Friday, July 26, 2013

I've added my blog to Bloglovin!!

I've been a member of Bloglovin for a while now under my name, Julie Witt, but I've decided to add my blog to it so people can find me by searching for "In Julie's Opinion" as well. Apparently I have to add this text to my post in order to do this (<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>), so here goes nothing! Hopefully this will work (unfortunately, I'm rather computer illiterate), so wish me luck! :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy #2), by Nick James

Title: Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy #2)
Author: Nick James
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Our best-selling sci-fi series continues

Following their dramatic showdown in Seattle, Jesse Fisher and Cassius Stevenson find their world’s been turned inside out. The faculty at Skyship Academy is keeping Jesse a prisoner in his own home, fearful of his influence over Pearls. And Cassius, once a loyal Pearlhound for the Unified Party, has been pushed into hiding, fearful of his government's retaliation.

When Jesse smuggles a mysterious red Pearl onboard the Academy, he sets loose a destructive chain of events, which lead him to a reunion with Cassius and a confrontation with Theo -- a bloodthirsty Pearlhound with a dangerous secret. 
But a larger threat looms in the stars. An enemy is gathering, with plans to exterminate the entire human race. And Jesse and Cassius might just be the lynch pins that trigger mankind's destruction."

My Opinion: My opinion is very simple: I loved it!! What an awesome installment in what is becoming one of my favorite series! This book blends action, suspense, and science fiction perfectly!

In the Pearl Wars, we're introduced to a post-apocalyptic/dystopian society where sources of energy, or Pearls, are desperately needed, so when one comes down from space, the race is on to see who will find it first. Enter Jesse and Cassius, one working for the Skyship Academy and the other working for the Unified Party, who find out that they are brothers. We also find out that they are aliens, which really intrigued me. Now they are both trying to learn how to use their powers (Cassius burns from the inside and has a bad habit of catching rooms on fire without meaning to, and Jesse can open Pearls, which comes in handy in this destitute world where they are in such demand). They are both also on the run and separated from each other, so they each have their own exciting adventures in the book before they come together for what turns out to be a big showdown. 

I often find that sequels to books that I absolutely fall in love with aren't as good as the first, but that's not the case here. The writing was just as exciting, and the twists and turns that the story takes kept me on the edge of my seat! The characters, good and bad, are all well written, and the pacing is perfect. I honestly can't say who I like better, Jesse or Cassius, since I go back and forth all through the book, but I think that makes it all the more exciting! 

In summary, I absolutely loved this installment in the Skyship Academy series and recommend it to fans of action packed YA sci-fi stories. I'm giving it a very enthusiastic 5 stars :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Girl with the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3), by Kady Cross

Title: The Girl with the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3)
Author: Kady Cross
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken 

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives. 

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin. 

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine. 

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has...."

My Opinion: I was so excited when I got to read this book because Steampunk Chronicles is one of my favorite series, and I love Kady Cross's writing. I thought it tied things up nicely in most cases, but I felt bad for poor Jasper, one of my fave characters, who really didn't have much to do in this book and was just kind of hanging around. Fortunately, I got to see lots of Finley and Griffin, and Emily and Sam, with some awesome Jack Dandy thrown in for good measure, so I was a happy camper!

The gang has returned to England from their trip to and adventures in America, and everybody's trying to recuperate from that. Unfortunately, Griffin isn't doing too well, but he won't share what's going on with any of them, which really irks Finley. Emily and Sam are getting closer and are finally going to admit how they feel to one another when Emily is kidnapped, and the rest of them have to find her and bring her back, while keeping Sam under some control because he's totally losing it. 

Since I already told you how much I love this series, it's not surprising that I loved all of the characters, and enjoyed going back and visiting them again. The writing was, as usual, exciting and the pacing was perfect. I have to say that I am going to miss these guys a lot! 

I thought this was a good conclusion to the Steampunk Chronicles series and I give it an enthusiastic 5 stars. I  highly recommend it to fans of YA steampunk :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Transcendence (Transcendence #1), by C.J. Omololu

Title: Transcendence (Transcendence #1)
Author: C.J. Omololu
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?"

My Opinion: Cole (Nicole) Ryan goes on a business trip with her father and sister, Kat, to London, and while visiting the Tower of London, she has a vision of herself at the Tower (technically, at her own execution at the Tower of London back in the 1500s) and understandably thinks she's losing her mind. As fate would have it, she also meets a hunky American her own age there, who helps her after she faints, and who she later finds out lives very near her in San Francisco. Little does she know that Griffon knows a lot more about her than she thinks, including why she starts having these strange glimpses into previous lives. It turns out that she and Griffon are Akhet, people who can remember their past lives and connections. I have to say that I found this idea really appealing when I read the synopsis, and after reading this amazing book, I'm even more intrigued! 

I loved the characters in this book and really enjoyed watching Cole learn about her past lives in flashbacks, trying to put them together like the pieces of a puzzle. She was a child prodigy on the cello with her future pretty well mapped out and this threw her into a tailspin as she realized that she had probably played the cello in a previous life, which is why has been able to play it so well pretty much without thinking about it, even as a young child, and this brought up the question: Is it cheating to use what you've learned in previous lives to become a world renowned child prodigy, or is it only cheating if you know you're cheating? It sounds confusing when I say it, but trust me, C.J. does a much better job of explaining it in the book! 

Cole and Griffon's relationship starts to grow into love, but then something big happens that totally derails this, and I loved the twist, let me tell you! 

I thought C.J.'s writing was phenomenal and I pretty much flew through the book. The pacing is well done, with lots of romance and intrigue to keep you turning the page as quickly as you can. 

In essence, I thought this was a well written book with great characters and an awesome reincarnation storyline, that I highly recommend to fans of history, romance, and fantasy/supernatural storylines, and I give it 5 shining stars :D

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: Consume (The Clann #3), by Melissa Darnell

Title: Consume (The Clann #3)
Author: Melissa Darnell
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "These violent delights have violent ends And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,

Which, as they kiss, consume.

-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Tristan Coleman has survived the change from Clann magic user to vampire, much to Savannah Colbert's joy-and despair. By changing the Clann's golden boy and newly elected leader, even to save him from death, she has unleashed a fury of hatred and fear that they cannot escape. As the Clann and the vampire council go to war, a new threat stirs: an ancient being more powerful than anything the Clann or the vampires have faced in centuries.

To fight for peace, Tristan and Sav must win the trust of someone who has caused them nothing but pain and heartbreak. Soon they will learn that some bonds are stronger than love-and some battles cannot be won without sacrifice."

My Opinion: Wow!! Just wow!! Since this is one of my favorite series, I was really nervous about reading the final installment: Would it live up to my expectations or would I be left wanting? Alas, I shouldn't have worried - I should have realized that the most awesome Ms. Melissa Darnell would make sure that I was not disappointed since she had not disappointed me yet! Consume was such a satisfying conclusion to The Clann series, answering all of my questions and giving Sav and Tristan the perfect send off.

As usual, the pacing of the story was spot on, and the characters, especially Tristan, grew in leaps and bounds. Seriously, Tristan had to deal with so many major issues in Consume that I'm surprised he didn't go completely bat shit crazy by the end of it! Savannah continues to be one of my favorite characters, and I loved how she never lost faith in Tristan or their love, even when they were on opposite sides of an issue. There were a lot of crazy twists and turns to the story, and all of the major players were back, including Sav's friends and family. 

There's so much I want to say about Consume but I would be giving too much away if I did, so I'm just going to say that I absolutely loved it and will definitely miss these characters whom I have grown to love and look forward to reading about. I'm giving Consume a glowing 5 stars and highly recommend this series to lovers of YA fantasy everywhere :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: If We Survive, by Andrew Klavan

Title: If We Survive
Author: Andrew Klavan
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "They came on a mission of mercy, but now they re in a fight for their lives.

High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness.

But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.

Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . . hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.

If they can just survive."

My Opinion: In this YA book we find Will Peterson and three other young volunteers who go to Central America with their church group to help rebuild the wall of a one room schoolhouse for the members of a small,very poor village. Their group includes the four kids and their pastor. Everything goes fine until the day they are supposed to leave, when rebels take over the village and hold the group captive. Their only hope lies with the pilot who was supposed to fly them out, an ex-Marine by the name of Palmer Dunn, but will he help them or opt to save himself instead? 

I will say upfront that I knew this was a Christian book when I requested it so I was expecting, and looking forward to, the religious aspect of it. I thought the author did very well at portraying the Christian teens realistically: i.e. they were as scared as anyone would be in their position, and although they did pray, they didn't count on just that to get them out of their predicament. The book was more about how they had to rely on each other and on their own inner strength to find a way to get out of Central America alive. 

I liked Will a lot, and I found myself admiring Meredith's faith and strength and wishing I could be a little bit more like her myself. Nikki got on my last nerve, but I enjoyed watching her grow and come into her own over the course of the book. Jim annoyed the heck out of me, too, but that was because of his naive political views and his inability to see what was right in front of his face. He also grew quite a bit as he was forced to face the truth and realize that one of his idols wasn't who he thought he was at all. I would have to say that Palmer was my favorite character because he had the most going on under the surface which made him a lot of fun to read about and explore.

This book was definitely action packed; things moved very quickly throughout the whole story, which made it a very quick and easy read. I had a hard time putting it down at all because something was always going on! The characters grew immensely from start to finish, which is always something that I look for when reading a book that I know I'm going to review. 

In essence, I loved this book because of both the never ending action and the ever evolving and growing characters, and I highly recommend it to fans of Christian YA fiction. I am giving it 5 glowing stars :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Branded (Sinners #1), by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Title: Branded (Sinners #1)
Authors: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. 
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home. 

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain. 

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story."

My Opinion: This was a very powerful book! I just have to say that right off because you need to be prepared for violence and the worst that people can do when you read it. In the society of Branded, anyone can be accused of one of the seven deadly sins, and if they are accused then they are sent to The Hole and branded without ever having a trial or being able to speak in their own defense. The Hole is a prison that is nothing better than a slum that the prisoners are forced to live and work in, with guards everywhere who would just as easily shoot you as look at you. The guards are sadistic animals for the most part, although there are a few good ones, one of which is Cole, the guard assigned to Lexi when she is falsely accused of the sin of Lust and is branded with a blue ring around her neck (the color that lets everyone know what her sin was) and thrown in the Hole. 

This book moved very fast at times, and then at other times I felt the narrative bogged it down. I felt that the threat of death over both Lexi and Cole if they ever got close would have caused them to fight their feelings a bit more, but once you get past the slower parts, the book picks up again at an almost break neck pace, hurtling the reader to the conclusion.

Overall I enjoyed Branded and was able to deal with the violence because it wasn't gratuitous - it simply let the reader in on what it was like in The Hole, the "realness" of it is what kept me reading even when I was uncomfortable with it. 

I look forward to reading the next installment and recommend it to readers who don't shy away from violence in a messy dystopian world. I give this book 4 stars :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: Clockwise (Clockwise #1), by Elle Strauss

Title: Clockwise (Clockwise #1)
Author: Elle Strauss
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she's accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward. Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just "brotherly" protectiveness? When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again. Which of course, she does."

My Opinion: Poor Casey Donovan has been accidentally traveling back to the 1860s since she was just 9 years old. She never knows when it is going to happen (although she has figured out that stress could be a trigger), but over the years she has learned to accept it and deal with it. Unfortunately, she can't have skin on skin contact with anyone because that could cause her to take that person back in time with her, which she found out accidentally when she took her best friend on a "trip" back. She's now 16 and dealing with bad hair, and a major crush on Nate Mackenzie, who doesn't even notice her. As fate would have it, when she accidentally touches Nate, whoosh! Back they go! It's now up to Casey to let Nate in on her secret and keep him safe until they can get back to the present. 

I've been really lucky lately in reading books that deal with a popular topic (magic, time traveling, etc.) with a new take on it that makes them very enjoyable to read. Clockwise was one of these. I loved that Casey's time traveling was unpredictable and that she had no control over it, but she dealt with it the only way she could, head on. I also liked how mature she was in realizing that there were going to be things she would not be able to do in life, such as drive a car or fly a plane, because of never knowing when she would trip out. She was very level headed and instead of moaning and groaning over what she couldn't do, she accepted her limitations and made the best of things.

I really liked Casey because of her maturity and the way that she still acted like a teenager when it came to her family splitting up and her raging hormones when it came to Nate. I liked Nate too because he didn't just fall madly in love with Casey (I have a real pet peeve when it comes to insta-love) but let his feelings grow and become what they would without forcing it. 

In all, I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the second book in the series, Clockwiser. I give it a very enthusiastic 5 stars and recommend it to lovers of time-traveling YA stories :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before."

My Opinion: This book took me totally by surprise since I wasn't expecting as much depth and layering as I got. Let me explain: In most YA books you've got your main characters that start out sort of one dimensional and as the book goes along, they change into a little bit more complex characters with some growth (if you get a good book, that is). But in this book, your main characters (the four Raven boys and Blue) start out multilayered and just get more complex as you go, which was so exciting to read! 

I also loved Blue's extended family, the psychics who all live and work together. What fun they were! I found myself wishing that my family was like them! 

I'd say of the four Raven boys, Adam was my favorite, but Ronan was the one I was the most drawn to and the most curious about. He was so angry but also so willing to stick up for his friends when they needed it because of how angry he was, so it was a double edged sword in a way. Gansey was great, but I just didn't feel as drawn to him as I did to Adam and Ronan. And Noah was a big surprise, which I won't give away here :)

This was a long book but well worth the time it took to read it. This isn't a book you want to fly through - you want to pay attention and savor the whole thing. I've read in previous reviews that the best thing about this book was the characterization, and I have to agree with that, but I also loved the magic in it. It was a different take on it but one that I totally enjoyed, and I can't wait to read the second book in the series when I can get my hands on it!

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars and recommend it to fans of fantasy/paranormal YA with a sprinkling of magic in it :D

End Dayz (The Hitchhiker Strain 0.5), by Kellie Sheridan

Title: End Dayz (The Hitchhiker Strain 0.5)
Author: Kellie Sheridan
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "It's month after the dead first began to walk. The miracle vaccine that was supposed to save us all has failed.

Now, four teens fight to stay alive as a stronger, smarter breed of zombie begins to appear, threatening to end humanity for good.

Four short stories, 11,000 words total.

Prequel to Mortality (March, 2013)."

My Opinion: This prequel novella introduces us to four characters that are going to be in the first book of The Hitchhiker Strain series, called Mortality, which I also got approved for through NetGalley. I thought this introduction was a really great way to meet the characters and get a little bit of a feel for them before starting the series. 

The novella was separated into four chapters, one for each of the teens Pierre, Belle, Alex and Zack. It was a very quick read, but I definitely recommend reading it before starting Mortality. It gives you just a taste of what you're going to be getting with the series and in my case, gets you all excited to start it! I give it 5 stars :D

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: The Way We Fall (Fallen World #1), by Megan Crewe

Title: The Way We Fall (Fallen World #1)
Author: Megan Crewe
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. 

And then you're dead.

When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?
Poignant and dizzying, The Way We Fall is the heart-wrenching story of one girl's bravery and unbeatable spirit as she challenges not just her fears, but her sense of what makes life worth living."

My Opinion:  I wasn't sure I was going to like this book when I found out it was told in the form of journal entries, but I was very pleasantly surprised! The girl telling the story is a 16 year old named Kaelyn who is writing to her estranged best friend, Leo, telling him all about the troubles on their island.  People are getting sick and acting crazy as an unidentified virus spreads from person to person, eventually killing most of the townspeople. The islanders turn to the Canadian government for help but instead of salvation they find themselves quarantined. As supplies start to run out, Kaelyn and some of the other young adults who have survived thus far team together to help out in whatever way they can.

When the story starts, Kaelyn is a very shy girl who is more comfortable burying her head in the sand than confronting problems head on, but she decides that she doesn't want to be this way anymore, and in order to change she needs to put herself out there and risk getting hurt. Talk about character growth! We see Kaelyn evolve from a scared little girl to a more confident young woman over the course of her story.  She even manages to find romance during this awful time, with the scrumptious Gav, and enters into a tenuous friendship with Tessa, who she considers a rival for Leo's affection. 

I am so in awe of Megan Crewe's writing! Like I mentioned above, I wasn't sure how the story being told just from Kaelyn's POV in letters to Leo would come across, but in Ms. Crewe's capable hands I loved it, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, The Lives We Lost. I'm giving this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars and recommend it to fans of post-apoc/dystopian, YA, survival stories :D