Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich

I recently participated in a blog tour for this book and it was such a great experience! I loved the experience of live-tweeting and hosting a giveaway, and it’s something I want to continue to do!

But now, it is time for my own review of this book!

36572385Synopsis (Goodreads): You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

Review: I think the premise for this book was great. However, I think it failed in execution.

As soon as I started reading this book, I felt out of sorts. This novel throws you right into the action … but with very little background. It almost felt like I was reading the second book in a series, and not the first. I kept waiting for there to be an explanation or some kind of recounting of events to explain how things got to be to the present time in the book, but it didn’t really happen. The few things that were explained were glossed over, which was disappointing. I love reading about the world authors create, but this novel really didn’t do that. No context = tons of confusion!

The novel looks like it is going to be full of action … and while there is some of that, it is mostly about the bond between Ember and Solanine. I actually liked the way the author told this. As an older sister, I could really connect with the sisters in this story and how they struggled to trust each other. The emotional interactions between the siblings was done quite well. However, apart from their bond, I didn’t really feel like the sisters had any well-developed interactions with any of the other characters in the book. Told in alternating perspectives, we read about how each sister learns to forgive themselves and move on from their guilt through the help of various other characters. But it was all so one-dimensional; I never got a feel for the other characters and the interactions were just too rushed for them to have any significance or value.

One of the characters that completely baffled me was Nightshade, who is part of the resistance (and no, this resistance is also not really explained). For someone who is supposed to be a leader, she didn’t do much of it. Nor did she have any plans. She did nothing and was swayed by her own emotions. I think this issue could have been resolved if the author had built the character better and had a more concrete backstory that was explained.

There are a lot of instances of self-harm and abuse in this novel, which may bother some readers. At first, I appreciated the author mentioning these things in the story, as it highlights how easy it is to get into destructive behaviour patterns. However, it became too frequent of an occurrence, and began to feel like the author was including these instances just for the sake of having something to write about.

Before the halfway point of the book, not much was happening. It was very focused on the sisters trying to communicate. After the halfway point, the plot started to move fairly quickly. But the lack of explanation about the way this dystopian world was set up meant I had a lot of questions and very few answers. There was a lot of redundancy in the action events themselves, with characters getting caught, then escaping, then getting caught again. It just got boring very quickly.

Overall, I think that the concept behind this novel was good but the execution was lacking. There needed to be a lot more world-building and explanations for how things work. Characters also needed to be more developed. There needs to be the right balance between theme/plot and setting/world-building, and this novel did not have that. However, since I liked the sisterly bond aspect, I’m bumping my rating up to a 2/5 stars.

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Happy reading ~


Crimson Ash by Haley Sulich [BLOG TOUR +GIVEAWAY+]

I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour! It’s my very first time and it has been such a fun experience, live-tweeting and working with the amazing host Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch!


Book Information:

Title: Crimson Ash
Author: Haley Sulich
Publisher: Write Plan
Publication date: 10 May 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Synopsis: You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.
Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.
After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year- old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé. Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.
As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.


A soon-to-be City of Graven resident appears in the middle of the room and frantically whips her head around in the dark. It’s common for people to panic. They aren’t gifted with night-vision eyes like us because they weren’t created in a laboratory. In case any of them decide to attack a soldier, we have the advantage of sight.

Once all the future civilians pack into the room with the soldiers, the Commander enters the coordinates for the City of Graven into a keypad. The moment she finishes, an electric current begins to charge the air. Sweat drips into the scrape on my cheek where a bullet grazed my face.

Not a muscle of mine twitches.

Seconds pass before the familiar flash of light and feeling of nothingness wraps around my body while we travel. Then I land on the flat roof of a building.

The new City of Graven residents turn in a circle. Their hands tremble and mouths gape open with an emotion I fail to understand. Mountains—invisible to their mundane vision in the dark—cut jagged lines into the horizon. Skyscrapers rise higher than the one we stand on. The glo-wood trees below lie evenly spaced where streets once were, and they bathe every glass structure in a pale luminescence.

This is the last city on Earth that gleams at night. Everything else died when the Devil’s Dream wiped out most of the human race. Nobody could locate the origin of the virus because it spread too quickly, taking down the strongest and even remotest civilizations. That’s why soldiers search the Earth for survivors. But this fragile society can’t function if people refuse to participate, which is why we give the Choice.

As we wait silently, the clanging of metal emanates from the nearby stairwell. A man in his late thirties appears from below. Mordecai Graven greets his new citizens while soldiers descend the stairs to the individual Alters lining the walls.

I follow the group and step in front of an Alter. Type the code to my cell.


Pushing my palm against the Alter, I feel the faint current racing through my fingers toward my chest. A flash of light. Floating.

Then I arrive in my ten-by-ten foot room. Three concrete walls and a thick sheet of glass surround me. My night vision stains everything blue.

Soldiers live in the dark.

I shed my black gear and dump it into the laundry chute before grabbing a pair of fresh clothes from the concrete shelf. Without my armoured gloves covering my hands, my heavily scarred fingers are a stark contrast to the dark clothing.

Entering the bathroom, I clean my dagger before placing my hands in the dink. Only one temperature of water ever sputters from the faucet. Boiling liquid flows over my fingers as I rinse away the dried blood. My skin blisters and turns raw.

Soldiers don’t feel pain.

Translucent liquid from the automatic curative cream dispenser on the wall begins to repair the damaged nerve cells of my hands and the wound from the bullet graze. The skin scars over, speeding up a process that should take weeks. I touch my hand to the unbroken skin on my cheek.

It’s no longer a bleeding gash.

After taking a quick shower in thirty-three-degree water—just above the freezing point to make us immune to temperature differences—I dress and lie on my bare mattress, staring at the labyrinth of cracks on the ceiling.

Links To The Book

Goodreads – ash
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Click here to enter the giveaway for a signed physical ARC of Crimson Ash!

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Ignite by Tracy Lawson – The Resistance #3

I received this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and I received no incentives. 

I’ve been continuing this series through audio books and it’s been a really great experience. I love the narrative style and the way all of the voices are changed to suit the different characters. It took me longer to get through this book compared to the other novels in this series, but that in no way means this was less interesting. If anything, I think this is my favourite book in the series. Here’s why:

30356956Summary (Goodreads): Nationwide food shortages have sparked civil unrest, and the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s hold on the people is slipping. The Resistance’s efforts to hasten the OCSD’s demise have resulted in disaster, with Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher taking the blame for the ill-fated mission in OP-439.

Both teens struggle to survive the circumstances that force them into the national spotlight—and this time, they’re on opposite sides. On the run and exiled from the Resistance members in BG-098, Tommy makes his way to a Resistance safe house in the capital.

The OCSD is preparing to monitor all under-eighteens with the Cerberean Link, a device that protects them against hunger and sickness and can even locate them if they’re lost. Tommy’s now living in close quarters with Atari, an operative who’s been assigned to sabotage the Link. But does Atari plan to use it for his own purposes?

Through it all, Tommy refuses to believe Careen’s loyalties have shifted away from the Resistance, and he’s willing to assume any risk to reconnect with her. Will they be able to trust each other when it matters most?

 Review: Apart from the first book that started me on this journey, this has got to be my next favourite book in this series. I was surprised that this series was not a trilogy, but after reading this book, I have to admit that this was a good decision; there is just too much to this story for it to be condensed into a trilogy.

I loved that the author didn’t shy away from describing brutality and torture, despite this being a YA novel. Many times, authors leave it up to the imagination, but not with this book! It made everything seem so much more real and horrifying, and I felt so much more invested in the story. Again, the author portrays things in such a realistic way that it scares me; the events in this book could easily become reality!

I was also really happy to see that the characters became more developed in this novel. There were still instances of insta-love but there were more struggles. The protagonists really grew up, and the interactions between all of the other characters were also more complex. The story has gotten to a point where the reader now has to question who can be trusted – and I love it!

The plot became more divided in this book as the characters took on different roles and responsibilities within the Resistance. Everything was well-developed and the crossing-over of the different story lines was done really well, keeping things compact.

Overall, this novel was really well done. I loved the depth of the interactions and the complexity of the plot and characters. This was the strongest book so far in the series, and I can’t wait to see how the adventure continues! I’m giving this a solid 4/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Resist by Tracy Lawson – Resistance #2

Thank you to the author for providing me with an audio copy of this book. My opinions are my own.

After really enjoying my experience with an audio book, I was happy to continue with this series in the same format. In my review of Counteract by Tracy Lawson, I mentioned that this was a very well-written YA dystopian fiction. While the premise itself is one I’ve read about before, the way the story unfolded and the writing style really sold it for me. I was excited to see how I would find the second book in this series … here are my thoughts:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Knowledge comes with a price.

Tommy and Careen are no longer naive teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense’s miracle antidote can protect them from a terrorist’s chemical weapons. After accidentally discovering the antidote’s real purpose—to control citizens’ thoughts and actions–they join the Resistance to fight back.

They soon realize that being part of the Resistance brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Not everyone working for change proves trustworthy, and plans to spark a revolution go awry, with grave consequences. Tommy and Careen’s differing viewpoints threaten to drive a wedge between them, and their budding relationship is tested as their destinies move toward an inevitable confrontation with the forces that terrorize the nation.

Where does love fit in when you’re trying to overthrow the government?

Review: Did I love this as much as I enjoyed Counteract? No. But that doesn’t mean this book was bad in any way.

I liked that this novel jumped right into the events that occurred right after Counteract ended. It was a smooth transition, and in the next few chapters, the author provided enough information to fill in the gaps to jog your memory. I would still recommend, however, that people read the first book in the series before reading this one; it will allow for better connection with the characters and their motives.

This novel, while generally fast-paced, did have its slow moments. These were probably because the story mainly took place at Resistance headquarters. This meant that there was less doing and more talking going on. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it did mean that there was less action than in the first book of the series. However, the benefit of this approach is that we got to see Careen’s character grow up and mature. She is no longer ignorant, and takes a much larger role and responsibility as a member of the Resistance. Having all of the central characters in one location also meant that there were more emotional interactions, and these were done quite well. I especially liked how Tommy struggled to understand his feelings, as it gave him more dimension. Once again, the author gave each character their moment to shine, which was awesome because we got to see how everyone was contributing – or worsening – the situation. Rebellions are a team effort! This also helped me connect with other characters that I didn’t necessarily think were important – but then they were.

The one main issue that I had with this novel was that it had the stereotypical love triangle issue. While there was a setup for it in the first book, I was hoping that it wouldn’t be carried out in the way that it did. But it happened. I think that it was one of those things that really didn’t add to the story, and I generally don’t like reading about teen angst so it didn’t work for me.

At times, the chapters had an abrupt ending. I feel like one more sentence that acted as a zinger would have been the perfect way to close it off and keep the writing tight. However, this didn’t really detract from the quality of the story.

The story ended on a cliffhanger, which means I am now going to binge listen to the next book in the series! I’m giving Resist a solid 3/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Counteract by Tracy Lawson – Resistance #1

I received this novel as a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Not only is this novel the first book I finished for February, it is also my very first audiobook. I’ve never found myself able to get into listening to an audio book. Somehow, I end up zoning out and losing sense of what’s going on in the story. This time, I was determined to pay attention and give this form of story telling a good shot. Here is my review of the book as well as the experience:

Synopsis (Goodreads): In an alternate reality version of 2034, terrorist attacks on American soil continue after the events of 9/11. The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, created in 2019 to oversee domestic security, rises to unprecedented heights of power by exploiting the people’s overriding fear of terrorism.

When Tommy Bailey and Careen Catecher meet during one of the bogus terrorist attacks, they discover the OCSD’s darkest secret: an antidote distributed by the government to “protect” people from the effects of imaginary toxins in the air is really being used to lull them into a state of submission. Tommy and Careen face a difficult choice: stay quiet about what they know—or risk their safety and anonymity to join an underground rebel group that’s determined to break the OCSD’s grip on the nation.

Review: There are a lot of YA dystopian novels out there and it can be hard for an author to be unique in this genre. That was not the problem here. I found this story to have a lot of great qualities to it that set it apart from other books in this genre and kept me interested throughout the story!

I really liked the way the story unfolded. There were quite a few people involved in the story, and each got their time to shine. I liked hearing from these different perspectives because it allowed the reader to see the issues through more than just one point of view; whenever I get the chance to see a fuller picture, I am appreciative of it because it doesn’t always happen. Of course, Careen and Tommy were the main characters but having other adult voices to balance out their teen ones was quite nice.

Even though the concept of the government being evil is not a new one, the story that the author presented here was very different from what you see. I liked it because it didn’t take place too far into the future; it was a world that I could easily envision happening a few years down the road. It was scary to see how trusting people are and how easily that can be manipulated by those in power. The novel had a good pace with enough intrigue to keep me guessing about how things would progress. There were a couple holes that I spotted in this book, and I hope that the author addressed them in future books … but it wasn’t a significant problem.

The one thing that I didn’t like was Careen’s personality and behaviour. While she showed independence and intelligence at certain points, most of her actions were a bit too whimsical and flighty for my taste. I didn’t really like how dependent she became on others, especially since her first introduction in this book portrayed her as having a lot of sass and spunk. I also thought the relationship between Careen and Tommy could have progressed a bit slower, allowing it to develop more richly.

I think that this novel really worked as an audio book because the story wasn’t bogged down with too many details and descriptions. The narration was done by Sarah Rogers and she did a great job of expressing all of the right emotions and matching her pace to that of the story. This is not an easy story to narrate as there are many different characters and perspectives to present, but Rogers did a great job in making them all stand out. My only comment would be that Eduardo really didn’t sound the way I expected; even though he was Spanish, the accent used was more similar to Russian. Regardless, I found it really easy to pay attention and my focus never shifted from the story.

Overall, I thought this was a really good dystopian novel that explored the idea of autonomy and the role of the government in protecting its citizens. I liked the various different characters and thought that the novel was well-paced. This book definitely works in an audiobook format, and I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a unique YA dystopian story!

Happy reading ~

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I really really like dystopian novels. It’s both frightening and exciting to think about what the world would be like if society as we know it collapsed and we were left in an extreme condition and had to survive. Any chance that I get to read a dystopian novel, I take it. And I got the chance with this one through NetGalley. Here is my review:

Synopsis (Goodreads): Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive. But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.

Review: I really wanted to like this novel. But I didn’t. It wasn’t terrible by any standards, but it just wasn’t as gripping or unique as I wanted it to be. The story was pretty much like your average dystopian tale: there’s a girl who is learning to survive in a new environment and through a turn of events discovers that she is different and could potentially save the world. And there’s the love interest that conveniently comes along and becomes a part of the adventure. It’s something I’ve already seen so many times so it was hard for this book to hold my interest.32920273

Now, not everything was the same. For instance, Lynn is older than your usual teen protagonist – she is 23 years old and is no longer a child. But for some reason, her voice didn’t show the maturity of someone her age. I understand that she has been living only with her family for a number of years and has been isolated from others her age, but that doesn’t mean that she should have the maturity of a 16-year-old. The age factor might have been a unique feature of the story but since the author didn’t give her a mature voice, Lynn resembled every other teen protagonist from a dystopian story. It also doesn’t help that Lynn was bland. Even though the story is written entirely from her perspective, and the author tried to include snippets from her past to give her a more defined personality, I didn’t really get anything from it. She bored me and it was really hard for me to get through the novel.

The story was also different in that there were two parts to it: not only was there nuclear warfare that turned the world into a wasteland, there was also a disease that led to the deaths of many people. This was interesting … but perhaps not necessary. Only one of these conditions really mattered and got carried through in the story.

I also had an issue with the relationship between Lynn and Jax. There didn’t need to be one. There was no chemistry to be detected between the two and their exchanges were awkward and cheesy. I got no satisfaction from seeing them thrown together because they were both such bland characters. It didn’t help that all of the other characters in the story were also stereotypically portrayed. There was no nuance or depth to it at all and it made it really hard for me to enjoy this story.

In the end, I just didn’t enjoy this dystopian story. There were too many stereotypical elements to it for it to be unique and all of the characters had a one-dimensional personality. I’m pretty sure there is going to be a sequel to this story based on the way it ended, but I’m probably not going to check it out. Unfortunately, this book gets 2/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~

Red Rising: Sons of Ares #1 by Pierce Brown

Pierce Brown is the author of the Red Rising series, which consists of Red Rising, Golden SonMorning Star, and soon, Iron Gold. I actually read the first 3 books of the series and found them to be quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading the latest installment when it comes out. I had no idea that the author had decided to venture into the world of graphic novels, as well, but I thought it would be a great avenue for the story! Here is my review:

N.B: The story takes place before Red Rising. In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one’s caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red?

I would highly recommend reading this after you have read the Red Rising series. Although this is a prequel, it really expects you to know the Red Rising world in order to understand its implications. This is the story of how Ares becomes the face of the rebellion.

I really liked the art used here. It wasn’t as beautiful as some other graphic novels I’ve read, like Monstress by Marjorie Liu, but it was interesting and worked for the story being told. I loved how the text boxes were different colours depending on who was speaking: if it was a gold, the box would be gold, if it was a red or a green, it would be their affiliated colour. Not only did it serve as a reminder of the distinction between the different classes that are part of the world created in the series, it also helped the reader keep track of who was talking.

I really liked the backstory that was given for Ares. However, I don’t think this comic really added to the story. There was nothing really knew here that I wouldn’t have gotten from the story and the theme was the same one as in the series. I understand that the theme being the same was a unifying factor but there weren’t even subtle nuances to give it some depth. It was also too short to have the detailed back story to the rebellion that I was looking for.

Overall, this was an interesting medium to portray the series, but it wasn’t unique enough for me. I’m giving it a 3/5 for creativity and artwork.

Thank you to Edelweiss for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Happy reading ~

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman – Arc of a Scythe #2

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You might recall that I recently read Scythe by Neal Shusterman. I had loved the premise of the novel and while it did have its flaws, I still enjoyed reading it. When I found out there was a sequel, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it and I’m so happy that I was able to receive an ARC! Here is my review of Thunderhead, the sequel to Scythe and the 2nd book of this series:

After just narrowly escaping death, Rowan has gone rogue. He has taken it upon himself to cleanse the Scythedom through a trial by fire. In the year since Winter Conclave, Rowan has gone off-grid and has been striking out against corrupt scythes. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”. Citra – now Scythe Anastasia – is a junior scythe under Scythe Curie who also sees the extent of corruption within the Scythdom – but has her own way of dealing with it. Her style of gleaning is more compassionate – but her methods are questioned by everyone in the Scythedom. But when her life is threatened, it becomes clear that not everyone is willing to accept her into the fold. Will the Thunderhead finally intervene? Or will it watch as this perfect world unravels?

A note to Goodreads readers before I actually talk about my feelings on this novel: the synopsis that talks about Citra is not accurate. At no point does she go “deadish” in this novel in order to talk to the Thunderhead. I’ve included in my summary a more accurate portrayal of what occurs in this novel.

To me, it felt like this novel suffered from Second Book Syndrome. What is this syndrome? It’s basically when the second book doesn’t live up to the expectations of the first book in the series. It’s typically characterized by an increase in angst instead of action, a dragging in the plot, and the characters are pretty stagnant. All of those things happened in this book. I found the story to be tedious in length because not much happened. Scenes that could have been high impact didn’t deliver the punch and there was a lot of filler. I don’t really want to read about how Citra and Scythe Curie are wandering around, trying to figure out who is after them. I don’t care about all of these other characters you are introducing that I know will explain some twist in the story but don’t actually matter. There was just this lack of connection between me as the reader and the main characters in the story. Even though the author took the time to write from the perspectives of a bunch of characters, it still didn’t allow me to empathize with them. Just like in Scythe, the author included excerpts from journals of other Scythes … but more often, there were excerpts from the thoughts of the Thunderhead itself. I thought that was really interesting, and it was a nice touch because it allowed the reader to watch the Thunderhead transform emotionally. However, there could have been more done here. Some of the excerpts of the Thunderhead were overly redundant and could have been taken out. I think the reason that this novel suffered in my eyes is because the plot was just a rehashing of the time-old tale of new vs old clashing. There was nothing very new introduced in the novel and with a lack of growth on the part of the characters and a slow pacing, this novel really didn’t deliver the punch I wanted. The last 50 pages of this novel were definitely eventful, and as is the norm with Second Book Syndrome, the story ended on a cliffhanger, which now means I’m going to have to read the next book in the series. Despite all of the shortcomings, I still find myself invested in the concept of this series and interested in how the author plans on resolving the conflict in the story. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Scythe by Neal Shusterman – Arc of a Scythe #1

As soon as I read the premise for this novel, I knew I had to give this book a shot. It was a short blurb but it contained everything it needed to pique my interest. It’s about 400 pages…. and I devoured it in one sitting. Here is my review:

Thou shalt kill.

In a world where hunger, disease, and war had been eradicated, life was relatively comfortable. Humanity has conquered everything – including death. Only scythes are the ones who can take life, and they only do so in order to keep the population size under control. Scythes are feared and respected by all, and they are above all laws except for the Scythe commandments. It is a grim job, but a necessary one for society to thrive. Citra and Rowan are two teenagers who are chosen to become apprentices to a scythe – a role that both have the aptitude for but neither of them want. However, they must master the “art” of taking life – unless they want to lose their own.

While I devoured this novel, my impression of it was mixed. I really liked the concept behind this novel: there is a society of Scythes (who are basically Grim Reapers) and we are following the adventures of 2 characters who will, presumably, end up in this profession. I really liked the little details that the author included and the world-building; I just wish there had been more of it. A lot of it was vague and more details would have cemented the story better. I liked Citra and Rowan a lot, as they were both unique and neither one overshadowed the other. I just wish the author hadn’t tried to put in a romance angle there, because it didn’t really work. Even though the story is mostly about their apprenticeships, I really enjoyed their different journeys. I will admit: I liked Rowan’s journey more because he seemed to have grown and developed more as a character than Citra, who pretty much remained the same from beginning to end. This may also have been because of the lack of details/the focus on certain story lines over world-building. I didn’t actually like the whole idea of there being a duel between Citra and Rowan; it seemed like it was just thrown in there when it really didn’t have any merit. I know it seems like I have a huge list of complaints about this novel but I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed reading it. I was caught in by the story and I really wanted to get through it and see what would happen to everyone involved. I was excited and intrigued and couldn’t pull away from this novel. I don’t think this is a book that everyone will like because it does lack a bit in maturity (plus all of the other issues I mentioned above); this is definitely more suited for teenagers. However, I liked it and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series! I’m giving it a 3.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this novel got to me right away. It’s not that it is so very unusual, but I just felt like there was a lot of potential to the story and I wanted to get the chance to see where the author would go with it. Here is my review:

Sev’s mother made a traitorous decision 10 years ago by betraying her nation – and Sev was punished for it. Sev was branded with the mark of a criminal: a star burned into her hand. Now, her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a half-sleep state by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. As further punishment, Sev is made to do hard labour for the rest of her life. When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she has no choice but to escape the city. However, it is a dangerous world outside the city walls, and Sev’s only chance of survival rests on the most unlikely person – the chairman’s son, Howl. Sev knows that she shouldn’t blindly trust Howl, no matter how friendly or helpful he is.  But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Especially when people will do anything to survive.

This novel may have been branded as a fantasy story, but it is more of a science fiction one. Normally, I find most YA fiction stories to all be the same. However, I really enjoyed this one. There were a lot of things that the author did that made this novel work. For one thing, Sev is pretty smart. Unlike most protagonists, she doesn’t just let her heart take over; she understands the consequences of certain actions and is smart enough to make logical decisions. I really liked all of the characters that the author created for this story; they were all unique and had their specific part to play. Sev’s interactions with all of them were very interesting and the author did a great job of creating a tense atmosphere whenever Sev was deciding if someone could be trusted or not. The premise of the novel was also very interesting; I liked that the sickness in the novel was based off of a real disorder, and I thought that the author had really thought through the various twists and turns that were introduced. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series!

Happy reading ~