Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: Sneak (Swipe #2), by Evan Angler

Title: Sneak (Swipe #2)
Author: Evan Angler
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "When Logan Langly backed out of getting the Mark and went on the run, no one thought he could survive on his own. Without the Mark, you can't buy food, go to the doctor, or use a tablet--you aren't even a citizen.

But when he discovers that his sister is being held in a mysterious hidden prison named Acheron, Logan risks everything to travel through an underground network of the Markless to rescue her.

Logan arrives only to find that Acheron holds more secrets than anyone could have guessed and that all his careful planning is worthless against a government that will do anything to gain absolute control.

It seems there is only one place to turn. But can a banned book with whisper-thin pages and warnings about the real meaning of the Mark really hold the Answer?"

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

I didn't think this book (the dreaded second book in a series) would be able to live up to the first one (Swipe), but not only did it live up to it, I honestly think it surpassed it! We got to know the individual characters a lot better as they traveled in groups to Beacon to find a prison that nobody talks about or even knows about (Archeron) and free Logan's sister, Lily. Along the way they meet up with hardship and danger, but not even this will shake them from their goal. They become a family who trust each other and who have each other's backs, even if they don't agree with some of the actions taken by their "leaders", Peck and Logan. Logan is betrayed by one of his own, but this just strengthens his resolve to find his sister. 

Along the way to Beacon, the groups meet up with people who help them get where they are going, and who offer them food and rest when it is most needed. Some of these people are Marked and some are Markless, but they all agree that something has to change in their Union's leadership. They have a secret network that helps the Markless find their way to safety called the River, and they call themselves "fishers of man," which anyone who has read the Bible will recognize as the words of Jesus himself.  It is in essence set up like the Underground Railroad, which I thought was incorporated into the story very well. They call the path the "Unmarked River" and the kids have to look for certain symbols carved into trees and such along the way so they don't get lost and end up in the desert with no food or water. They also have to be very careful to look for any symbol that means the place they are heading is a trap set to catch the Markless, not help them, but they don't always see it, which results in chaos and occasionally violence, but even this does not stop them. 

There is no religion allowed in their time but Logan is given a (banned) book by a Markless and really enjoys reading the stories in it. Only after his group meets up with the rest of the Dust and they find a huge Markless community that has an underground church in it does he find out that the book he was given was the Bible and the stories in it are true. Yes, this is Christian fiction, but I don't feel like Mr. Angler beats us over the head with it; he weaves the religion seamlessly into the story line and brings it up only when it furthers the story. To a Christian such as myself, this book is a lot more mainstream than straight up Christian fiction, but that is only my opinion. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed how religion was used to stir the pot so to speak, and not just added willy nilly so that it could be called "Christian fiction!"

I was also happy with the ending and felt like it set the scene for the beginning of the third book perfectly, and I really don't say that very often! All in all, I felt like this was an excellent second book in what has so far been a very interesting and unique look at Revelations and the Mark of the Beast, showing how anybody who thought independently was ostracized from society and had to try to make it on their own, which was nearly impossible unless you joined a group of Markless to have your back. I thought the world building was excellent and the explanations for how the Earth got to the point that it was were believable and well written. The descriptions were spot on and made me very thirsty when the kids were traveling in the heat with no water! There was definite character growth in this book, which is really what a second book should have - the world building was done in the first book, so I expect the characters in the second book to be at the forefront so we can get to know them and relate to them, and even feel like we are suffering alongside them. 

In summary, I am giving this book a very enthusiastic 5 stars! I can definitely recommend this series to fans of YA, dystopian worlds, and Christian fiction. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: Rogue (Talon #2), by Julie Kagawa

Title: Rogue (Talon #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant. 

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. 

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?"

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

I am in total awe of the amazing Ms. Kagawa, as I've mentioned before, but even I wondered how she was going to take dragons and assimilate them into the everyday contemporary world as sleeper agents, even if they had learned how to look, talk and act human. The catch is, dragons can mimic humans, but they don't have the emotions to back up the feelings. Until Ember Hill, that is. She embraces life 100%, both her dragon side and her human side, and finds the constraints of the dragon hierarchy in Talon (the group of dragons all over the world who work together to prevent the extinction of their race), too much to accept. At the end of the first book, Talon, she goes rogue with the very sexy dragon Cobalt, human name Riley, and vows to break her human boyfriend, Garrett, out of the worst place a dragon can go: into the belly of the beast, which in this case is a compound crawling with soldiers from the Order of St. George, an order put in place hundreds of years ago with the sole purpose of eradicating all dragons from the face of the earth. As Garrett got to know and love Ember, he realized that the Order had been lying to him all of his life about how all dragons were evil, even hatchlings, and had to be killed, and as Ember learned more about Talon from Riley, she realized that they were doing the same thing, only with humans. Because Garrett helped Ember, Riley and two young hatchlings escape from a much older dragon, Lilith, who was a Viper, which is a dragon assassin sent out to hunt and kill rogue dragons, he was caught by his own Order, and scheduled to be put to death by firing squad because he maintained that the soldiers were wrong about all dragons, which was considered treason. And while Riley would love nothing more than to get rid of the annoying human who had feelings for his Ember, he goes with her to break Garrett out before he is executed,  Yes, people, this is exciting stuff!!!

I haven't even mentioned Ember's twin, Dante, who is team Talon through and through, and who turned Ember in when she was leaving to go rogue and asked him to join her, but in his defense, he doesn't see Talon for what it is and honestly believed that Lilith would bring Ember back alive and he would be able to make her see the light and drink the Koolaid and join Talon 100%. But you guessed it, that doesn't go down quite as planned and he ends up scrambling to save face and come up with a new plan to bring her back. He is determined to become one of the executives of Talon eventually, and maybe even run the organization one day, but will he sacrifice Ember to do it? 

Once again, Ms. Kagawa has proven that she is a master storyteller by weaving romance, both between two dragons and an unheard of human and dragon, intrigue, action, and much, much more. I already love this series and can't wait to read more. I give this book a very, very enthusiastic 5 stars!!!!!