The Challenger – Book Review

The Challenger by Taran Matharu

Synopsis:
Cade Carter and his friends have survived the qualifying round of the mysterious overlords’ twisted games, decimated by the loss of so many of their comrades during the fight. But they have no time to mourn, for the next round of trials is about to begin.

When the group discovers that their next foe will be even more ferocious than the last, Cade leads them on a quest out into their strange new world to find anything that might give them an edge. But what they find in the wilds could prove to be even more dangerous than the impending battle…

Review:
Cade has survived the first round in what he now knows is an intergalactic contest. If they lose this next round, all of humanity could be at risk. But Cade and his other surviving friends are only teens with no real fighting experience.

The Challenger is the second book in the Contender series. It has a bit of a Hunger Games feel. Cade and his friends are fighting for their lives, just to compete later for all of Earth. The planet they are on is full of humans and animals from throughout history and beyond. Full of intense suspense, this thriller is hard to put down. But the characters and subplot are engaging as well. It’s often dark and violent, but Cade and his friends give the story plenty of heart and a bit of romance as well. I look forward to the next in this fast-paced, exciting series.

Shuri – Book Review

Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone

Synopsis:
An original, upper-middle-grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone. Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This story follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.

For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakanda (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart-Shaped Herb. Much like Vibranium, the Heart-Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are dying. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t save them. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in the first volume of this all-new, original adventure.

Review:
I was a big fan of Shuri, after watching the Black Panther movie. She’s genius-level smart and an inspiring young woman. This story follows the comics more than the film, but that’s a good thing when a favorite, classic X-Men character makes an appearance. And several other characters and timelines differ.

Shuri and her friend travel across continents to discover the cause and cure for the dying Herb. There are several fun characters, some new (to me) and some familiar. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced adventure with plenty of suspense, mystery, and drama. I hope this series continues, and we get to see more of Shuri’s technical prowess as well.

Girls with Sharp Sticks – Book Review

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Synopsis:
The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardian, they receive a well-rounded education that promises to make them better. Obedient girls, free from arrogance or defiance. Free from troublesome opinions or individual interests.

But the girls’ carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears. As Mena and her friends uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations Academy will learn to fight back.

Review:
Mena is a bright girl who has been taught to act and behave a certain way. She is abused and degraded by her teachers, but she has been abandoned at the boarding school by her parents. The way the girls acted, it immediately made me think of the Stepford Wives and Handmaid’s Tale.It’s very creepy and claustrophobic. I couldn’t relate at all, as I could only be pushed so far before I would push back. Granted, I’m strong and pushing six feet, so I’ve never felt as helpless as these girls do. And they only know one way of life. They are literally reprogrammed when they step too far out of line, and Mena is terrified of it. Even though she doesn’t remember the procedure.

Girls with Sharp Sticks is the first in a trilogy. The suspense is intense. And it’s easily one my favorite reads this year, so far. It’s not just an exciting story; but it pulled me in and grabbed my emotions as well. Often, I forget the details of a book I read a year ago, by the time a sequel comes out. But I can tell I won’t forget much of this thrilling and captivating story with engaging characters. I’m eager to pick up the next in the trilogy as soon as I can.

TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS – Full Excerpt!

TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS by Christopher Paolini

Full Excerpt:

Cold fear shot through Kira’s gut.

Together, she and Alan scrambled into their clothes. Kira spared a second of thought for her strange dream—everything felt strange at the moment—and then they hurried out of the cabin and rushed over toward Neghar’s quarters.

As they approached, Kira heard hacking: a deep, wet, ripping sound that made her imagine raw flesh going through a shredder. She shuddered.

Neghar was standing in the middle of the hallway with the others gathered around her, doubled over, hands on her knees, coughing so hard Kira could hear her vocal cords fraying. Fizel was next to her, hand on her back. “Keep breathing,” he said. “We’ll get you to sickbay. Jenan! Alan! Grab her arms, help carry her. Quickly now, qu—”

Neghar heaved, and Kira heard a loud, distinct snap from inside the woman’s narrow chest.

Black blood sprayed from Neghar’s mouth, painting the deck in a wide fan.

Marie-Élise shrieked, and several people retched. The fear from Kira’s dream returned, intensified. This was bad. This was dangerous. “We have to go,” she said, and tugged on Alan’s sleeve. But he wasn’t listening.

“Back!” Fizel shouted. “Everyone back! Someone get the Extenuating Circumstances on the horn. Now!”

“Clear the way!” Mendoza bellowed.

More blood sprayed from Neghar’s mouth, and she dropped to one knee. The whites of her eyes were freakishly wide. Her face was crimson, and her throat worked as if she were choking.

“Alan,” said Kira. Too late; he was moving to help Fizel.

She took a step back. Then another. No one noticed; they were all looking at Neghar, trying to figure out what to do while staying out of the way of the blood flying from her mouth.

Kira felt like screaming at them to leave, to run, to escape.

Read moreTO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS – Full Excerpt!

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