Mini Reviews #6

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Title: You Don’t Know My Name (Black Angel Chronicles #1)

Author: Kristen Orlando

Genre: YA Thriller 

3.5 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

Fighter. Faker. Student. Spy.

Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan. Now Reagan must decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? And does she even have a choice?

Review:

You Don’t Know My Name isn’t about the life of a spy who’s a teenager, but about a teenager who’s meant to be a spy.

The plot is interesting. A YA female protagonist who is on her last level of training as a spy before she hits the Black Angel academy at 18. Reagan is the daughter of two highly-acclaimed Black Angels, who was told about the real job her parents did when she was just ten. Right from then, she has always been drilled, step by step, that being a Black Angel is what she’s born for. Now, after years of changing identities, life stories, and places, Reagan finally feels the most alive when she genuinely likes the boy next door. Pondering over the decision she had made years ago—or her parents made for her—she reevaluates if this is what she really wants. 

I was super intrigued when I started this and expected loads of action. Though, I was pleasantly surprised to not find just gun fights or fighter run-downs. The story primarily focuses on Reagan as an individual and her conflicts as a teenager—a spy teenager at that. She has to always stay on alert even when nothing disturbing is happening; her identity is a fake and so are the aspirations she has to lie about to her friends. Torn between living an ordinary life that would give her happiness in the smallest of things or continuing her training to be a Black Angel and fighting for the right, her personality comes true to me.

I loved Reagan. She’s strong, brave and stands up for what she deems right, not fearing anyone. Definitely takes a spot on my list of strong female characters I keep raving about. Though I understood the story zoomed in on her life, there wasn’t much that the supporting characters did (apart from being there when they were needed) to make me love them as much as I loved Reagan. An honorable mention here: Luke was super cute and adorable and smart and supportive and I really liked him. The writing is efficient with short snappy sentences to pace up the action/climatic scenes and a little frustratingly repetitive when the emotional ones turn up. One thing I really loved was the absence of unnecessary drama or long shots; when the gun is supposed to be fired, it gets fired (I’m avoiding spoilers at all costs). There aren’t villainous dialogues or stupid tricks to drag the story, and that’s one of the best things about You Don’t Know My Name.

I would recommend this to all those looking for a good coming-of-age story of a female YA woven in a thrilling ride of satisfactory action.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this via the author’s publicist but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Kristen Orlando!\


 

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Title: Second Coming 

Author: D.B. Borton

Genre: Humor, Science Fiction 

4 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

Hank Jones isn’t your typical alien abductee. There were no tractor beams, probes, or government conspiracies involved—no, Hank met his kidnappers at a bar. They weren’t exactly hard to miss—Elvis, a seven-foot tall Elvis clone, and Lawrence, a grounded European gent, were the only UCLA supporters in a bar full of Hoosiers.

Still, Hank has nothing better to do. It’s spring break, there’s a pile of freshman essays on his desk, and his thesis is going nowhere. Worse, his ex is sleeping with his dissertation director. He needs a friend, and these aliens will do.

Besides, Elvis and Lawrence could really use a hand—they haven’t visited Earth since the 1950s, and now they’re lost in Indiana, not realizing that things have changed. They need to get to Washington: if they don’t warn the president about a coming nuclear arms race, the planet will be destroyed.

But the American public don’t seem too worried. Aliens? And one of them looks like Elvis? Facebook and Twitter are aflame. Oprah and The Tonight Show hang on the phone. The apocalypse will have to wait.

Second Coming is the hilarious new novel by D.B. Borton, author of the Cat Caliban and Gilda Liberty series. Taking aim at consumerism, the cult of celebrity, and the self-destructiveness of humanity, it nonetheless finds joy in the pleasures of basketball, dogs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Review:

Second Coming is the perfect alien arrival science-fiction with loads of humor to top the fact that one of the two aliens is a carbon copy of Elvis Presley.

I loved this book. The general idea about it was so refreshingly edgy that it won my heart right from the blurb. Overall plot revolves around two aliens—Lawrence and Elvis—who have descended down to Earth a second time. Their previous trip to Earth was in 1950, so obviously everything around has changed drastically over the decades. While they’re feeling lost amidst the vast changes and new, incomprehensible, surroundings, the fact that Elvis is described to flaunt physical features exactly the same as Elvis Presley only tops the humor content. 

On a parallel scene, Hank has nothing better to do and works as the best abductee the two aliens can land in this trip. His life is going all downhill, in fact it’s almost monotonous with only bad-er things occurring once in a while, so accompanying these two aliens is better than anything, even if he’s marked as kidnapped. The way these two plot lines merge and the three commence their journey is so well-drawn, it’s hilariously unbelievable but nothing would stop you from continuing reading it.

The writing is different form the usual direct and light prose I read, but soon the story interested me more and the detailed, descriptive scenes worked. So the start might not immediately hook many readers but if you can stick a tad bit longer, the story would prove itself well. The genre is yet another amazing thing about this book. I thought humor would take the spotlight but it was pleasantly surprising to find some great science-fiction too and overall, I got what I was expecting…maybe a little more. Moreover, the way this story tackled the modern changes, social media and our human race that blows up everything minuscule, is so comically frustrating, I became a fan. For example, when the public notices this Elvis Presley’s perfect lookalike, the media gets hyped up.

All in all, this book is a really good read and I would recommend it to all those who are looking for aliens, 1950 comparisons and loads of humor.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or my opinions about it. Thank you Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and D.B. Borton!


 

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Title: Another Shot

Author: Stephen Brotherton

Genre: Adult, Romance

3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

“It used to make me feel special, the fact that they knew me, knew what I wanted, but it had soured with repetition. I’d become my drink order – that’s what it felt like. But it was okay. People watching in this place made me feel part of the world, got me away from the house for a few hours. And it was here she came back to me. I hadn’t seen her for three decades and suddenly there she was, standing next to my table.
‘Hello, Freddie’.”

Another Shot tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop thirty-five years after the end of their teenage romance. Jo-Jo finds Freddie through a mutual friend, and tells him that she is emigrating following the death of her husband. She gives him a photograph of the two of them on their first weekend away, a trip to Blackpool.
How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart is all told through a series of flashbacks. These memories feed into events when they meet up again and explain why, despite the passage of time and the intensity of their still simmering love, there is no future for their relationship.

Review:

This was nice. I liked the overall story and was surprised a little with the ending, even though the blurb clearly mentioned it. The premise of the story with teenage lovers meeting after all these years when their lives have taken huge turns, is sadly heart-wrenching. It did peak up my hopes as the story progressed about the future of these two people who had feelings for each other, and might be having now too after all these years, but I’m usually fine with realistically sad endings so I knew what I was in for. Having said that, apart from the flashbacks that filled in the gaps for the readers and outlined their teenage love story, I felt the writing to be a little too slow for my taste. There were bits of too many emotions and this might be my personal preference but I can’t read about emotions without having them backed up by actions. I did feel for both the characters, though so that’s definitely worth mentioning.

I would recommend this to all those looking for a good romance that is well crafted to make you feel sad at the end.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Troubador Publishing and Stephen Anthony Brotherton!


 

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Title: What Remains True

Author: Janis Thomas

Genre: Tragedy, Drama

3 stars

Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis: 

“It used to make me feel special, the fact that they knew me, knew what I wanted, but it had soured with repetition. I’d become my drink order – that’s what it felt like. But it was okay. People watching in this place made me feel part of the world, got me away from the house for a few hours. And it was here she came back to me. I hadn’t seen her for three decades and suddenly there she was, standing next to my table.
‘Hello, Freddie’.”

Another Shot tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop thirty-five years after the end of their teenage romance. Jo-Jo finds Freddie through a mutual friend, and tells him that she is emigrating following the death of her husband. She gives him a photograph of the two of them on their first weekend away, a trip to Blackpool.
How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart is all told through a series of flashbacks. These memories feed into events when they meet up again and explain why, despite the passage of time and the intensity of their still simmering love, there is no future for their relationship.

Review:

This book is one of those that I really liked for the plot and story, not much for the writing though. Let’s start with the positives, of course—Jonah is a 5-year old child who dies. No, I didn’t mean that’s positive, but can you feel empathetic? I bet you can because look how fragile the concept is, it’s hard not to feel sad. The story goes about with all the characters who were related to Jonah, present their views and share their grief for the little boy who died. 

I loved how the story progresses with all of them, individually, pointing out their own fault that might’ve lead to Jonah’s death; they keep blaming themselves even when they actually had nothing to do with it. But the entire ordeal makes sense since that’s what humans tend to do at such sensitive occurrences—and what can be more sensitive than a kid dying? Another thing that I really really liked was how the story played up to the peak and ends on a good note when Jonah makes it clear to the family members that they weren’t at fault, he died because a car hit him and nobody could’ve done anything to avoid it. He does this by appearing in their dreams, and the way his narrative is written, is probably the best part in terms of writing. He’s a five-year-old who doesn’t complicate things and cuts to chase. All this definitely worked in the story’s favor.

What didn’t work in the story’s favor, is the multiple POVs written in first-person. Oh my God, I absolutely despise multiple POVs especially if there are so many. At some point I could’ve even dealt with the Eden, the mom, the dad, and the aunt’s but the dog’s POV? Nah, nope, not happening. I don’t care how well it might’ve been written because I don’t think it uplifted the story line in any way and was merely a failed attempt at bringing more ‘eyes to the situation’.

Anyway, having said that, this book is definitely a good read so I would recommend it to those looking for an emotional heart-wrenching story but are happy to read it through multiple characters’ minds, including a four-legged one.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book via Netgalley but that in no way influences my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you Lake Union Publishing and Janis Thomas!


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2 thoughts on “Mini Reviews #6

  1. You don’t know my name sounds incredible! Reminds me a little of the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter but aged up a little!
    Great reviews!
    Katie x
    A Novel Idea

    Liked by 1 person

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