July 05, 2016

Recently Read // 1

I decided to start doing book reviews on a smaller scale so I can write about more of them in one post. I've been so excited to dive head-first into reading again after moving and getting my bookshelves set up. I also still listen to audiobooks in my car during my work commute and even unearthed my Kindle while packing, so I've downloaded some ebooks to check out as well. Yeah! All the reading!

After the End Series by Amy Plum (Books: After the End and Until the Beginning)
★★★☆☆ 3 Stars
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there. At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

I selected After the End because the title and cover made it seem like a dystopian novel and I’ll read anything in the post-apocalyptic genre. Turns out it’s very much not dystopian, but more sci-fi/fantasy/magic meets actual science. The first book and its follow up had me on the edge of my seat constantly wondering what was going to happen next! Juneau is an excellent female character. She’s strong, stubborn, has mad skills, and is fiercely determined. Miles, the male lead character, made me want to slap him through the majority of the first book, but I loved him in the second. I enjoyed reading some soft science material, too. The book explores medications and the possibilities of extending life. Juneau and her clan are very in touch with nature, in a semi-magical way. I haven’t read much that explored nature and a higher presence in this manner and I found it very refreshing and intriguing.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
★★★★★ 5 Stars
Winter, 1945. As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, the paths of four teenagers from different countries converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, Salt to the Sea lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II.

I don’t read an awful lot of historical fiction because it generally goes over my in terms of dates, time periods, etc. I have always been interested in WWII/Holocaust material though (that sounds awful to say - I hope you know what I meant) and Salt to the Sea was no disappointment. It actually made me cry! The stories were so haunting and heartbreaking at times, but the writing was captivating and I became invested in the characters early on. The chapters alternate between the four teenagers: Joana, Alfred Frick, Florian Beck, and Emilia. If I had to recommend a book to anyone at this very moment, it'd be this one. I read it weeks ago and it's still with me.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series by Laini Taylor (Books: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters)
★★★★★ 5 Stars
In the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. Karou fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh secrets and a star-crossed love are unveiled. Will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Holy SMOKES. I could not put this trilogy down! First, Laini Taylor writes so beautifully. I usually silently snort when I hear someone say a book has absorbed them into another world, but that absolutely happened to me while I was reading these books. The worlds are so well described and so interesting. Karou and Akiva's love will both make your heart burst and rip your heart out and stomp on it, but you'll always be rooting for them. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but they're all intriguing and captivating, even the ones you don't like. This is a tale like none I've read before and I need Laini to write more ASAP.

Partials Sequence Series by Dan Wells (Books: Partials, Fragments, and Ruins)
★★★★☆ 4 Stars
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors have huddled together on Long Island. 16-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. Partials is a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike.

Partials is a scifi book set in a post-apocalyptic world. Kira is a character that I'd normally whine about and say "no 16 year old does these things or acts like this!" However, in the setting of this book, she's kick-ass. I still think she's maybe a little too smart for your average teenager, but you just have to ignore that when reading the books. The Partials definitely remind me of Cylons from Battlestar Galactica (dang, my nerd flag is flying high right now). I see a lot of parallels from popular scifi shows and it's nice to see more "hardcore" scifi depicted in a YA novel. Many female readers may think that this is a "boy book" though because it does get a bit dull through parts, but it's overall an excellent series that I highly recommend.

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