(YA Review) Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

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Armentrout, Jennifer L. Obsidian: A Lux Novel. Fort Collins, Colo: Entangled Teen, 2012. Print. ISBN-13: 9781620610077.
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $9.63. Kindle #5.99

Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Published: May 8, 2012
Genre: YA Sci-Fi – Alien/Human Romance
Themes: Love, Aliens, Friendship
Rating: 3 stars (or, it ranges from ok to good enough)
Why’d I read it?: I’ve been on an alien/sci-fi kick lately and this one came highly recommended.


Synopsis:

Starting over sucks.When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.And then he opened his mouth.Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens.The hot alien living next door marks me.You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.If I don’t kill him first, that is.


My Thoughts:

I read this book because it is so highly reviewed and recommended and a lot of people I know on the blogosphere have read and enjoyed it. Also I’ve been on a real sci-fi/alien kick lately so I figured Id give it a try. I have to admit that I was not blown away by it. It actually reminds me a lot of Twilight, especially in the romance department, and that is the part of twilight I disliked the most. This is simply a personal opinion, however. The book itself is well written, the characters seem real (i.e. not perfect, have flaws and more than one dimension), and the pacing of the story is good. I’m personally just not a big fan of the stories where the male love interest treats the female character so horribly. I mean, he insults her, embarrasses her, and is just cruel. And I don’t really respect the fact that she keeps hanging out with him after that, apparently just because he is extremely attractive and once in a while is not a complete jerk. Ugh, I don’t like that. I don’t mind when two characters don’t like each other and then eventually fall in love, but I don’t understand why the girl would keep hanging out with someone who was this much of a jerk. We also have a lot of tropes in this book that a lot of YA are known for, including: the “missing” or “absent” parents, the insta-attraction, the “plain” girl who doesn’t know she’s stunningly beautiful, and the attractive “cool” guy who acts like a jerk but is really “a good guy at heart.”

Anyway, the book is well written and the characters are not one dimensional. The author is obviously skilled. The suspense is pretty good and the alien mythology is pretty unique, though I don’t think it is explored fully enough. I believe this is because its the first book in a series, however, so in the following books there is probably more exploration of those aspects of the story. Be warned that this particular plot and love story reads a bit like a steamier rip-off of Twilight, I’m sorry to say!


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is Onyx.

You also might enjoy:

  • Alienated by Melissa Landers
  • Goodreads.com has other recommendations for you!

Extras:

  • Find a copy of Obsidian at your local library through worldcat.org

About the Author:
Find Jennifer Armentrout online on:

Waiting on Wednesday – Rebel of the Sands (YA)

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Waiting on Wednesday is brought to us by Breaking the Spine.

Its a weekly meme where we can share the upcoming releases we are so excited about!


Rebel of the Sands

by: Alwyn Hamilton

Release date: March 8, 2016

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synopsis: (from amazon.com)

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.


Why do I want it?

Did you read that synopsis? It sounds like this book has the potential to be epic and awesome. One of the things that drew me in is that the mythology and setting depart from the standard (and overdone) European influence and instead this story is built around Eastern mythologies and locations. Plus we have a “gifted gunslinger” as a heroine. I’m having (happy) visions of a wild-west-type of gal, and I like the thought. I have high hopes for this one, due out in March of 2016.

(YA Review) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Tahir, Sabaa. An Ember in the Ashes: A Novel. , 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 9781595148032.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Hardcover $12.07. Kindle #10.99

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: April 28, 2015
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Themes: survival, politics, love, friendship, slavery, civil rights, freedom, overcoming expectations
Rating: 4 (or, very flipping good!)
Why’d I read it?: This books has received wonderful press and reviews and came highly recommended.


Synopsis: (from amazon)

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

http://www.worldcat.org/title/ember-in-the-ashes-a-novel/oclc/881094189&referer=brief_results


My Thoughts:

A wonderfully creative and fully realized fantasy world, with a range of characters who each have their own personal struggle to overcome within the broader overall problems of the society they live in. An Ember in the Ashes gets a lot of points for creative and unique world-building. The world these characters live in is complex and dark, and has issues that feel very “human” and real, which really causes the reader to be pulled in. I enjoyed that even though the author was obviously influenced from other familiar stories, the world she creates is unique and I didn’t feel that I had ever read another book quite like it. I very much enjoyed, also, that the book is told from alternating perspectives of a male and a female main character. Both of these characters had not only vastly different backgrounds, but their current stations in life vary greatly, as do their futures appear too. In other words, these characters are not on the same journey together, rather they are each on their own separate journeys, and just happen to have their paths cross a couple of times. We are used to getting two characters thrown together on the same journey in other books, and its easy to see why such characters would bond and relate. But Tahir takes a different approach and really keeps these two character’s personal journeys separate from each other, which makes their ability to meet and bond, and feel sympathy for each other even more touching because of how difficult it is for two such different people to relate. I really loved how different this author’s approach was to the character and relationship developments in this book. The characters are very well developed and do show growth and maturity throughout the book which feels believable. They are flawed and imperfect, as well which makes them infinitely more interesting to read about. This book started slow for me but by the middle I was hooked and the end has me eagerly waiting to see what happens next!


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is A Torch Against the Night, TBR April, 2016.

You might also like:


Extras:

  • The AEITA website includes character bios and other extras about the book and the world!
  • Here is the NYTimes Review of AEITA


About the Author:
Find Sabaa Tahir online on:

Waiting on Wednesday – Warrior Witch

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Waiting on Wednesday is brought to us by Breaking the Spine.

Its a weekly meme where we can share the upcoming releases we are so excited about!


Warrior Witch

Releases 5/3/16

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Synopsis:

The thrilling conlcusion to breakout Malediction Trilogy by Goodreads choice award finalist Danielle L. Jensen. After killing the witch Anushka, Cecile and Tristan must negotiate a tenuous political situation and find a way to forge a life once their struggles come to an end.


My Thoughts:

I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series and the last book, Hidden Huntress, ended on a serious cliffhanger so I am anxiously awaiting the next installment. And Warrior Witch is the final installment in the series so….CAN’T WAIT!

(YA Review) Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

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Author: Diana Peterfreund
Published:
June 12, 2012
Genre:
YA science fiction/dystopian
Rating:
4.5
Why’d I read it?:
Partly because of the cover, and partly because of the dystopian-ness of the plot!

Peterfreund, Diana. For Darkness Shows the Stars. New York: Balzer + Bray, 2012. Print. ISBN-13: 9780062006141 Formats available: paperback, ebook, hardcover. Paperback $9.99. Kindle $7.99


Synopsis:
It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.


My Thoughts:
The whole premise of how mankind got itself into this dystopian situation was quite interesting and there was a lot of political and bias issues explored throughout, which I really enjoyed. I like when a dystopian book includes that social commentary aspect, rather than just taking the world for granted or it being sort of generic. It was also an interesting take to have the people of the future shunning technology and science in favor of a “luddite” life, so that technology and science and innovation and invention are seen as evil and dangerous. The book includes a good amount of secrecy and suspense, the world-building unfolds slowly so you do not get that “information dump” at the beginning. A lot of things are fully explained until further into the book.

The characters are pretty well developed, though I was sad we didn’t get to see into Kai’s head the entire time, I really do prefer when books give us multiple perspectives. Still the worldbuilding was well done and the pacing was pretty good. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how it was going to go down, but I have to admit that I was hoping for more relationship development. We are given these tantalizing hints of the relationship these two had when they were younger and then they’ve spent the last several years a apart. Now that they are together again Kai spends most of his time avoiding or being cold to Elliot. Id have liked to have seen into his head during this time to see more what he was feeling and thinking.

We do get to see some of the letters they wrote to each other from when they were young and the letters give us a good insight into some of the politics of the world and also in this way we get a bit of Kai’s perspective, but it was enough to make me really want to see more of his perspective. Elliot is a pretty strong character and I like how she has been managing her estate behind the scenes for years, doing her best to care for her people despite her father and older sisters interference and cruelty and neglect and bias. I also liked seeing her shaken up after meeting new people when she has had her beliefs and moral standing ground shaken up, its fun to see her have to reevaluate everything shes been taught throughout her life. I have to say that while I liked and enjoyed this book, I absolutely adored the sequel, which follows two different characters within this world. In that book we get multiple perspectives and the romance has more of a part in the book though again theres more time on longing and fighting their feelings than in persuing them. If you are only going to read one of them, I’d recommend going with the second book, Across a Star-Swept Sea.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is Across a Star-Swept Sea (and its even better than the first!)

You might also enjoy:


About the Author: 

Diana Peterfreund can be found online on her website.

(Review) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Novik, Naomi. Uprooted. , 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0804179034.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $10.84. Kindle $9.99.

Synopsis: (Taken from Amazon.com)
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

My Thoughts:
I was recommended to this book in a way, because Karen Marie Moning (one of my favorite authors) shared it on her Facebook, raving about how good it was. Then, when I saw it was a fairy-tale retelling, I knew I had to read it. Its quite a bit different than most fairy-tale retellings in that it is more Fantasy than Romance. This books is beautiful in its characterization and especially in its world building. This is heavily detailed, deep world building with that epic High Fantasy feel. This is absolutely a fully realized world, complete with its own set of rules and history. I was drawn in, at once. The strongest aspect is by far the world building, which is unique, but related to those familiar to us. You get a definite Into the Woods kind of feel here.

The next strength is in the believability of the characters, especially the female characters. None of the characters in this book are fake, or 1 sided. Rather they are drawn with complex, often conflicting thoughts and actions. None of them is “perfect” or idealized, and feel more like real people, who sometimes (or even often) have less than perfect, heroic, or selfless thoughts. I especially enjoyed seeing the envy that occurred between the girl who was supposed to be taken by the Dragon, and her best friend, who never thought she’d be taken. Their thoughts and feelings about their situations were very human and true. This is not a quick read, because it is heavy in its descriptions, and I would not call it fast paced. But it is beautiful and encompassing, the kind of book you lose yourself in.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it? 


Extras:


About the Author:
Learn more about Naomi Novik and her books on her website.


Citation & Credits
Book cover image: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.

(YA Review) Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

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Author:  Danielle Jensen
Published: April 1, 2014
Genre: YA High Fantasy w. Romance
Themes: love, duty, sacrifice, deception, political intrigue, magical curse
Rating: 5 stars (or, I totally love it!)
Why’d I read it?: it?:
I saw this on amazon and I loved the whole concept of it so I had to read it.

Jensen, Danielle L. Stolen Songbird. , 2014. Print. ISBN-13: 9781908844965.
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $9.18. Kindle #6.29.


Synopsis: (from amazon)
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.


My Thoughts:
I adored this book, and quickly read the sequel Hidden Huntress as well. This book has it all, a unique and well-developed cast of characters, romantic tension, political intrique, and high-stakes fantasy elements. And a centuries old witches curse as well! Gotta love it. And oh I so did.

The first thing that attracted me was that the main mythological figures are Trolls! It’s a great change of pace from the more typical vampire/werewolf/fae creatures we’ve been seeing a lot of. Don’t get me wrong, I adore all of those as well, but when I saw the chance to read about a new type of creature I was intrigued. Plus amazon.com and goodreads.com are full of fantastic reviews for the book, so I gave it a try. So. Glad. I. did.

You teens (and myself) are so flipping lucky to live in the time you do, because you have so many excellent fantasy books at your disposal! I didn’t have these kind of excellent options as a YA. In fact, this weekend I re-read a couple books from a series that was one of my favorites when I was a YA (Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing) and was so disappointed! I cannot believe how much lower quality some of the books were when I was a YA compared to what’s out there now! Lucky Lucky!

First thing I loved about this book? Duel perspectives. If you’ve read my blog at all by now you know I love me some dual perspectives in my books. I like reading from the perspective of multiple characters. I just don’t feel we get the same kind of character development when we only read from one characters perspective. In this one we get to read from both Cecile and Prince Tristan, which I adore. It also means we get to “see” both of them struggling with their growing admiration and attraction to each other. Which I love!

Second thing I loved about the book? Its full of political machinations and intrigue in the Troll Kingdom. One of the main reasons I read fantasy is for the political maneuverings, I love getting to see how these fantasy courts work as everyone lies and backstabs each other for more power. You never quite know who is telling the truth, and the suspense just drives me (happily) mad! Stolen Songbird has that.

Additionaly the pacing was excellent, the characters are diverse and very well developed, the world-building is sound and well done. Everything combined to create a really gripping and wonderful story that had me scrabbling to read the next book in the series. I adored Cecile and Tristan as well as their friends and even enemies!


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is A Hidden Huntress

You might also like:


About the Author:

You can find Danielle Jensen online on:

(YA Review) Alienated by Melissa Landers

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Landers, Melissa. Alienated. , 2014. Print. ISBN-13: 9781423170280.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $9.99. Kindle #7.99

Author: Melissa Landers
Published: Feb. 4 2015
Genre: YA Speculative-Fiction w. Romance
Themes: Aliens, bias, hate-crimes, friendship, diversity, love
Rating: 4.5
Why’d I read it?: I’ve been on an alien, speculative-fiction kick lately and I found this on amazon.com as a recommendation!


Synopsis: (from amazon)

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life-not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.


My Thoughts:

First of all is this book’s cover not completely beautiful and cool? I LOVE it and its one of the big reasons I decided to give this book a try. I think it speaks to the romantic elements in the book while subtly reinforcing the idea that these two characters actually come from different worlds. Alienated goes a step farther or deeper in its social commentary than other YA-Alien-Romance books (like Armentrout’s Obsidian) which is something I really appreciated. The aliens are humanoid enough not to creep you out, but they have their own cultures, customs, and biases that often clash with those of the humans, causing sparks to fly in more ways than one. I think Alienated actually does a pretty good job at bringing up some of the issues that would occur if such an alien presence made itself known. Humans would react in different ways but largely with mistrust and growing fear, which is represented in this book quite accurately. Additionally the mythology and characteristics of the Aliens are well thought out and creative, their cultural history gives you (and the main character) a mystery to really ponder.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of the male and female main character, which I always prefer because I think it makes the world-building and character development more complex and fully realized. So I loved this book and I did immediately also read the sequel and short story that followed. Its a very well and thoughtfully written YA sci-fi story about two different “people” who meet and eventually (slowly) learn to like and trust each other despite (and because of) their differences. This book is strong on its character development and world-building (good political developments, strong supporting characters), light on action and technology, with some humor mixed in. The romance is slow-build rather than “insta-love.” This book is “love-triangle”-free, I’m happy to say. Additionally the parents are actually present in the main character’s lives, which is somewhat rare in these YA sci-fi books!

Final thought: Give this one a try, its a relatively quick and light read that still has substance! Its a lighter sci-fi that makes you think without getting bogged down by too much complicated technology-speak.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The sequel is Invaded by Melissa Landers (out now)

You also might like:

  • These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (space travel YA)
  • Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout (alien/human romance YA)
  • Angelfall by Susan Ee (YA dystopian w. angel/human romance)

Extras:

  • Find Alienated at your local library through Worldcat.org
  • Find some recommendations if you liked Alienated on goodreads.com

About the Author:
Melissa Landers is a YA author who often writes fun and fast-paced alien or space-travel romances.

Find her online:

Waiting on Wednesday – (YA) Their Fractured Light (12/1/15)

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Waiting on Wednesday is brought to us by Breaking the Spine.

Its a weekly meme where we can share the upcoming releases we are so excited about!


Their Fractured Light (Starbound Trilogy #3)
by: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Release date: Dec. 1, 2015

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Synopsis: (from amazon.com)

**Please note there may be spoilers for the previous two books in the series in this synopsis!**

A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze. Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker known in Corinth’s underworld as The Knave of Hearts. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch. Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost. When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.


Why am I waiting on it?

Because I ADORED the first two books in the series, which were:

These Broken Stars (links to my review)
This Shattered World (links to amazon)

And I cannot wait to read the epic conclusion! Also, they did not release ARCs for this one so I’ve been unable to “cheat” out of the waiting period by getting a review copy, most unfortunately. 😦