After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

So, it’s Day 8 of the #UltimateBlogTours for After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward that hosted by the wonderful Dave aka TheWriteReads! Today is my stop and I’m excited to share my initial thought about this dystopian book! Also, you can check out the other posts from many amazing bloggers on #AfterTheGreenWithered and #UltimateBlogTours on Twitter!

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward

They tell me the country looked different back then. They talk of open borders and flowing rivers. They say the world was green. But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

Title: After the Green Withered | Author: Kristin Ward | Publisher: Independently Published | Genre: DystopianScience Fiction | Publication Date: May 18, 2018 | Format: eBook | Source: Author + Dave @ TheWriteReads (Thank you!) | LINKS: Book Depository (Affiliate)

My initial thought about this book is the massive info-dumping in the prologue. While this is highly informative and could be useful to help readers to understand the backstory of how the Earth ended up like how it told in the story, I personally struggled to get through it since it felt very technical and textbook-y, but I’m glad this writing style is over at the end of the prologue and continued with a totally different take on the first chapter.

The first chapter felt like a totally different book. While it’s full of narrative with no dialogue, I was completely surprised that I get to enjoy it. While the issue is far from light, the story was told cleverly by Ward as it was incredibly descriptive and easy to follow, especially for a slow reader like me. Not going to lie, many aspects of this first chapter made me nostalgic as it reminds me of a lot of popular books and movies back then. The general storyline was very Divergent, as we introduced to Enora, the main character who lived with her parents and was about to graduate and pick her job. The government-controlled universe was very Hunger Games as it really reminds me of the big ol’ Capitol. And the water-currency system was very In Time (2011), except it’s water and not time. Even the barcode system on the wrist was almost similar!

I’m really intrigued to see where this story going and how it’s going to end. 

Are you a fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic book? Have you read After the Green Withered?

Losing Normal by Francis Moss

Hey everyone! I’m back with another book review post. This time, I got the opportunity to be a part of Losing Normal by Francis Moss blog tour, which organized by Xpresso Blog Tours. This blog tour will be consist of author interviews, excerpts, guest post and also review post and you can check out the post from the other hosts hereI received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. When I read the book summary, I knew I can’t resist it since I’m a big fan of dystopian fiction. And here’s my review!

Losing Normal by Francis Moss

Everyone we love, everything we know, is going away… and only an autistic boy can stop it.
 
Alex knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from his home to Mason Middle School. This is normal.
 
Alex knows the answers in AP math before his teacher does, which is also normal.
 
Alex knows that something bad is coming out of the big screen in his special needs class. It’s pushing images into his head, hurting him, making him forget. Alex pushes back, the screen explodes, and nothing is normal any more.
 
Giant screen televisions appear all over the city. The programming is addictive. People have to watch, but Alex cannot.
 
Sophie, the sentient machine behind all this, sees the millions and millions of eyeballs glued to her and calls it love. To Sophie, kids like Alex are defective. Defectives are to be fixed… or eliminated.

★★★

Title: Losing Normal | Author: Francis Moss | Publisher: Encelia Press | Genre: DystopianScience Fiction | Publication Date: October 23, 2018 | Format: eBook | Source: Xpresso Book Tours | LINKS: AmazonBook Depository (Affiliate)

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Abuse, death, fertility, violence.[/su_spoiler]

If you know me, I’m always all in when it comes to dystopian/post-apocalyptic story. If you don’t, well… know you do, right? 💁‍♀️ Losing Normal is not quite a post-apocalyptic story. It’s rather a toward-apocalyptic story if that makes sense? Apparently, our technology keeps evolving and it’s about time where the sentient machine (in this case, an artificial intelligence called Sophie) is taking over the world by controlling the human mind through screens. Little did she (or it?) know, not every human being can be controlled the way she wanted to. And here comes Alex, the autistic teenager that fights back this technology.

Few things that I like about this book:

✅ Autism representation. I’ve been trying to do more exploration with my readings and that includes to read more diverse characters. This book has a good representation of autism on Alex, its main character. We are able to see how Alex mind works and how his autism affected his actions. And not just his actions, but basically the whole story.

✅ A super dynamic story. Everything happened really fast and full of actions. This is the kind of book that will bring you from one scene to another without really allowing yourself to take a breath. It’s that intense.

✅ Solid messages and values. This book illuminates current issues that have been happening in our society. The using of technology might be very useful in our life at the moment, but we can’t deny that we are also experiencing side effects like technology addiction. The AI take-over is something that can happen to use in the future and I think it’s great for the author to increase awareness on this particular area, even when this book is labeled as a work of fiction.

Few things that I don’t like about this book:

❌ Too fast + technical. This is probably just my issue, but I was struggling to follow the story as the writing is full of computer-based and technological terms that I’m not completely familiar with. This becomes even harder because the story went super fast and I feel overwhelmed to keep up with everything that happened.

❌ Lack of characters depths. Because this story is very plot-driven, it didn’t give as much attention to its characters. With its multiple POVs, which I usually have no problem with, it was a challenge to follow the story, because there are no particular differences between these two characters/POVs. I can’t really sense their personality differences since the writing made them sounds like almost the same person.

However, if you’re a fan of technology gone bad & taking over the Earth, or just a binge-watcher of Black Mirror, I believe you’d enjoy this story. It’s a decent piece that will constantly put you on the edge!

About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons (“a lot more jobs, and also more fun”), staff writing and freelancing on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at.

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Francis, in partnership with Ted Pedersen, also wrote three middle-grade non-fiction books: Internet For Kids, Make Your Own Web Page, and How To Find (Almost) Anything On The Internet. Internet For Kids was a big success, with three revised editions and twelve foreign language versions. He’s the sole author of The Rosenberg Espionage Case.

After high school where he grew up in Los Angeles, Francis had one dismal semester at a junior college, and then enlisted in the Army. He became a military policeman and served in Poitiers, France, falling in love with the country, taking his discharge there and traveling around Europe (including running with the bulls in Pamplona) until his money ran out.

He attended the University of California, Berkeley and became active in the civil rights and anti-war movements, still managing to earn a BA and an MA in English lit (“the major of choice for wannabe writers”).
Francis is married to Phyllis, a former music teacher and active viola player. They have a son, a daughter and one grandson. They live in Joshua Tree, California.

Website | Goodreads

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Are you a fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic book? Have you read Losing Normal?

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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