Sunscorched by Jen Crane

Another ARC review is here! This time, I received an e-ARC of Sunscorched by Jen Crane from YA Bound Book Tours for free in exchange for a honest review. Let me tell you, I’m a big fan of anything apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, whether it happened because of zombie attacks or some kind of viruses. So, when I read the synopsis of this novel (and saw the cover too!), I knew I need to read it!

Sunscorched by Jen Crane

Published by Carpe Noctem Publishing on October 23, 2018. Classified as Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic & Science Fiction. Received via YA Bound Book Tours as an eBook.

Death in daylight. Danger at dark. 

 

Life can’t possibly get more treacherous than a violent sun allergy in a solar-blighted world. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Nori Chisholm thought before news of an impending sunscorch delivered her death sentence.

 

Desperate to survive the scorch, she’s forced to shelter underground and discovers a secret subterranean world where life is hard, and so are the people. Betrayed and left for dead by the man who pledged to help her, Nori is sold to a gritty pit fighting ring. There she makes a friend—and plenty of enemies.

 

Sam Cooper’s motives are at times impenetrable, but speeding through the underground world on the back of his motorcycle is a dark freedom Nori can’t live without. On the run from a group of cutthroat rogues, their escape takes an unexpected twist. A shocking discovery shatters everything they thought they knew. Can they use the knowledge to save what’s left of the world?

 

Winner of the Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction, Sunscorched is a tale of survival and self-discovery at breakneck speed. Fans of Bella Forrest and Marie Lu, who crave dangerous heroes and dark secrets, will love the Sunscorched world.

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★★★★

[su_heading size=”14″ margin=”5″]REVIEW[/su_heading]

It’s amazing right from the start. There I said it. I rarely fall so hard for books (last time I checked it’s only Harry Potter & Ready Player One), but Jen Crane did such an amazing job with this book. This if my first time to read her work and it won’t be the last time, for sure. I really amazed with almost every aspects of this book. The story, the characters, the writing style, everything is so good.

The story started with our main character, Nori, standing underneath the night sky, felt almost normal while trying regained her strength after she has been burned in the same week. Wait, what? That’s exactly my reaction. This book is intriguing since the first paragraph and it lasted until the last one. This paragraph at the beginning really does makes you wonder, well, what kind of situation that has been going on here that makes our main character burned? What’s the deal with the sun?

“Times are tough. Nobody makes it alone in a sunscorched world. Community is crucial.”

Now, let’s talk about what I liked from this book more specifically. The first few chapters is super dynamic and interesting and it really keeps me going. Things happened here and there, jumping from one thing to another, while also still maintain its casual side without rushing anything. It’s just has the right balance of it. I think it’s really amazing how Jen Crane can keep the consistency of the pace in this story without making us confused with everything that’s happening.

And did I mentioned how much I loved the characters’ complexity in this book? Every single one of them are described as a multidimensional individual that holds their own value. They’re vulnerable and sensitive and I liked that nobody’s perfect in this story. No one is too kind, too heroic or even too evil (oh well, but you know, aside from the actual really bad villain), and I think that’s what makes it special. Nori is brave, tougher than she think she is, but also can be funny even during times when I least expected her to be. Seriously, her sarcasm reminds me of Chandler from Friends and she’s not even trying. While Norman, Nori’s father, is a sweet and caring figure, but can be persistent when it comes to his family safety. Ana, Nori’s mom, just like any other moms, is very protective of Nori, too scared that something will happened to her daughter. The other characters, such as Cooper and Kedashowed up in the story with one certain strong impression, but turns out to be completely different. 

[su_accordion][su_accordion] [su_spoiler title=”Read Excerpt” style=”fancy”]

A trail of blood disappeared beyond the door of the small foyer. The man Nori rescued lay face-up, the knot near his temple swelling fast. His leg oozed blood, the scarlet pool closing in on the tiny corner of space Nori occupied. When she found the wound—and the gaping tear in his leather riding pants—dread settled in her gut. The bleeding would have to be stopped if he was going to survive, which meant she had to do it.

Nori groaned and scrubbed her eyes, then set to work. She sifted through her backpack for something to tie around his wound, finding both a pocketknife and the thick, sun-blocking canvas she always kept nearby. She ripped a long strip of the fabric and wrapped it several times around the man’s injured thigh.

“Probably a good thing you can’t feel this,” she said to his unconscious form and, catching another look at the knot on his head, grimaced. “You’re gonna have a pretty bad headache, too.”

After tying the two ends together, Nori sat back to admire her work. Blood had soaked through most of the bandage, but it wasn’t seeping onto the floor anymore, at least.

Mom and Dad are probably freaking out by now, Nori thought. Curled in the corner of the foyer farthest from the man, she sat with arms wrapped around bent knees. The man outside hadn’t made a sound. Maybe he hadn’t seen her. Maybe he’d left. Or maybe he was waiting just outside the door.

Nori rocked back and forth, forehead pressed to her knees. Finally, she let out a long breath and stretched her legs. She was leaving. She’d saved the stranger. Twice. He was hidden in the foyer, and when he came to, he could find his own way back to safety.

Bracing herself on the wall to stand, she kept as far as possible from the unconscious body between her and the door. Stretching over him to reach the door, she extended one leg, straddling him only a moment until she lifted the other to join it. But as she raised her back foot, the front one was knocked from under her, sending her roughly down onto her butt. She yelped and looked wildly around, scurrying back to the foyer wall. Hands in front of her face, she prepared to defend herself as best she could.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. His voice was deep, but not threatening. “Where are we?”

Nori flattened her palms to the wall, pushing herself against it to stand again. She didn’t answer.

The steely eyes from the alley focused on her face. He surveyed her hair, her shoes, and her clothes before finding her eyes.

“What did you throw?” he asked.

The question caught her off guard. “Wh-what?”

“What did you throw? To distract him?”

“A book.”

“A book?”

Nori nodded as she edged toward the door—and the street.

“What were you doing with a book?” he asked.

“Reading,” she said, pinning him with a look that seriously doubted his intelligence.

Dark eyebrows lowered over narrowed eyes. “In the dark?”

Nori bit the inside of her cheek. “Of course not,” she said. She’d been running in the dark, not reading, though she often did. But he didn’t have to know that. “It was in my backpack from earlier today.”

He squinted, as if he didn’t quite believe her. “What happened to your face?”

She reflexively touched the pink patches, a fresh new layer where sun-damaged skin had peeled away. The pink was fading, but not entirely healed.

“Sunburn,” she said. “Stayed out too long.”

“That happen a lot?”

“What business is it of yours?” she snapped. “And you can say ‘thanks for saving me’ anytime.”

His eyes shot down for a moment before he lifted them to meet her gaze. “Thank you.” His voice was quieter, sincere. “I know you put your own life at risk. Thank you for saving me.”

“Twice,” she said. “I saved you twice. Once with the book, and the other by hauling you in here when you were unconscious to bandage your leg. Technically, I guess that’s three times.”

“All right.” His lips twitched. “I owe you one. Or three.” As if he hadn’t noticed it before, he looked down at his thigh and then back to Nori. “First time to make a tourniquet?”

She lifted her head. “You were bleeding all over the floor. I did the best I could with what I had. What happened to you, anyway? You must’ve lost a lot of blood to pass out like that.”

“I tried to clear a chain-link fence, but my leg caught.”

Nori looked at the bandage again, but quickly averted her eyes from the exposed skin of his thigh. She cleared her throat. “Why was he chasing you?”

He shrugged.

“You’re not going to tell me?” she asked.

He shook his head, all nonchalance.

“Fine.” Nori huffed a breath. “What’s your name?”

“Cooper.”

“That your first name?” She asked and extended her arm toward the door handle, making sure she could escape if necessary.

“It’s what people call me,” he said. “What’s yours?”

She didn’t answer as manners battled with self-preservation in her brain.

“Oh, come on,” he goaded. “You can’t ask to see mine and not show me yours.”

“Nori,” she said quick and low. The concession pained her.

“That your first name?” he shot back.

She scowled, and he threw up his hands in defense. “Okay, okay. I’m just messing with you. Anyway, thanks again for the help, Dory.”

“It’s Nori.”

Cooper nodded, an amused smirk tightening his lips. “Thanks, Nori.” He rose slowly, hopping on one foot at first, and reached for his backpack in the corner. As he slipped it over a shoulder, he stopped and caught her gaze again. “Why’d you help me—three times? You didn’t have to.”

“I did have to,” she said. The answer came easily. “You were in trouble, and I could help. No brainer.”

“Kindness is not so common as you think,” he said lifting his chin and narrowing his eyes as if trying to get a better read on her. “How long have you been like this?”

“Like what?”

“You burn easy. And you can see well in the dark, right?”

“I’ve been this way my whole life.” The answer was smooth, and without thought. Nori gasped and balled her fists when she realized what she’d revealed. Her condition wasn’t a secret, though it was a mystery. But she didn’t like a stranger knowing so much about her. And she hated that he’d gotten her to talk so easily. Her teeth creaked under the pressure of her jaws.

“Anyone else up here like you?” Cooper closed the distance between them and searched her eyes for an answer. “You know anyone else who burns like you do? Who can see better in the dark?”

She shook her head, blinking in incomprehension. “How do you… What do you mean? What do you know about it?”

“You should go,” he said and pushed open the door.

“No.” Nori pulled the door shut, her heart thundering in her chest. “Tell me how you knew to ask those questions. Do you know someone else like me?”

Cooper let out a long breath, his wary gaze never leaving hers. “It’ll be light soon,” he finally said. “If you want to make it home in time, you’ll already have to run like hell.”

He turned to open the door again, but Nori stopped him. “Wait.” She fumbled for something to say. “Do you live around here?” She threw on her own backpack, wishing to know something about the man who knew so much about her.

“Right under your nose,” he said, and with one last nod, ran from the foyer, into the dark alley, and out of sight with no noticeable limp.

As Nori watched him go the shadows changed, and her heart seized. The sun was on the rise. “Stupid,” she told herself, racing home on shaky legs. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion]

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About the Author

Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, it’s fantasy and sci-fi that shine Jen Crane’s saddle. Her newest novel, Sunscorched, received the 2017 Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction. Book 2 in Jen’s fantasy romance series, Descended of Dragons, was selected by iTunes/iBooks as “Our Pick” in fantasy/sci-fi. Jen has a master’s degree and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. But just in the nick of time she pronounced life *too real* for nonfiction. She n ow creates endearing characters and alternate realms filled with adventure, magic, and love. She lives in The South with her family and too many pets.

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Friction in Motion by Sy Kadella

Another book review is here! Phew! This book has been sitting on my TBR list for around a month or so, but that’s completely my fault! College got the best of me, especially around this time of the year. Anyway, Friction in Motion by Sy Kadella is the very first ARC copy that I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That alone, is already one of the reason that makes me excited to read this book! So, let’s get into the review, shall we?

This dysfunctional family road trip is on the spectrum and off the beaten path…Ride along on a bumpy cross-country road trip with a highly dysfunctional family. On this trip an emotionally detached child prodigy with a history of therapist visits encounters a cast of quirky characters who validate his wishes to live his life independently. But none of the characters found on the road end up being as path-altering for him as his own immediate family. There are many lessons along the way. The most important being that wherever there is motion, there is bound to be friction, and within this lies the secret to wisdom and the strength to break free.

I’m always excited when it comes to a debut, whether it’s books or movies. Friction in Motion is Sy Kadella’s first novel and I have to say, it was an enjoyable read! The story started with our boy, Jeremy, who get woken up out of sudden by his father to go for a road trip (along with Jeremy’s very old grandpa). It’s summer holiday, apparently. Later on, we got informed that Jeremy’s dad and mom are fighting (not divorce, just yet), but his mom decided to leave the house for a while, and she also bring Jeremy’s sister, Beth. The three of them (Jeremy, his dad, and his grandpa) picked up Beth before they went for the road trip and this is where the actual story began.

When I first read the summary, it immediately made me think, “C’mon. How dysfunctional a family can be that made our main character wants to break free?”. Boy, oh boy, I did not expect that! Even with its slow and steady pace, Sy Kadella successfully delivered a family drama that you won’t forget so quickly. I’ve never really think before about a family drama except of my own. The thought was there, obviously, but to think that your relatives and friends got their own problems with their family, is not something that comes to my mind very often. Of course we all got our own family drama, but we all tend to sugar-coated it in front of everyone else, right? So, to be able to witnessed every single details of Jeremy’s family drama from his perspective (at least), is truly an experience. Also, it felt like I was actually there, sitting in the back of the car, having a road trip with Jeremy and his family.

Friction is Motion is not the type of book that you want to read if you expected a roller coaster drama along with some physical fights or action packs. It’s not. It’s rather casual, coming of age journey of our main character, Jeremy. We got to explore around and see things from his point of view, and when I said explore around, I meant it literally (it’s a book about road trip, what did you expected?) This is a type of book that you want to pick up on a calm Sunday morning and just read it, forget your surrounding and enjoy the flow. What I truly liked about this book, is I can immediately imagine everything without trying hard. The writing style is easy to follow, yet very rich and informative at the same time. I found myself to be surprised at little fun science facts that scattered here and there throughout this book. What a fun way to educate yourself while also being entertained! Final thought? 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★

[su_heading size=”12″ margin=”10″]Title: Friction in Motion | Author: Sy Kadella | Publisher: Razor’s Edge Publishing Inc. | Genre: Adult FictionContemporaryLiterary | Publication Date: September 15, 2018 | Format: eBook | Source: NetGalley | LINKS: GoodreadsAmazon[/su_heading]

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NeverHaven by Michael W. Garza

This is my first time to encounter a YA Occult and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited! I’m a big fan of this genre on screen (any American Horror Story fan around?), but I just never happened to read it in a book before, so it’s definitely a new experience for me! I enjoyed reading this book and I’m looking forward to reading the next one. I got the e-ARC of this book from YA Bound Book Tours for free in exchange for an honest review. Let’s started, shall we?

The bond between twins can bend but never break. Elizabeth is crazy, at least that’s what everyone believes. She sees things, terrible things no one wants to hear about. Her twin sister, Jessica, used to see things too, but she convinced herself long ago it was all in her head. The sixteen-year-old was left to drift through the chaos alone, abandoned by her other half. But now the darkness has come calling.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, this is my first time to read a book from YA Occult genre and I was super excited about it. NeverHaven started a bit too slow for my liking. I keep waiting and I think there are too many unnecessary details at the beginning. It’s not bad, but I guess I’m just too excited and I want to see the fun bits as soon as possible!

It gets so much better as it continues. You started to sense the characters and their role (or maybe not?) along the story. I was surprised the book took a twist of a point of view from its characters. We all know a ‘plot twist’, right? But, I’d like to call this one as a ‘POV twist’. When the story started, I really thought that Person A will be the superstar of this book, but turns out, not really! Even though I was kinda annoyed when I first noticed this, I eventually started to sit back and enjoy it. Quite a surprise, even for myself, actually!

What I truly like about this book is it made me keep suspecting everyone! I’m a sucker when a story allows us to position ourselves as Poirot and analyze every possibility (most likely wrong, but hey, I have fun!) that might happen after one incident to another. I also enjoyed the pace of this book, especially when it passed several chapters, things started to get really intense!

However, I feel the characters (not just the main ones) doesn’t really get an opportunity to become more complex. I get it, pardon me for this silly example, but Thor is always the good guy and Loki is always try to be the bad guy. But, a lot of us adore Loki, right?! Because he’s not just the bad guy. He got history and character development. So, I think this book will be so much better if they can show us a stronger motive, both for the protagonists and antagonists.

Rating: ★★★½

[su_heading size=”12″ margin=”10″]Title: NeverHaven | Series: Vision of the Elder #1 | Author: Michael W. Garza | Publisher: NeverHaven Press | Genre: MysteryOccultSupernatural | Publication Date: July 27, 2017 | Format: eBook | Source: YA Bound Book Tours | LINKS: GoodreadsAmazon[/su_heading]

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[su_accordion][su_accordion] [su_spoiler title=”Read Excerpt” style=”fancy”]Jessica’s eyes sprang open. It took her a moment to realize she was awake. Her room was dark, and only a thin line of light shone through the slit under her bedroom door. A haze of sleep clung to her mind, and she couldn’t understand the panic in her chest. She was shaking, and her heart thumped wildly in her ears. She took a moment to gather her thoughts before sitting up in the bed. She couldn’t shake a strange sensation of pain in her hands and feet. For a moment she thought she might be having a heart attack. It took her another few seconds to recognize the connection she’d blocked out for so long. Something was wrong with Elizabeth. Jessica threw back the covers and hopped onto the floor. The cold boards sent a shock through her body, but it was a sound that froze her in place. She was midway between her bed and the bedroom door when the panic increased tenfold. The pain in her limbs intensified, and the fear for her sister was the only thing that convinced her to move. Jessica reached the door, grabbed hold of the handle, and then pressed her ear to the wood. A series of sounds echoed across the hall outside the room, ending with a muffled cry. Jessica clenched her teeth as she pressed down on the handle. The door slowly cracked, and she slid her eye to the opening. The entire floor was cloaked in darkness, but moonlight offered a view into Elizabeth’s room. Jessica pulled open the door enough to squeeze through. Her foot touched the floor out in the hall when a shadow crossed the light in Elizabeth’s room followed by a loud thump. Another muffled cry struck Jessica’s heart with terror. She rushed across the open space and pressed her back against the wall outside Elizabeth’s doorway. The sounds of a struggle intensified, and Jessica tried to gather her courage. She was through the doorway before she knew what she was doing. The moonlight revealed several figures standing throughout the bedroom. The main struggle came from Elizabeth’s bed, where at least two people stood over the girl. Jessica’s mind seized up as several figures lurched toward her. She managed to get out a scream before they grabbed hold of her. The initial impact flung Jessica onto the floor. The side of her head smacked the ground, and her vision blurred and then filled with sparkling lights. She tried to yell again, but something was forced into her mouth the moment she opened it. Confusion erupted within the room as all of the shadows moved at once. Jessica made one last attempt to roll over when a vicious strike caught her on the back of the head and everything went dark.[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion]

About the Author

Michael W. Garza often finds himself wondering where his inspiration will come from next and in what form his imagination will bring it to life. The outcomes regularly surprise him and it’s always his ambition to amaze those curious enough to follow him and take in those results. He hopes everyone will find something that frightens, surprises, or simply astonishes them.

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