The Expedition by: Chris Babu | Book Review

The Expedition
By: Chris Babu
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, YA Fiction, Drama, Adventure
Rating: 3 stars
Publisher: Permuted Press
Release Date: December 4, 2018

IndieBound | Amazon | B&N |

Synopsis:

THEY SURVIVED THE INITIATION. NOW THE REAL TEST BEGINS.

Drayden and his friends thought nothing could be harder than the Initiation. Little did they know it had only been a warmup for the challenge that lay ahead.

With New America’s situation dire, Drayden and the pledges venture out into the unexplored world outside the walls, escorted by a team of elite Guardians. The group seeks to contact another civilization in what remains of Boston, but Drayden has secret goals of his own.

Dangers abound in the real world, including Aeru, the deadly superbug that wiped out humanity. While they battle the elements of a desolate landscape, a power struggle emerges within their ranks. The Guardians seem to be carrying out a covert mission themselves, and the quest turns everything they thought they knew about New America upside down.

My Thoughts

As this is a part of a series, I thought it best to separate my personal pros and cons in a generic way because some of my notes directly relate to the open-ended plots of the series. In addition to a few of the plot twists that happen in the last few chapters of this book in particular.

PROS:

Overall, The Expedition offers way more character development, action and suspense scenes than book one. It also gives the reader more in details on the secrets the Bureau wants to keep hidden from the people of New America and even a (very) few details about the main character, Drayden, mother’s exile. Drayden shows that the Initiation has given him more of a backbone and a willingness to assert himself in a position of power when going up against a few Bureau members and Guardians, even if the odds are stacked against him.

His character showing and taking initiative during their journey outside of the wall towards Boston made him more likable (in my opinion) compared to book one because he doubted himself too much and was really reserved. This, I feel was a combination of Drayden having to process what happened to his mother, best friend and the Initiation one after another. So, I thought to see him actually acknowledge this a bit in the book while going to Boston was pretty fundamental.

Of the other three who made it through the Initiation with him, I didn’t really feel there was a major shift in their characters between the two books; more like Drayden seemed more comfortable with them as a team and people he could trust. In book one, because Drayden was smart, everyone kind of leaned on him as a default. In this book, his leadership has been earned and I actually agreed that he deserved the leadership and respect that he was fighting for.

Moreover, I really liked the strength and bond present in this book among Charlie, Sydney, Drayden, and Catrice because it was something I could bank on growing even stronger facing the dangers outside of the wall. Both with the strangers they encountered along the way as well as with the group of Guardians assigned to go with them.

CONS:

In order to get to the core of this book, I was gifted book one to read also. I think that out of the two, I preferred The Expedition over The Initiation because the story has Drayden placed in the middle of an active, narrative plot that shows his character in more progressively/active manner. He is a deeply flawed character that struggles to grasp the people and situations around him. I appreciate a flawed protagonist and find it interesting when the secondary characters draw attention to the same flaws or begin to dislike the main character the same way that I do.

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Active Memory (Mirador #3) By: Dan Wells | Review & Giveaway

book cover active memory
Active Memory (Mirador #3)
By: Dan Wells
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopia
Rating: 4 stars
Release: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Balzer & Bay
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Synopsis:
From Dan Wells, author of the New York Times bestselling Partials Sequence and the John Cleaver series, comes the third and final book in the dark, pulse-pounding, sci-fi neo-noir series that began with the acclaimed novel Bluescreen.

For all the mysteries teen hacker Marisa Carneseca has solved, there has been one that has always eluded her: the truth behind the car accident in which she lost her arm and a mob boss’ wife, Zenaida de Maldonado, lost her life. Even in a world where technology exists to connect everyone’s mind to one another, it would seem that some secrets can still remain hidden.

Those secrets rise violently to the surface, however, when Zenaida de Maldonado’s freshly severed hand shows up at the scene of a gangland shooting. If Zenaida is—or was—still alive, it means there’s even more about Marisa’s past that she doesn’t know. And when she and her friends start digging, they uncover a conspiracy that runs from the slums of Los Angeles to the very top of the world’s most powerful genetic engineering firm. If Mari wants the truth, she’s going to have to go through genetically enhanced agents, irritatingly attractive mob scions, and some bad relationships to get it.

Dan Wells’s widely acclaimed series continues with his most shocking, pulse-pounding, and visionary story yet

The Wisdom Of Moms & Amazing Dads by: Bridget E. Hamilton | Short Review

About The Wisdom of Moms

• Hardcover: 96 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (March 28, 2017)

There is so much we can learn about motherhood from the animal kingdom. We can learn how to be the strong role model a child needs, like the snow leopard that teaches her children to survive and thrive on dangerous mountain slopes; to be as resilient as the hardworking sea otter mom; and to serve our communities like the pika, a rabbit-like animal native to northern climates. This is a beautiful tribute to mothers, full of adorable animal photographs and touching anecdotes that show your appreciation for all the wisdom and care that Mom provides.

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About Amazing Dads

• Hardcover: 96 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (May 2, 2017)

This fun, lighthearted book is a great way to show Dad how much he means to you. Page after page of stunning animal photographs and heartwarming stories of fatherhood in the animal kingdom showcases the bond between dads and their loved ones. This package is the best way to share words of gratitude and appreciation and express your love for the dad, grandpa, uncle, or stepfather in your life.

Stories of remarkable animal dads include:

  • Golden lion tamarins that mash bananas into a mush to hand-feed their babies
  • Wolves that enjoy playful roughhousing with youngsters of the pack
  • Foxes that bury food near the den to teach pups to hunt
  • Rheas, South American birds that not only incubate eggs solo but also serve as single parents
  • Seahorses that carry eggs in their own brood pouch

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts

I loved reading these books because they were so much fun and soo cute. I was so happy I got the opportunity to read these books because they are just the types of books I look for when it comes to my younger cousins and my friends’ kids. Each book has various animal selections that is accompanied by short antidotes, factoids, memorable quotes and beautiful pictures on every single page. Personally, I think these books would be great for story-time anywhere because the passages are so engaging. These books offer small pieces of information and glimpses into the animal kingdom with such clear, sharp pictures that it’ll make them fall in love with these books and the animals. I really think these books is a great gift to the family to enjoy; from moms and dads with their kids and grandmas and grandpas with their grandchildren. I’ve selected a few of my favorite passages from each book below 🙂

Tour Organized By:

Thank you so much for stopping by to check out this short review.

Until the next post,

Gia.

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Book Review: If You Could Be Mine by: Sara Farizan

If You Could Be Mine
Rating: 3.8./4 stars
Genre:
YA, Romance, GLBTQ, Contemporary,Culture, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Released Date: August 20th 2013

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

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Book Review: The Shadow of Loss by: Josefina Gutierrez

 

The Shadow of Loss

By Josefina Gutierrez

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Multicultural, Romance, YA

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads OR buy Shadow of Loss here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble|  Kobo

Blurb:

Evelyn Gonzalez keeps losing people, which is always hard, but has she lost something much more? Has she lost her soul? Evelyn has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized, after months of sorrow and pain she is thrust back into the world. The world of teenage angst and Calculus. Can she trust people again? Especially after hurtful assumptions and judgments made her miss her junior year of high school. Evelyn is just trying to heal what she lost and graduate from high school.

Book Excerpt

“Hey. You’re new right?” Brody asks me.

I assume he must be playing coy to get me to talk, because I know he saw me. Even if he didn’t see me it is pretty obvious I’m new, so I just nod and look straight ahead. Then I remember I should be trying and I say, “Yeah I am.” He looks different during the day. His skin looks like toasted almonds under the fluorescent lighting.

He’s about to say something when the teacher interrupts. “We have finished our first novel and we are moving on to Pan, by Knut Hamsun. Has anyone read this book before? It’s a brilliant piece I am overjoyed to share with you!”

Ms. Lange seems to think highly of this class if she wants us to read Pan. She looks like she keeps about ten cats, because she is covered head to toe in cat hair. Her hair is in a messy bun, only held together by bobby pins and a pencil. Or the pencil could just be for practical purposes. She almost seems magical, in a cat lady, overly eager kind of way, like she knows books are portals to magical worlds. Or she could just be bat-shit crazy.

“Anyone? Anyone?” she asks again. “How about you Brody? Would you like to contribute your thoughts on Pan?”

Most students don’t read books, they read the Sparknotes. He must be the star pupil. Now that I think about it, it did look like he was reading Pan. I look over at him slightly more interested in class. I didn’t know we were supposed to have read it yet. I read it last year for fun. He looks scruffy and his hair is long and lusciously curly—he belongs in a Pantene commercial. I can’t believe I am jealous of his hair, but it looks tremendously better than my hair.

“I thought he was an idiot for falling in love with Edvarda. She was a supernatural element in a natural environment. She didn’t belong. That’s why it ended how it did. He was tempted by the idea of love.”

“Is the idea of love, so harmful?” Ms. Lange asks him.

“No. Not the idea, the action of love,” he says, and I have to agree. I think the action was his undoing. Then again loving anyone is a mistake, especially when they leave us in the end.

“Good,” she says as she nods her head, “Good. Now I will pass copies around. We will discuss the elements and set up the characters.”

When the books reach me, I just pass it to the next student. Ms. Lange notices and calls me out. Why?! “Evelyn I see you didn’t grab a book, why not?” she asks me.

“I own a copy. I prefer mine. It has notes.” It hurts to talk. But she just nods and says, “Good”, and leaves me alone for the rest of the class. I sit there and think about love, the action of love. Losing her has left me empty inside. I miss her. I have to try for her. She would want me to be bold and engaging. But how can I be more? A new town, all these people, classes all over again, it doesn’t stop.

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Book Review: The Time Chamber

Daria Song's Time Chamber

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

I received Daria Song’s The Time Chamber book from Bloggingforbooks in exchange for an honest review. This was my first adult coloring book ever and I’m so happy to say that I think this book is really amazing. It made me feel like an artist! 🙂

This book is also really relaxing and easy to get lost in because it was so mind clearing and stress-relieving for me, it kind of reminded me of playing Sudoku or putting together a  jigsaw puzzle.

Page from The Time Chamber by Daira Song

There is no rush to get through the pages, or the little story inside of the book about a curious fairy (which made me think of Tinker Bell) who decides to explore the world outside of her home in a cuckoo clock. There is even a cute image index and hidden treasure key in the back of the book to reference for each page.

Page from The Time Chamber book by Daria Song

With so many tiny pieces of detail from cover to cover in this one book, there’s an endless list of color combinations, and levels of creativity that you can have with just this one book. Not to mention how much shelf life this book has.

You can take your time with these intricate images and watch them come to life the way you want them to. When I started to color in even the slightest bit of detail on a single page in this book, it felt like my mind and body began to relax.

There seems to be something very symbolic and meditative about coloring in all of these interactive details. Kind of like how as an adult you’re faced with millions of little problems and responsibilities all at once, but–as in life and–in this book you can really only do certain sections at a time.

That may be overtly dramatic, but you get my point. ^__^ I love, love, love this book. The patterns and layout is amazing. An instant favorite for some creative meditation.

Thanks so much for reading,

Gia.

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

Underneath Everything Book Review + Giveaway

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

Underneath Everything Book Tour Banner hosted by FFBC. So, be sure to follow the full Book Tour Schedule 🙂

Underneath Everything cover

Underneath Everything
by Marcy Beller Paul
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 27th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+, Realistic Fiction
Rate: 4 Stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Synopsis:

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.

But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.

But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.

Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.

Whether it was the lyrical or rhythmic way in which Marcy Beller Paul coursed Mattie’s unique story, I am sincerely grateful and in awe, that Underneath Everything was my first official Blog Tour book.

Mattie, the main character is quiet, calculative and extremely self aware with the people in her life. Even with her closest, tethering companion, Kris—whom she isn’t suppose to hold anything from—but she does.

And it is the small bread crumbs of the past that Mattie gives the reader as she not only recalls, but relives, over and over again, that kept me drawn to this story. Getting further and further into this story and realizing how cinched and interwoven Mattie was to Jolene, I started to realize just how addictive, yet toxic their relationship was.

The reader will watch as Mattie comes to grips with facing her past, the present and the future while she tries to get her barring over true friendship, love and the makings of her reality vs. the one around her as a result of her longing to be inimitable rather, “something new.”

The events that transpire between the main characters, Mattie, Jolene, Kris and Belle do push the dark boundaries in the book, but I felt that they were areas that needed to be explored to illustrate the serious, intense and dangerous realm that Kris and Mattie were so adamant about leaving behind*.

Likewise, Mattie and Jolene’s relationship borders a level of intimacy that goes beyond “friends,” which I think speaks to Mattie’s inner compass trying to tell her something she may not be aware of yet.

The poetic, literary narrative in which the story is told will make the reader fall that much more in love with the book’s main theme: knowing yourself/truly knowing who you are. (More or less) When you read Underneath Everything, you not only gain a better understanding of how and why Mattie still thinks, sees, hears and pines after a person who she knows, deep down in her gut is wrong for her, but also why she can’t seem to stop herself.

I have never been in such an intense, or toxic relationship as the one Jolene and Mattie have, but after reading this book I feel like I’ve lived through one. I really enjoyed the way Marcy not only exposed the reader to such a multifarious, condensed and rich topic, but also the way she exposes Mattie all the way down to her core. Thus, that in the end, Mattie is the one to save herself, see herself and love herself.

I recommend Underneath Everything for anyone who has been in a relationship or a friendship that was so gripping or suffocating that you thought there would never be a light at the end of the tunnel. A tether to someone with a pull so strong you feel you might never be able to cut that cord. A feeling of being so lost or so disconnected from who you are, on an unlit path, that you worry if you’ll ever find your way again.

Underneath Everything will take you on a string of emotions from start to finish, but it is one heck of a ride. 🙂

**(Side note: I have seen friends push the limits to be seen, to be remembered, to be popular or the center of attention over the years in school, so I didn’t feel all that all of the situations or actions that took place in this book were impossible to fathom.)

There were so many amazing lines and quotes from this book and I really wish I could share them all, alas I cannot. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to give this book a read. ❤ Be sure to enter the Book Giveaway below and follow the rest of the blog tour ^__^.

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Follow the Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul Blog Tour and don’t miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.
Marcy Beller Paul is a young adult author, former editor, and full-time mom who still has all the notes she passed in seventh grade (and knows how to fold them).

She graduated from Harvard University and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. Underneath Everything will be published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, in Fall 2015. It is her first novel.

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Up Next On The Tour:

October 26th:

Collector of book boyfriends – Review
Ruth Reads – Review
nerdychampagne – Review + Playlist

October 27th:

Spiced Latte Reads – Review
A Perfection Called Books – Interview
One Night Book Stand – Guest Post

Direct Book Giveaway Link

A Writer’s Update–New Protector Series Installment Available

Happy Tuesday, Readers,

I am super excited about the next few weeks I just feel like dancing and for so many different reasons. At the top of the list, I will be finishing up with my Masters degree. Following that, I will start working on my first Television spec script while I start work on a few book reviews. I have been fortunate enough to have a few ARC (Advance Reader Copies) copies a few books in the last two weeks:

1) Waiting for the One by L. A. Fiore

2) If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

3) Orient by Christopher Bollen

4) Fate’s Crossing (The Black Blood Legacies Series Book 1) by J. R. Smith

5) The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

It may be crazy to think, but last Saturday, May 9th was my birthday and I kind of feel like these ARCs were gifts from the cosmos because all I asked for this year from my family was to have gift cards to buy non-school related books to added to my book shelf ^__^. Look out summer, this bookworm still lives. Moreover, with The Flash, Jane The Virgin, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Revenge (gone for good) coming to an end until the fall, I need more sources of entertainment.

I also have to create a shorter-short list for the show I plan to spec over the summer, (there are just so many -___- ) but the next installment for The Protector Series, Carmen, is now live and available to read here. Much lighter than the first installment, Bella, Carmen tells the story about a college student who catches a few classmates plotting to seek revenge on their college professor and decides to take matters into her own hands. With that being said, I hope you all have been well and that you all are enjoying the re-emerging of the sun (for those in the Northern East cost area).

So until next time, Readers, as always stay creative.

Gia