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Steel Lily review

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Steel Lily by Megan Curd
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I had the pleasure of getting to know Ms. Curd via Facebook before Steel Lily came out, and I’ve watched her amazing success with Steel Lily.  I only hope that I can one day have similar success.

The Cover: So intriguing, right?  A friend of mine has the same cover designer, and this lady’s work is just gorgeous.  I want to hire her some day.

The Deal: Fifteen-year-old Avery Pike is an elementalist, meaning she can create steam.  In her post-WWIII, radiation-damaged world, that means she is a hot commodity – she is one of a tiny handful of people that can power her dome (basically a refugee camp for survivors of WWIII).  Her life is pretty miserable, until she meets a man who promises her safety and freedom in another dome where she won’t have to give steam and she can learn about her abilities.  But she’ll soon find out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and not everyone is telling the truth.

My Thoughts: I’ve read a lot of dsytopians in the last year. Most were okay, a few were good, but nothing stood out as much as The Hunger Games did. Until now.

Steel Lily is a very different kind of dystopian from THG, but it has the same intensity, the same high stakes, the same heart-pounding action and well-written characters as Suzanne Collins’ epic trilogy. And I can only wish for Curd the level of success that Collins has achieved. She and the book definitely deserve it.
Avery Pike is something of an unusual YA action heroine because she feels amazingly real. Her thought process and reasons for doing everything match up exactly with how I feel I would react in these situations. She’s not a “strong character”, she’s a real girl thrust into a series of impossible situations. That more than anything is what made me fall in love with this book.Speaking of LOVE, a word about Avery’s love interest: Oh. My. God. I am about to make a comparison that is the highest form of praise for me – Jaxon is everything I love so much about the immortal Jace Wayland, but without some of Jace’s hangups. I didn’t think it was possible, but… oh dear God, the sarcasm. And though his looks aren’t exactly my personal tastes, I appreciate the diversity in a YA protagonist.

Megan Curd has an amazing way with imagery. Whether it’s the descriptions of the bleak, post-WWIII radiation-destroyed world, the gorgeous interior of Chromelius Academy, the action (she doesn’t shy away from getting bloody, though thankfully not in true horror movie gore-style), or the sizzling romance, everything feels so alive. It almost makes me think of watching a movie. And there’s a HUGE twist at the end that I TOTALLY DID NOT SEE COMING!!!

I could go on and on about this book, but rather than take my word for it, go pick up a copy of Steel Lily THIS INSTANT! You absolutely will not regret it.

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Legend review

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Legend by Marie Lu
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Personal story about this book: my little sister read it a long time ago and was like “You need to read this!”  But being the kind of person I am, I kind of ignored her for a while (I had other books to read!) until a few weeks ago when I had the urge to read a new dystopian (for reasons I shall not divulge at this place and time) and remembered that I’d never read this one.  So I got a copy from the library, and WOW am I glad I did.

The Cover: Very cool.  Most popular books these days have people on the cover, so I appreciate Ms. Lu using a cool symbol.  (It has nothing, of course, to do with the fact that I have a symbol on my DL cover instead of people.)

The Deal: Fifteen-year-old June Iparis is a military prodigy, the only person ever to score a perfect 1500 on the Trial (a test all children of the Republic take at age 10 to determine their future).  Fifteen-year-old Day is a street kid and a wanted criminal.  Their lives couldn’t be more different… until June’s older brother is murdered and Day becomes the top suspect.  Now June is determined to bring him to justice, but along the way both of them will have to confront some truths about the world they live in.

My Thoughts: This book is a refreshing change from the typical dystopian scenario (teenage girl heroine who’s lived her whole life safe in the dystopian world, learns the world isn’t such a great place with the help of a mysterious guy with a troubled past). Okay, I guess it sort of follows that plotline, but so many things made it feel different and interesting. June and Day are a bit younger than most YA leads, though it only really shows in the romance parts (which I found wonderfully tasteful and adorable). Their characters have strengths and weaknesses and feel real outside of the romance, which is where many YA books start to slip. I also liked how we got to see into both their heads with the alternating POV (although the fact that Day’s half is written in a different font and color bugged me a bit at first).

I was left with a few more questions than I’d like re: the world-building stuff (the whole concept of the Republic and the Colonies with the country divided might’ve gone over better with me if I hadn’t recently read Talented, which has a sort of similar premise), but nothing that left a sour taste in my mouth. It’s pretty slim on side characters, but I assume that will be fixed soon, and June and Day’s stories were so compelling I never once cared. There’s plenty of action (of course) and twists and turns to keep you on your toes, and I really appreciate how Ms. Lu didn’t feel the need to end on a massive cliffhanger (though I was still dying to pick up the next one) so we got a little sense of closure.

An amazing book I would highly recommend to everyone! And I’m very thankful that my sister owns Prodigy so I can dive right into that one instead of waiting to get it from the library.

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Talented review

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Talented by Sophie Davis
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First of all, you may remember the name Sophie Davis from an interview I did around the time of Darkest Legacy’s release.  I had actually never read anything by her when I did the interview so I immediately rushed out to get Talented for my Kindle app.  Unfortunately, between one thing and another it got shoved to the backburner, but I finally picked it up the other day and I am so glad that I did!  I raced through it and actually purchased Caged, the second book in the series, before I was even finished with Talented!

The Cover: Amazing.  Gorgeous.  Need I go on?

The Deal: Seventeen-year-old Natalia “Talia” Lyons is in line to join the Hunters, the spy-like division of TOXIC (I forget what the acronym actually stands for) which is an agency designed to protect and utilise Talented people (Talented being another in a long line of literary synonyms for people with superhero-like powers).  She wants revenge on the leader of the Coalition (a group that opposes Talents), Ian Crane, who ordered the death of her parents when she was young.  While in her Pledge year, Talia must balance training and Missions with spending time with her boyfriend Donavon, the son of the Agency’s director, and fighting her attraction to her teammate Erik.

My Thoughts: Where to begin, where to begin? Talia’s voice is incredibly vivid; the decision to write this in 1st person POV (my favorite) was definitely a hit. The world-building is very elaborate and imagery is beautiful; I almost felt like I was there in futuristic DC sometimes. Penny, the best friend character, is so funny and cute, the perfect foil to serious Talia. And the boys… oh, where to begin? Erik is a dreamboat, that’s all I have to say. He’s really just about perfect. I didn’t take to Donavon as much, maybe because it felt like he was being pushed too hard into the role of perfect boyfriend. And I won’t give you any spoilers but I was definitely right to be suspicious…

This book isn’t perfect–there are some minor typos/word errors that should have been caught by a line editor, but I’ll forgive self-published books more than traditionally published ones, and they never seriously detracted from the flow of the story. A lot of the story does focus on Talia’s relationship issues instead of the bigger plot involving the Coalition and the Hunters, but Talia’s a teenage girl–it felt believable that she would do the things she does, even if she is a trained soldier (essentially) with paranormal powers. And I’ve heard some people complain about the explanation for Talented people–that in this day and age when we know what we do about nuclear waste, it’s unbelievable and annoying. I won’t say that they’re wrong, but I don’t think it takes away from the story at all.

All in all an excellent read I would recommend to anyone.  Can’t wait to devour Caged!

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