Book Review: Catalyst by Kristin Smith

Catalyst by Kristin Smith

A Dystopian YA Novel published through Clean Teen Publishing (11/21/16)

Summary:

Sienna lives in a world where almost everyone around her has been genetically upgraded. She is shorter, plainer, and all around normal. But her normal world gets shattered when her she finds out her father didn’t die of natural causes. It is up to her to support her family – her mother and young sister – as she tries to figure out who was behind her father’s death. Before she can even begin to uncover these secrets, one of her side jobs goes awry and she’s in hot water with the government. Her life goes from barely manageable to disaster when her mother is taken away by the government and the only way to get her back will be to join forces with an extremist group.

Keywords:

Runaway, Dystopian, Values and Virtues, Science Fiction, Futuristic, Female Main Character, Adventure, Romance, Deception, Las Vegas, Technology, DNA, Family, Lies

My Review:

This book was a nonstop adventure ride with a lot of action packed scenes. It was the Chosen One crossed with a Love Triangle mixed with some Dystopian thriller goodness. That being said, I did think it was too easy for Sienna any time she faced adversity. She was always getting out of any situation! Her triumphs, especially against an organized body like the government, seemed a bit too easy.

I loved Sienna’s spunk and positive attitude. She never had negative thoughts regarding her own possible failure and she never dwelled on the what ifs because she was a woman of action! She was always brave and fearless. In her last year without her father she had to learn to be self-reliant and resilient, because her mother was not able to provide and support the family. We don’t see Sienna grow during this time period, but we do see her on the other side as she faces all sorts of problems and difficulties.

I liked that Zane existed, even though he didn’t feel fully formed. I liked that there was a love triangle in this book because it added some more complications to Sienna’s already complicated life.

YA literature needs more red heads like Sienna.

This novel was published through Clean Teen Publishing on 11/21/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Kristin Smith’s Website

Goodreads

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Book Review: Second Daughter (The Royals of Dharia, Book Two) by Susan Kaye Quinn

Second Daughter (The Royals of Dharia, Book Two) by Susan Kaye Quinn

A Fantasy Novel published through Amazon Digital Services Inc. (06/30/14)

Summary:

Does Samir have its own skyship? Aniri fears the worst but she has more pressing issues at the moment: her impending marriage. She questions her love for him. Was it only built on the adrenaline of adventure? She won’t have time to think about it because her sister, future Queen of Samir, is rumored to have been poisoned and Aniri is quick to rush to Seledri’s aid.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Airship, Mountains, Barbarians, War, Threats, Royalty, Duty, Romance, Duels, Intrigue, Secrets, Love, Alternate Reality, East Indian, Arranged Marriage

My Review:

The action in this book is tempered by the back and forth thoughts and feelings Aniri has for her marriage. If you have ever felt the butterflies and reservations of an engagement, you are sure to sympathize with Aniri. Or is she just being childish? It’s interesting to watch her try to push her personal troubles aside to help her sister, when those troubles follow her around everywhere she goes. She cannot escape her own fate, her own feelings, or the feelings of her soon-to-be-husband.

I really liked how the plot unfolded in Samir with Seledri’s husband, Aniri’s father, and the ever intrusive ex-courtesan. His re-introduction into this story made me roll my eyes, but he added so much more tension than Aniri could ever create just by herself.

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services Inc. on June 30th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Black Poodle Over Seven Hills by Victoria Bastedo

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Black Poodle Over Seven Hills by Victoria Bastedo

A Contemporary Romance novel published by Satin Romance (10/18/2016)

Summary:

Soubrette offered to transport a high-end black poodle to Seattle in exchange for a free ticket to a new life, but when the owner’s cousin shows up instead of the owner, Soubrette will have to follow up to make sure the puppy gets to the right home. The cousin, Timothy, is immediately taken with Soubrette (and the dog) and offers to show her around and help get her settled. This simple meet cute will take a turn when Soubrette’s left behind baggage arrives in Seattle and interferes with Soubrette’s new life and new relationship.

Keywords:

Seattle, Poodle, Romance, Friendship, New Place, Moving, Leaving Behind, Stalker, Bully, New Beginnings, Queen Anne, Tourist, New Job

My Review:

A simple, meet-cute novel full of witty dialogue set against the lovely hills of Seattle’s Queen Anne, Black Poodle Over Seven Hills was a charming fast read. Where does the titular poodle fit in? She brings Soubrette and Timothy together – not in the ‘can I pet your dog’ sense, but in quite a different manner altogether. An airport chase and mistaken identity isn’t that big of a deal for Soubrette since she is calm in the face of potential danger, but this first scene foreshadows the depths the plot will jump to after the main characters meet and grow their friendship.

Both Soubrette and Timothy were fully developed persons with interesting backstories. Never has the answer to the question “so what brings you to Seattle” been so intriguing. Soubrette is a lively and cheerful lady with spunk and wit to spare even in the face of the past that won’t stop clinging to her coattails. Seattle may offer a new start for her, but she can’t leave her past behind, it will just take a bit longer to catch up to her.

Soubrette is a great mixture of passive and active character. Even when bad things followed her around, she was able to use her strength of character to make her own way and bully her way around some fairly tight situations. She is no damsel in distress, but even she can’t win all her battles. And that’s where Timothy Marsh gets a chance to save the day. Both Timothy and soubrette are independent, but any time they are together you will just have to smile at their witty banter and camaraderie.

I received an ARC from the author.

This novel was published by Satin Romance 10/18/2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 3.75

 

Links for more information:

On the web

SnoValley blog

Victoria Bastedo blog

Book Review: Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets by Jeffrey Cook

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Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets by Jeffrey Cook

A YA Science Fiction Novel published by Fire and Ice (01/29/15)

 

Summary:

Mina has always been the good influence, but when she strikes out on her own to clear her friend’s name she runs into all sorts of trouble. Mina hoped to get the ballerina chip, but was resigned to follow in her parents’ footsteps running the family business, Emerald City Flowers and Design. Instead she got way more than she could have hoped for: The Inquisitor Chip for the Secret Police. Flower deliveries is the perfect cover for a member of the Secret Police and her first assignment is to lay low and observe. She’s young, she’s confident, and she has not yet learned to follow directions. How could she when she suspects something more sinister is going on and doesn’t know who to trust within the Allied Investigative Agency? Along with her friend Amiko, the reliable antique Chevy Vlad, and her own natural inquisitiveness, Mina will do everything she can to solve the kidnapping of her friend Scott and find out what’s really going on in the AIA.

 

Keywords:

Strong Females, Diverse Cast, Action, Thriller, Mystery, Seattle, Secret Police, Futuristic, Technology

 

My Review:

Mina is a character I can relate to because she doesn’t get everything that she wants. She’s confident in what she believes. She stands up for her friends and seeks out action. Not everyone gets to be a ballerina, and Mina is no exception. She is too short and stocky, in her mind, to be chosen for the elusive ballerina chip.

In a world where adolescents can work their hardest trying to paint their own futures and make their own destiny, it is their chipping that ultimately decides their fate. This is a wonderful and very futuristic technology that Jeffrey Cook exploits to the utmost of his imagination. “Implanting someone with everything they needed to know to do their assigned job perfectly had become a mostly exact science in the century-and-some it had been in use, but complications still came up.” (Page 23).

This is every school kid’s fantasy. What if you didn’t have to read and study for years on end, what if you could just download all that information? I bet most kids have salivated over this kind of technology at some point in their lengthy education. Cook fleshes out what it would really be like to be able to download a college’s worth of information in an instant and be able to hop right into the middle of a career. Of course, it’s not without its limitations. To be a ballerina one must have the years of physical training and ideal body type. To be a member of the Secret Police requires similar physical training and a great cover identity. “A chip might give an ambitious buyer perfect knowledge of human anatomy and perfect reactions to deal with every mishap that might arise. If, however, the recipient didn’t already have perfectly steady hands and a curiosity regarding the connections of muscles, nerves and organs, the chances of a surgeon’s chip malfunctioning went up exponentially.” (Page 23).

One of my favorite parts about Mina Cortez: Bouquets to Bullets was the world Jeffrey Cook built and his fascinating tidbits of futuristic technology. The way people communicated was different. The way people traveled was different. Every so often Cook would throw in something specific that was different more than a hundred years in the future.

I loved all the main characters. They each had a unique trait that the reader could hold onto as an identifier. Miko has a lead foot and a penchant for aikido. Scott is addicted to video games and is a picky eater (allergies). Mina never seems to be able to stick to her Inquisitor instructions and she’s constantly getting into and out of a sticky situation. She also can identify both her assailants and her friends through scent alone. How cool is that?

If you want action, you’ll get it with Mina Cortez. If you want a strong, kick-butt female main character and a chirpy optimist sidekick, Bouquets to Bullets is your book.

This novel was published by Fire and Ice January 29th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Jeffrey Cook on FreeValley Publishing

Jeffrey Cook’s Facebook