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Karsyn's Kickass Jocoserious, Kooky, Jannock book blog: Bunch of Mini Reviews!! 4 & 5 star Books

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bunch of Mini Reviews!! 4 & 5 star Books

Hello there!

I am WOEFULLY behind on my NetGalley reviews, so I thought I'd do a bunch together in some mini reviews so I can get them out there. I've read a bunch of books from NetGalley, I just haven't actually posted about them yet, so here I am to do that. Some of these books I read QUITE a while ago so I hope that I remember enough to write about. We shall see! Let's start with some 5 and 4 star books!

BOOK ~ Qualify by Vera Nazarian
Completed ~ March 21
STARS ~ 5 of 5
PAGES ~ 600

You have two options. You die, or you Qualify.

The year is 2047. An extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and the descendants of ancient Atlantis have returned from the stars in their silver ships to offer humanity help.

But there's a catch.

They can only take a tiny percent of the Earth's population back to the colony planet Atlantis. And in order to be chosen, you must be a teen, you must be bright, talented, and athletic, and you must Qualify.

Sixteen-year-old Gwenevere Lark is determined not only to Qualify but to rescue her entire family.

There's actually more to the blurb than what I've listed, but like the book, the blurb is rather long, so I thought I'd just leave you with the basics. I adored this book. There were definite flaws and there were a few things I wish had been differently, but overall this book was sooooo fun and quite enjoyable.

It's the type of book I typically like ~ some kind of competition going to to achieve something. Here's where many readers will chime in and complain it's just another Hunger Games, but it's not and I hate that all competition books just get crammed together like that. This one was quite different from Hunger Games, though yes it was a competition, and it was even dangerous, but it was quite unique and stands apart from other books like this I have read.

Gwen is a real character. She has flaws, and a lot of them. Sometimes, you don't like her very much, but in the end you can't help but root for her because she just tries so damn hard at everything she does. Even though people keep telling her she has no chance, she keeps pushing on through as long and as far as she can and she does everything to prove the doubters wrong.

The bulk of this book is spent on the training for the qualification, where they must learn about Atlantis and their technology. They will be using Atlantean tech in the games and they spend a lot of time on them training and training in general. It's a very interesting race that the author has come up with. It felt like I was really learning about this space race along with Gwen and the others, and I definitely wanted some of the gadgets that they have.

As for the things that I didn't like, I thought that the book would end with, or after, the qualification, but it went beyond that into the start of the other games. It was the only thing that I didn't like because not as much time was spent on that. Only 20% was spent on each of the two parts of the competition with the other 60% focused on the learning. I didn't mind the learning part, but I definitely wanted more of the competition. I would have liked that to be split into another book, rather than doing a bulk of it in this book, missing out on much more that could be done with it. But, it's a small thing and didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.

I actually had forgotten to check lately on the 2nd book and JUST saw that it came out last month. I definitely can't wait to get started on it and hopefully it'll be just as enjoyable as the first!

Setting = A
Plot = A+
Conflict = A
Characters = A
Theme = A+

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BOOK ~ The Tournament by Matthew Reilly
Completed ~ April 25
STARS ~ 4 of 5
PAGES ~ 320

The year is 1546, and Suleiman the Magnificent, the powerful and feared Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issues an invitation to every king in Europe: You are invited to send your finest player to compete in a chess tournament to determine the champion of the known world.

Thousands converge on Constantinople, including the English court’s champion and his guide, the esteemed scholar Roger Ascham. Seeing a chance to enlighten the mind of a student, Ascham brings along Elizabeth Tudor, a brilliant young woman not yet thrust into royal duties.

Yet on the opening night of the tournament a powerful guest of the Sultan is murdered. Soon, barbaric deaths, diplomatic treachery, and unimaginable depravity—sexual and otherwise—unfold before Elizabeth and Ascham’s eyes. The pair soon realizes that the real chess game is being played within the court itself…and its most treacherous element is that a stranger in a strange land is only as safe as her host is gracious.

If you didn't know, I LOVE Matthew Reilly as an author! I have now read everything that he has ever written, this being the next to last book of his that I had finally read. I wasn't sure about this one (or the last one I read ~ Troll Mountain) because it didn't sound like ANYTHING I would like. I'm not really a chess person, I'm not into a lot of historical fiction but I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected.

There was actually little focus on the chess game itself. While we did read about parts of it, it was mainly about the murders that were happening and the investigation going on surrounding those. The mystery was definitely crazy with a lot going on and I didn't know where it was going with all of it, which is pretty rare for me.

I definitely liked Elizabeth. She was quite young but eager to learn about the world around her, even when that meant learning the truths about some very sexual stuff that wasn't all that good. She was unflappable around it all though, with people being killed around her, a sexual frenzy going on plus all the normal stuff with the tournament itself.

The main thing I didn't like about this book were long passages focusing on religion. When they strayed off into those topics, I definitely lost concentration and was bored out of my mind. But that's just me, and it didn't ruin my overall enjoyment of it. Reilly just writes fantastic books and I'm glad that I gave this one a try! Now I'm only sad that for right now, I'm all outta Reilly books to read. Hopefully he's working on one!

Setting = A
Plot = B+
Conflict = A
Characters = B+
Theme = B+

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BOOK ~ I am Traitor (Unknown Assassin 03) by Allen Zadoff
Completed ~ April 1
STARS ~ 4 of 5
PAGES ~ 371

In the third and final installment in the Unknown Assassin trilogy, Boy Nobody is on the run from The Program and uncovers a secret about his past that forces him to decide where his loyalties lie.

The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard who was captured by The Program. Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson -- he can't trust anyone.

If you haven't read the first 2 books of the Unknown Assassin series, I definitely recommend reading them first. This could be read on it's own, I suppose, but it'd be pretty confusing for the overall story.

Boy Nobody is a teen assassin. He's been raised by a man and woman he calls "mother" & "father" and they send him out on his missions. The Program uses teens like him to go in and get close to the son or daughter of the mark. Once he's friendly with the family, then he'll strike, walking away afterwards, usually without anyone knowing what happened as some times, the murders are made to look natural.

In the first book, he gets a mission that makes him start questioning who he is and why he's living this life. He makes some decisions on his own, against what the Program wants, some that help and some that hinder, what he's supposed to do. In this final book, he's decided to make a complete stand against The Program and they have sent others after him, to try to stop him from leaving.

I definitely enjoyed this conclusion to the trilogy. It was fast paced and kept my attention through out the book. I definitely enjoyed the ending as well, it wrapped it up all nice, though I would have enjoyed a bit of an epilogue with a few months/years down the road, showing us what happened after. But overall, it was a good enjoyable series.

Setting = A
Plot = A
Conflict = A+
Characters = A+
Theme = A

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BOOK ~ Hexad: The Factory by A.K. Line
Completed ~ July 23
STARS ~ 4 of 5
PAGES ~ 261


Dale dug furtively, feeling like a muppet but unable to get the previous evening's conversation with Amanda out of his mind. A stupid, drunken conversation, full of conjecture about the possibility of time travel. Then one of them, he couldn't remember which, had come up with the idea that if it really was possible at some point in their future then they'd go back in time and bury proof under the apple tree in the garden.

Dale knew he was acting foolish, and prayed Amanda didn't wake up to find him digging in the dirt. He couldn't help it though, however ridiculous it seemed. There was that nagging at the back of his mind: what if?

Word of Warning ~ if you can not wrap your mind around the concept of time travel ~ then you may not want to attempt reading this book. I don't claim to understand time travel, I mean who could, since it's not something that has (yet, I hope) been achieved. But I do comprehend fictional portrayals of it. I understand the concept of the different paradoxes that could arise from time travel, and I typically follow time travel books quite easily.

This book though, had even ME confused, and that's saying something. But man was it engaging! I didn't know what the hell was happening some of the time. It was a bit of a slow start, but once it got going, I was just trying to keep up. One way I described it was that it seemed almost like the author took all these words and all this stuff about time travel, then he put all the words he wanted to use into a blender, shook them all up and what poured out was how the book was written. It was CRAZY.

Dale and Amanda have a crazy drunken conversation about the possibility of time travel, and when he goes out to look where they said they would leave something, he does find something, and they are sent on a while ride from there.

The only part I really didn't like was the source behind the devices. It was a little disturbing, and I had a little issue with that, but it was quite brief at the end, so it didn't dwell on it much. The ending was definitely something that was pretty unexpected and if there's another book, I'll definitely be reading it. It was one crazy mind blowing read!

Setting = B
Plot = A
Conflict = B
Characters = A
Theme = A+

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