Book Review: The Quest of the Unaligned by A. L. Phillips

Title: The Quest of the Unaligned

Author: A. L. Phillips

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Genre: Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

Published: 2013 by BorderStone Press LLC

Format: E-book, 356 pages

Synopsis: “In the city of Tonzimmel, where hover-cars zip over anonymous crowds, contracts are king, and education is everything, Alaric has worked hard to make a decent life for himself. As a level nine security chief, he needs no one and nothing, and is in control of his fate. Or so he thinks. When a stranger from neighboring Cadaeren suddenly appears, however, babbling of magic, quests, and long-lost princes, Alaric finds himself contractually obligated to undertake a journey that his training hasn’t prepared him for: the Quest of the Unaligned. Accompanied by Laeshana, a Cadaerian native who has reasons of her own for helping him on his quest, Alaric is soon plunged into a perilous adventure that will force him to confront a seemingly impossible truth and embrace his destiny, even as the fate of Cadaeren hangs in the balance.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I thought this book started off a little shaky, but definitely picked itself up in the middle. As the story opens, we meet Alaric, a level 9 security officer who has been raised all his life in Tonzimmel. Tonzimmel supports a Gesellschaft culture where each person fights for themselves in order to move up the social ladder. When we meet Alaric, he seems rigid and unimpressionable, similar to the masses in his black uniform and boots. He was extremely bland until he meets Ruahkini, an air mage from Cadaeren who declares he’s the missing prince and heir to Cadaeren. Hearing this news, Alaric is both disgusted and amused as Cadaeren is depicted as a crazy place outside the walls of Tonzimmel. While Tonzimmel boasts hard work and science, Cadaeren encapsulates the ideas of a Gemeinschaft culture where your birth determines your status. Not only that, but the mage declares that he has magic, which Alaric almost laughs himself unconscious at.

Ruahkini convinces Alaric to take on a wager with knife-throwing (Alaric’s best skill). If Alaric won, his bar tab would be pre-paid for a month, but if he lost, he has to attempt the Quest of the Unaligned. This is a quest that the prince of Cadaeren must go on before their coronation ceremony. Of course Alaric takes on the wager as he considers himself the best knife-thrower in Tonzimmel – and of course he loses. And from there, we follow him as he leaves Tonzimmel and journeys to Cadaeren to begin his quest. On his way to Cadaeren, he is accompanied by Laeshana, a friend who he had believed was a mechanic/engineer back in Tonzimmel, but was in fact an aesh (a mage aligned with fire).

At this point, Alaric’s personality was really annoying and rubbed at me in all the wrong places. He was condescending and ignorant, which I knew was intentional. Because of his ‘Tonzemmelian’ traits, he almost gets both he and Laeshana killed when he declares that he would take the mountain path, even after she warns him of a dragon lurking there. Of course, as a person of science, he scoffs at the idea (fair enough) and declares that will do whatever he wants even though Laeshana was there to be his guide. He’s a level 9 security officer, of course he knows best! (Sarcastic) Not surprisingly, they meet the dragon which made for a very exciting read. However, it was pretty unbelievable as I kept wondering why the dragon didn’t bother to use fire to incinerate them. And Alaric definitely defeated it too easily.

Following that encounter, we see a little bit of change within Alaric, he becomes less sceptical of magic and of Cadaeren being as insane as he first thought. While he still exhibits many Tonzimmelian traits, his character was changing. After a while, they arrive at the Temple where the King’s Crown is held, but alas, it’s stolen! The second half of the novel follows Alaric, Laeshana and the apprentice of the temple on their journey to retrieve the crown. This was where everything got much more interesting and where Alaric definitely grew as a character. What I found a little sceptical was how much he changed in just a few weeks – while it was definitely nice to see, 21 years of upbringing within one culture does not equate to immediate assimilation into a culture that is directly opposite to what you’re used to.

What I do applaud is Phillip’s ability to develop her characters. I think character development is one of the most important things within a good novel, right after plot, and she did it really well with Alaric. Throughout his quest, he is faced with the themes of duty, trust, morality and the continual issue of statuses depicting a persons’ worth. This was done extremely well with Alaric. What I had problems with was his parents, the king and queen of Cadaeren and their decision to send Alaric away to be brought up in Tonzimmel in the first place. This was only explained briefly, and not even enough for it to make sense. From what I could tell, they sent him away so he could be ‘unbalanced’ and not lean towards any one element. What they essentially did was send him to a MAGIC-LESS place which was not only idiotic but what kind of parents does that make you when you send your ONLY child away to be brought up parentless. How are they even fit to rule when your actions show you don’t even love your child, let alone your people. I’m surprised civil war did not start while Alaric was away.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read as the action picked up in the second part of the novel. I liked Alaric’s character development but I can’t say I was invested in any of the other characters enough, which is a shame. Especially Naruhan for his selfless sacrifice to buy Alaric time and save him from death. It would have been good to get some insight into the monarchy of Cadaeren as the two rulers seem quite … oblivious to everything. Very fairy-airy to be exact. But the book does have a nice ending, which was a good close to the story.

Thanks to A. L. Phillips for providing an e-copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: CyberStorm by Matthew Mather

Title: CyberStorm

Author: Matthew Mather

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Genre: Techno-Thriller, Science-Fiction

Publication Date: 15 March 2013

Synopsis: “Sometimes the worst storms aren’t caused by Mother Nature, and sometimes the worst nightmares aren’t in the ones in our heads…” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into when I started reading CyberStorm — but it honestly blew my mind away. It is a story about survival, relationships and most of all, a terrifyingly real depiction of an event that may be plausible enough to actually occur in our present world.

Set in present-day New York City during a whole city snow-storm that has seemingly wiped out all forms of technological connectivity, CyberStorm presents to its readers a realistic account of one man’s perseverance through what was thought to be a foreign attack on a country governed by technology. When you are so incompletely connected via these networks, it is definitely viable that cyber attacks on those systems would eventually occur. While the loss of such connectivity was a tremendous blow, when partnered with a snow-storm only Mother Nature could conjure up, CyberStorm truly shows its readers a masterfully crafted tale of survival at the most detrimental of times.

I cannot praise this book as well as its author enough. Having had a little taste of Mathers’ work (read my review on Atopia Skies here) already, I knew this was a must-read as soon as I heard about it. Mather has a way of writing that pulls you completely into the story. His characters, environment and plots are so well drawn out that you feel completely immersed in the story as if you were right beside the characters. If you are looking for good books under the science-fiction category, then you can’t do wrong with picking up one of Mathers’ works!

Book Haul #1 – January & February 2013

Hi everyone! You may have noticed that I’ve stopped blogging for a week or so now – and that’s because I’ve been super busy! No excuse, I know, but that also means I’ve barely had the time to read. However, I’d like to keep up with blogging though, so it doesn’t feel like I’m only posting reviews time after time.

Because of this, I’ve decided to do my first Book Haul! I know it’s like March, and most of the books that will be appearing was obtained during the earlier months … but whatever! I’ve been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to read a lot of new ARCS and published novels through Netgalley and Edelweiss lately, as well as having a few lovely authors contact me. Because I’ve got a HUGE to-be-read pile lined up, I will only post the most recently obtained books today.

Author Requested Reviews

Title: Other Systems

Author: Elizabeth Guizzetti

Synopsis: Ten large ships race toward Earth, broadcasting in every language: “Brothers and sisters, we come in peace and in need. We have found our way home.” The fear of a coming invasion begins the worldwide riots of 3062.

Yet, not all Earthlings fear attack. The newcomers, long lost descendants of Earth, speak of a paradise ninety-four light years away. Kipos is a land of plenty where there has never been hunger, murder, or war. However, they need more healthy young immigrants for the colony to thrive.

Many accept their offer to be tested. After assessment, Abby Boyd Lei is among the chosen. She leaves the protection of her family with dreams of higher education, a good job, and a kind-hearted spouse.

Will Kipos be everything she imagined? Abby is about to discover the cost of utopia.”

– – –

Title: Matt Archer (#2) – Blades Edge

Author: Kendra C. Highley

Synopsis: When Matt Archer was fourteen, he discovered monsters are real. As if that wasn’t enough to go on for a few decades, Matt also found out that he’d been chosen to hunt those monsters–with a sentient, supernatural knife. Now fifteen, Matt has spent the last year working with a clandestine military unit, trying to rid the world of monsters, demons and other vicious creatures, all while keeping it a secret from nearly everyone he knows back home in Billings.

Including his mom.

Add in a new girlfriend, family secrets, sibling drama and enough homework to sink an aircraft carrier, and Matt’s life has become more complicated than he ever imagined. Worse, the knife has developed some very definite opinions about Matt’s personal life and it interferes in his business whenever it wants. More and more, Matt’s coming to realize that sharing brain-space with a spirit kind of sucks.

When stories of decimated towns and hordes of zombies start pouring into the Pentagon from Afghanistan, Matt knows he’ll be called up soon. Between the new mission and the knife’s increasing control over his mind, Matt wonders if he’ll survive long enough to take his driver’s exam.”

– – –

Title: The Torturer’s Daughter

Author: Zoe Cannon

Synopsis:When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca assumes it’s the usual drama. Wrong. Heather’s parents have been arrested as dissidents – and Becca’s mother, the dystopian regime’s most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents’ innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn’t expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents… and about her mother.

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn’t the only one with secrets – and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it’s no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime’s crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.

It’s easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER’S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary teenage life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime… and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what’s right in a world gone wrong.”

Edelweiss Approved Reviews

Title: September Girls

Author: Bennett Madison

Synopsis: “When Sam’s dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he’s all for it– at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him. 

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she’s different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he’s going to get her back, he’ll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.”

– – –

Title: The End Games

Author: T. Michael Martin

Synopsis: “It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.”

– – –

Title: Parallel

Author: Lauren Miller

Synopsis: “Abby Barnes had a plan. Get into a great college, major in journalism, and land her dream job at a major newspaper. But on the eve of her 18th birthday, she’s stuck on a Hollywood movie set instead, wishing she could rewind her life. But the next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. A collision of parallel worlds has left Abby living a new reality every time her younger parallel self makes a new decision. Forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn’t choose, Abby must let go on her plans for the future and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally in reach.

Advance praise for Parallel:

“A fun, twisty novel about the paths you choose and the paths you don’t…to follow your heart’s desire. Deeply romantic and entertaining!“ (Melissa de la Cruz, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of BLUE BLOODS and WITCHES OF EAST END)

“Penetrating, jaw–dropping, and so real, PARALLEL had me turning pages at warp speed, hoping for the best tomorrow. Read this book.” (Huntley Fitzpatrick, author of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR)

“Best. Debut. Novel. Ever.” (Lauren Barnholdt, author of TWO-WAY STREET)

“PARALLEL beautifully tackles the universal themes of fate, destiny, and the search for a soulmate, proving that there are no wrong turns. Your heart will soar and you’ll be cheering at the end.” (Jordanna Fraiberg, author of IN YOUR ROOM)

“Wildly inventive and wonderfully romantic, PARALLEL takes readers on a journey that will open their minds and their hearts.” (Jennifer E. Smith, author of THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT)”

Netgalley Approved Reviews

Title: Game board of the Gods

Author: Richelle Mead

Synopsis: In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.”

– – –

Title: The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)

Author: Richelle Mead

Synopsis: “In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood.”

– – –

These are just my most recent hauls. They all sound super interesting, and I’ve started reading Other Systems today. It’s amazing so far! What’s your book haul like for the first few months of 2013?

Book Review: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter (#1) by Kendra C. Highley

Title: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter (#1)

Author: Kendra C. Highley

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2013, 4-out-of-5, Children-Fiction, Adventure, Paranormal, Released-in-2012, Author-Request-Review

Synopsis: “Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park. 

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard. 

But that’s not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle’s bag has a secret, one that will change Matt’s life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it’s chosen Matt as its wielder. 

Now Matt’s part of a world he didn’t know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries. 

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer is out camping in the woods of Montana with his uncle Mike when they are attacked by a paranormal grissly bear with tusks. Not knowing what to do as his uncle is attacked, Matt grabs the first weapon he finds in his uncle’s bag – a sharp knife that glows at his touch. The knife takes out the monster and Matt is thrust into the mist of a mission to save the world from armageddon.

For a fourteen-year-old thrust into the tough ordeals of a military nightmare, Matt handles himself extremely well. He is a well-rounded character written unbelievable well by Highley. He acts as a fourteen-year-old would when faced with girl-troubles, but is also smart enough to obey command when necessary. Matt is not irrational and stubborn as most teenagers would be when told that they’re wielding immense power – and that is what I loved about him. Highley has created a person that all readers could root for – rather than another annoying kid given power they’re unable to comprehend.

I found the entire story very well written and paced. Most scenes were definitely filled with action and Highley does not shy away from the prospect of death, which I admire her for. While written for children, it is still to be expected that when you’re fighting a war with monsters, death would always be lurking around the corner.

I have only high praise for the character developments within this story. All the characters were well-rounded and felt completely real. I enjoyed the strong bond of friendship between Matt and his best friend Will, but what I loved most was his bond with his family. His sister Mamie is one tough cookie, even though she’s known as a nerd to people around school. While we don’t see much of Matt’s brother Brent, he is always there when Matt needs him the most. He has his back and that’s what counts the most. And how can I forget the relationship between Matt and his uncle Mike? With Matt’s father M.I.A, Mike is the closest father figure he and his siblings have. Being deployed to Afghanistan serves the family a huge blow, but it is because of Mike’s leaving that pulls the Archer family together. They’re all just so supportive of each other, and it’s such a great thing to read about.

While you may think that this book is just about hunting mosters in the dark, Matt is still a teenager in high school. He has problems just like any other adolescent boy full of testosterone, and the glimpses offered into his ‘normal’ life was quite enjoyable to read about. Not once did I get impatient and want to fast forward to the fighting, because Matt chasing after is dream girl Ella was fun to read about too.

Matt Archer: Monster Hunter was an extremely enjoyable read and I will definitely be reading the next one in the series – Matt Archer: Blades Edge. I hear it’s set in Australia, my home country, so I’m very, very excited!

THANKS TO: Kendra C. Highley for providing me an electronic copy to review honestly.

Book Review: Zephyr The West Wind (Chaos Chronicles #1) by R.J. Tolson

Title: Zephyr The West Wind (Chaos Chronicles #1)

Author: R.J. Tolson

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆☆

Shelf: Read-in-2013, Young-Adult, Fantasy, 2-out-of-5, Released-in-2012, Kindle-eBook, Netgalley-Read, Book-Tour

Publication Date: 21 August 2012 by Universal Kingdom Print

Synopsis: “Seventeen years ago, in the island village of Dentro, lived a large and powerful demon. With just a howl, mountains were obliterated. With the help of an outsider, the chief of Dentro destroyed the demon and sealed its dark power within three powerful ancient weapons: a spear, a shield, and a sword. After leaving the unwelcoming village, the man who had helped destroy the demon took the sword in an effort to keep the village and its people safe.

Months later, a villager bore the son of the outsider. Carrying the child of a stranger was in violation of a sacred village law, and everyone knew whose child the boy was. Born into a village filled with hateful people, Zephyr grew up not knowing why he was so hated. With no friends, and eventually no family after the passing of his mother, Zephyr was forced to survive by himself as an outcast.

Zephyr’s only wish was to make his mother proud and force the village to recognize him–while surviving in a world filled with demons, paranormal abilities, love, hate, and undiscovered lands.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I think this book started out very strongly. I was entranced by the prologue with its promises of ancient Greek mythologies and was very, very excited to devour this book. However, that was just it – the prologue was full of promises that Tolson did not deliver. What I did like about the book was that Zephyr is a good role model for children reading his story. His strong afflictions towards being the best person he could possibly be, even to people that had treated him like trash, was a message that put a smile on my face. I think Tolson created a character that was strong in this sense. This was the one consistent trait of Zephyr’s that I liked, because there were SO many inconsistencies riddled throughout the book.

The biggest problem I found with Zephyr’s character was when he said he wanted to gain power to protect the people he loved. These were people that he’d only met recently. While that could be overlooked, I couldn’t read about him leaving his boy tour guide unconscious within the palace that he was touring while he ran away from a fight that he’d started. At that point I was like, ‘Really? You left him unconscious and you’re just going to leave?’
There were many other inconsistencies that I couldn’t bring myself to overlook. On his quest to recover the ancient weapons in order to save his village, Zephyr had to visit two cities that were at war with each other. They were called Cheshria and Sleeves. At Cheshria, the guards manning the gate didn’t even bother to check the carriages that held Zephyr and his companion, Leon, and let them through into the city without a second thought. The driver of the carriage was a friend of Zephyr’s and had told the guards that the carriages held his servants. I found it hard to believe that the guards would not bother to check the carriages at all, or question as to why servants are riding in the carriage while their master drove it.

What irritated me more than these inconsistencies was the way this story was written. At the beginning of the story, Zephyr narrates the story as if he’s addressing the reader. Thankfully this doesn’t last long because I really dislike novels that are narrated like that. Moving from that, Zephyr then continues to narrate the story by repeating things the readers have already learned by voicing them aloud as if we were stupid. And as if that wasn’t irritating enough, the story suddenly switches to Leon’s perspective suddenly and without warning for a few chapters near the end. Not only was that change in perspective abrupt, it just totally ridiculous because Tolson does not tell that audience that it’s Leon’s perspective, you have to figure it out yourself. When this first happened, I had gone halfway through the chapter before I stopped in my tracks and was like, ‘Wait…this cannot possibly be Zephyr narrating this…what’s going on?!’
And please don’t get me started on the ‘love’ story. Was it really necessary? Because it was just so cringe-worthy reading through it. While I do think Zephyr and his love interest, Autumn, are good people, I really couldn’t root for them. From the beginning, Zephyr turns into a blubbering idiot when he meets her. And from then on, she’s The One. Yeah, ok. And don’t even get me started on how he manages to have visions of her sneaking away from her village in order to come find him and help. That is not even explained. Was he thinking about her so much that he just suddenly have these visions in his sleep that actually turn out to be true?

While you may think I hated this book, it wasn’t horrendous. I really enjoyed the fight scenes and they were exciting to read about. Especially the ones at the end when they really felt genuine and you couldn’t tell that Zephyr was definitely going to win. However, this was a book that I did have to force myself to finish – and that is never a good thing. I will probably be giving the next one in the series a miss.

THANKS TO: Samantha Lien from JKSCommunications for providing me an electronic ARC to review honestly.

Book Review: What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

Title: What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia, 4-out-of-5, Released-in-2012, Kindle-eBook, Netgalley-Read

Synopsis: “I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, especially with a plot that moved along so slowly. But wow, I’m so glad it blew my expectations out of the water! More than once, this book ignited questions about humanity that resulted in momentary lapses in reading time to try and resolve. It was odd to think about having two souls in your body that co-existed together and was able to watch what either one was doing – in a sense it was similar to siamese twins, but with their minds and thoughts conjoined.

I found Eva to be a very well constructed character – and props to Zhang for writing from the perspective of the recessive soul that existed only as a remnant of most people’s memories. I found Zhang’s writing to be strong and flawless, and Eva’s voice resounded so well within the pages.

The relationship between Addie and Eva was written wonderfully too. They behaved as sisters would – they fought and they supported each other. What made it so different to normal sibling relationships is that both souls shared the same body, thus if one kissed someone, the other had to experience it too. This once again made me think – while hybrid souls are solely science-fiction, what about conjoined twins within our normal world? How does it work when one twin has a physical relationship with their partner? How does the their twin react? What happens when one gets married? I’m really interested in finding out after reading this book.

***SPOILERS***

What irked me about this book (and kept me from giving it 5/5 stars) were some of the side characters and the pacing. Hally/Lissa was a character that I couldn’t invest in. Hally appeared for the majority of the first part of the book, while Lissa seemed to replace her in the second. While Hally seemed to reappear a few times, it seemed this happened sporadically, as if Zhang only just remembered that Hally still existed. There was no explanation as to why Lissa seemed to take over their body once they got to the hospital. These soul switches were executed better with Devon/Ryan – and I understood why they switched around, especially when Eva finally gained control of her and Addie’s body again. However, I’m still confused as to how Eva could tell when Devon or Ryan was in control … they shared the same body, so it’s not like there were little differences to their faces like twins may have.

The second thing that irked me was the pacing of this book. I found the plot to be extremely slow, but then BAM, Eva tells me that only a day or two has passed since the time she was admitted into the hybrid hospital. I’m surprised for a bit and then the plot continues to move along at a snail’s pace. Luckily, it does speed up towards the last fifth of the book, which I think redeemed itself. But now that I think about it, Addie and Eva only lived in that hospital for 5-7 days before they escaped to live with their rescuers … where they hell are their parents? Surely they couldn’t have forgotten about the girls in less than a week? And don’t get me started on Hally/Lissa and Devon/Ryan’s parents. Did they not even bother to fight for their children? It seemed a little too easy that they would let someone take away their only two children to a completely different state without putting up a fight.

***SPOILER***

While there were negative aspects of the book, it didn’t really hinder my overall enjoyment of Eva and Addie’s story. I thought the entire story was very though provoking and extremely creative and original. There were light aspects of romance, and luckily it didn’t make up the plot – huzzah! I am definitely intrigued about this series and will most likely pick up the next book as soon as it comes out. I do recommend this book to anyone that likes a dystopian read that is original and not powered only by romance!

THANKS TO: HarperCollins Australia for the read on Netgalley

Book Review: Kid in Chief by Paul Maguire.

Title: Kid in Chief

Author: Paul Maguire

Illustrator: Katy Betz

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Children, 3-out-of-5, NetGalley-Read, Kindle-eBook

Release Date: 6 November 2012

Synopsis: “When third-grader Bobby Barton visits Washington, D.C. on a class trip, he doesn’t know he will walk away with a chance to become the leader of our nation. It’s on that trip that Bobby finds a missing part of the United States Constitution telling him how he could become President! Soon after making this discovery, Bobby moves into the White House as the youngest American President in history. With his friends Maria Cagney (Bobby’s Vice-President) and Kevin Sawyer (his Chief of Staff), Bobby is faced with many important decisions, confusing situations, and exciting adventures. Bobby quickly finds out that being President is a very tough job. Join him as he and his friends learn all about how the government works, having loads of fun along the way!” (Taken from Goodreads)

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