NC_Kubicki_final_burn-brightKrista

Cover

Absolutely the reason that I picked up the book in the first place. When I first saw this book online it was not available in the United States, and I waited for the long shipping from Australia. It was well worth the wait and time. It is still one of my favourite reads of all time. I was ecstatic to hear when Marianne was able to keep the cover art for the U.S. release, its gorgeous. I keep a poster of it on my wall.

Characters

The inhabitants of Ixion come from different places. As our MC, Retra has been raised in a place of little education, she knows nothing about the world that surrounds her island of Grave and the different characters bring in some history and world building to the story.

Favourite

Retra, Lenoir, the Night Creatures. They all play different sides to the story as a whole and each hold great mysteries to how the plot plays out.

Least Favourite

Minor characters: The Warden, Brand, Cal. All those characters that cause trouble and upset to the way of life. The people that always seem to be in the way.

Beginning

After her brother runs away, the Warden is assigned to Retra’s house to watch her. After her mother turns to silence, her father to lecturing and the Warden to never keep her out of his sight, torturing her with her obedience strip, she runs.

Storyline

The guardians can see that Retra has come to Ixion for something different than partying and “burning bright” as they say. They keep an eye on her from the beginning, as she soon makes some friends and begins to find out the history of the island and if her brother is still here. She wants to find him and escape somewhere else they can live out their lives.

Ending

As expected, Ixion is not what it seems, most are too wasted and partying to notice what is happening. But Retra finds herself right in the middle of the disruptions of the Guardians and Counsels. The Night Creatures are acting out and the gangs are causing trouble for everybody. But will we find out what is the true reason that Ixion exists and where you go when you burn out?

Thoughts

I find this story to be so unique, and fun. A bit exotic and sensual. The idea of being able to just completely lose yourself to not worry for awhile is always appealing. My favourite thing about the book is world building. Not only how the islands are all made up of completely different cultures. How the world changes to hide the island in all darkness all the time. I love the idea of the Night Creatures and the scene that describes what they look like, alone and dark in the forest is the best, so creepy, so interesting. So imaginative.

Quote

“Why did you get involved? That’s not a Seal thing to do.’

‘I … what Brand was doing to Krista-belle … she was scared … like when the warden gave me the obedience strip.’

‘You had a pain strip? Fross! How did you leave the compound then?’

Retra gave him a small, anxious smile. ‘I practised. The pain.’

Rollo’s expression changed. His eyes widened in a kind of admiration and he enveloped her in a comforting hug. But Retra didn’t want comfort right now. She wanted to leave. As she tried to edge out his grip he held on.

‘There’s something I’m going to tell you. The real reason that I came here,’ he said.”

Burn Bright Baby Bats!

 

burn-bright-250Bel

Cover

The buttery texture of the first edition cover is really special. The foiled title is extremely eye-catching, and that’s before we even get onto the artwork by Jarek Kubicki. All this beauty and it still represents the story inside wonderfully.

Characters

I love that each character is flawed and yet doing their best to thrive.

Favourite

Retra is certainly my favourite. Girl has guts, a heart, a spine and a soul.

Least Favourite

I pick Lenoir but only because I have to pick someone.

Beginning

Retra escapes the Seal Enclave on Grave to go find her brother on Ixion.

Storyline

The publicity of a place with no rules and no consequences seems too good to be true, and since every action has a reaction, Retra figures out, sometimes, this is even more difficult to handle than  a life lived in the Enclave.

Ending

Leaves you ready to move straight onto book 2, Angel Arias.

Thoughts

When Burn Bright came out in 2011, the concept of a female protagonist choosing her tribe was fresh, new, and relatively unexplored. The fact that Retra was searching for a family member and not a love interest sets it apart from most other books, leading the way in the Aussie market for books like Divergent, and The Stars Never Rise.

It passes the Bechdel test and I’m glad to say, in my opinion, it passes the test of a reread 5 years down the line.

Quote

“Pain can be dismissed” ~ Joel

 

NC_Burn Bright Boxed Set_600Joelene:

Cover

A surrealist image of a woman whose mascara, clothing and background bleed into one another. Mostly black and greyscale with swathes of brightness. The hot pink title is a stark contrast.

Characters

The Ripers, their young wards, pirates, demons… There’s quite a few.

Favourite

Ruzalia, I think. I don’t know much about her, but it’s hard not to love a pirate who is stealing people from those who would hurt them.

Least Favourite

Charlonge probably. She struck me as kind of weak, and, at her age, I don’t know why she wasn’t questioning how Ixion worked.

Beginning

Since her brother, Joel, ran away to Ixion: island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep, Retra has been training herself to withstand pain so that she can follow him.

Storyline

The mysterious and dangerous island of Ixion holds a great many secrets. If Retra can’t figure out how to fit in, she may never live to learn them.

Ending

As with many of Marianne’s novels, it was not what I was expecting. It leaves the scene wide open for an explosive book two.

Thoughts

This is a unique kind of world; complex and nuanced and far too much for one book. I’m kind of wondering how it fits into three.

Grave, Ixion and the Sealed community work well as an alternative reality. They stand on their own without coming across as a slightly altered Earth.

I can’t wait to find out more about some of the characters that we’ve only met briefly. With those who have gone to Ixion, what it was they were running from initially. How those who joined Dark Eve started to think of the future rather than the ever-present raves of the present. And what the Ripers – or Ixion for that matter – are and how they came to be.

Quote

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute.

 

Discussion Topics

Sealed compounds stipulate that their people suppress emotion, deny themselves company aside from close family, and live a life of abstinence. Ixion is the polar opposite, expecting its wards to party en masse, take capsules to accentuate emotions, and only pause for sleep. Which of the existences would you prefer?



puxty_broken dolls1Ella doesn’t remember what it’s like to be human; after all, she’s lived as a doll for thirty years. She forgets what it’s like to taste, to breathe…to love.

She watches the professor create other dolls, but they don’t seem to hang around for long. His most recent creation is Lisa, a sly goth. Ella doesn’t like Lisa. How could she, when Lisa keeps trying to destroy her?

Ella likes the professor’s granddaughter though, even if she is dying. It’s too bad the professor wants to turn Gabby into a doll, depriving her of an education…depriving her of life.

With time running out and mad dolls on the rampage, Ella questions her very existence as she unearths the secrets buried in her past; secrets that will decide whether Gabby will befall the same fate… 

Paperback, 1st, 175 pages

Published December 14th 2015 by Curiosity Quills ISBN13 9781620079300

The cover is what really drew me to this book. I found the artwork to be very beautiful; it says a thousand words all on its own. It also very much represents the story, which explores some hard topics in a very interesting way.

Ella has been perfectly happy living in the attic, she gets to watch whatever she wants and dance all day. She can not remember questioning why she cannot leave the attic, but understands whatever the professor tells her to do is in her best interest. But when the professor introduces another doll to their very private and closed attic, everything comes falling down.

Lisa begins to question her life; she remembers parts of her past, which is not supposed to happen, and she refuses to be locked up. She begins using the mouse holes to travel the house. Lisa only returns to torture Ella’s mind with huge ideas, dark and frightening ideas that scare her.

The story touches on different physical and mental ailments, and you’ll begin to question who is really the sanest person in this house and how it is that their lives have crossed in this way.

I really enjoyed this story and the variety of characters. The story gets into deep into the characters and the plot really got me thinking. I was interested to see how well we get to know each character and how their stories begin to entwine. I felt it was well written and had a message that will stick with you.

It is a short read under 200 pages and something I would love to read again and recommend to others.



macmillan-sword and verseRaisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the King, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery. Everyone knows that Raisa is Arnath, but not that she is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that, although she may have a privileged position among slaves, any slipup could mean death.

That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the Resistance could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved, an honorable man she knows wants to help the slaves.

Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.

And Raisa is the one holding the key.

Hardcover, 384 pages  Published January 19th 2016 by HarperTeen   0062324616 (ISBN13: 9780062324610)

This story ended up being something completely different from what I was thinking it would be. With the title of “Sword and Verse” I was going into the story expecting there to be a lot of fighting, war….well swords. But the usage of the word was unexpected. The book focuses more on knowledge and the privilege of reading and writing.

Raisa is chosen to be a tutor, one of the highest positions that  slave can obtain. This title gives her access to the castle and luxuries most slaves could never imagine. It also places her in the same room as the prince for several hours a day, practising their writing. It is not long before a romantic element arises and they begin a romantic relationship that could see her killed if ever they were found out.

When the prince is to become King and becomes engaged, the relationship fades. There have been uprisings and the people of the kingdom desire to learn the language of the Kings. Believing the way out of their slave-hood is knowledge, they approach Raisa to help their cause. Now Raisa has two reasons to fear for her life. She is stuck between the boy she loves and her people.

The story really focuses on two things: the love between Raisa and the Prince, and the power of language and writing. Raisa feels a powerful draw to writing because it links her back to her childhood and the time spent with her father.

There is a lot of drama in the story as her situation is very dangerous. The longer she stays in her position, the more she finds herself torn between her people and her love for the prince.

I went into the story expecting a very fast-paced, war-ridden kingdom. What I got was a romantic love story about a girl who falls hard for a charming man, and the desire of people to learn. What I loved about the book, and the reason I would recommend it to others, is the battle that Raisa fights within herself. She is a very smart and witty character who has to work her way through several very fraught situations and stay strong when others challenge her. I found her to be very truthful and devoted to what she believes in.

I found that after finishing the story, it still sticks with me; it is something I will read again and recommend to others who like a good dramatic romance.

 



Key-bottle creekIn this gritty, realistic wilderness adventure, thirteen-year-old Cort is caught in a battle against a Gulf Coast hurricane. Cort’s father is a local expert on hunting and swamp lore in lower Alabama who has been teaching his son everything he knows. But when a deadly Category 3 storm makes landfall, Cort must unexpectedly put his all skills-and bravery-to the test. One catastrophe seems to lead to another, leaving Cort and two neighbor girls to face the storm as best they can. Amid miles of storm-thrashed wetlands filled with dangerous, desperate wild animals, it’s up to Cort to win-or lose-the fight for their lives.

Cort’s parents are separated and his father continually goes to his mother to convince her to come back. On one of these occasions, a hurricane hits and leaves Cort to try to save their houseboat and keep the neighbours safe.

Cort is no stranger to the landscape around their home. His father leads tours on both land and water throughout the area and Cort accompanies him often. When the storm hits,  Cort finds himself swept away along with the neighbours’ girls. They find themselves in a secluded area with hogs, snakes, spiders, alligators and bears who are fleeing the floods. The three try to find safety, but they are outnumbered and  Cort must find help.

The story is very fast paced with constant action. A fun and on the edge-of-your-seat read for Middle Grade/Teen readers. The book also tackles the tough subject of divorce and dealing with emergencies. The writing is well done and really puts you in the southern U.S. Alabama state of mind. I recommend this one for those that enjoy reading stories with family issues or survival stories involving animals and nature. I enjoyed it and think you will to.



Bracken-Passenger coverBel:

Cover

I have the audio book, which is a similar cover to the paperback. We see a bottle on the sea. In the reflection is a ship in a bottle, though in the actual bottle there is a view of New York City. The olde-worlde script the title is in, fits the story perfectly.

Characters

Even the evil characters have their own valid points for being who they are. I’m sure giving each character their own moral code isn’t an easy task, but it is certainly the key to making them believable, easy to relate to, and complex.

Favourite

I LOVE Etta. Making the best of every situation and gettin’ it done. Girl has a spine and a mind of her own.

Least Favourite

Hmm… This is difficult. Knowing why evil characters are the way they are makes it really hard to hate them. I think I’ll pick Wren. Buffoon in the extreme.

Beginning

In present day New York, Etta is prepping for her violin performance, and eavesdrops on her Mum and violin tutor arguing. Nothing goes as planned, and she ends up being accosted by one of the other performers.

Storyline

She wakes up on a ship in 1776. She’s been kidnapped to complete a task, and with the help of Nicholas Carter, she makes moves to get it done so she can go home to 2015.

Ending

There’s another book coming and Bracken is the queen of the cliff hanger.

Thoughts

Travelling through time isn’t a new concept, but this is hardly a wishy-washy half-baked idea. Alexandra has wielded her mastery of well written characters and immersive world building to fling us across the centuries at break neck speed.

Hold onto your hats folks. You’re gonna love the ride.

Quote

‘Etta stood at the same moment as Chase; only she was the one close enough to land a slap on the officer’s face. The crack of flesh on flesh stunned Nicholas, who’d leapt up to restrain his friend from lunging across the table.

“And these are the actions of a lady.” Wren sputtered.

“Aye,” Chase said approvingly, “and a damn fine one at that.”’ ~ Awkward dinner conversation.

 

Bracken-PassengerJoelene:

Cover

A glass bottle with New York City in side. Underneath the bottle reflects an 18th century ship. The cover alludes to the very different worlds of both main characters.

Characters

Five families in the world are born to travel across time. Etta Spencer belongs to one of the families that has almost died out. Nicholas Carter’s family is the most powerful, controlling all timelines that it has knowledge of.

Favourite

Both Etta and Nicholas are amazing characters. They work well together. I wouldn’t be able to choose a favourite from them.

Least Favourite

For inconsistency only, Sophia. She starts as such a promising character: someone who is able to read the weaknesses of others and exploit them to her advantage. Unfortunately, that initial ability is never touched on again and, in future situations, she proves incapable of reading anything about the people around her.

Beginning

Etta is preparing for her debut as a concert soloist. Despite her talent, she is debuting later than many of her peers. On the night of her solo, she witnesses the death of her beloved mentor and is shoved back into 1776.

Storyline

The formidable Ironwood family is after an artefact, and prepared to kill anyone who thwarts their efforts to find it. The patriarch, Cyrus Ironwood, believes that Etta is the key to finding the object.

Ending

Mixed feelings. It increases the possibilities for the next novel, but not necessarily in directions that I like. That said, it’s emotionally satisfying.

Thoughts

I really loved this novel. I’ve recommended it to quite a few people already, and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

The fact that Bracken engages the dark parts of history that people usually avoid is a massive bonus, though I would have liked some more detail on those aspects. Does Nicholas interact with other people of colour? Did his foster father? Where did either of them cultivate the idea that race shouldn’t be a barrier?

Quote

The moment her realised he would only ever be a valet to a half brother who would never, ever, not in a thousand years, acknowledge him publicly as such, Nicholas had merely swallowed the bile rising in his throat and finished retying Julian’s cravat the way he preferred it to be styled.

bracken_afterlightKrista:

Cover

I really enjoyed the imagery on the cover: the opposition of ship vs land, also the bottle. I imagine it represents how she feels trapped (she was kidnapped after all).

Characters

Favourite

Etta for sure. She is very witty and funny, and yet outgoing and vulnerable. Nicholas is a close second though!

Least Favourite

Pretty much anybody proud to claim the name if Ironwood. That family has some issues.

Beginning

Upon the night of her violin debut, Etta is surprised by a fight between her mother and teacher, and suffers something that at first look seems like a panic attack. She witnesses her teacher murdered, and she is pushed into a worm hole by a unknown girl, who jumps with her.

Storyline

Etta finds that she has special blood in her genes that allows her to time travel. She has been kidnapped under the order of the Eldest Ironwood family member and finds herself on a pirate ship traveling to New York, where she will ultimately be told what her purpose is and who will die next if she doesn’t fulfil his wishes.

Ending

Very much a cliff hanger. We are left not knowing how several storylines end and only small details of choices the characters have left. But, as this is a duology all the answers will be answered eventually.

Thoughts

Like Bel, I also listened to the audio book, which I felt was very good. I have never been a fan of time travel novels, and it’s really rare for me to read one that I would recommend. Unfortunately, I found this one fell onto middle ground; it was ok, but I really didn’t care much for the pacing. However, the characters held my interest in the story, and I will most likely pick up the second book to see what happens with Etta and her mother.

Quote:
“You cannot fathom the distance I would travel for you.”  – Nicholas to Etta

 

Discussion

If you were able to travel to any time and place in history, where would you go, and why?

 

http://www.alexandrabracken.com/

Audio CD

Published January 5th 2016 by Brilliance Audio

ISBN 151136114X (ISBN13: 9781511361149)

 



Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Follow on Google+
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Tumblr
  • Follow on LinkedIn
  • Follow on Keek
  • Follow on YouTube
  • Subscribe