Book Review – The Breeders by Katie French

Author – Laura

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches – moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything – the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

So there are a couple of things to note about this review. For starters this is the very first YA Dystopian story I’ve ever picked up and read by choice. The second thing is that I read it in two sittings.

The Breeders is set in a future where females are scarce, thanks to a scientific discovery that affected the ability to produce female fetuses. Girls are kidnapped by the Breeders and artificially inseminated with genetically created females in the hope of repopulating the world.

Riley is a 16 year old girl who has been hidden by her parents on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Her life is lonely, but living under the ever present threat of capture by the Breeders prevents her from visiting town or seeing anyone other than her family. I absolutely loved her, and there was none of the bratty teen angst that is so common in YA literature. She is vulnerable but brave, and would risk everything to save her family. Which is good, because from the very beginning of this book the action never stops. Riley and her little brother, Ethan, are so close and the author does a great job of making sure the little moments between them are just as important and poignant as the big moments. The world-building is subtle but fantastic. Every new place they come to feels both familiar and strange, and creates a clear picture of the devastation of the land after the past events.

Considering this book is aimed at young adults it doesn’t pull its punches in the darkness stakes. There are more than a few moments of serious tension, and a couple of scenes that might make the more squeamish among us grimace a little. The premise is really sinister, and the scenes in the hospital are actually quite frightening – the author really captures a sense of the hopelessness of Riley’s situation. Having said that, with Clay’s steadying presence and the help they receive from some unlikely sources, this is an unexpectedly hopeful story which had me racing through the pages to find out what happened next.

This is a really great book, with fabulous writing and real atmosphere. I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone and chose something different to read; it was definitely worth it!

Check out The Breeders on Goodreads

Buy the book on Amazon

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Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Kiera

When I suggested doing standalones as a Friday favourite I thought it would be a really easy topic. What a fool I am! After having a look through my reading history I noticed that actually I read books in a series far more often that I do standalones. Once invested in a series I’m too impatient to wait and must read the next book as soon as possible. If not sooner.

So with that being said here is my little list of standalones that I have read and enjoyed.

 

My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

mlnd“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 

I finished this book today. It is completely adorable. A typical Young Adult Contemporary but one that addresses a few heavier issues. It made me laugh, it made me mad and it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. If you are in the mood for something light hearted that still has some substance then I recommend this!

 

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover.

ulWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

From the Young Adult to the Adult. I read this a while ago after hearing an equal amount of good and bad things about it. I might be broken, because all the things people seemed not to like in this book I loved. It is angsty and some times you just want to shout at the characters, but for some reason that keeps me reading! Plus the sex scenes are pretty damn good.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black.

tcgictTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

 

 

I know we have all read a million and one vampire stories by now, but I really felt like this book put a very different spin on things! It has a very modern setting and all the outcomes feel realistic. The fact that it is a vampire book that stands alone is even better. Who has time for twenty plus book series anymore?

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

rpoIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape

 

 

If you like 80’s culture/references, treasure hunting, the internet and generally things that are ‘nerdy’ then I have to ask you – why you haven’t read this yet? I really hope we come up with something like the OASIS (not the band. Ick) soon, because I was made to live in it! Virtual reality + all day in pajamas = heaven! This book left such a clear impression in my mind. The world building is amazing and I loved the characters.

 

There are other standalones that I love – The Night Circus, Illusions of Fate and Tiger Lily are ones that I really wanted to give a little mention, and if you’re interested they all have their own reviews here on thebookspa for you to check out.

Book Review – Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

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Author – Kiera.

 

My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.

motrdBethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero.  I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?

dotrdDance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.

These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.

I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!

Favourite Reads of 2014 & Goals for 2015.

Author – Kiera.

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s 2015 already? To wrap up our year of reading we thought that sharing a list of our favourite reads from last year, and our resolutions for this year, seemed like a plan.

 

The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguire.

‘New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters – or Freaks – who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight – guided by Fade’s long-ago memories – in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.’

I read the first book in this series in 2013 and loved it! For some reason I couldn’t find the next book in the series, until I was browsing a charity shop one day earlier this year and Outpost was sat there waiting for me. I think I did a bit of a happy dance. I got home, started it straight away and loved it as much as the first book! I then scoured the internet until I found a copy of the third book. Needless to say, I read it and loved that one too. For me this was everything I wanted from a Dystopian series. The world building is extensive and atmospheric. The characters have depth and you slowly discover their pasts as the books progress. There are characters you’ll hate, characters you’ll want to hate and characters you will love and root for. If you like Dystopia and are looking for something different, give this a try.

 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

‘When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.’

I found this book to be an emotional roller coaster, but in the best possible way. You really go on a journey with the characters and I sat and read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Always a sign you enjoyed the book! I liked that you got to see different parts of the story from both Miles’ and Tate’s point of view and slowly uncover why he is the way he is. It’s also a steamy read, so if that’s what you’re looking for – look no further!

 

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 

Half Bad by Sally Green

 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

 

I’m not going to go into much detail about these three as I have already mentioned them in a previous post which is linked here – September 5th – Friday Favourites  (plus the girls might throttle me if I mention DoSB again. Sorry – not sorry)

The short of it is that these books are so completely different to anything I have read before. I found them to be haunting reads, ones you constantly find yourself thinking about months later. These will definitely be re-reads.

Reboot by Amy Tintera

‘Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.’

As you may have noticed Dystopia is one of my favourite genres. I think it is relevant enough to our world that it makes you stop and think about how your actions may impact the future, and that is a really powerful thing.

Reboot is no different. A virus has swept America, killing a lot of people. Permanently. For others it’s not quite as permanent and they are ‘rebooted’ and come back to life. Children are more adaptable and when they reboot, they take orders and go to work for HARC. Adults aren’t so adaptable and their bodies and minds don’t react well to rebooting.

I found the internal politics in this book really interesting. The lengths people will go to to save themselves, and also the actions people are capable of to fight against the injustice. There is a smidge of romance that gradually develops throughout the story, and it felt necessary to counter some of the awful things that happen with that dash of hope. All in all excellent read and I’m looking forward to getting my hand on the next book!

 

Goals for 2015

My goals for this year are quite simple really. I don’t want a massive numerical goal as I’ve found that last year I didn’t really read any big books. Most of my books were 400 pages and under, and while that’s not a bad thing, I have a few big books that are screaming for my attention. So this year I’m going to read them! I have set my Goodreads challenge as 52.

Finishing a series. I love a good series marathon. For some reason last year I did a lot of flitting between different books. I currently have six complete series of books sitting on my shelves that I need to start. That should keep me busy for now!

Reading books I want to read. I know this sounds obvious, but in the book communities there is always something new coming out that everyone is talking about. I do enjoy being up to date with what’s out, and it’s kind of required for this blog, but at the same time I want to go back to discovering books on my own every now and then. There’s a real sense of achievement in finding a book that looks awesome, reading it without any preconceptions and forming an opinion without knowing what other people thought of it first. I have missed that.

Last but not least – Re-reading! This is a direct result of my first three points, I think. I only re-read one book last year, which is quite sad really. I love reading a favourite book again, it takes me to a happy place. Feeling the need to read as much as possible has been a bit of an obstacle recently, so that’s what I’m hoping to eliminate with these goals.

Book Review – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Author – Kiera

New-Shatter-Me-Book-cover-shatter-me-31085216-1063-1600

‘I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.’

Shatter Me is a YA Dystopian novel centered around our main character called Juliette. When we first meet Juliette she is imprisoned in a brutal mental asylum, where she has been in solitary confinement  for the 264 days since she arrived. Until one day a boy called Adam is thrown into the cell with her, and she doesn’t know why. One of the things I should probably mention about Juliette is that any contact with her skin will kill you. She doesn’t know why or how, all she knows is that she can’t control it, her whole life her parents have hated her, she’s had no friends and she cannot make physical contact with anyone. So when Adam arrives into her small cell, she is sure he’s been sent to kill her.

The world building in the story was quite sparse. Most of what we knew about the world was from Juliette’s memories or from what she could see from her small window in her cell. We get the idea that we have run the world into the ground. Animals and plants are dying, people are starving and The Reestablishment are here to try and restore order, but in their own self-serving way. I’ve read quite a lot of Dystopian books, so I didn’t find this to be a huge problem and could fill in the gaps. For someone new to the genre it could be a bit of a problem.

For the most part I like Juliette as a character. She has been slightly broken mentally (for obvious reasons) and through out the story you see her claw back small pieces of her sanity and really develop as a person. She is strong willed and is fighting for what she believes in, and I like that she sticks to her principles when most people would thrown the towel in a long time ago. The only thing I disliked about her is that she seems to make some stupid decisions (and I’m sure there will be more to come in the rest of the series, I can just see them coming) and that can be quite frustrating. I did shout at the book a few times! Now Adam, I loved! He’s smart, strong, caring and super hot. What more could you want? I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Adam and Juliette, they seemed to mend each other. Warner on the other hand. Ugh. I don’t really like ‘bad boys’ in any stories and Warner is no exception. Can someone slap him already! He’s not a very nice person. Warner has power and influence, and he won’t stop until he gets what he wants. Unfortunately that happens to be Juliette.

The writing style of this book is beautiful. It’s poetic, filled with metaphors and the striking out of text. I can see how some people would not find this enjoyable to read, but I did. I felt in gave a real insight to Juliette’s inner thoughts, the ones we all have but never say out loud. You know the ones I mean, right?

“The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human.
Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

Overall I did enjoy Shatter Me. It was a fast paced and engrossing read especially if you like YA. There was just something that stopped me from loving it though, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Friday Favourites – Book Covers!

Author Yasmin

Beautiful book covers, don’t you just love them? Like many other people I do buy a lot of books for their looks. I can’t help it, I just like pretty things. But even if the book cover is amazing the story still has to spark an interest for me. So here are the top 5 covers I’ve chosen.

1. Alienated by Melissa Landers

This book for me wasn’t as good as it could have been. I enjoyed the story but it was definitely the cover that attracted me to it. I love it, the contrast between the lovely sunny day on earth and the dark glittering stars of space makes it a fave for me. If you ever watched the TV show Star Crossed before it was cancelled it is very similar to that. Aliens come to earth and are integrating into human society. This is where we meet Cara, as her school has been chosen to have some of the first aliens attend, and she’s been picked to look after hot alien guy Aelyx. But Aelyx is hiding the truth of why he’s really there and that could have deadly consequences.

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2. Rae Wilder series by Penelope Fletch

I did enjoy this series by English indie author Penelope Fletcher. She takes you on a big adventure in a Dystopian world, where humans have walled themselves inside a huge compound so they can keep everyone safe from the demons ( fae, vampires, shifters etc ) on the outside that arrived after the great rift. Rae is a girl who knows she’s different from others. One day on her usual run through the woods she sneaks out to find everything has changed. The story and characters were good but I did feel there could have been more done to make it better; spell check and better editing would have made the story flow all the better, but I still enjoyed it and love reading books by indie authors. I really like the book covers with their pretty but simple colours, and the models on the covers are really eye catching.  I couldn’t find a picture with all the books together, so I chose the first one which has also been renamed Demon Dark)

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3. The Artist Trilogy by Karina Halle

I loved this series by Karina Halle, but that’s not surprising as she is an amazing writer and I loved her other series. This is about con woman Ellie Watt trying to get her life back on track, away from the past and the things she’s done and been through. This story is dark, tempting, sexy and filled with betrayal, action and romance. I think the book covers are perfect and reflect the story’s content, and I like the dark gloomy colours used in the background.

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4. Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh

I really enjoy reading these books, and I do like the angel theme, but I’m not one to go mad over it. Nalini Singh puts a good twist on the angel stories that have been done over and over. It’s set in New York, which is sexy and hard as nails archangel Raphael’s territory. Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux lives and breathes her job, and when Raphael hires her to help capture someone things start to get intense, with sizzling sexual attraction between the two. But the job puts her in the middle of a killing spree like none she’s seen before. I love the covers for these; so simple with the colouring and tattoo like wings yet to me they stand out on a shelf. There is more to the series but again I couldn’t find a picture with all of them in, except for the American covers, but I prefer these ones much more.

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5. Fantasyland series by Kristen Ashley

I’ve only read the first book in this series, and although fantasy isn’t normally something I go for, I did enjoy reading it and going on the journey with the main character into another world. There’s excitement, romance, adventure and dragons; I love dragons!! And I love the classic look the books have; simple, pretty and eye catching.

 

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Book Review – Take me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson

Author- Hazel

Take me Tomorrow is a Young Adult Dystopian story following Sophia Gray, the female protagonist. She lives with her father and a woman called Lyn and Lyn’s son Falo. The story begins when Sophia comes across a boy named Noah in the forest behind her home.

takemetomorrow

The plot of the book is centered around a clairvoyant and hallucinogenic drug called Tomo. It has caused an ongoing war between ‘The State’ (this story’s governing body) and  those who are using or promoting the drug.

Take me Tomorrow is a refreshing take on the Dystopian genre and I did enjoy the story. It has an interesting plot, is well written and is action packed.

As I said, I enjoyed the story but I didn’t love it.

I needed more character development, all the male characters were similar as were all the female ones too. They needed a bit more individuality in order for me to feel anything for them.

I also would have liked more world-building. More history as to why the world was the way it was, more about the governing body ‘The State’, more about the social issues surrounding the story. It felt vague and needed expanded on.

And I was left with some questions;

Who was Phelps?

What happened to Broden?

What happened between Noah and Anthony prior to the story?

Because I was left with all these questions, it made me wonder, is there going to be another book, is this the first in a series?

So in conclusion, like I said earlier I enjoyed the story, the premise was interesting but I needed more of everything, especially the world-building.

I would recommend this story to lovers of Young Adult Dystopian novels.

 

This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review.