Book Review: The Initiation

9781682615935.jpgBook-cation Location: Abandoned Undergrounds

Book: The Initiation by Chris Babu
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Print Date: February 2018
Goodreads Score: 4 stars
Giveaway: Print Copy of The Initiation
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Short Review: If you like books like Hunger Games and The Maze Runner you will love this one!

Book Summary

Everyone is equal. But no one is safe.

In a ruined world, Manhattan is now New America, a walled-in society based on equality. But the perfect facade hides a dark truth.

A timid math geek, sixteen-year-old Drayden watches his life crumble when his beloved mother is exiled. The mystery of her banishment leads him to a sinister secret: New America is in trouble, and every one of its citizens is in jeopardy.

With time running out, he enters the Initiation. It’s a test within the empty subway tunnels—a perilous journey of puzzles and deadly physical trials. Winners join the ruling Bureau and move to its safe haven. But failure means death. Can Drayden conquer the Initiation, or is salvation out of his grasp?

Long Review: I love a good sci-fi/dystopian style novel! The reason that Drayden’s New America exists is all thanks to a super bug and what I liked about that is it’s such a plausible reason for the world to descend into chaos. This new world that is a giant quarantined area is divided into sections and Drayden just happens to live in the worst of them, the Dorms. The other sections include the Lab, Precinct, and Palace. While they are constantly telling you that all sections are equal, I immediately have my doubts and want to know what The Palace zone looks like. The start of the book you find out a little bit about New America and the family life of our hero, and then he enters the Initiation and everything gets real from that point on. I could not stop reading after it began. You have adventure, back stabbing, plots of murder, and so much more!

My favorite part about the Initiation was the challenges as I was trying to solve them right along with all the other pledges…I didn’t even come close to figuring most of them out though. I would not have even made it past the first one! When the book started I wasn’t sure how I felt about Drayden, but as the book went on I began to really cheer for him. He starts out so unsure of himself with the weight of the world on his shoulders after his mother is exiled and he ends with him realizing he can do more than he ever realized. I do wish that there would have been a little bit more character development, especially for some of the other pledges. I want to know more about Catrice than what I was given in the book. I also would have liked more backstory on why Alex is the way he is before entering the Initiation.

I don’t want to spoil anything else so I will just say that overall this is a great read and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Chris Babu Author Photo.jpgAbout the Author
Chris Babu grew up in North Haven, CT, playing soccer and the violin in his free time. After devouring The Shining under the covers with a flashlight when he was eight, Chris was hooked on fiction. He’s always had a thing for young adult books. But he’s also a major science and math nerd – physics being his favorite – and he has a math degree from MIT.

For nineteen years, he worked as a bond trader on Wall Street, riding the subway to and from work every day. He traded mortgage-backed securities for Bank of America and then Deutsche Bank, where he eventually ran the MBS trading desk. Now Chris writes full-time, always with his trusted assistant Buddy, a 130-pound Great Dane, who can usually be found on his lap. They split their time between New York City and the east end of Long Island. Their omnipresence at home drives his wife Michelle and daughter Lily crazy. The Initiation is his first novel.   WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

BOOK-CATION IDEAS!

As I mentioned above the Book-cation location for The Initiation is Abandoned Undergrounds! The actual location of that the book spends a lot of time in does exist, however it’s still filled to the brim with people. To feel like you are a pledge in the Initiation I recommend taking a few of these tours!

  • Beijing’s Underground City. This abandoned city is from the 1970’s and was built as a bomb shelter. It’s made up of approximately 33 square miles with various tunnels and includes places such as a roller skating rink, warehouses, schools, and restaurants.
  • Seattle Underground.  Due to a fire and repeat floods happening it was during the mid-19th century that Seattle decided to build up their streets leaving the old city underground. The buildings at one point in time were used for a variety of things such as gambling halls and speakeasies. Portions have now been restored for tours.
  • The Speakeasy Tunnels of Moose Jaw, Canada. Originally built so workers did not have to endure the harsh winter weather when going from building to building. During the prohibition the town became a hub for rum running and gambling and filled the underground tunnels and hideouts with all sorts of characters.

To enter the giveaway Click Here!

“You have five minutes to solve the riddle…”
you force heaven to be empty
5:00…4:59…4:58…4:57…

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Book Review: The Selection

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Book-cation Location: Castles & Gardens!

Book: The Selection by Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian
Print Date: April 2012
Goodreads Score: 4 stars

Short Review: It’s a dystopian version of the Bachelor only better!

 

 

Book Summary 

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Long Review: Okay, I am very behind the game on this one!  I’ve had several people recommend this book to me and I am so glad I finally had time to read it! Overall I love the story. It reminded me of Hunger Games where it has a sort of reality show display of something to make the people of the lower caste groups feel like they have a chance. It really is a dystopian version of the bachelor tho as 35 women are chosen to take part in the Selection to try and win the Prince’s heart/the crown. On the first day they meet the prince they all take turns talking to him and then he chooses which women he wants to keep to move forward in the competition. You have all the typical characters too, the mean girl, the over dramatic types, the little miss goodie good, and of course the jealousy! Add in a little bit of war and politics and you have the Selection. I’m going to be honest here, I don’t like the Bachelor. (Cue the gasps of horror as what woman doesn’t love it) However, I did like this version of it in the book which I admit, surprised me. I enjoyed meeting all of the characters and I look forward to seeing how they all work together throughout the series.

Prince Maxon, so far, has surprised me. He wasn’t as much of a pompous jerk as I expected him to be. I actually really liked him by the end! As for the other man in America’s life, Aspen, I both loved and hated him throughout the book. He just wants to be good enough for her and he is so dedicated to his family. This of course has me torn between which man is best for America, but you will have to make up your own mind about that.

I really enjoyed the world that Kiera Cass has created here. The idea of your status in life never changing based solely on your ancestors abilities and being assigned a number one through eight. Our main character America is a 5 which makes her leap into the Selection all the more exciting. I very much enjoyed the history that was provided in the book and the way it was done. Rather than reading a boring chapter in the beginning of how Illea came to be, we learn it through a history lesson that the Selected are receiving.

Based on the reviews I’ve read, you either love or hate this book. While it has not sky rocketed to the top of my best book ever list I did enjoy it. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

BOOK-CATION IDEAS!

As I mentioned above the Book-cation location for The Selection is Castles & Gardens! The actual location of Illéa doesn’t exist, and hopefully a place like it never does, but I think by visiting the castles and gardens you will feel like you have stepped into the palace as a Selected.

  • Borthwick Castle. This castle is toward the top of my list of places that I would like to stay while traveling through Scotland. This beautiful 600 year old castle was once home to Mary, Queen of Scots!  https://www.borthwickcastle.com/
  • Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel.  This hotel is located in Lisbon, Portugal and was built during the 1800’s. There is a palace wing, villa lapa, and a garden wing. I bet America would recommend the Garden wing! http://www.olissippohotels.com
  • Sheffield Park & Garden. This is what I envision when I picture Prince Maxon and Lady America walking the grounds together. Just beautiful!   https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk
  • Longwood Gardens. Located in Kennett Square, PA and has over 1,000 acres of garden to explore. America loved the outdoors, and especially the garden, so I imagine this is a perfect place to visit to channel her character.  https://longwoodgardens.org/
“I don’t think any girl in all of Illéa could have been smiling more than me.” 
~America – Kiera Cass, The Selection

Book Spotlight: Premonition

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Book: Premonition by Leigh Walker
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Sci-Fi, Romance
Print Date: July 2017
Giveaway: $25 Amazon gift card
Enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post! 

Before you start reading the book summary and author interview, take a moment to create the following playlist and get ready to dive into this new Division Series!

 

Promo image 1.png“THE DIVISION” PLAYLIST
The Other Side – Bruno Mars
Elastic Heart – Cia
Leave Out All the Rest – Linkin Park
Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift
I Don’t Wanna Live Forever – ZAYN and Taylor Swift
Starlight – Muse
We Found Love – Rihanna
Princess of China Coldplay and Rihanna
Attention – Charlie Puth
Dusk Till Dawn – ZAYN and Cia

Book Summary 

For fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent…this exciting new science-fiction romance series, filled with twists and turns, will take you for a wild ride! 

When Riley heads off to boarding school for a summer work-study program, she knows it’ll be demanding. What she doesn’t expect? To be thrust into an intense physical training program described as special, exclusive and worst of all–top-secret. She signed up for tuition assistance, not to be held in a secret government facility for boot camp…

Welcome to The Division, the government agency that’s so classified, most United States senators have never heard of it. 

The Division wants Riley bad, but she can’t figure out why. Skeptical of what she’s being told, Riley’s determined to uncover the truth. Boot camp is intense, physically and mentally draining. The upside? One of her new teammates is the cutest boy ever. Watching Finn hit the gym wearing a tank top doesn’t suck–although sometimes his brooding attitude does. But when training forces Riley to confront her tragic past, even Finn’s big biceps aren’t enough to make her want to stay…

Beware: The Division isn’t something you just walk away from. You better run. 

Riley realizes her capabilities and strengths are greater than she’d ever imagined. But she also learns she wasn’t just chosen for this special program…

She was made for it.

About the Author
Leigh Walker lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Journalism and a law degree.

She’s never been to the Naval Shipyard prison in Kittery, ME, but she’s driven by it…and boy, is it creepy!

Leigh has lots of books planned for The Division Series. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to email her at leigh@leighwalkerbooks.com.  WebsiteGoodreadsFacebook

Interview with the Author

Q: Wow, you’re interviewing yourself…how pompous!

Right? It’s to tell people more about the series, lol. Although I should admit that I normally talk to myself a lot, so this isn’t much of a departure.

Q: Tell us about “The Division” – it’s a bunch of teenagers with psychic powers, right? How did you get inspired?

Everyone on the team has psychic powers, yes. I was watching “Stranger Things” on Netflix and I WAS SO PSYCHED they were testing poor Eleven for psychic powers. But I was also like, YEEHAW! Because I LOVE psychic powers, and I can’t remember the last time I saw or read something that included them. I’ve always been obsessed by the concept, and there’s so many variations of powers, so many incarnations it can take… Anyway, after watching that show and having that reaction, I thought, other people must love this stuff, too, I can’t be the only one. So I wanted to give us all more!

Q: Tell us about the main character, Riley Payne.

Riley is a ‘normal’ girl dealing with a lot. Her father and sister died in a car accident and her mother started drinking heavily after it happened. She just wants to get out of her house and go to boarding school, but she gets more than she bargained for when she abruptly gets recruited into a secret agency…

Q: The ‘secret agency’ is The Division, correct?

Yes. It’s a secret cell of teenagers who were genetically engineered with psychic gifts. They work for the American government to combat domestic terrorism.

Riley thinks they’re nuts, of course. Until she unlocks her powers, then she’s blown away by what she can do.

Q: As the series goes on, you get into genetic engineering, fated love, eco-terrorism, loyalty, isolation, human nature, climate change…some pretty heavy themes. But would you describe the series as a difficult read?

I don’t think so, but certainly some parts were hard to write – like about Riley missing her dad and her sister. I still cry when I read those parts. And in the second book, an eco-terrorist is introduced, and some terrible things happen in the book. So yeah, there’s definitely a heaviness to some of what the characters are dealing with. But they’re teenagers, and their youth is sort of a tonic against everything they’re dealing with. They still care about their friends. They still want to hang out, tell stories, joke around. They are still very interested in falling in love. I think my writing style is naturally light and breezy, so it’s sort of a counterpoint to the storyline. If that makes sense, lol.

Q: What’s your favorite part of this series?

Riley and Finn’s relationship. They have so much on their plates, and they’re so young, but they genuinely care for each other in a way that makes me ache.

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?

 I have three large, unruly boys who like to play every sport and eat as much food as possible. When I’m not at my computer, I’m busy carting them around and grocery shopping. But I also love to relax with a great book or television show – I am currently completely obsessed with Riverdale, OMG!!!

Thanks for having me! Happy reading!!!

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So I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready to purchase and dive into this book!  To purchase a copy from Amazon Click Here!

 To enter the giveaway Click Here!

 

 

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Book Review: The Sandcastle Empire

20170616_173731.jpgBook: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Print Date: June 2017

Short Review: Ehh…it was okay.

Long Review: There are some people that loved this book, and I hate to make them angry but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be. This is a book that was hard for me to get into.  The story seemed interesting and I wanted to work out the mysteries that were developing, but it was lacking that special something to keep me hooked. These types of books don’t usually take me very long to read, I’m talking a max of two days, and this one took me two weeks to finish.

This was also a very predictable story for me.  The mysteries of the island itself I hadn’t quite figured out, but overall I had it solved so the big reveal wasn’t so big for me.  I also never developed any sort of attachment to the characters.  When one of them is presumed dead/almost dies/or dies (no spoilers here) I didn’t even have the slightest desire to cry.  I am someone that gets made fun of for crying over books and movies, so the fact that I didn’t says a lot.

If I had to rate this book I would give it 2/5 stars.