Monthly Archives: October 2013

ARC Review – After Eden, by Helen Douglas

18517826 Title:  After Eden
Author:  Helen Douglas
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

River’s Review:

I received a review copy from the publisher via Netgalley and I’m writing this review to say thank you.

After Eden wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t awful either. I enjoyed it, and was even wow-ed by some parts, but over all it fell a little flat for me. Some reviews say that it’s insta-love, and while I didn’t really feel that the romance was bad enough to label so… it did fall prey to the usual new guy in town meets girl who doesn’t stand out and falls for her and only her. He breaks a bunch of rules to be with her, and she does really weird things to be with him. idk. Ryan and Eden were okay, but I wasn’t rooting for them or anything.

I actually didn’t really care about any of the characters. A typical group of friends welcomes the strange new boy, they all hang out, go to a school dance together. Very… typical.

And Eden… wow she was dumb sometimes. There was one point where she found out all the secrets and then swore to never tell all the secrets and they were like ‘but you might tell one without thinking about it’ and then she goes home and indirectly tells all the secrets. WHAT. Which of course leads to big trouble later.

The time-travel part of this actually worked for me. I usually hate time-travel and find that a lot of it just doesn’t work well at all and there are too many paradoxes and idek, I’m just no a time-travel fan. But this one worked, and I LOVED the reason why Ryan had to travel back in time. I wish the story would have been a bit more like that, then I might have had stronger feelings for the overall novel.

Anyway… I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed it and if you’re looking for a light sci-fi/time-travel novel, then this should work well enough for you.

ARC Review – Never Fade, by Alexandra Bracken

17925081Title:  Never Fade
Author:  Alexandra Bracken
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for giving me the opportunity to review this book. The expressed are purely my own.


Never Fade, the sequel to last year’s YA dystopia hit The Darkest Minds is a book that has a lot of flaws, but suffers from the dreaded middle book syndrome. I feel like I should have loved this book more than the first one, but I found myself struggling to care about the events of the narrative because it didn’t give me the push and pull I needed to feel a part of this world. I think I will be in the minority on this one, but while I think this is the more technically sound of the two books in The Darkest Minds trilogy, I  had a heck of a time trying to get through it. Part of my issue with this series is its roller coaster-style pacing — much like the first book Never Fade suffers from a huge case of up, down, lull, stall, up, down, and probably does it worse than its predecessor. Bracken does a great job picking up where we left off in the previous book and having Ruby rollin’ in the deep by surrounding her with a great cast of secondary characters. When the action is on the book is a non-stop ride, but the moment it stops, the pacing lulls into a screeching halt.

For me pacing is important and a novel needs to be consistent in its pacing for me to have a sense of enjoyment. If the book is slow, make it slow, if it’s fast, keep it fast. This issue really kills Never Fade for me because the consistency is so all over the place that sometimes its hard to keep up with the fun bits because they are overshadowed by the infodumping and frustration that is Ruby’s indecisiveness. I feel like Ruby is a much stronger character in this book, but she suffers from being a bit too hard-headed at times. I suppose this may be on purpose in terms of her character development, but I guess I wanted to like her more as a character than I did. I’m glad the book wasn’t all about the romance between her and Liam because truthfully, I didn’t buy into it in the first book. What I appreciated here was that yes, there is some pining, but its not excessive — Ruby is still her own person and she isn’t entirely defined by her feelings for Liam. If anything, I think Ruby feels more guilt having wiped his memories clean. I found myself more okay with the romance in this book, but it still felt a bit too forced for my tastes.

I think I was more happy to see Chubbs make his grand reappearance and I think he is such a well-rounded character, but seeing him in the novel made me miss Zu so much. I thought the new characters Jude and Vida were pretty solid for the most part, Jude in particular winning me over with calling Ruby “Roo” all the time. I think the political aspects of the book are intriguing, but parts of it felt too heavy-handed or vague, and again the consistency felt too all over the place for me. I loved the idea that the Children’s League attempts to use Ruby as a weapon because she’s the best of the best, but their motives feel so cartoony that I struggle to really comprehend why I should care about this dark world. I will admit though, the reappearance of a certain character from the previous book really made me smile (that sick little monkey), and his particular motives weirdly worked for me.

Overall I would say Never Fade is a solid sequel, but one I struggled with for reason mentioned above. I definitely want to see how Ruby’s adventure is going to end in the last book because as much as I very critical of The Darkest Mind series, they are such fun reads and when the books are on, they are a fun ride. I feel like Bracken’s writing has improved and is much stronger, so I do look forward to seeing where the adventure is going to take me, how Ruby and friends will survive their dark dank world, and what will happen next. There is a solid dystopia here and the super power elements are very fun and engaging, I just wish the pacing and consistency was better. Do not read this book if you haven’t read The Darkest Minds yet as Never Fade builds directly off of it. That being said, there is fun here and if you can get over the issue I mentioned or they don’t bother you at all it’s a solid read.

ARC Review – Sorry You’re Lost, by Matt Blackstone

17934373Title:  Sorry You’re Lost
Author:  Matt Blackstone
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis:  When Denny “Donuts” Murphy’s mother dies, he becomes the world’s biggest class clown. But deep down, Donuts just wants a normal life—one where his mom is still alive and where his dad doesn’t sit in front of the TV all day. And so Donuts tries to get back into the groove by helping his best friend with their plan to get dates for the end-of-the-year school dance. When their scheme backfires, he learns that laughter is not the best medicine for all of his problems. Sometimes it’s just as important to be true to yourself.

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Macmillian for giving me the opportunity to review this book. The opinions expressed are purely my own.

Denny’s story beings at his mother’s funeral. He is forced to accept a new change in his life — one that exists without the biggest influence in his life. I knew exactly where Denny was coming from having lost my father back in February of this year. It’s crazy to think how someone you had in your life every day can be gone in the blink of an eye.

I love that Blackstone doesn’t shy away from issues such as cancer in this novel. He doesn’t sugarcoat what cancer does, he makes the argument that regardless of age, cancer is something anyone can understand. What I love is that Denny wasn’t shy about asking questions related to his mother’s illness either. Denny has such a pure heart, he means well, but when loss happens, you soon realize how different you feel as a person.

The interaction between Denny and all the characters is really strong. Manny attempts to make Denny feel like the world hasn’t changed one bit, his teachers attempt to provide a sense of normalcy even if Denny doesn’t entirely think they understand what he is going through, and his father goes through a rough transformation as well: coping in a world without his beloved wife.

Having written pieces on loss myself, I feel like Blackstone hits the after-death-transformation dead on (pardon the pun). Sometimes we behave in ways that make us feel like we aren’t entirely ourselves, we act out because we want what we know isn’t possible, and sometimes we struggle to be ourselves because we feel like a small piece has been taken away. Yet, despite the darkness Denny feels, he gets into some crazy adventures (candy mafia!), goofs off, and still manages to keep a mostly lighthearted tone throughout. He’s a wonderful character who is supported by an equally strong ensemble cast and he makes the topic feel less painful in many ways because of it. The ending really broke my heart and then somehow I felt like it had been stitched back together.

I really commend Matt Blackstone’s efforts in making a realistic middle grade book about loss and how we cope. It’s not an easy feet to get younger readers to read about life and death in such a way where the effort can be truly personal and reflective. I feel like reader’s will have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this book, but ultimately there is such a beautiful story here that I can’t help but recommend. Denny is so easy to root for.