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Book Review: Unborn (The Birthright Theft Series Book 1) by Daniel Gage

unborn

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Daniel Gage, for an honest review.

Genre: Science-Fiction/Mystery/Suspense/Adult/YA

Plot:

“It’s nothing personal. You’re just part of the transaction.”

Cameron Briggs always wondered what the strange birthmark on his shoulder meant. For his entire life, it seemed he was never meant to be anything special, that is, until the day it happened. Something dormant inside of him awoke.

In the near future, birthright theft is on the rise, a vast network of dealers offering desperate buyers the chance to steal a more desirable next life. Their power and influence is absolute, with little standing in their way. However, unexpected anomalies in the process endow unique abilities to their victims who, once identified, are offered one chance – to save our world or destroy it, one Unborn child at a time.

With the truth shrouded in conspiracy, Emma Jennings, a troubled but strong-minded young agent with a defiant reputation, is determined to prove these crimes exist. But in order to accomplish her goal, she’ll need to find the one victim who can turn the tide of her war.

Opinion: OoOoOo yeah Sci-fi/Mystery lovers, I got a good one for you today! I have been waiting for a good book to get me out of my slump of multiple bad reviews, and here we are. This book has a “repo-man” feel to it, which was probably what got me so hooked on it. Imagine the chance to be able to switch your life for a better one; to start all over again, with the knowledge and experiences you have still being intact. Welcome to The Birthright Theft Series.

Birthright theft, the chance to turn your life of struggling and misery into something more. A chance to be born again to the child of a wealthy family, or perhaps even royalty, with every though and memory intact. The price? Just a small favor for the Dealers.

Emma Jennings has been working herself to the bone trying to catch Dealer X and his gang of birthright theft dealers, while also trying to prove that stealing one’s birthright is actually real. Countless showdowns and close calls in capturing Dealer X proves not enough, and Emma finds herself at risk of having her investigation shut down.  But then Emma finds herself a convict by the name of Cameron Briggs, who is also happens to be an unborn: a victim of birthright theft. Not only is Emma able to enlist the help of Cameron, but he proves to have an extraordinary ability that puts him on the same playing field as the dealers. Together Emma and Cameron work to take down Dealer X, all the while trying to save the birthright of a prominent royal family.

The idea for this story was ABSOLUTELY KILLER. I mean come on, being able to steal someone’s birthright with the memories of your other life still there? It’s like Repo-Man had a child with reincarnation, and out popped an epic series. As if that isn’t amazing enough, author Daniel Gage takes it farther by detailing what happens to the victims of having their birthright stolen. I assumed they would just be dead, right?. But NO! The victim, which they call an Unborn, is born an alternate life where literally EVERYTHING goes wrong for them. The two lives stay connected throughout their lifetimes, and as the Unborn experiences unfortunate events, the thief experiences wealth and riches. Honestly, the entire concept is extremely interesting. Though this might sound like a complicated concept for a story, the author is fantastic at making it easy for the reader to understand. I had no trouble keeping up, and the fluidity that this author has in their writing keeps the reader addicted and interested.

Let’s touch on characters Emma and Cameron. Emma is a tough, savvy, and career-oriented woman. She has a fierceness about her that I love, and her character never backs down from a fight. Emma’s life has been centering on catching Dealer X and his crew for some time now, and she keeps reaching dead ends. I liked that her character faced a TON of setbacks throughout this book, but she always pushed herself through it in order to complete what she started. Cameron has quite the opposite past, in comparison to Emma. He is a convict and is no stranger to setbacks and struggling in life. Cameron is also an Unborn, the victim of birthright theft. Though Cameron doesn’t know this until much later in the book, he begins to notice some changes in himself that he can’t explain. I really liked the character of Cameron, mostly because he had a good heart but was still a tough and rugged person. I think these characters work great together and show off two very different sets of people, and their chemistry is perfection.

For those of you who are looking for a hot little romance to go along with this creative story, you’re s**t out of luck. I kept thinking a steamy connection would be happening between our main characters, but NOPE. Honestly, it isn’t even needed. I have a hunch that these two will get together later in the series, but I am actually relieved that it didn’t happen in book 1. A romance would have just taken away from the main idea of this story, and that would have been a serious bummer. This book is amazing just how it is, so I wouldn’t change that for anything. One thing that I am on the fence about is how straightforward the writing is. What I mean is that the author gets straight to the point with everything, there isn’t an excess of fluff in sentences in paragraphs…which is great. But on the other hand, this would also be a great series to really pack the detail in. I think little bit more description and detail into some of the events would have only strengthened this story.

Though sci-fi based books have never been my main genre, I am loving that I am able to find some truly great ones. I just can’t get over how mind-blowing the idea for this story was, I’m addicted to it! I think the target audience for this series is probably adults, but I think a lot of young adult readers could really get into it. FINALLY a book I can write positively about! Great job Daniel Gage, you have gotten me out of my reading depression.

4-stars

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Book Review: Blood Bound (Volume 1) by K. Carter

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, K. Carter, for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fiction

Plot: At the start of his junior year, Rian Michaels is forced to move back to his hometown in the wake of his close cousin’s death. While trying to piece his family back together, he also tries to comfort his cousin’s deeply grieving girlfriend, Emily. Instead of putting her grief at ease, he begins to feel something between them. In the mist of unforgivable lies, dark secrets and betrayals, Rian has to decide. What is truly thicker than blood?

Opinion: I just…wow, I don’t even know.

This book has a lot of reviews where readers are literally ranting and raving about how amazing and heart wrenching this book is, and here I am just sitting in my chair thinking…did we read the same book? *looks around the room for clarification*

Yeah?

Well, okay then.

Growing up in his hometown, Rian’s world revolved around his cousin Ian and their best friend Emily. But after moving away for his father’s work, it has been years since Rian has seen or spoke to his friends. So when the recent death of Ian is confirmed, Rian Michaels travels with his family back to the town where he grew up. Now Rian finds himself trying to make amends to Emily for leaving and not being there for Ian, while also learning some deep secrets in the process.

For some reason, I keep launching myself into books that turn out to be less than pleasing. I really didn’t like this story guys. Maybe I am being too harsh, but I was just expecting more out of this. The plot was promising, the secrets and lies gave it some nice twists, and it ended on a fairly positive note. The problem is this: the writing. It’s not that there are grammatical errors and badly formed sentences, because there really isn’t. It’s just feels like the author needs to mature in their writing.

I took a creative writing class my junior year of high school, wrote a short fiction story, and it turned out okay. The relation I am trying to make is this: I wrote, described, and structured my story EXACTLY like this book. That was YEARS ago though. Granted my writing will never be perfect, but I like to think it has improved quite a bit. What I am trying to say is, I just don’t think this is a complete story. Allow me to explain:

  1. The main female character gets out of bed, stumbles over to the mirror, and begins to describe what she looks like. This is beyond cliché for how to introduce the physical attributes for your characters, and it drives me insane.
  2. The main male character has an obscene amount of crude thoughts and is constantly cussing. I think a common mistake being made when writing for a teenage male character is going overboard on the fact that he is a male teenager. Yes they think a little crude and cuss a lot, but are they really saying f**k every two minutes? I mean this guy literally says “All I could do is lay on my back and stare at the ceiling fan and zone out like a two cent hooker”. – – What teenage boy says that?
  3. The characters go through turmoil and various emotions throughout the book, but there is no SUBSTANCE. I didn’t feel a connection to these characters, and I wasn’t really feeling their pain. Emily is going through a tremendously hard time in her life, but I didn’t feel like I was actually experiencing it with her. When Rian’s life begins to implode, it feels like he’s upset for about 3 pages and then gets over it by the 4th. Their teenagers. Dramatized situations is a thing.

This just wasn’t a good one for me, and I really don’t have much else to say about it. I am really bummed out because I thought this was going to be a great story, I mean LOOK AT THAT COVER! Though this wasn’t a winner for me, it seems like everyone else who has read it really enjoyed it. If you end up reading it, I hope it turns out better for you than it did for me.

2-stars

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Book Review: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen Book 3)

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Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Opinion: We’ve made it to Book 3 guys, and s**t just got real…kind of. This installment of the Red Queen series has action, misfortune, and a little bit of that romance. King’s Cage is upping the ruthlessness and deceit, and fans of Maven are finally going to get another taste of who he is and what he can do. Books 1 and 2 are just kindling compared to the real war that comes about in book 3. For those who are loving the battles that consume this story, this one is for you.

Assuming that you guys have been reading along, let’s start where book 2 has left off…shall we? For those of you who haven’t read the series yet, I will do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum. Except for this paragraph, sorry. So, Mare is imprisoned and her hopes of escaping are pretty slim wouldn’t you say? Finally her character makes a little sacrifice for others instead of thinking about herself! I think we can all agree that we saw this coming, because this seems to happen in every YA/Fantasy story doesn’t it? Self-sacrificing one’s self has become QUITE the fad! I think what was really unclear when Mare gave herself up to Maven, was what Maven was going to do with her. This guys is the EPITOME of unpredictable, and I still don’t feel like I have a grasp on his character. Whether this is intentional or accidental by the author, I don’t care. I love it.

As the first half of this book is dedicated to Mare’s imprisonment, we get a fairly suitable glimpse into her time under Mavens watch. She is locked away in a surprisingly comfortable room, fed some very un-prison-like food, and obviously but confusingly…kept alive. Though we have witnessed Mavens unusual obsession with Mare, it still seems so stupid of him to keep her alive as she is such a powerful weapon. Though in true Maven fashion, it all ends up being for a bigger purpose: to use Mare as a pawn for Maven to begin to collect newborns. Not only must mare cope with her abilities being blocked by her guards and constantly trying to find a way to escape, but now she is being forced to tell the public that she is against the scarlet guard and everything they stand for.

I have to tell you guys, I am loving how the author has introduced so many different levels on mind games into this story. From book 1 the main character is lied to and manipulated by everyone around her, and still it continues. The fact that this series can become quite dark and really question your faith in humanity, is brilliant. Though the constant pattern of characters throwing each other under the bus is apparent, in book 3 we finally get to see some characters switching sides and supporting the cause. For one character in particular, I did NOT see that coming.

For the romance seekers who have been waiting patiently for the face-impaling and heart-lurching whirlwind that is Mare and Cal, you are finally rewarded. Ahhh yes…those many months have ignited the fire in these two young characters, and has finally blown up like a box of dynamite on Fourth of July! Picture it guys: an intense eye-lock from across the way, the release of doves, a slow-motion gallop to each other’s arms, a passionate kiss…blahhh blahhh blahhh. I mean, it was okay. For being pretty disappointed in this relationship from the start of this series, I’m not really surprised that their reunion fell flat for me. Once again, I just didn’t buy it. The story between these two feels like one that I was told in a 3 minute summary, and I’m still pretty uninterested. Oh well.

So apart from the reunion of Mare and Cal and Mare’s imprisonment, the rest of this book focuses on the battle of the ages. Just like before, and probably much more, I was skipping over the fighting. Like I said in my previous reviews for this series, I love a great action/battle scene in a Fantasy story. They get me amped up and hooked to the point where I can’t put the book down. However, I keep losing interest when it comes to the action scenes in the Red Queen series. There is too much fluff in it, and not enough of the author getting straight to the point. I feel like there should be more detail, not more of saying the same thing in three different sentences. I skimmed through the last part of the book, and stopped at the very end to see how everything got wrapped up.

In regards to the ending, saw that one coming didn’t we? It is obviously another cliff-hanger for what is to come, but it ends on a pretty emotional note. Or…what is supposed to be an emotional note. Again, I am left feeling nothing from it. I just CANNOT connect with Mare or really any of these characters. It’s driving me crazy! I am honestly not even sure if I will continue on with this series at this point, and I don’t think I will even miss out on much. With that said, I saw some improvements in the story and writing but it just isn’t enough for me. When I see a positive and get excited about one small aspect of the story, two things are thrown at me that I can’t stand. Unfortunately, I think this is where I end the Red Queen series. Good luck readers.

3-stars

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Book Review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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Bookoutlet.com – Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Opinion: As I sit in my desk chair at work, obviously not working, I can’t help but wonder why I don’t stop to write a review before moving onto the next book in a series. Once again I have read book 2 and then immediately rushed to book 3 without even a second’s hesitation. Now I am sitting here with the misfortune of having to decipher WTF happened in books 2 and 3, because they have COMPLETELY blended together now. Obviously my need to know what happens next overshadows my responsibility to share my thoughts with you guys, but you are just going to have to suffer due to my selfishness. Book obsessions are a fickle mistress my darlings ❤

If you read my review for book 1 in this series, Red Queen, then you know that I was having some deep deeeeeeep issues with the fact that I couldn’t connect with the characters. Reading that a character is sad/guilty/happy/blah blah blah is COMPLETELY different than feeling what the characters feels. I don’t want to be TOLD that Mare is disappointed in herself for getting more people killed, I want to know it and feel it. As I was hoping would happen, the author has only improved in this while she has continued to write. After reading Glass Sword I was finally starting to feel the things that Mare, Cal, Kilorn, Farley and various other characters were feeling. As the story started building into a darker and more cutthroat story, the personalities and actions of the characters grew as well. Though I still feel as if Mares emotions aren’t translating as well as they could, I definitely am noticing an improvement and growth in the writing.

For me, halfway into this story is where it really starts excelling. Mare and her “team” have begun the search to recruit/rescue newbloods, and the abilities that these new characters show are KILLER! Their skills range from manipulating sound, teleporting, playing with gravity, changing ones physical appearance to match another, or being able to kill someone or something with only touch. Here is where the reader is introduced to some amazing new characters, and where I think the story actually comes into its own. As they start training the newcomers to fight and control their abilities, it starts to become clear that we are in for some epic battles in the next few books.

I am all for action scenes and cutthroat battles happening in a Fantasy story, but I am really starting to tune out of these sequences in this series. I keep finding myself skipping over a lot of these scenes, and I mean just flipping pages and not even looking back. I think there is a way to detail a battle without using so much wording, because this is what keeps losing my interest. In the Throne of Glass series there is a TON of fighting and killing happening, but I never lost interest once. I think this is because Sarah J. Maas really knows how to describe a moment in detail, but in a way that you are hanging onto her every word and not feeling as if you are being thrown too much information. In the Red Queen series this just wasn’t happening, and I couldn’t help but skip past these parts.

Glass Sword is where we also have a heart attack moment in which the author hints at a love triangle. But then again, there’s already a weird love triangle happening between Maven, Cal and Mare isn’t there? Well for those of you who love a nice romantic drama full of heart ache and emotional woes between three people…sorry. That’s not really happening here. In saying the least amount possible: some emotions are expressed, some emotions are respectfully shot down, and some other emotions are…emotional. J But fear not my romantic readers!  Book 2 is where the heat begins between Cal and Mare, and by heat I mean a very VERY dim flicker of flame on a tealight candle. Yes, it’s kind of a letdown. Though now I think we are all starting to realize that Victoria Aveyard has decided to focus more on the story, less on the romance. Which I can full on respect. You go girl!

With that said, I think this is a nice step towards what is to come in this series. I always see book 2 as the stepping stone for everything else that is building up in a story, and I feel like that with this one as well. I was glad to see that some of my concerns from Red Queen had improved in Glass Sword, and I can’t wait to see if things only get better. Though this series still hasn’t hit the WOW factor for me and has left me a little disappointed, I still find it an enjoyable read. If an author is keeping at least part of me interested and I am speeding through the series, then they have to be doing something right. I have already finished King’s Cage and hope to have a review up soon, so keep a look out guys!

3-5-stars

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Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Genre: YA/Adult/Fiction/Fantasy

Plot: Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal.

This sweeping story of palace intrigue, class hierarchy, and deception will keep readers hurtling along, desperate to find out Mare’s fate. Her honesty and determination, quick wit, and no-holds-barred attitude will surely make readers fall in love with her.

Opinion: Red Queen has been sitting pretty on my bookshelf for a few months now, but I keep putting it off for a few reasons. The first being that I had WAY too many books from authors/publishing houses to get through, and the second being that I didn’t want to get addicted to this series and read it too quickly…which I always do. The Red Queen series has been very hyped up in the book community, so I figured it must be amazing. I found myself really enjoying the story line, but something was missing for me.

Mare Barrow lives in a world where humanity is separated by the color of your blood. Silver bloods are blessed with powers that make them both godlike and elite, while the Red bloods are forced into servitude due to their lack of abilities. Mare, being a Red blood, has been living in poverty her whole life and has mastered the art of stealth and pick-pocketing in order to survive. But as her 18th birthday nears, so does her conscription into a never-ending war. As Mare desperately searches for a way to save herself and her best friend Kilorn from being put on the front lines, she finds herself in an even more compromising position…being a new servant to the Silver King. But when Mare begins work in her new position, her world flips upside down as she finds that she not only possesses an ability of her own, she is now betrothed to a Prince of the Silver court. With a hatred for the Silver kingdom and everything negative that they have brought against the Red bloods, Mare secretly joins the Scarlet Guard, a rebel group. Now Mare must decide who she can trust and how to survive, even if that means living with the enemy.

Long description I know, but these books are LONG. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games while reading this book, and I think it had to do with the themes of rebellion and a court of insane characters. The Silver bloods are very similar to those that live in the first 3 districts of The Hunger Games, they are cruel, cold, and calculated. Of course the obvious difference is that the Silver bloods possess some seriously amazing gifts from the gods. Their powers range from super strength, wielding fire, manipulating metal, having control over someones abilities or mind, and so on. These traits are what make the Silver bloods more powerful than the Red bloods, and what allows them to control the lives of every Red blood in their kingdom. The Silver bloods are a brutal group in how they act and what they can do, but their appearance only adds to their dominance. Having Silver blood running through their veins makes them look pale and hard, almost inhuman. These traits definitely work to serve as many reasons as to why the Silver bloods have taken power of the Red bloods, and why it has been so hard for the Red bloods to rise up over the years.

Mare Barrow is an interesting character. She is a Red blood and has been in poverty all of her life with her family. She has seen all three of her older brothers go off to war due to conscription, and she has fought hard to find a way to help provide for her family. Unfortunately for Mare, she lacks any particular skill and is unable to find herself work as an apprentice. While living in the shadow of her perfect sister, Mare uses her time to steal from the Silver bloods in order to compensate for what she cannot do. I like that mare has a fierce and quick tongue, and has no problem speaking her mind. She holds strong morals and beliefs, and she bares these on her shoulders throughout the story.

What I found frustrating was that the chemistry and connection between characters, and between myself and the characters, was really lacking. I didn’t feel Mare and Kilorn’s strong life-long connection to each other, or a connection between mare and any other character for that matter. The author EXPLAINS the relationship between Kilorn and Mare or how the bond between Mare and Cal and Maven grows, but I didn’t believe it. It’s like someone just telling you that they have undying trust for someone else, rather than you noticing it and believing it. I just didn’t buy it. So naturally when the romances started to come forward, I was left rolling my eyes and thinking that they felt forced and unnatural. I find this happening in so many YA stories now, and it saddens me. I JUST NEED MORE!

Characters aside, this story has a really great imaginative feel and flow. The world that the author has created is wonderfully described and made up, even though I sometimes get a little lost in the countless names of characters, places, and abilities.  There is A LOT of description and character reflecting in this story, so be prepared for that. I found myself skimming through some of the paragraphs once and awhile because of the overload of explanations, but that’s just me. Besides a lot of great detail putting this story together, the author does a great job of inserting some amazing blindsides and twists and turns. I honestly had NO IDEA that the story was going to take a turn like it did, and I LOVED it. I mean naturally I am a bit crushed, but I adore when an author can do something unexpected.

Long review I know, but this story deserves it. I know that my review ended up sounding a bit more negative than even I was expecting it to be, but rest assured that this story really is enjoyable. I think that because this story was so hyped up, I was expecting it to be “out of this world” amazing. I am currently reading book 2, Glass Sword, and trust me…it’s getting crazy good. I am hoping the character development improves and becomes stronger, because I really want to have a connection o these characters. Keep a lookout for my review of book 2, Glass Sword!

3-5-stars

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