Blog Tour- Review and Giveaway for Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

geminaGemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
By: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff and Illustrated by Marie Lu
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Friend

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

My Thoughts:
Last year Illuminae BLEW ME AWAY. I wondered- could this companion ever compare? The answer is YES. Gemina was incredible- we get all new characters this round (though the ones we love do appear) and a new story line. I will say that, because of the character switch, I struggled a teeny tiny bit just getting used to the new voices. It’s like when there is a new Doctor in Doctor Who– I sort of mourn that I’m not seeing the old characters. But it didn’t take long before I was wrapped up in this story.

I really think that Kaufman and Kristoff work magic creating these books- I have no clue how their minds come up with this stuff but it is incredible. It has the feel of old science fiction but it brings it up to our day and age and gah- it’s just perfect really. I’m amazed that with the format being as it is (transcripts, emails, surveillance video, etc) the reader still connects deeply to the characters. It really says so much about the talent of the writers to accomplish this. Beyond that Gemina is HUGE- yet- it is such a fast paced read you’ll actually wish it were longer.

The characters- especially Hanna- were badass. She might be pampered but no one will keep this girl down. She was fierce and a force to reckon with and that she was never a push over. Nik I had a little bit more trouble really getting a connection with but once I did I fell in love with him. His chemistry with Hanna was perfection.

There are some really great and complex side characters-my favorite being Nik’s cousin Ella. She brought humor to the story and was just such a great character. I think her relationship to Nik really helped me get his character.

Gemina was action packed and there were many twists I didn’t see coming. The big bad in this one wasn’t a virus but an alien. I will admit- the virus idea scares me more but these aliens were NASTY. I wouldn’t ever want to encounter one. The descriptions were spine tingly and really vivid (for better or worse).

As I mentioned before the story was presented in transcripts, emails and the like. I really love this technique and I feel it works so well for these books. I love seeing the story unfold through all these methods and it give the story a great dimension.

geminaig

Final Thoughts:
You really need to read these books to get a feel for how amazing they are. Any details I can give will just take away from the excitement of the reading experience. Go get these books!

Giveaway

This giveaway is provided by Penguin so is US only.

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Review of Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

DentonLittleDenton Little’s Deathdate
By: Lance Rubin
Release Date: April 14th 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher Giveaway

I won a copy of this book from the publisher and chose to read and review it.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

My Thoughts:
At a friend’s recommendation I decided to enter a giveaway for this book and I won a copy! I was pretty excited to receive it and wasted no time in picking it up to read. I really like that cover and the promise of humor and a different type of book than what I normally read.

Overall I found this book to be highly entertaining and readable. It did veer on silly and felt a bit young at times (but it is YA so that makes sense). I thought it was a fun read that had a likeable main character. Some of the humor felt a tiny bit forced but most of it worked for me. Denton was a likeable character and his internal monologue could likely be from a real person.

The romance didn’t do anything for me but I wasn’t going into this one expecting swoons. There was a triangle as the summary states but it didn’t bother me. I found Denton’s girlfriend to be highly unlikeable. I might have cared more if I could see redeemable qualities in her character. I did however like his best friend’s hostile sister. She felt more well rounded and real to me.

There wasn’t a whole lot of explanation about how deathdates were first introduced into society though it is briefly explained. You pretty much need to just go with it and accept it as part of Denton’s world. I didn’t have trouble doing that myself though I was curious about some things that I do feel will be addressed later on. You might be thinking…later on? This seems like it should be a standalone right? I don’t get the impression that it will be. The ending left everything open for the story to go much further. I think I’d have preferred it to be completed in this one novel though.

The place where this went a tad silly was with Denton’s purple rash that eventually consumes him completely. I had trouble picturing this guy running around town purple. I do believe it was supposed to be a funny visual and it did provide some humorous moments but it was very hard to take seriously if you are expecting that type of thing from this book.

But, even with the silly stuff, this book did pose some deep questions and some touching moments. I couldn’t help but contemplate if I would in fact ever want to know the date I died (NO). What would it be like to know? To attend your funeral? Really, that all sounds like torture to me and experiencing these things with Denton did prove to feel very real and at times pretty heartbreaking. These moments were my favorites of the book and felt that the author approached the subject of death in a different and unique way.

Final Thoughts:
What an odd book Denton Little’s Deathdate was. I really enjoyed the unique voice, main character and different take on death. The book went off a bit for me with some plot holes, the introduction of a sequel (some won’t see that as a negative at all) and some instances of things going a bit too young for my tastes. Overall though I thought this book was a fun read.

Review of Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols

NowThatYoureHereNow That You’re Here
By: Amy K. Nichols
Release Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Gifted by a friend

My Rating:
star

Summary:
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.

One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

My Thoughts:
I first heard of Now That You’re Here recommended in a tweet from an author I adore. I immediately added this to my wish-list and sought how to get my hands on an arc. I loved the cover and summary and overall I found it to be an entertaining read though it lacked that extra little something that makes a book amazing.

I seem to have this problem with alternate universe books-I always want to love them but for some reason I can’t think of a single one that worked 100% for me. I honestly think it might be me as the problem rather than the books.

To this book specifically I found it to be a fast read though I didn’t really get behind the romance or the characters as well as I would have liked. Eevee, our main character, was likeable but I didn’t connect deeply with her. I did enjoy her parent’s strange living arrangement and thought that this added a very unique element to her character’s background. I also loved that Eevee was obsessed with fractals:

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I had a blast searching fractals and spending far too long staring at beautiful images. Back to Eevee-I loved that she had a hobby that she kept to herself and it was just another way for Nichols to add a layer of depth to her character. She did tend to fall into a typical ‘nerd’ stereotype as did her best friend, Warren.

I did appreciate that Nichols provided a relationship between the main character and her best friend. It is far too often I’ve read a book where the best friend seems like no friend at all. I was happy to see that though Warren and Eevee had their differences there was an underlining affection and understanding between the two of them.

This book does flip between two point of views, Eevee and Danny, the boy from the alternate universe. I think if Danny’s point of view wasn’t provided the story would have been far too confusing so I was happy to get insight into his thoughts. Danny was my favorite character in Now That You’re Here and I tended to enjoy his chapters the most. I liked watching him learn and cope with being flung into a world so similar to his own but different in some of the most important ways.

The romance was sweet though it didn’t have me swooning and it did take over the majority of the plot. We watch from both point of views as the two begin to fall for each other. If you like your science fiction with a hearty helping of cute romance then you’ll probably really enjoy this book.

I was most intrigued with the dimension Danny was from. Since it had a big brother vibe I wanted to read much more about why his world was the way it was. I imagine this will be explored in later books.

Final Thoughts:
Now That You’re Here was a cute alternate universe book that was nicely paced with likeable characters. Though it had these things going for it I still lacked a deep connection to the characters or their outcome and the book felt like it was missing that certain something that pushes a book into being wonderful. Sadly, I’ve been having a pretty bleh streak with alternate universe books this last year so it could have been a case of it’s me and not the book.