions provided. 3. Cassie’s introduction into the new world. As I stated above, she put her attraction to Michael front and center. I would have liked her to struggle more with the new world she’s found herself in. I never got a sense of the utter devastation and hopelessness over her situation I was expecting. She’s experienced something no one can really relate to, so I would have liked the deeper psychological aspects to have been more thoroughly explored.
What I Enjoyed about Mirror X 1. The surprises. There were so many twists and turns, I never knew what was coming next and that was so much fun to read. 2. The emotions. Where I felt the story was lacking when it came to Cassie’s response to the new world she finds herself in, the writing shines when Cassie is dealing with the emotions surrounding her role in the 31st century. Not only is she unique in that she was born in the early 2000s, but she possess an ability no one else in the future has. This ability drives the plot and her reactions to her expected role are raw and palpable. 3. Technology. There is some fascinating technology in Mirror X and Karri Thompson does a great job of helping us understand the role of this technology in the world she’s created. 4. The secondary characters. Magnum, Travel, and a whole host of other characters are intriguing and colorful and really brought the story to life. 5. Magnum. The technology whiz kid was easily my favorite character in the book. He’s a breath of 31st century fresh air!
Bottom Line Mirror X is an interesting scifi/dystopian adventure with some unique aspects. I’m interested to see where this series goes.
About the Book
Title: Mirror X Series: The Van Winkle Project #1 Author:Kerri Thompson Publisher: Entangled Teen Release Date: June 30, 2014 Pages: 360 Genre:Young Adult SciFi/Dystopian Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Author Karri Thompson
About the Author Growing up in San Diego, California, Karri Thompson spent much of her years at the beach, reading novels, tanning, and listening to music.
At SDSU, she earned a BA in English, MA in education, and her teaching credential. As a wife, mother, and high-school English teacher, she began writing novels, giving all of the compelling plots and unique characters in her head a home.
Victorian literature rocks her socks, and when she’s not writing, jogging, going to concerts, or watching her son play football, she’s reading Dickens.
The Revolution of Ivy (Book of Ivy #2) by Amy Engel
Synopsis **WARNING: Contains spoilers if you haven’t read book one**
Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.
But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.
My Review The Revolution of Ivy is even better than the first book. It starts off strong and keeps building. Everything in the first book that kept it from being a full five stars for me were non-issues in this one. The action is intense, the characters grow and develop in organic, realistic ways, and the plot twists are unexpected and jarring.
Ivy’s been put outside the fence for conspiring to kill her husband, Bishop, son of the President of Westfall. She has no survival skills, but a strong survival instinct, which keeps her alive until she meets up with other survivors. Ivy befriends two of them and these relationship, tenuous and complex, are one of the best aspects of the book. When Bishop shows up looking for her, Ivy’s conflicted. This is the one part of the story that didn’t seem authentic. I never really understood why she struggled with his presence, but I was able to easily overlook that because the rest of the story moved so quickly.
The plot is fantastic. Ivy needs to decide what her future holds, and because she’s never had a choice, it’s not as easy as it should be. She tries to make peace with the way her family failed her, with the way they let her take the fall for their failed plot to wrest control of Westfall from President Lattimer, even though her punishment was certain death. But more than that, Ivy needs to figure out who she is when she’s not Bishop’s wife or her father’s daughter or even Callie’s sister. She has secrets that pose a danger to herself and others, and a big decision to make that could destroy everyone she loves.
Both Ivy and Bishop grow so much over this book. There’s far more character growth than in The Book of Ivy. The addition of of Caleb and Ash bring out different sides of their personalities and give them an opportunity to explore themselves in the context of life outside Westfall. This installment does a masterful job of wrapping up all the loose ends, and most of those have to do with the characters themselves. We finally understand Ivy’s dad and sister as well as Bishop’s father and mother. Every action in both stories finally makes sense in the context of who these complex characters are.
Ending I loved the ending. I think author, Amy Engel, wraps up the story beautifully, but not in a nice, neat, easy package. There’s gut-wrenching emotion and tough choices, but it’s all so perfect for the characters, the setting, and the story.
Top Five Things I Loved about The Revolution of Ivy: 1. The dystopian aspect. This was far more dystopic and the first book. More action, drama, fear, survival. I loved it!
2. Bishop Lattimer. Once again, Bishop is the perfect guy, without being too perfect.
3. Caleb and Ash. I love these two. I would kill for a book about them!
4. Tough choices. Amy Engle raised the stakes, forcing Ivy into an impossible situation. Watching her wrestle with her decision was pure page-turning delight.
5. Starting over. The ending wraps up the story nicely but the future is wide open for the characters, leaving me completely satisfied with the conclusion, but hopeful for what’s next. The hallmark of a good ending to a dystopian series.
Bottom Line The Revolution of Ivy moves away from familiar territory, raising the stakes, and finishing the series on a high note.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my review.
About the Book Title: The Revolution of Ivy Series: The Book of Ivy #2 Author: Amy Engel Publisher: Entangled Teen Release Date: November 3, 2015 Pages: 400 Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon│Barnes & Noble│iBooks | Kobo│Google Books
Author Amy Engel
About the Author Amy Engel was born in Kansas and after a childhood spent bouncing between countries (Iran, Taiwan) and states (Kansas; California; Missouri; Washington, D.C.), she settled in Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives with her husband and two kids.
Before devoting herself full-time to motherhood and writing, she was a criminal defense attorney, which is not quite as exciting as it looks on TV.
When she has a free moment, she can usually be found reading, running, or shoe shopping. The Book of Ivy is her debut YA novel. Find her online at http://amyengel.net/ or @aengelwrites.
Synopsis Elena Rosales has busted her ass to get into a good college. She’s the only one in her family ever to attend, and expectations are high. No pressure. But Elena’s got this one in the bag, because she’s as dependable as the molecules she studies, as reliable as the chemical reactions that comfort her in their predictability. Until they don’t.
Elena has always wondered why her mother abandoned her on her first birthday. It’s not until she turns eighteen and her chemistry experiments go berserk that she learns the truth: Her mother wasn’t human, and the Fae are willing to harm those Elena loves if she doesn’t use her power over the elements to cure them of a deadly disease.
Derek, Elena’s brooding neighbor, isn’t the friendliest guy, but he has access to an off-hours lab and is willing to help Elena create the antivirus. He has his own secrets to keep, and this business Elena is mixed up in could blow his cover. But when Elena and Derek get together, more than chemicals spark fire-and they soon discover just how complicated attraction can get when they find themselves on the other side of the portal, fighting for survival. Lives collide, and allegiance and love are tested, in Fates Divided.
My Review I loved the Blue series by Jules Barnard, so I was excited to dig into her latest urban fantasy series, Halvan Rising. I’m happy to say it met my expectations! It has all the new adult romance I’ve come to expect from Barnard as well as a healthy dose of danger, adventure, and a brilliantly-created fantasy world situated within a modern-day college campus.
As Elena learns to navigate her new normal, Derek keeps an eye on her, both out of a sense of responsibility as well as attraction, and these two are a combustible combination! Elena and Derek each learn about their own pasts, families, and their newly acquired Fae powers, all while trying to stop a deadly virus poised to wipe out the entire Fae population. But not everyone wants them to succeed, and soon they’re fighting for their own lives as well as the Faes’.
The plot revolves around finding a cure for the virus, but there is plenty of subplotting, including who’s behind the virus, Elena’s missing roommate, Resse, a reluctant attraction between Reese and Elena’s Fae bodyguard, Keen, and of course the romance between Derek and Elena. About the only thing I felt lacking was the romance between Derek and Elena. I thought it developed too quickly and took a backseat to the main plot. But that is really my only complaint.
Told from alternating points of view, Derek and Elena are both well-rounded with decent character arcs. The secondary characters, including Keen and Reese are as fascinating as they are likeable.
The realm within modern life world-building is really well done. The descriptions are rich and they transported me to another place with vivid detail. The rules surrounding the status and discrimination of Fae versus the half-blooded Halven was believable and drove some of the best conflict in the book. I can’t wait to see how that resolves over the series.
The main story was wrapped up well, but left open enough for the series to continue. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Top Five Things I Love About Fates Divided
1. The world building. Rich, vivid details brought the story to life in an exciting way.
2. Reese. Elena’s roommate is a hilarious spitfire, and I loved watching her get under Keen’s skin.
3. Keen. The big Fae bodyguard with a superiority complex is a riot. I really hope we get some scenes from his point of view in the future.
4. Magic. Because, come on, who doesn’t love magic?
5. Derek and Elena. They’re good together!
I don’t read much fantasy, but if Jules Barnard is writing it, I’ll take more, please!
Disclaimer I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Fates Divided Series: Halvan Rising #1 Author: Jules Barnard Release Date: August 31, 2015 Pages: 430 Genre: New Adult Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay
Author Jules Barnard
About the Author
Before turning to storytelling, Jules earned a master’s degree in public health and spent many an hour running statistical analysis–until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports.
She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.
Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
Yay, the Titan boys are back! This time around it’s all about Parker. There is something so wickedly hot about a smart guy. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for information on the book, buy links, and details on Cristin’s giveaway.
Black Dawn (Titan Series #6) by Cristin Harber
Synopsis What happens when nothing is as it seems?
Lexi Dare is on a one-woman mission to stay alive. Both at home and at work. Because how did she end up with a ring on her finger and an abuser in bed as she readies to hit the high point in her career? Everything should be perfect. Amazing job. Handsome fiancé. It’s all a disaster.
Parker Black is the brains behind Titan Group, an elite security firm. In his world, everything is ordered and controlled, except what he feels for his buddy’s girl. Something in her eye screams for help, but he has no idea what.
When Lexi disappears, Parker realizes what he should have known. The lines blur between friendships and work, and they must find each other to survive a terror attack that only Lexi can stop.
Black Dawn can be read as a standalone and does not have a cliffhanger.
My Review The Titan Series is my guilty pleasure. Imagine your favorite thriller with a steamy romance as a co-plot? That’s what you get with the Titan Series, and Black Dawn is no exception. Lexi is an elite hacker, involved in an abusive relationship. She’s created a unique software program and selling it to the highest bidder. Parker Black is Titan, with a head for analysis and an eye for Lexi. When things in Lexi’s private life take a dangerous turn, Parker steps in, and gets caught up in the middle of a potentially international incident, with Lexi’s software at the center.
There are two solid plots — the romance between Parker and Lexi, and the mystery and intrigue surrounding Monarch, Lexi’s software. Both are exceptionally well done. Cristin Harber builds suspense and heat, weaving them together, like no other single author I can think of.
Parker’s my second-favorite Titan, Cash still holds that top spot. Parker’s tough, smart, and his inability to explain his feelings makes him endearing. Lexi is about as complex as they come. She was all over the place and at times I felt she was so out of character, but that double-sided, lost-and-found Lexi was such a part of her identity, part of her growth and development as the story unfolded. Some of the Titan cast made cameos but not nearly enough for me. A few new characters that were introduced were interesting, especially Shadow, and even Matt, as much as I loathed him.
World Building The world building is Titan at it’s best –black ops, high-tech goodies, armored vehicles, and total badassery.
Ending Harber has a way of building up the suspense, taking us to a pinnacle of danger and action, and Black Dawn is exactly what I was hoping it would be.
Top Five Things I loved about Black Dawn: 1. Bacon Byte. Come on, a little wrinkly snoring pudge of a pug named Bacon is about as cute as it gets.
2. Parker. He’s hot, tough, smart, really the trifecta of male perfection.
3. Hacking. Never has computer hacking been so sexy.
4. Office sex. ‘Nuf said.
5. Shadow. Lexi’s colleague is the father figure every girl should have.
Bottom Line Thelatest in the Titan Series delivers danger, adventure, and steamy romance as only Cristin Harber can.
Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book Title: Black Dawn Series: Titan Series #6 Author: Cristin Harber Publisher: Mill Creek Press Release Date: June 14, 2015 Pages: 279 Genre: Romantic Suspense Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars Links:Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Author Cristin Harber
About the Author Cristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance.
Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller.
She lives outside Washington, DC with her family and English Bulldog.