Review: The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

30542863*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Diabolic

Author: S. J. Kincaird

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young

Publication Date: November 1st 2016

ISBN: 9781481472678

The Diabolic

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for.  Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe. When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

It’s nice to see a new YA novel that can easily be the next big thing. In this futuristic world, wealthy humans have escaped the confines of planetary existence. They live in a dystopian regime with a blood thirty, vengeful emperor at its helm. Diabolics exist to serve and protect the aristocratic elite. They have been banned and destroyed…except for Nemesis. Nemesis is at the core of an unconventional coming of age story. She’s a weapon, bred to fight, not to experience humanity. Nemesis must fight to protect everything she’s ever known and cared about.

Nemesis is the most fully developed character and she’s quite interesting. She is learning and uncovering the world as we, the readers, are. I think that her story is fascinating. Nemesis is new to the world outside of the home where she grew up. She’s like a baby, processing new experiences and information as she moves forward. She experiences great tragedy and loss. These experience only serve to make her stronger.

I think that important characters like Sidonia, Nemesis’ charge, or Neveni, Nemesis’ ally, could have been more fleshed out. They both have strong foundations, but they both needed a lot of work to be brought to life. They’re both interesting characters, Neveni especially. She has strong political opinions and a strong drive to fight. But Sidonia in particular, is presented as a more major character and is quickly cut out of the story.

This story is packed full of action. It’s a very interesting, futuristic world that I hope is explored even further in possible future books. Kincaid is a strong world builder. The setting is vivid and expansive. I sense that there are huge portions of this world that are yet unexplored and I hope to read more. This novel is an exciting new sci-fi meets dystopian adventure and is worth the read!


Review: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

29430755*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The German Girl

Author: Armando Lucas Correa

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: October 18, 2016

ISBN: 9781501121142

The German Girl: A Novel

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In 1939 before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence. 

Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost.

You can’t help but love the two girls, Hannah and Anna, whose stories are so closely linked, but are separated by decades and eras. They are family but their lives and upbringing are worlds apart. Hannah is a refugee who’s family fled from Nazi-occupied Germany. She lost her life, friends, family, and everything she’d every known about herself. Anna is her great-niece who lost her father before she was even born, who doesn’t know her past or her history, but as she blossoms into a woman, she comes to know her story.

Correa has a very smooth voice and writing style that makes this story flow quickly, but allows the reader to savour each word. He connects us to these two eras, 1930s Germany/20th-Century Cuba, and 21st Century America. His novel is the tale of a family that lost themselves, and years later, they discover once again who they are. A lost name becomes a name reclaimed with pride in the end. Fear gives way to hope for the future.

I thought that the young girls were the most realistic and well-rounded characters, which makes sense because the stories are told from their perspectives. The adults in the story take a backseat. We understand them through the eyes of the children in an honest, yet limited way. Their voices are full of the innocence of childhood but as they, especially Hannah, matures we see her grow into a more complex women, although when we see her from Anna’s perspective, that distance between child and adult is established once again.

I was quite please with this story. It fits right in with the historical fiction kick that I’ve been on lately. It was easy to read and takes a new perspective on World War Two–one that I hadn’t read before. I would definitely recommend! I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Review: The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson

28164650*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Smoke Hunter

Author: Jacquelyn Benson

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publication Date: September 13, 2016

ISBN: 9781455569069

The Smoke Hunter
Synopsis from Goodreads:
London, 1898. Archivist Eleanora Mallory discovers a map to a legendary city . But is it the key to unravelling an ancient mystery or a clever hoax? Compelled to find out, Ellie journeys to Central America – with a merciless enemy hot on her heels. In a race to uncover the map’s secret first, Ellie is forced to partner with maverick archaeologist Adam Bates, a man she’s not sure she can trust. Together, they venture into an uncharted wilderness alive with smoke and shadows, where an even greater danger awaits them. For what lies there whispering to be unearthed has the power to bring the world to its knees.
 Ellie is trying to establish her career in a time where women can’t vote. The expectation is that she marry, but that would result in her no longer being able to work. That’s an option that she is not willing to put up with. She is lead across the world on an adventure to discover an impossible world, a trip that completely changes her life.
I love that Ellie is a take-charge kind of girl in a time where women are not widely accepted in the professional realm, especially in a position that takes her out into the wild. Ellie wants to discover the world and all its secret. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and take control of her situation. She’s inventive. She also has her flaws, she doesn’t think before she speaks and she doesn’t always consider all the risks before she acts. I love that she’s imperfect.
The villains are a bit typical. They are minions of an unseen forces who’s funding their expedition, ready to draw guns and eliminate threats at the drop of a hat. They’re all stock characters, but it adds a fun hokeyness to the story. It kind of reminds me of a Disney-esque adventure story. It doesn’t take away from the story in any way. In fact, it makes the story all the more enjoyable. It’s a fun read!

Review: Crossing the Horizon by Laurie Notaro

26154388*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title:  Crossing the Horizon

Author: Laurie Notaro

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: October 4, 2016

ISBN: 9781451659405

Crossing the Horizon: A Novel

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ten thousand feet in the sky, flipping and twirling through the air, aviatrixes from London to Paris to New York—fueled by determination and courage—have their eyes on the century’s biggest prize. The year is 1927, and Amelia Earhart has not yet made her record-breaking cross-Atlantic flight. Who will follow in Charles Lindbergh’s footsteps and make her own history? Three women’s names are splashed daily across the front page: Elsie Mackay, daughter of an Earl, is the first Englishwoman to get her pilot’s license. Mabel Boll, a glamorous society darling and former cigar girl, is ardent to make the historic flight. Beauty pageant contestant Ruth Elder uses her winnings for flying lessons and becomes the preeminent American girl of the sky.

This was a great book about women making their way in the world of aviation at the cusp of the fight for women’s rights and a changing time for women across the world. Inspired by true events and real, brave, incredible women, it’s a race against time, vying for the position of the first women to cross the great Atlantic and achieve the impossible I fell in love with the characters of Ruth and Elsie, who let nobody stand in their way. They give up everything they love and know in the world for an uncertain future and a shot at changing history.

I thought that the characters were a little flat. The story focused more on the action rather than characterization, which for me, is a bit of a mark against a book. I did really love the story. It’s an thrilling time for women and for aviation and it’s not a story that I’ve really read before. It introduces us vaguely to Amelia Earhart and I can only hope that Notaro writes another novel in the future to expand on Earhart’s expedition. By focusing only on the action, it drives the readers focus to the race. It highlights the hopes of the women fighting to be the first women to cross the great ocean and drawn attention to their frustrations and their deep desire to get off the ground. I would have liked to get to know the characters more in depth, but it’s still a good story without that character exploration.

I loved that the story was accompanied by real photos of these women and their pilots. It brought the whole story to a new level, adding that reality to fiction. The stories add faces to the names of each women, showing their spark and pizzazz. Their all vivacious and full of life in their pictures. I thought it was a great way to highlight the story. All in all, I was entertained by Notaro’s novel and really enjoyed reading a new story that I’d not explored before.


Review: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

28363972*I received this book from the publisher in exchanged for an honest review.*

Title: The Last Days of Night

Author: Graham Moore

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: September 2016

ISBN: 9780812988901

The Last Days of Night
Synopsis from Goodreads:
New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country? The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?
It wasn’t surprising to me that this thrilling 19th-century thrilling race to invention is written by the same writer who brought us The Imitation Game. The voice and unfolding of this story is so reminiscent of the movie staring Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s refreshing to read an exciting historical fiction that takes place at the cusp of the 20th-century, during the period of incredible minds and unbelievable transitions in technology.
Moore’s story brings together the greatest minds of the 1890s: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse. These men of invention are part of the great technological race. Who can harness the electricity and bring it to the whole of society. They are part of a period of time that will change everything for humanity. At the heart of this brutal race is lawyer Paul Cravath. At the beginning of his career he is chosen to defeat the undefeatable.
Paul’s romance is a side story that’s not entirely necessary, but it adds something that the reading public loves. The love interest, Agnes Huntington, is full of secrets and surprises of her own making her an must more intricate and three dimensional character. Paul is frequently described as a prodigy in the field of law, a fact which after finishing the book, I have yet to believe. He’s a strong character, but there are a few characters attributes, such as his ability to succeed, that I would have like to see fleshed out a bit more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s different than a lot of the other stories I’ve seen coming out this year, and that in itself is a very pleasant surprise. Moore writes an excellent story that is vivid. He paints a bright picture of the 19th-century, bringing his characters and his story to life.