Review – Storm Siren by Mary Weber

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

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

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

First Impressions

What an awesome cover!!! A girl with white hair, with strange marks on her arm, and lightnings coming out from her fist. But that’s not all, she’s standing in a defiant position against a dark building among dry trees covered by snow, or so it seems. I choose this book among others from the Book Look review program and I got to say the cover was the only thing I liked from this book.

Story

The story had a lot of potential, we’re introduced to a fantasy world with kingdoms in conflict. There is royalty involved, monsters, humans with elemental powers and our girl who’s not supposed to exist. The word epic fantasy could be chosen to describe all this things, but actually the word average fantasy is the one I had in mind during my reading.

The worldbuilding was poor. In my last review I said this:

There are authors who believe their readers automatically know the world where the story takes place, and they fail to make the world feel real and alive.

Well, this was the feeling Storm Siren made me feel. Every time we’re introduced to new places or characters the lack of details was present, at least this was how I felt. For this type of story I was waiting for something else, more vividness, more epicness and less:

He’s got his shirt off, showing muscles hardened through what must’ve been months of training. p.58

Characters

Nym is the protagonist, a slave girl that is getting used to be sold again and again until she finishes with Adora an extravagant woman with secret intentions. I could never know what was Nym’s real mood. Most of the time she was really upset, because of her background I kinda understand the rude behavior she had. What I couldn’t understand was the constant romantic tension with Eogan. The following quotes are just an example:

The firelight bounces off his dark skin, making it glimmer. It’s beautiful. p.50

And then Eogan’s lips are on mine. Pressing. Calming. One hand slides to my waist while his other tangles its way through my hair, pulling me in, forcing his heated mouth harder to mine… p. 175

At times I felt Nym was like Bella describing Edward with endless adjectives.

The trio formed by Colin, Eogan and Nym felt forced and flat. There was no dynamic happening between them. Adora and Colin are the characters that I believe have a strong potential if developed better for the next two installments of this series. But for this one I just couldn’t relate to no one.

Spiritual Content

Storm Siren is published by Thomas Nelson and while I was not expecting a preachy kind of book, the preachy side was never there. There are some glimpses at the very end of the book that also felt forced. It was like the christian allegory was more a requirement than the core of the story.

Conclusion

I didn’t like this book and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Being honest, this is one of those books I want to finish just because I like to finish what I started, not because I’m excited about it. And I’m pretty sure this is my first two star review. Believe me, it’s not my intention to bash the author or her efforts, I’m just trying to share my personal experience.

Rating:

I received this book from the Book Look bloggers program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Blog Hop – If I Had One Year Left to Live

Blog Hop – If I Had One Year Left to Live

If you’ve been around here for the last weeks, then you’ll notice I’ve been posting about a book called A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. I’ve been part of this amazing launch team for a couple of weeks and that’s why my first post was a guest post by the author and then my review for the book.

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Now it’s my turn to write my entry for Nadine’s blog hop. This is the first time I’m part of a blog hop but I couldn’t resist to write about such a thoughtful and hypothetical question: How would you live with one year left?

If I Had One Year Left to Live I’d tell my family and close friends about my future death. Not sure how this would make them feel, but I believe it’d be the right thing. An even I’d win some curious followers, I definitely wouldn’t share my announcement through facebook or twitter. An about to die selfie? No thanks.

Sharing a cake with the interns this year

Three years ago I started to lead the internship program at my church. Every year I’m in charge of up to ten young people (between 18 & 25 years old). During ten months we enjoy God in prayer and worship, the interns practice and learn at the different departments and ministries at our church, also they go out in a mission trip in our country to share and manifest God’s presence.

It may sound really strange but one of the first things I would do is to quit my church job. Nothing against it, actually the reason would be still to be close to young people, but maybe with only two or three that would be willing to learn with me in my last year. This would be a more intimate kind of discipleship and also would give me ‘enough’ time to do other activities.

Unlike some of the blog hop participants, I’d start writing my first book. This is something I’ve been feeling I must do at some point in my life and if this is my last year then I couldn’t waste more time. I’d do what I can to see it published.

Of course my family would be a priority, and I’d spend a significant time with them. My mom and my sister are the closest family I got so It’d be easier to travel with them. Spain, England, France and Italy would be in our list.

Perhaps I’d use a month to visit the rest of my family, those who live in Mexico and other countries. I’d say good bye to each one of them, take a picture to make a ‘last year album’  and give a letter to each one of them, with a personal message. This would give me a chance to travel around my country one last time.

For my last day I’d throw a party with my family and closest friends. They’d know that even tough I’m about to die, I’m gonna go to a better place into eternity with God. I’d have Family Force 5 and Hillsong United giving a concert (hey, at least I’d try).

Finally, in my last minutes, I would go to bed and pray before I sleep one last time.


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About A Time To Die:

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.
But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

This is the first book in the Out of Time Series. Releases September 23rd from Enclave Publishing. Get your ebook copy on Amazon.

Find and follow Nadine Brandes: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads 

If you want to win a signed copy of A Time To Die and an Amazon gift card, enter the blog hop give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The blog hop started this month, here’s the list of the people participating, go and check the ones before me to read their entries:

9.03.14 – Nadine Brandes

9.08.14 – Ashlee Willis

9.11.14 – Caitlin Schesser

9.15.14 – Jennette Mbewe

9.17.14 – Heather Fitzgerald

9.19.14 – Kristen Stieffel

9.22.14 – Rebekah Gyger

9.25.14 – Lydia Thomas

9.26.14 – Ashley Olson

9.27.14 – Angel Roman

9.28.14 – Rosalie Valentine

9.29.14 – Aubrei Crooke-Adams

9.30.14 - Sarah Grimm

10.01.14 – Jon Del Arroz

10.02.14 – Amy Brandes

10.04.14 – Kathrese McKee

10.07.14 – Karen DeBlieck

10.09.14 – Bethany Jennings

10.10.14 – Angie Brashear

10.13.14 – Adam Collings

10.15.14 – Bree Courtney

10.20.14 – Gretchen Engel

10.24.14 – JC Morrows

10.30.14 – Lisa Gedfries

Review – A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes

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Book description:

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to help in the launch team for Nadine Brandes‘ debut novel,  A Time To Die. It’s been an awesome experience and after receiving and reading an early eARC copy this is my review.

First impressions

I only knew about Nadine from her blog, don’t even know how I got there in the first place, but I’ve been subscribed to her reviews and having read The Hunger Games and Divergent, (book #1) I was excited to read my first christian dystopian novel. I must confess I didn’t like the cover, but you now, I’m a graphic designer which makes me very picky about visual stuff.

Story

Having a clock displaying the remaining time of your life is a frightening idea. In A Time to Die we are introduced to a society where its citizens are used to this lifestyle but also under punishment when anyone tries to be free from this burden, or in this case, a real clock given at their birth.

The worldbuilding was detailed yet not boring. There are authors who believe their readers automatically know the world where the story takes place, and they fail to make the world feel real and alive. Thankfully this is not Nadine‘s situation. Even when the characters are constantly moving from one place to another it’s easy to identify and have a mental picture of each one of them.

But this not only applies to places. From things like the economic system used by the society to the complex technological inventions that could be easily part of any science fiction movie.

Characters

Parvin, the main character, reminded me Christian from The Pilgrim Progress. She’s a girl in search for purpose and freedom in the last year of her life. Through the story Parvin must face different trials, some related to her family, some related to her destiny that eventually will serve as a means to a closer relationship with God.

I guess Jude is the next character that will be the favorite to many (girls, lol). He has this type of shy but bold kind of personality that will serve as a catalyst to Parvin. As a guy I’m glad the ‘romance’ between these two characters is totally believable and congruent with the pace of the narrative.

There are several characters in this first book, but believe me, they carry almost the same weight and charisma than the protagonist. Personally I enjoyed meeting Skelley Chase, a professional writer that will be involved in the process of Parvin to be known by the world.

Spiritual Content

Since A Time to Die is a christian dystopian novel, you’ll find faith infused throughout the pages of the book. That being said, this makes this novel a wonderful story full of hope, where God is present in the life of a girl that is starting to discover a personal relationship with Him. In this story being a christian doesn’t mean everything in life is perfect, is more about everything that could go wrong going wrong with the assurance that God is with you.

Conclusion

This may be Nadine Brandes’ debut novel but is definitely worth a look. If you loved The Hunger Games and/or Divergent you gotta read A Time to Die. You can pre-order both formats, kindle and paperback (or both, why not?) through Amazon.

Rating: 

I received an eARC from the author in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Is Dystopian Dead? A guest post by Nadine Brandes

Is Dystopian Dead? A guest post by Nadine Brandes

Many bloggers and critics say the dystopian genre has passed its stride. I’ve heard it compared to the time vampires jumped into fame through the Twilight series. Now The Hunger Games series has come and gone, along with Divergent. They’ll carry their popularity until the end of the movie series. Only a few successors have carried enough weight for notice, like James Dashner’s The Maze Runner series.

katnissSo is dystopian dead? Dying?

As an author of a dystopian series that’s launching in just over a week, I have to ask this question. My conclusion?

NO, it’s not dead. It is, however, back to a normal level of attention that any decent genre receives. Back when Hunger Games launched dystopia into the spotlight, hardly anyone even knew the term dystopian. And then, when we figured it out, we mixed it up with all sorts of other subgenres — post-apocalyptic, apocalyptic, science-fiction, etc. Not just that, but the wave of dystopian books that followed the HG typhoon mostly shadowed the same plot line. Female character, a “decision day”, rebellion against the system, giant governmental defeat. Old hat.

The genre drowned a little under some mediocre books and poor plot lines (I won’t name names, though I have a long list.) But it’s on the upswing again. I expect it to level out and the better writers will come out, not relying on the popularity of the genre to carry their stories to the bookshelves, but relying on good writing.

I hope.

This takes me to another bend in the dystopian road: Christian dystopian books, or whatever other label you want to put on it — spiritual speculative fiction, inspiring, spirit-led, whatever. What I mean is dystopian fiction that is built on the values of Christ, faith, and led by God.

mazeThat is what I write and that genre is on the upswing. Sure, we’re behind the trend. Who cares? There are only a handful of these books out there, and there’s a demand for more. That demand is growing…and so is the supply.

When I first went to a Christian writer’s conference, no one was looking for anything sci-fi or fantasy. Then the Hunger Games came out, I grew up a bit (as a person and an author), and the next time I went to the same conference almost every publisher there asked for those genres, specifically dystopian.

This genre captures a hunger in readers — a hunger to fight for something great, to be strong, to resist the control of the world. It’s powerful. It’s meant to inspire us. That’s what I hope to do with my book, A Time to Die.

And this is just the beginning.

Dystopian fiction isn’t dead. It’s just starting to sprout the inspiration it was meant to grow all along.


Nadine Brandes Head Shot Author Bio:
Nadine Brandes writes stories about authentic faith, bold living, and worlds soaked in imagination. She lives in Idaho with her husband and works as a freelance editor. When she’s not writing, editing, or taste-testing a new chai, she is out pursuing adventures. A Time to Die is her first novel.

Find and follow Nadine Brandes: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads 

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Book blurb:
How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

This is book one in the Out of Time trilogy (subsequent volumes coming in 2015 and 2016)

You can pre-order A Time To Die through Amazon right now. Click here.


Reseña – La Quinta Ola por Rick Yancey

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Sinopsis:

Cassie deambula por una tierra desolada en busca de su hermano menor. A diferencia de sus padres, ella logró sobrevivir a las primeras cuatro olas de una invasión extraterrestre que ha exterminado de la faz de la Tierra a casi todos los seres humanos. Primero un apagón generalizado en todo el planeta, después el caos resultante, más tarde una plaga que acabó con la mayor parte de la población mundial y, finalmente, un grupo de asesinos llamados Silenciadores que se dedican a cazar a los sobrevivientes. Sin embargo, aún falta el golpe final y definitivo: la quinta ola.

Durante su peregrinar por bosques solitarios y ciudades destruidas, Cassie se enfrenta a distintos desafíos, mientras recuerda cómo era su vida antes de la llegada de los alienígenas. Un día se encuentra con Evan, un misterioso adolescente que le ofrece su ayuda. Ambos entablan una relación en la que, sin embargo, privan los secretos y la desconfianza.

Primeras impresiones

Después de investigar un poco acerca del autor, de sus libros y leer algunas reseñas me pareció buena idea darle una oportunidad a La Quinta Ola de Rick Yancey. Tenía todo para ser un buen libro de ciencia ficción: Invasión extraterrestre, guerra, la resistencia humana, tensión, etc, pero creo que se quedó bastante corto.

Historia

Me pareció bastante interesante que la historia iniciara en medio de la acción, te hace sentirte parte de ella. Lo malo vino en cuanto los flashbacks empiezan a aparecer, te das cuenta que no son mas que una excusa para contarte todo un trasfondo que no fluye con naturalidad. Senti que Yancey tomó mucho tiempo en el pasado haciendo que la historia no fluyera con naturalidad.

Cuando iba a más de la mitad no pude evitar la sensación de un parecido con El Huesped de Stephenie Meyer. Se que es una comparación bastante ofensiva (para algunos), pero no pude dejar de notar ciertas similitudes que no diré para no echarles a perder la historia.

Personajes

Rick Yancey, el autor de La Quinta Ola es un hombre, y aunque no tiene nada de raro que un escritor le de la voz a un personaje femenino creo que en este caso no resultó tan exitoso. Durante la historia Cassie, nuestra heroína, tenía una personalidad que rayaba en lo ridículo. A pesar de la fortaleza que debía tener para ser una de las pocas sobrevivientes, su reacción por el físico masculino era incongruente. Por otro lado el personaje de Ben/Zombie me pareció con bastante potencial hasta el punto de ‘robarle cámara’ a Cassie. Tal vez el hecho de que yo sea hombre tiene mucho que ver con mi percepción.

Conclusión

La Quinta Ola es una historia que entretiene pero que carece de personalidad. No hay elementos que puedan distinguirla entre muchas otras historias de extraterrestres. Por otro lado y para los que les interese, durante gran parte de la historia los personajes maldicen como si no hubiera un mañana (pun intended). Tal vez sea por el hecho de que no convivo con personas que sean así en la vida real y me produjo algo de repulsión.

Rating: 

Aclaración: Recibí una copia de este libro gratuitamente de editorial OCEANO para esta reseña.

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