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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review....Revolutionary


Revolutionary by Krista McGee
Review by Kara Grant **three stars**
Info from goodreads.com


One of the best covers ever done and there IS water in the story, Thalli is ready to get justice





My reviews of the previous books…….



All her life Thalli thought she was an anomaly. Now she must use her gifts to fulfill the role she was called to play: Revolutionary.

Back in the underground State against her will, Thalli is no longer the anomaly she was before. She has proven herself to be a powerful leader aboveground and returns with information that Dr. Loudin needs to complete his plan of uniting the world under one leader: himself. But he, too, has information. A secret he has kept from Thalli her entire life. A secret that, once revealed, changes everything about the person Thalli thought she was.

Hoping to help Thalli rise up against the Scientists, both Berk and Alex join her underground, but their presence only brings more trouble for her. Now Dr. Loudin knows just the leverage to use on his captive, and she is forced to choose between the two of them. Is her first love her true love? Or does Alex ultimately claim her heart?

Unsure of everything around her, including her own identity, Thalli doesn’t know where to turn. She knows she needs the Designer, but he seems further away than ever. What she does know, though, is that if she doesn’t do something to stop Loudin, the fragile world aboveground will be lost once and for all.


OVERPOWER.  OVERTHROW.  OVERCOME.


My Comments
I jumped at the chance to review this book, I was eager to know the conclusion of Thalli’s journey and what happened to everyone around her.  This book can easily be described as the most anticipated read for me of 2014.  It was not the conclusion I hoped it would be.

My favorite character in the story was Dr. Turner.  Wow, he had a complete change of heart and becomes the ally desperately needed for Thalli and her friends.  He is John’s son and finally sees through Dr. Loudin in this book.

What I LIKED………………

Rhen is also completely different in this story.  She now has faith, carries the Bible with her at all times, and has blossomed in unexpected ways.  Wow, that girl is an anomaly in this book and I loved it!


the Designer

the few times Thalli is able to play a musical instrument.  It’s the only time she feels peace and freedom, when she truly connects with the Designer.


this made me smile:  “Have you not yet learned that fighting me is futile?”  Loudin shakes his head.  “Enjoy the rest of your flight.”  He walks away, laughing. 

“That guy needs to be punched,” Dallas says.

I am not sure what a punch is, but I hope it is painful, and I hope Dallas can find a way to deliver it.

the chapters are short and the story keeps a fast pace.  The writing itself was brilliantly done, there were just too many things in the plot that didn’t sit well with me.


What I DIDN’T LIKE………………


for those who died in this book and for John


too many innocent people are killed or horribly threatened.  I get that this makes the plot authentic because the villain, Dr. Loudin, has to be push things to the limit to require Thalli to be revolutionary.  However, I didn’t understand the need for some of the innocents to be killed/persecuted.

I had trouble following the logic/conversations between Dr. Loudin and Thalli (or his thinking in general).  Yes, it’s commented he’s a megalomaniac and a psychopath, but the conversations Thalli has with him to appeal to his common good went over my head.  It just gets to the point where I would read forward and lose interest.


How Dr. Loudin literally pries into Thalli’s dreams, conversations, thoughts, and other parts of her life.  Again, this is nothing new for his character, but I had difficulties with how dastardly/obsessed/off the chains he was.  I also didn’t understand how he could spy on Thalli to the extent that he did.  That kind of intruding/technology was beyond my understanding.  For the sake of the book, I accepted it but it was unbelievable to me.

This is just my personal pet peeve, I REALLY can’t stand love triangles in young adult books.  For Thalli to be indecisive about two guys seemed like a trivial element to add to the already mounting drama they’re going through.  This devious madman wants to control all of humanity THROUGH. ANY. MEANS. POSSIBLE. AND Thalli is grieved about who her heart wants to choose.  And since Dr. Loudin figures this out, he uses it against her, of course. 


MINOR SPOILER: There was one scene in the book where Thalli comes up with a plan to trick Dr. Loudin.  However, the narration does not bring the reader up to speed so for one second I thought she was murdering people in the book to stop Dr. Loudin.  I almost stopped reading at that point in disbelief, but it turned out to be a brilliant plan. 



This entire book takes place back in the State (there are one or two brief scenes leaving the State in a ship), but it’s basically where Anomaly starts.  The Revolution that takes place is Thalli and her friends against Dr. Loudin in this confined setting, but Thalli does get closure she needs as she recalls memories of this place.  I figured out the twist to the story before it’s revealed.  It is shocking, but it didn’t help me connect with the story at all.  For me, it was another Darth Vader reference. 



I’m unable to recommend this book, but I do understand for those who have read Anomaly and Luminary, that there’s a strong desire to finish this great series.  I’m truly proud of the author for changing genres and the journey written for Thalli, but Revolutionary didn’t satisfy me at all.  I also related to Thalli’s frustration in needing guidance from the Designer and not receiving it for most of the book as she struggles to defeat evil Dr. Loudin, but most of this book felt hopeless and heartbreaking.  The best part for me was to see how Dr. Loudin was defeated, but the epilogue felt rushed and summed up too well after all the suffering Thalli endures and the deaths around her leading up to this point.  Please read other reviews before deciding to read Revolutionary, McGee is still a gifted writer and I look forward to more of her books.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for the review copy provided.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Review....With Every Breath


With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden
Review by Kara Grant  **5 stars**
Info from goodreads.com







In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston holds a respectable position as a government statistician when she encounters a rival from her past, the insufferable Trevor McDonough. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and she's bewildered at the way he suddenly seeks her out. Surprising even herself, Kate agrees to Trevor's entirely unexpected and risky proposal to work side-by-side with him in his quest to rid the world of tuberculosis, a contagious and deadly disease.

As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, she realizes there is much more to him than she could have imagined. His hidden depths may fascinate her, but his most closely guarded secrets and a shadowy enemy lurking in the background carry a serious threat to their future.

When the truth of the past comes out, threatening to destroy everything they hold dear, how will Trevor and Kate ever overcome all that stands in their way?




My Comments
Oh wow, what a GREAT book!!  Kate’s feistiness shows from the FIRST sentence and the story only gets BETTER from there.  Without a doubt, Kate is one of the best book characters ever written, loved her throughout the pages.



Trevor reminded me of Mr. Darcy in soooooooo many ways.  He comes across as such a twit, but truly he’s the hero of the book.  He’s reserved, uptight, demanding, uncomfortable around people, has VERY deep pockets (utterly rich) and yet he’s totally compassionate and has a brilliant mind while learning to distance himself.  He warns Kate NOT to get attached to the patients and not to be friendly with them because many of them will die.  He refers to the patient’s assigned number instead of their names.  However, it’s totally surprising the heart Trevor has and that is one of the reasons I loved this book so much.


Trevor refers to finding the cure to slaying a dragon, as well as finding helpful supporters to back his medical cause


There is death in this book, but it’s written in SUCH a touching way that I didn’t consider the story sad at all.  The saddest parts are Trevor and the suffering he’s had to endure from his childhood and beyond.  He can be sooooooo cruel towards Kate, but his vulnerable side also comes through and I got to love him through her eyes.  There is one scene towards the middle of the story where one huge revelation comes to light and I could feel my heart break and my face react.  It was such an unexpected moment and I had trouble reading Kate’s reaction because I FELT what she felt at the moment.  I almost wanted to stop reading the book because it bothered me so much, but at the same time I HAD to see how everything played out (I did need tissues while reading the book, but not during this scene, it was just shocking).  I think Trevor would’ve been proud of me because I didn’t quit even though that seemed like the logical step to take.  The writing is just THAT good!  As long as this book is (over 350 pages, I couldn’t put it down), it didn’t FEEL that long as I just got lost in the good story it is!

One of the BEST things about this book, the dialogue!!!  Wow, the conversations between Kate and Trevor alone are worth the price!  It’s so rare to find books this FUN and it had me laughing more than once…….it’s about a deadly disease but even the dying patients are comical and precious!  It really pulls the reader in just to find out what they will say next and how they will react in this situation, what a treat this story is! (and yes this paragraph totally deserves the exclamation marks)


Scotland


One of my fave scenes in the book is the party at Mrs. Kendall’s home.  What a delight these characters brought to the story with their joy and fond memories from Trevor’s childhood.  I also sooooo enjoyed Kate and Trevor’s moments on the roof.  The friendship, tenderness, and conversations on that roof were tangible and wonderful to read.  Also……MINOR SPOILER so skip to the next paragraph………………………………………………………………………………………………………………the proposal in the story was so legalistic, so stiff, so business-like, but it’s also SOOOOO Trevor!  One of the most UNROMANTIC proposals ever done (I saw one worse in a movie with Renee Zellweger and Chris O’Donnell) and yet it was perfect.

Favorite characters in this one were Tick (what a great brother he is), Mrs. Kendall, and I even loved Kate’s parents the few times they make an appearance in the story because they support her every time she needs them.


Trevor also refers to finding the cure as battle, accurate comparison

The mystery in the book is a GOOD one.  I mean here these people are working so hard, so fearlessly, and so diligently to find a cure for tuberculosis and someone is seeking revenge on Trevor and doing such damage!  I suspected one person, but was totally wrong.  It turned out to be someone I wouldn’t have considered and they leave blatant clues illustrating their hostility.  Trevor does a stand up job protecting his staff, forgiving a family member he has spent his life avoiding, facing politicians and legality issues, tracking down the culprit, attempting to be fair with Kate despite his feelings for her, and eventually facing the guilty culprit with sympathy instead of rage.  He never once apologizes for his determination to help the poor and the forgotten who are suffering with sickness, he never abandons Mrs. Kendall, and he never forgets the two children who inspired his calling to find a cure.  As cruel as he is capable of being, he is also greatly admired.  He definitely won over my heart and respect as a person and as a doctor. 


skipping stones


I highly, highly recommend this book whether you’ve never read Camden before or if you’ve read all her books.  This one is her best yet and one of my favorite reads for 2014.  Yes, there is sadness in the story, but there is also adventure, brilliant dialogue, friendly competing between Kate and Trevor (racing up the stairs, skipping stones, and dedicated to winning the war against this disease), patients who are easy to love, wonderful characters like Mrs. Kendall, one incredible dog named Princess, rooftop moments, one brilliant doctor (who only takes on terminal patients) and the woman who stands with him determined to make a difference in her life.  Also, the cover to this book is incredible.  Three cheers to the author…hip, hip, hooray!  *includes historical note and discussion questions*


I want to thank Bethany House for the review copy provided.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review (with Author Giveaway)....Storm Siren





Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Review by Kara Grant  **4 Stars**
Info from goodreads.com


One of the most STUNNING book covers ever done!!






Please also see this blog interview that includes which actors Weber chooses for the main characters, sooo very cool!! I can’t imagine Anne Hathaway playing a villain, but I’m sure she would rock at it J




“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.





My Comments
When I first heard about this book I had no idea what to expect, but I KNEW I had to read it!  The cover alone is utterly breathtaking and the story wastes no time pulling the reader in. 

Nymia, “Nym,” is being sold to her 15th slave owner when the story begins.  All she knows is a life of abuse and destruction, home is a foreign word to her.  She believes she is responsible for the deaths of her parents and she has power she can’t control.  She refuses to allow anyone to get close to her because she believes she will eventually destroy everything good around her.  She is filled with anger and bitterness after having to survive in a world that has always been at war with suffering all around.  The reader comes to love Nym immediately and it’s obvious that despite her deadly abilities, she has a good heart.




Since Nym is an Elemental, she is able to control any and all weather patterns in the story for her use.  Her emotions are connected to the elements so it’s a good idea NOT to upset her.  Most people are intelligent about this, but there are wicked characters throughout that test her in this.  Some are as powerful as she is, some don’t live very long.
 



Nym is given a deal to train her abilities to stop the enemy at war and save her kingdom.  Many times in the book, she considers death instead due to the strain she endures while training.  She has hardened her heart and would rather focus on running away in anger than facing what she’s truly made of.  I definitely understood her on a small level.  It takes unbelievable courage, faith, and self-control to tame someone’s anger/bitterness/regret.  However, I also know Nym is extraordinary and more capable of ANYTHING she has experienced in her past.  She has purpose beyond others wanting to dominate her power.  I also REALLY loved that Nym hates using her powers to attack others, even when they deserve it!  She would rather protect the innocent and only kill as a last/necessary resort.  She is devastated when innocent people are killed or destroyed.  I also really loved reading about the weather around Nym…lightning, wind, hail, rain, etc.


http://s268.photobucket.com/user/bigears1993/media/stormhalleberry.jpg.html#x-men%20stor

Nym reminded me of Halle Berry’s Storm in XMen, except she’s a child and she doesn’t have a team of Elementals to work with.  She is so much stronger than she realizes, but that revelation doesn’t come until later and it makes a tangible difference in her character. 

There is a lot of violence in the story, but nothing graphic (the betrayal and secrets in the story were worse than the violence for me).  The story itself is written in powerful ways with beauty, danger, and nature.  I really loved the way certain scenes are described from Nym’s perspective even though there are some parts I couldn’t understand very well, it’s poetic how the author makes Nym’s body one with the elements around her.  “Around us roars a blizzard of my creation.  Lightning bolts splice the ground beside our bodies.  Pine needles and branches whip above our heads.  I try to stop.  To tell my curse to listen to his fingertips and calm down.  But I don’t know how to stop anymore.  I can’t.  I only know how to weep and crumble and break as the fissure in my chest opens wide to swallow us.”



My heart broke at the end even before the cliffhanger happened (oh boy, what an ending!).  I’m eager to see what happens in the sequel/trilogy, but not just over the abrupt ending.  This book illustrates the pain and strength building for Nym to find out her value after being a slave her whole life.  She’s had to hide who she is to survive and to escape scrutiny from wicked slave owners who could easily have her put to death once they discover she’s an Elemental.  Nym has never know physical or spiritual freedom and I’m hoping that will be explored more in the next book.



Get ready before reading this book because nothing is what it seems!  There are curses, wickedness, betrayal, war, and strange beings who attack without warning because most of the characters in this story care more about power and controlling that power than they are about the consequences of that power.  There is also hope, adventure, friendship, and a trainer who is determined to protect Nym instead of allowing others to have their way with her.  Faith doesn’t really make an appearance in this book (at least not from Nym’s perspective, but others have faith in her), it’s mostly about Nym discovering who she really is and finding the strength to let go.  However, despite the intensity of the plot there is also healing, freedom, and growth in this story that is worth reading in Nym’s journey!  Even though there are lots of unpleasant parts in this story, the writing is incredible and the characters felt real to me.  *includes a map and reader’s group guide*

I want to thank Laura Pol, the author, BookLook Bloggers, and Thomas Nelson for the review copy provided AND the chance to participate in this mega cool blog tour.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to read this debut novel and I will NOT get tired to looking at this cover, INCREDIBLY done!  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  



About the Author
Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives.
In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80's hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.



Here is the link for the tour schedule:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review....Her Hometown Hero


Her Hometown Hero by Margaret Daley
Review by Kara Grant  **4 stars**
Info from goodreads.com
this book will be available on amazon Aug. 19


I want Lexie the poodle!!





In a split second, a tragic accident ends Kathleen Somers's ballet career. Her dreams shattered, she returns home to the Soaring S ranch; and her first love. Suddenly the local veterinarian, Dr. Nate Sterling, goes from her ex to her champion. With the help of a lively poodle therapy dog, the cowboy vet sets out to challenge Kathleen's strength and heal her heart. He'll show her there's life beyond dance, even if it means she leaves town again. But maybe, just maybe, he'll convince her there's only one thing in life worth having; and he's standing right in front of her.

Caring Canines: Loving and loyal, these dogs mend hearts
.

My Comments

What a touching story!  Kathleen “Kit” comes home broken, injured, and bitter.  She’s not sure what her life will be about without ballet and she’s determined to recover while figuring out her next step.  Finding herself  and what she’s made of while back in her hometown will not be easy, but it’s a journey worth taking.



Dr. Nate finds out about Kit being home again and is not sure what to think.  He needs to know how long she will be in town and how serious her injury actually is.  He has seen Kit recover from leg injuries in the past and go right back to ballet, but he doesn’t realize how her life has really changed.  He offers his friendship and support immediately.  Kit is reluctant to accept his help at first, but soon finds how natural and enjoyable having his attention is.



It is so utterly precious when Nate takes Kit to get Lexie, the poodle therapy dog that becomes her best friend while recovering emotionally as well as physically.  I just loved that dog and having her in the story was the ultimate enjoyment!



My favorite characters in this story, EVERYONE who helped Kit recover.  Mostly her brother, Howard, and his family, but the whole town gives a hand in supporting Kit and it was beautiful to read.

Two scenes that were wonderful to experience: when Kit makes it to the top of the ridge and when someone gives a performance at the festival to help the kids raise money.  I could almost HEAR the applause from the audience and I also wanted to stand up and cheer.  WOW, what a moment that was in the story, incredible!!



More than once, I thought Nate was too pushy in questioning Kit about her next move when she herself hasn’t figured it out yet…….but you can see how much he loves her long before he voices this to her.  It was cool to see that New York had a tangible presence in Kit’s life.  It was mostly the ballet, but it was also a big part of her life.  By helping the kids in the community and her own niece, she’s able to discover her own value and that it goes WAY beyond dancing.  It was a treat to watch her transition and overcome these dilemmas.  And of course, it was wonderful to see her faith renewed.   Daley never disappoints when giving a beautiful story filled with great characters and Her Hometown Hero is very unique with an incredible ballerina and the chance to discover her value in Christ.  *clapping hands and yelling “encore!”*


I want to thank the author for the review copy provided.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review.....Resistance



Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles #1) by Jaye L. Knight
Review by Kara Grant  **4 stars**
Info from goodreads.com


Really love the title and cover





Please also see Knight’s blog post on how she developed her pen name and a nice giveaway!! http://jayelknight.blogspot.com/2014/08/one-year-pen-name-anniversary-giveaway.html


“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.

(Christian Fantasy/Clean New Adult/No Magic)


My Comments
Being part of the Resistance is never easy, but the long term goal of being in this group far outweighs any obstacles faced along the way.  One must have faith, hope and unity to accomplish this.  Rayad is minding his own business when Jace enters his life and even though they are not related, Rayad comes to love the young man like his own son.  Jace is judged harshly because of the race of people he originates from, but he is different than what people see at first glance.  One of my fave parts of this story is the relationship between Rayad and Jace.  Rayad is a trustworthy and honorable man who believes in Elom (which is totally forbidden in this world), but he and Jace are a packaged deal.



Then there’s Kyrin and Kaden, twin brother and sister who are also best friends.  Their relationship is also very unique and enjoyable to me.  I love my own younger brothers as Kyrin loves Kaden and it was a treat to read about them.  They are raised away from home due to their special intelligence and while they are training in this place, they come across a wonderful man who teaches them about Elom.  I was just as surprised when Kyrin gets picked, but I had full confidence that Elom was in control of where her journey would take her.  Was heartbroken when she gets separated from her brother.

love these characters!

Fave characters are easy to distinguish in this book….Rayad, Sam, and Trask.  Also loved Tyra the wolf.


There is violence throughout the story and even a scene or two of torture.  Even though blood is mentioned several times (from imprisonment, fights, or hunting), I didn’t consider anything gory or graphic.  The most difficult part was reading the tension the main characters go through and not knowing how they would escape.  It was also trying that they have to hide their beliefs or risk being executed by a pagan emperor.  Kyrin and others pray to Elom and cry out to Him many times for intervention and wisdom. 



It was uncomfortable for me to see the heartbreak and tension Jace and Kyrin must live with for the first half of the story.  They’re both great characters and handle their situations honorably, but it was difficult for me to read how much they suffer at first.  I really didn’t connect with Jace’s journey as much as I did with Kyrin, but I was eager to see what happened to both of them.

There’s very little romance in this book, but it was refreshing to see father/son and brother/sister dynamics and how they come together for the resistance.  Jace’s hunting trips with Kyrin were awesome to read.  It felt like I was there with them as their friendship develops and it was lovely seeing them heal after all the heartbreak they’ve both been through.  There is also a scene of forgiveness at the end and it was just as I hoped the conclusion of the story would play out.



It was comforting to me that despite the first half of the story and the tension that is tangible, the main characters strive to do the right thing no matter what injustices occur.  Jace and Kyrin, along with their friends, are some of the bravest characters I’ve read.  All in all, a very good story and satisfying ending.  Book 2 sounds very cool and should progress the story nicely!  There is much background given about the story including a map, explanations of the locations, there are 5 races (including humans) and what they’re about, etc.
 
I want to thank the author for the review ecopy received.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.