Posted in Book Reviews

Into the Fire, by Kim Vandel

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Kate is an ordinary college freshman. The biggest concern in her life is passing her med-school exam…until the day she meets Nathan, who reveals to her the existence of the Guardians.
He tells her she has been chosen by God, and has been given a supernatural ability that she must use for the good of mankind.
Disbelief, and shock race through her. Yet, there is the permanent flame shaped mark etched onto her wrist; proving that she was indeed Chosen.
Kate now struggles with the challenge of living her normal life at home, and embracing the call of the Guardians.

5/5 stars

I first heard about, Into The Fire, after reading a review/interview with the author, Kim Vandel, (shoutout to Kingdom Pen), and I thought it sounded interesting.  I stashed it away mentally in my future “to be read” pile.
When the kindle version went on sale, I snatched it up and started reading right away!

It’s been a long time since a book kept me up late into the night like this one did; it grabbed me right from the start.
The characters were my favorite part of this story. Each one had a distinct, and unique personality, which made them feel real, and relatable; and really set them apart from a lot of other books I’ve read.

I found it refreshing that Kate did not fall into the “typical teenager” category. And while she’s not perfect, she didn’t infuriate me when she made mistakes.
I loved watching her become stronger, both mentally and physically; and how her friendships with everyone (especially Hassan) grew.
When Hassan was first introduced, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He comes off as sulky, and sometimes rude. But learning about his past explained a lot of that, and developed his character arc.

Another character I enjoyed was Ty.
In many YA books, the main character’s sibling(s) are brushed off to the side, and don’t play much of a role in the story. Often they are cardboard-cutout characters. But Ty wasn’t like that.
I liked that he and Kate would hang out, and enjoy being in each others company, even though they also irritated one another. Which in truth, is how siblings usually feel.
Also speaking of Ty… that ending! Gah!

My only critique was the role God, played…..which was’t a big one.
The Guardians were chosen by God, yet He wasn’t mentioned much.
It seemed like in Kate’s circumstances, she should have been turning to God, for reassurance and strength, especially, when facing tough situations. That didn’t really happen, and I felt it was lacking.
(Perhaps, that’s how it was meant to be, leaving room to grow in the next book(s)?)

It can sometimes be hard to find Christian YA fiction, that’s not boring, has a good story, AND awesome characters. But Into The Fire had it all!
I very thoroughly, enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it.
It was a breath of fresh air in the YA genre, and it’s definitely one of the best books I read in 2016. The series could become one of my favorites once it’s finished.
I can’t wait to read, Among the Flames, next!

 

Posted in Book Reviews

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold) by Traci Chee

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Synopsis:

Sefia has spent her entire life in secrecy; trusting no one, always moving and watching over her shoulder, (just like her parents taught her).
After her father was brutally murdered, Sefia is orphaned, and left with her one surviving relative, aunt Nin. For a time, they live hidden in the forest; hunting, and stealing what they can, to survive. But when aunt Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is left to fend for herself. She is alone, in a wild and ruthless world.
She has only one possession still valuable and dear to her; a strange square object, which she carries with her everywhere.
Setting off on a solo mission to rescue Nin, Sefia finds an unexpected ally, and together they journey through the vicious world, followed by unseen foes, and encountering a group of rugged, swashbuckling pirates.

In this wild and ruthless world where reading and writing, do not exist, Sefia realizes that there’s more to the object than she first thought. Slowly, she begins to uncover some of the mystery shrouding it, but most importantly, she learns to read.

[*Spoiler alert*, the ‘object’ is a book. (Don’t worry, it’s not really a spoiler)]

Thoughts:

I rate this 4/5 stars

The unique-ness of this story was something I had never really experienced before. It had so many different aspects, and twists throughout.  Not to mention, that the actual pages themselves were my favorite part. Ink splotches, and markings really brought the book to life, and made the reading experience fun.                                                                                           I find it a bit hard to describe; as my initial idea about the setting, ended up being quite different from what it was at the end.
It’s an adventure, pirate novel, with some fantasy thrown into the mix.

The way the book was written, was somewhat confusing at first. Every now and then the perspective would switch between characters, to an alternate story, or time period, leaving me unsure of who, or when the chapter was written.
But, by keeping mental notes, the pieces eventually began to fit together.

I had only a couple of issues with the book; one of them being how easily Sefia learned to read.  She’d never really seen words, or actual books, yet by looking at it long enough it all just came to her… and then she could read and write!  (Just like ‘that’ *snaps fingers*.) I found that unrealistic, and hard to believe, but I played along to keep the story moving; trying hard not to dwell on those “minor” details.
The other thing isn’t so much a problem, as it is a critique. Sefia is a great character, yet we didn’t get to see enough of her. I’m sure that was in part, due to the fact that this is the first book in a series. Therefore, a lot of world building, and setting up of events went into this book and there wasn’t a lot of room for character development.
In all, this was a solid starter, and I’m optimistic about the next book, The Speaker.

P.S. As a tip, I would suggest keeping paper and pencil nearby while reading, for any notes or messages that you may find along the way.

And remember, look closer, and then closer. Continue reading “The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold) by Traci Chee”