Where The Wolves Read

A blog where I review mostly books. I also review, if my appetite allows, movies, music, and video games. Enjoy the feast!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Through the Dark by Alexandra Bracken

SynopsisDon't miss this breathtaking collection of stories set in the world of the New York Times best-selling Darkest Minds trilogy. Featuring ebook original novellas In Time and Sparks Rise, and a gripping, brand-new novella, Through the Dark is a must-have for fans of the Darkest Minds. This collection contains three novellas: In TimeSparks Rise, and Beyond the Night, as well as a sneak peek at the first novel in Alexandra Bracken's new series, Passenger

Gabe's life has been devastated in the wake of the economic crash. The only option left for someone like him to escape his tragic past is to leave his small town behind and to attempt to become a skiptracer. This already almost-impossible task is made all the more difficult by his first "score,"a young girl who won't speak, but who changes his life in ways he could never imagine. 

Sam didn't think things could get worse at Thurmond rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam's dark childhood. Lucas has a deadly secret--he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk everything to save her. 

The government-run "rehabilitation camps" have been shut down, but kids with Psi powers are anything but free. Sam would rather be on her own than put in the care of a foster family and given the "cure"--a dangerous procedure that unclaimed kids across the country are being forced to undergo. But there's more at stake than just her own safety. Sam once made someone a promise, and the time has come to fulfill it. Now that she's out of her camp, Mia only has one thought in her head: finding Lucas, her beloved older brother.

Review: This is a collection of novellas set in the world of The Darkest Minds. I'm going to do a short review for each story. Also, I didn't read this in one sitting. I read each story between books as that's where they fit in the series.

In Time
This might be my favorite story of the series. Partially because it focuses on Zu, but I also like how it focuses on the complexities of being an adult in this world. Gabe was an interesting character and I liked seeing his internal struggles as he interacted with Zu. For such a short story, I liked seeing how much Gabe grew throughout this story. This is also a nice story to help understand what happened to Zu. She isn't in book 2 at all and, in book 3, she mentions running into an adult named Gabe.

Sparks Rise
Sparks Rise focuses on Sam and how she dealt with Thurmond after Ruby left. This story also contains a cute romance built on a long friendship. For those who enjoy "best friend to lovers" tropes, this might be a good story to read. Sparks Rise is a dual perspective story following Sam and Lucas, an old friend who is also a Red. It manages to show what happens to Reds in rehab camps which I found fascinating. Just that insight alone made this story worth reading, in my opinion. While this was my least favorite of the three stories, I still found it compelling and I wanted to know more.

Beyond the Night
Beyond the Night was a very close second at being my favorite story. This one is a dual perspective following Sam, again, as well as Mia, Lucas' brother. They have to navigate being outside of Thurmond all while Mia is trying to find her brother. There is heartbreak and hope in this one, short story. It's a beautiful look at the despair left behind from the camps. We also see characters from the main series and it was nice to see how they have all come together. Excellent story to end off the main series.

All of these stories added new layers to the world and we get to have new adventures with previously established characters.

4 howls

Friday, August 17, 2018

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

SynopsisRuby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds. 

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

Review: In the Afterlight is a good coming together of events from the first 2 books. The group from The Darkest Minds and the group from Never Fade work together for a common purpose: to end the events and Thurmond. It was great seeing the characters interact with each other. I especially enjoyed the brotherly interactions between Cole and Liam. They argued often, but you could still see the way they tried to protect each other. It was also interesting seeing how they looked at situations since they had different world experiences.

As far as story goes, this concluding novel doesn't focus as much on taking over the ruling government power, but it does focus on taking over Thurmond and Ruby dealing with grief. One of the reasons why I like this series more than other dystopians is because of how close it hits to our modern life. This book highlights how media affects public opinion, even at the expense of those who are weaker than others. We also get snippets of how others live in this time period, mostly adults. This reminded me a lot of The Handmaid's Tale in the way these scenes were shared. That balance between modern life and dystopian life is interesting, and done quite well.

Conclusion to one of my favorite dystopian series. Highly recommend.

4 howls

Monday, August 13, 2018

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

SynopsisRuby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. 

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. 

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Review: Never Fade is the second book in the Darkest Minds trilogy. This book is entirely focused on the Children's League so, if you were disappointed in the lack of Children's League from the first book, this one might be more your speed. What I enjoyed the most about Never Fade is that we have an entirely new cast of characters introduced. Instead of Zu, Liam, and Chubs, we get Vida, Jude, and even Cate. Vida and Jude were my favorites from this book and I loved every scene they were in. Vida and Ruby would fight a lot, but they were great opposites much like Liam and Chubs were in the first book. Jude was just kind. He had this incredible way of looking at the world and trying to do his best for everyone else. It was nice seeing how comfortable Ruby got in this book when it came to her powers. She still struggles, but there was definitely some growth. Another interesting character we get to know is Cole. I won't say too much about him, but I love getting to see his story unfold again. He is one of the more interesting characters. We do get some returning characters, but I won't go into who they are.

This story was just as action packed as the first one. The Children's League sends Ruby on missions which helps to keep the action going. This also allows us to see the inner workings of the Children's League. We do see Ruby break away from the Children's League which is a nice setup for the last book in the series. We also see the government retaliate against the Children's League. In the first book, the League is like a phantom force that the government doesn't seem to do much about. In Never Fade, we get to see how the government takes action. We also see some potential revivals of forces from the first book. I won't go into what I'm referring to, but it does make this story and Ruby's decisions quite interesting. I've been highly enjoying my re-read of this series and I can't wait to finish In The Afterlight.

4 howls

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

SynopsisWhen Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

Review: I've read The Darkest Minds 3 times now, so I'm clearly a fan of this series. This is one of the few adventure dystopians I've read where all the characters feel important and they all bring their own unique charm. My favorite is Zu, but Chubs is a close second. They are both so in tune with the world they're in and they make decisions based on that, as opposed to Liam and Ruby who are focused on a singular mission. That's fine and it helps the story progress, but this is why I love Zu and Chubs. All of the kids were believable for their age as well. Zu was shy, Ruby was closed off because she hadn't been outside the camp for a long time, and Chubs and Liam were both headstrong. They were constantly bumping heads, but not enough to end their friendship which is refreshing. They always seem to challenge each other to think outside of their own experiences and look at other options. 

The story is so well thought out. This is an almost 500 page book, so you might have to work up to reading this if you don't read a lot of larger books. I think the story is balanced quite well though. We get a good feel for how camp life was like for Ruby, but we also get snippets of her past peppered throughout the story. I wish we got a little bit more clarification on the different color categories and what these powers could be. The twists in this book are still solid and, while I knew what was coming, I still looked forward to seeing the characters react. I'm glad I made the decision to re-read this series because I do enjoy it quite a bit. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

SynopsisJust as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.

Review: I decided to re-read Brightly Woven since I haven't read it since it came out, and I'm glad I made that decision. I remembered enjoyed Sydelle and North together and that feeling definitely stuck. They aren't perfect characters, but they have fun banter which I always appreciate. A lot of care seemed to go into the side characters as well. Owain, Oliver, the queen and the sorceress all felt distinct which is impressive considering this was Alex's debut. 

The only negative I really have to say is that the world was very small. Granted, this was a standalone fantasy which is ambitious on its own. It just would have been nice if it was longer and more was explored. There are two lands in this story and we only really get a feel for one of them. I enjoyed how reading this book, at times, felt similar to playing a video game. North and Sydelle set off on a singular quest, but on the way they would stop and do what I thought of as little sidequests. Maybe it's just because I play a lot of video games, but this was how I viewed their journey. I also think this is the perfect book for people who don't read a lot of fantasy, but want to check some out. The way Alex incorporates street names made it feel similar to a contemporary story so I think it might be easier for new fantasy readers to get through.

Easy standalone fantasy with interesting characters. Thoroughly enjoyed this re-read.

4 howls

Friday, August 3, 2018

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

SynopsisAlice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Review: Man, it took me a hot minute to pick this book up. I've been avoiding contemporary books because of reasons, but I had very high expectations for this particular book. I finally got around to reading this gem, and my expectations were met and more. First off, Alice is a very easy character to relate to. Having been a full time student all my life, when I had to start taking one class a semester for my mental health, it was difficult telling my parents. You can see Alice dealing with the same disappointment when she has to talk to her parents about not wanting to go to law school. No matter what stage of schooling a person is in, I'm sure they can relate to this scenario. Takumi is precious. Honestly, part of why I connected with this book so much is because Takumi reminded me very much of someone I fell in love with and that was honestly a little terrifying. Putting personal feelings aside, I loved seeing how he and Alice interacted. They danced around this "Is he attracted to me? Is she attracted to me?" situation very well. Claire did a great job of framing their interactions so they could be just friends at the end of the book, or end up together, and either option would make sense.

The story was cute. I do wish the book was longer and expanded on some things though. For instance, Alice and Takumi work together, but no one seems to mind the way they act around each other. They weren't being overly flirty, in my opinion, but their boss and coworker made comments about them ending up together which I thought was odd. I loved the conversations Alice had about asexuality with her friends, the counselor she was seeing, and Takumi. I think they were all handled very well and I appreciated Alice's experiences with sex and how she came to terms with being asexual. If you're looking for a book about a girl who knows she's asexual, but how this can affect her life, this is definitely a great one to pick up

Beautiful book with a great main character and love interest. 

5 howls

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

SynopsisBeyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion--even at the cost of his humanity.

Review: This is the 3rd book in Sabaa's fantasy series, If you're reading this review, you likely have a slight idea of what the world is about. We get to dive more into each of the characters in this book which is something Sabaa does very well. With each book, even though the characters are the same, we get new layers to them and we get to see their motivations in new ways. I've seen some people talk about Helene Aquilla's character and how they hate seeing people sympathize with her because of her ties to colonialism. That's completely fair. Helene is still doing what she has to do for the Empire. That being said, we do get to see her develop slightly different motivations for making her decisions. I think she is a fascinating character and I want to see how her story turns out. Same with Laia and Elias. They both began this series with very strict motivations but, as their story developed, so have their motivations.

I will say there were some parts of this story that felt like they dragged a bit. Particularly with Laia which was a pity. Her story also felt predictable towards the end. I loved seeing more of the jinn world and seeing more of those characters. That is easily my favorite part of the series so far. I think Sabaa crafts a beautiful world for them to live in and I like seeing how their world influences the human world. Things with Helene and the Empire definitely take a turn in this book and I can't wait to see how everything comes together in the final book. I think the story could go a few different ways and I'm not sure which one I want the most. 

This book is full of growth in the way of the characters and the world, but it still maintains its action-packed narrative.

4 howls