Book Review: The Last Star by Rick Yancey

“Because love is the most dangerous weapon in the world. It’s more unstable than uranium.”

(The Last Star by Rick Yancey, Chapter 52, page 188)

Dystopian YA has always been a favorite of mine to read. I began reading The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey because I saw the movie and the basic premise captured my attention. As it often happens, I did like the first book of this trilogy, the one the movie was based upon, way better than the movie. And I liked Cassie, named for Cassiopeia not Cassandra, a lot better in the book as well.

Last Star

Fast forward to book 3, The Last Star. (I’ve already written reviews of book 1 and book 2 if you need to catch up.)

So. The Last Star. For me, a solid 4 of 5 stars is how I rated it on Good Reads. It kept me entertained, continued to develop the remaining characters, and tied up loose ends fairly well. Yes, some of it was predictable, but so are many books and movies of all genres. However, there were several strong moments and ultimately, I liked how our main characters were left.

What I had mild issues with was what I felt was rambling. It felt like (in book 2 as well) that Yancey drones on a bit long in places as characters muse over the “why” of everything. After a while, it felt repetitive and I wanted to skip certain passages. Beyond that, I really liked the series. And I have every intention of rereading it again, maybe later in the year. I’m sure I missed some nuances and with a dystopian series like this told from multiple POVs, things can be misinterpreted or missed completely.

According to Den of Geek, author Rick Yancey has plans to publish three more books in the 5th Wave series. This was reported back in March 2017. If Yancey does publish more books in this series, I’ll read them.

As for The 5th Waves series, I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA end-of-the-world tales with strong female characters and very likable secondary characters.

Added “Everything, Everything” to TBR List

If you’ve been following my book review posts since Christmas, you know I’ve been reading the Rick Yancey YA series The 5th Wave. I’ve already posted my thoughts and reviews about book 1 and book 2 — yes, I liked both.

Currently, I’m reading book three, The Last Star. I had hoped to finish it this morning, but instead found myself sucked in and watching the movie “Everything, Everything” which is based on the book of the same name by author Nicola Yoon. The story held my attention and I loved Maddy, played by actress Amandla Stenberg.

I have not read Nicola Yoon’s YA book Everything, Everything, but now I want to and I’m adding it to my 2018 TBR list.

Wait, what? You’ve not made a TBR list for this year yet? That’s okay! I’m still working on mine and will post it (or whatever I have of it) later this week.

So, I guess that leaves us today with two things:

  1. Keep your eye out for my review of The Last Star by Rick Yancey, the last book in The 5th Wave trilogy.
  2. Share with me your book recommendations for 2018 so I can add them to my TBR list. Pop your number one favorite recommendation in the comments. Thanks!

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

“Luck had carried us through the first three waves. But even the best gambler will tell you that luck only lasts so long.”

(The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Chapter 16, page 75)

Author Rick Yancey packs pages of twists and turns into an epic tale of survival during and after a cunning alien invasion. Told from multiple points-of-view (POVs), The 5th Wave is book one in a trilogy. The 5th Wave offers readers a fast-paced, action-adventure wrapped in paranoia and sprinkled with a range of deep emotions—from fear to love and horror. It’s all there.

5th WaveWith the first wave they took out all power. No lights. No motors. No cell phones. All grids down, just a taste of what was to come.

The second wave hits differently. Tsunami. Coastal cities across the globe wiped out. Still, the survivors press on. There is always hope, right?

The third wave decimates. A plague that kills almost everyone it touches. There’s no hiding from the pestilence they’ve unleashed.

Then comes the fourth wave. The Silencers emerge.

What’s the fifth wave? It’s the unthinkable.

Readers ride the waves of the world’s decimation with a variety of characters that include high school kids Cassie Sullivan and Ben “Zombie” Parish. Then there’s Evan Walker, a bit older and definitely different. He saves Cassie’s life, but can we really trust him? Author Yancey weaves a distinctive dystopian story that resonates because it’s just enough to have a reader thinking, hmmm, what if and yes, I could see this, crap—what would I do if I were Cassie or Ben or any other human trying to survive this invasion?

I found The 5th Wave to be a great escape book. It swept me away into its world, and that’s exactly what a good book should do. I didn’t want to put it down and I’m so happy that I have the boxed set so when I finished I was able to grab book two and soldier on with story.

You can find out more about author Rick Yancey here. And I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written end-of-world story told from multiple perspectives and that doesn’t lose its sense of reality.

Book Review: “Year One” by Nora Roberts

“You get up in the morning, and do what you have to do. You get up, thinking for just a split second, everything’s the way it was. Then you know it’s not. It’s never going to be, but you get up and keep going.”

(YEAR ONE by Nora Roberts, Chapter Six, page 96)

“Year One” by Nora Roberts offers readers a disturbing glimpse into human nature when civilization as we know it ends and a world with new rules and ancient magicks emerges.

Year One

From the Good Reads synopsis, “The end has come. The beginning comes next.”

It’s the New Year and amid the revelry a sickness has begun to spread. It hits fast and spreads even quicker. They call it the Doom. Within a few weeks the world has been decimated—more than half the population is dead, infrastructures have collapsed, and the Uncanny are among the immune. The Uncanny have powers and abilities. There are witches, faeries, elves, and others, some light and some dark.

Max and Lana practiced witchcraft before the Doom. Now immunes, their powers have increased and they find themselves trying to get out of New York away from the savages and evil attempting to take over the city. Also heading out of the city are Arlys and Fred, a journalist and a young intern who both worked for the same television station plus their friend Chuck, a tech genius. This trio eventually meets up with another group fleeing the city: Rachel the doctor, Jonah the paramedic, and Katie a young mother who just gave birth to twins and adopted a third baby left orphaned by the Doom.

“Year One” is told from multiple POV’s and spans a full year in time. If you pick up this book expecting the typical Nora Roberts romance, it’s not there. Romance takes a backseat in “Year One” — even though we do get a nicely developed relationship between Lana and Max. This novel focuses more on the breakdown of order and the chaos that quickly follows. There’s the rise of magic as tech dwindles and dies. And there is the fear.

Author Roberts has created a very disturbing reality in “Year One.” She explores the dark side of humanity, both the “normal” humans and their prejudice against any type of Uncanny or person who may be perceived as an Uncanny plus the dark Uncanny who simply are evil. She takes readers on a frightening journey, but also manages to give us hope.

There’s a nice balance in “Year One”. While we see the horrors and atrocities, we also get to see the good. The people who learn to live together, pooling resources and relying on all types of abilities—supernatural as well as natural. Faeries, elves, and witches living and working with policemen, teachers, and lawyers to build a new society that’s safe and welcoming for everyone.

“Year One” by Nora Roberts is epic and a book I highly recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed her books like The Sign of Seven Trilogy and The Guardians Trilogy. Here is a great link to a list of all her books by published date. If you’ve never read a Nora Roberts book, this actually is a really good one for a start.

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge: How’d You Do?

Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge By the Numbers:

Participants—3,064,552

Books pledged—138,755,909

Books finished (as of 12/10/17)—42,456,838

Average books pledged—45

Challenges completed (as of 12/10/17)—14,675

i-love-books

The Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge has just 21 days left (as of this writing).

Never heard of the Goodreads annual Reading Challenge? No worries. It’s pretty simple. It’s free and open to all Goodreads members. All you do is choose or “pledge” how many books you want to read for the year. It can be any amount.

According to the Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics, which I’ve posted above, the average number of books pledge is  45 or a little less than one book a week.

Seems doable, right? For many readers, absolutely!

For others, myself included. I opt for a lower number. And I feel no shame. Pledge whatever you want. Slow reader? Make your challenge 5 or 10 books for the year. If you make that easily, then increase the number in the next year.

My 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge was 25 books. I completed my challenge on November 30. You can see my list of completed books and their reviews here.

In looking over the list, I’ve been trying to decide which one would be my favorite read of the year. There are so many books that I read in the last year that I really, really liked. I’d have to say my absolute favorite on this list is “Silver Stars” by Michael Grant. It’s book two in his Front Lines series.

I also read a middle-grade series written by A.L. Tait, The Mapmaker Chronicles—all three of those books appear in my Goodreads Reading Challenge list. Loved this series and highly recommend it for your young readers.

So what am I reading right now? Well, I’m still working my way through the Harry Potter series. I’m on book two but am first going to finish up reading the new Nora Roberts book “Year One”. As soon as I have “Year One” finished, I’ll post a review—but I’ll tell you right now, I’m LOVING it!

Did you do the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge?

How many books did you pledge?

Did you make your goals or are you still in a race to finish before the clock chimes midnight on December 31?

Christmas. Reading. Books.

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”

(“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J. K. Rowling)

Sor. Stone compressed

As the Christmas holidays rapidly approach and the final days of 2017 wind down, I find myself wanting nothing more than to curl up with a good, familiar book. Maybe it’s the rush and hurry of the holiday season or the uncertainties that 2018 may bring. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I just know that I’m in the mood for something tried, true, and entertaining.

So I’m rereading the Harry Potter series.

HP compressed

I love to reread favorite books. It’s not uncommon for me to step up to my bookshelves and pull “Death on the Nile” by Agatha Christie or “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen just to plop down on the floor, opening the book to a random page and reading a chapter or two. Usually during December I reread a series (or two). Last year, I reread the Gone series by Michael Grant and the Starcrossed trilogy by Josephine Angelini. This year it will be Harry Potter.

It’s been about two years since I’ve read the full Harry Potter series. Currently, I’m at a little more than half way through “Sorcerer’s Stone.” I’m enjoying it so much. It’s amazing that after reading this series more than 10 times through that I still get just as much enjoyment as I did when each word, chapter, and book was brand new to me. Crazy, right?

Rereading the Harry Potter series won’t be the only books I open. I plan to reread “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson.

Yes, it’s a kids book.

Yes, I’ve read it too many times to count, including reading it aloud to my son when he was little.

It’s a GREAT Christmas book and I never tire of it. If you haven’t read it or shared it with your kids, maybe this is the year to do that. Here’s a handy link to Harper Collins if you want to check it out.

How about you? What are you reading this holiday season?

Book Review: “Monster” by Michael Grant

“Writers—even unpublished ones—loved characters, and Shade Darby was definitely a character.”

(Chapter 3, Monster by Michael Grant)

As a reader, there is a delicious pleasure when you finally hold in your hand a book that’s been long awaited. “Monster” by Michael Grant is the one book release of 2017 that I most anticipated — anxiously checking the calendar and mentally counting down the days.

And it didn’t disappoint.

Monster

I read “Monster” in less than 24 hours because I had to know, not only how this particular story would end, but I needed to have a glimpse into where Grant might be taking readers as he continues to weave the threads that all began with “Gone”.

“Monster” is Book 7 in the “Gone” series by author Michael Grant. Its story picks up four years after the dome comes down in “Light”. Do you absolutely need to read the first six books before picking up “Monster”? Eh — not exactly, but you really should. And it’s worth it. You want to read the whole series and get a real feel for characters, the horror of the FAYZ, and why this aftermath is a story that also must be told.

Fans of the “Gone” series will enjoy a few familiar names, both hero and villain, as the story of “Monster” unfolds. We get to see what Dekka is doing four years later and how she’s survived, there’s a surprising moment with Diana, a bit of info on Taylor, and then there is Drake. Yes, Drake is back and he’s every bit as evil as he ever was—maybe more.

In addition to the familiar names, readers meet Shade Darby, Cruz, and Malik. I liked this trio. A lot. Shade’s smart, resourceful, and despite being extremely obsessive, she’s also kind. Cruz is very likable and I can’t wait to see how she continues to develop as the story evolves further, but she’s got an inner strength and courage that I admire. Then there’s Malik. Love can get you killed, but I’m not sure yet if that makes a difference to him or not.

There’s also Armo, who teams up with Dekka and an artist named Justin, a.k.a. Knightmare. Author Grant throws in power-hungry military commanders, secret government laboratories (filled with unspeakable horrors), and yes, there is a monster. I’m not going to give spoilers because I want you to read the book and experience it. Trust me.

One of my favorite things about the “Gone” series and the author’s style of writing is the action sequences. As you read, it’s like a high-intensity blockbuster, action-movie playing out in your head. If you’re a fan of action movies like Pacific Rim, Transformers, or X-Men—you’ll enjoy this type of book.

There’s a good balance in “Monster” between the intense action, tech, and character development. And then there is Chapter 18: Going Home. It gave me all the feels. All.The.Feels. Beautifully written and another level of closure from the original story.

So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I recommend “Monster” by Michael Grant. If you haven’t read the first six books in the “Gone” series read those first and then definitely read “Monster.” You can find it here. According to the “Gone” Wiki, the next book (#8) is “Villain” and #9 is “Hero”. As soon as I find release dates, I’ll be sure to share.

Writing & Reading . . . Well, Mostly Writing

It’s been about a month since my last post and probably one of the longest periods I’ve been away from this blog. As a freelance writer, the tide of work ebbs and flows. When it’s ebbing, I find myself spending as much time chasing the work as I do completing the work. Clients come and go, that’s just the way it is and I much prefer this as a day job than other options.

Freelancing as a content creator allows me the flexibility to pursue the completion of my first book and prep for NaNo, which I’ll discuss in just a moment. After several drafts, professional editing, revisions, more editing, more revisions, rounds with beta readers and CPs, and more revisions, it’s reallllllllly close to query time. And while that’s slightly terrifying, I’m ready. Actually mentally ready. I’ve done my best and it’s time to see if I can convince an agent that they should take a chance on it and me. And really, they should because the book’s awesome and so am I, right? Right? Anyhoo . . .

So I’ve been writing during this time I’ve been away from sharing book reviews here on the blog. From many, many freelance words to additions/revisions on the book, and prep work for my NaNo project. Which is:   drum roll please!    YA Mystery!

I’m really looking forward to this project and can’t wait to dive in!

nano-2017-participant-badge

If you’re considering NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) head over to their site HERE. Be sure to click over to THIS PAGE to find out how it works. It’s super easy, free, and trust me, you’ll have a blast. It’s a great way to meet other writers, get in the habit of writing daily with no excuses, and crank out a first draft in 30 days.

Now about the time I’ve spent reading. old booksLong before I was a writer, I was a reader. I can’t ever remember NOT being a reader. I only post a few of the books I read here, so even when I’m not posting book reviews, I am still reading several books. Since the beginning of the month I’ve been rereading Michael Grant’s GONE series in anticipation of his new book MONSTER that releases October 17. As this is one of my all-time favorite young adult series, I’m really looking forward to reading it! Keep your eyes out, I promise I will post a full review as soon as I can.

I’ve also been rereading “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie and YES, I do plan to go see the new movie in November. I own the 1974 version, and while I don’t favor it as much as “And Then There Were None” and “Death on the Nile” it does have its merits.

I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and share with me and other readers the new book releases you’re anxiously awaiting. I’m always looking to add to by TBR pile. If you’re an Agatha Christie fan like me, are you planning to see the new “Murder on the Orient Express” movie? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

 

Book Review: The Mapmaker Chronicles: Breath of the Dragon by A.L. Tait

“But after that, it all came down to the map.

Which meant it all came down to Quinn.”

The crew of the Libertas has been out at sea for months. They’ve faced thieves, pirates, strange creatures, and near-death multiple times. Now it’s hunger and the looming deadline to get back to Verdania and win the race to map the world that threatens them. A.L. Tait gives readers a fast-paced, exciting conclusion to her series The Mapmaker Chronicles with the third book Breath of the Dragon.

AL Tait Mapmaker 3

The race to map the world is almost at an end as the third book in this series opens. Our young hero Quinn has faced many challenges and life-threatening dangers. Unfortunately, Quinn’s unique ability to remember, well everything, has been muddled due the head injury he suffered while trying to escape from the Black Hawk. Without his infallible memory, he’s struggling with mapmaking and worries about his friend and crew members learning of his loss.

The crew of the Libertas doesn’t have an easy time finishing this race. At every turn it seems as if they’re being thwarted — from pirates to erupting volcanoes and old enemies, each day brings a new challenge.

Like any good adventure story, author A.L. Tait gives readers exciting action sequences, exotic lands, priceless treasure, and heart-stopping heroics by the characters we’ve grown to love since first introduced in book one: Race to the End of the World.

Breath of the Dragon concludes with a pleasant twist and a satisfying wrap-up for each character. As a reader, I was very happy to meet Zain’s family and I’m quite intrigued — I’d love to read more about them. As for Quinn, I loved how he evolved over the course of all three books and cheered for him all the way. It’d be fun to see the character a few years down the road as an older teen or early twenty-something.

Overall, I heartily recommended Breath of the Dragon and the entire Mapmaker Chronicles by A.L. Tait.

I’ve collected a few links for you. You can watch A.L. Tait via YouTube talk about the Mapmaker Chronicles series and visit her website here. In addition, I encourage you to head over to Kane Miller Publishing and check out the whole series.

Book Review: When The Timer Dings: Organizing Your Life To Make The Most of 10 Minute Increments by Katharine Grubb

First, I need to offer an apology to author Katharine Grubb, because I actually finished this book a few weeks ago — does my untimeliness for posting my review mean I failed at learning how to organize my life to make the most of it in 10 minute increments? Um, maybe?

WhenTimerDings

If it is, it’s totally on me, because Katharine Grubb’s new book “When the Time Dings: Organizing Your Life to Make the Mot of 10 Minute Increments is a must-read. Whether you’re a writer looking to maximize your time each day or a busy parent trying to not drown in a sea of commitments, look to this easy-to-follow book for advice and actionable tips.

One of my favorite things about author Katharine Grubb is her natural ability to encourage. I met her online about four years ago when her writing group 10 Minute Novelists was really just beginning to grow. Grubb offers practical advice for not only writers, but for anyone looking to add a bit more cohesion and organization to their daily lives. In this book, she shares what’s worked (and not worked for her) as a busy mother, wife, writer, and entrepreneur. I like the Exercises at the end of the sections — questions that make you really think and take stock of how you’re handling your daily life and where room for improvement is needed. I especially like the actionable tips like:

“Set an alarm five times through the day, at two- to three-hour intervals. Every time the alarm goes off, ask yourself, ‘Have I avoided anything in the last few hours because I didn’t feel like it?’ If the answer is yes, then if you are able, go back and deal with that task.”

It’s really a simple action, but very good advice and it can really make a difference in what you’re able to accomplish in one day.

I did receive this book as an ARC. I do totally recommend it to anyone looking to increase their organizational skills. Don’t wait, seriously, do it now. You don’t need it to be January and the start of a new year to try to make improvements.

You can find out more about author Katharine Grubb, the 10 Minute Novelists, and her other books here at her website.