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Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Publication Date: January 15th, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BYR
Page Count: 281 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher for review
Goodreads | Books Inc.
* I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. My thoughts and opinions are my own. *
In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
I don't really know where to begin with my thoughts on Level 2. This is definitely a case in which the more time that goes by, the more my feelings change. At first glance, I liked the book alright. It's a cool concept, dealing with the afterlife in such a manner. I've never read a book that focuses on the idea of purgatory (other than Purgatorio), so it was definitely a catchy topic. However, the execution fell far too short, causing me to almost put the book down for good on more than one occasion. As much as I wanted to love this book, I just couldn't. In fact, I probably won't even pick up the next one. The concept is fantastic and original, but that's about it, sad to say.

Out of all of the characters, I honestly didn't really love any of them. Julian was by far my favorite, but that was only because he's the biggest trouble-maker. He instigates everything and always does his best to mess everything up. Felicia is just boring and annoying as a protagonist, living her afterlife for a boy who's still alive and consuming her days with her video-like memories of him. I mean, I get that she's dead, and she misses her still-alive boyfriend, but get a life. [pun intended] Even in life she seemed pretty lame, and at no point in the story could I connect with her. All of the other characters are pretty one dimensional, sadly, and I kept praying for more scenes with sexy Julian.

Like I said, the concept is fresh and original. The execution is where everything falls apart. I mean for one, the layout of this limbo-like place is filled with technology. Sure, everything is possible in the afterlife or whatever, but these girls are hooked up to big memory playback machines every day so they can relive their lives and then they get points when other people watch their memories and then they can use those points to watch more memories from other people. Confused? Me too. Also, I know this book is all about what happens after you die, but it became way too preachy for me. I mean, the number of times that mention how angelically chaste Neil is is ridiculous. they meet at church, they sing at church, they take an abstinence pledge at church, they make out at church camp, REALLY?! I'm all for spirituality and understanding religions of all kinds, but when they blatantly get pushed in my face I get really turned off.

Enough of the ranting. The concept is good and the writing is well-done, so I will definitely pick up another of Lenore's books, just not one in this series. I wish more of the world that Felicia is now living in had been focused on rather than her past and what lead up to her death. the story is definitely short and if you don't mind the religious undertones than you might really like this one. I definitely would've if the religion had been toned down a few notches and if there was more Julian.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris

Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 496 pages
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Goodreads | Books Inc.
* This is the second book in a series. This review may contain spoilers. *
Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?
Unbreakable picks up right where Unraveling left off, focusing in on Janelle's current, sad state and the demolished condition that the world has been left in. Just like before, Norris sweeps us into the disorder that is intrauniverse travel and breaks our hearts over and over again. The book is quite a bit longer than the first, but it felt like such a quick read being that it was so packed with action and plot twists! We get to spend some more quality time with one of my old favorites, Barclay, and we learn a lot about what's been going on in Ben's world. I was as completely consumed with the awesomeness that is Unbreakable and I can't wait to see what Liz is going to come up with next! I'm saddened by the fact that there won't be more Janelle and Ben, but everything was wrapped up nicely!

Remember when Edward left Bella and she became a blubbering mess on the forest floor, staring longingly out her window for months in hopes he'd return and marking herself as one of the weakest and worst female protagonists of all time? Well, even though Ben's gone, Janelle doesn't let herself become a puddle of tears. She goes on with her life and maintains that strong, kick ass heroine role she had in Unraveling. I just loved how strong Janelle stayed throughout the book. She really is one of the best female characters out there. And don't worry, we do see more Ben, but he's less heroic this time, which made him seem a lot weaker. Even though I hate love triangles, and there really isn't one in this book, I almost wanted to switch teams! I was also really excited to see more of some of the side characters in this installment. Barclay plays a huge role and even Ben and Janelle's friends make small to medium appearances. As always, everyone is incredibly different and the personalities really go well together!

The world-building is fantastic, as Norris leads us through the underbelly of Ben's universe. The plot of Unbreakable is a lot more Law and Order than X Files, but there are still some great sci fi elements. There are way more plot twists within this story and I loved how every chapter ends with a mini cliff hanger that makes the book almost impossible to put down. My favorite part is definitely Norris's ability to keep everything completely unpredictable. I had no idea what was coming next and she kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book.

If you loved Unraveling, then there is no doubt that you need to pick up Unbreakable. Your'e going to be seriously shocked by what Liz Norris has in store for you. Although some of the science fictiony elements are toned down in Unbreakable, the pulse-pounding action more than makes up for it. I think I might even love Unbreakable a little bit more than the first. The characters grow throughout the story and it was great to see some old favorites as well as some seriously scary bad guys. Even though I'm super bummed that Liz won't be continuing this series, I'm really impressed with her as a writer and I will definitely be picking up anything and everything else she writes!

Friday, May 24, 2013

I'm a college graduate giveaway!

To me! I'm officially a college graduate! I've walked - yet to get my diploma - and (hopefully) passed all of my classes! I'm super excited to get back to blogging now that I have so much more free time to read!!!! I've missed you all so much :D In honor of my graduation, I'm going to have a month-long giveaway!!! I missed my blogaversary which was in March because I was struggling through classes, so I'm going to have a super fun giveaway where I clear out my ARCs and books and goodies and send them off to a new home!!!

Me with one of my amazing professors from this last year!!
The Deets:
- must be 13 or older to enter
- I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items
- Fill out the Rafflecopter form!
- Giveaway will run from May 24th to June 30th
- One winner will receive a box of ARCs, books, swag, and other things!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from unless otherwise stated.
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