Weekly Wrap Up + What We Read 2/28/16

Welcome to another weekly wrap up! While our blog content was, of course, impressive our reads this week … were not so much. Michaela is working hard at Barnes and Noble now, and I’ve got school, so she’s down to my reading level. Ha! As long as it doesn’t impact blog content, right? Without further ado, here we go!

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday: 

Friday:

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Worth It Wednesday: “Insignia” by SJ Kincaid

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

InsigniaTitle: Insignia

Author: SJ Kincaid

Goodreads Description: The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . . .

Why it’s worth it: This book has been on my mind since my From the Notebook video titled Where is the YA for Boys? Insignia is one of the books that I mention me and my brother both having enjoyed, so I figured that it was fitting to give it it’s own time in the spotlight.

The fast way to say why this book is worth it is: it’s FUN. It’s SO MUCH FUN. I’m not the easiest person to make laugh out loud, but this is one of the books that did it for me. The main characters in this book–the whole ensemble, in fact–really stick out at me every time I think of it because they all had such a genuine friendship and good time with each other. When I read back over my ARC review in preparation for this post, I remembered the exact scene of hilarity I was referencing in it despite not having read it since that initial review in 2012.

I am not usually easy to sell scifi too either, since whenever I see it in book form I’m usually annoyed with it for one reason or another. Kincaid’s use of science and world building was good but also easy to access, painting a world that I could understand without hitting me in the head with weird and difficult science concepts. I enjoyed the space action immensely–but, again, super happy that the emphasis stayed on the characters and not the explosions.

Sure, there are some not so great things about this book. It straddles the line between YA and middle grade, so there is this weird half-hearted romance that happens, but it doesn’t particularly overrun the story. The ending villain reveal isn’t as in-depth as one might hope either, but in terms of a first book in a trilogy I’ll give it a pass.

It’s hard not to love something that was just FUN. Also, that me and my brother both enjoyed reading. Though I never read the rest of the series, I find this to be a serious failure on my part. Hey, at least I got my brother into the series. He finished it–and now it’s time to borrow his books.

Read it if you’re looking for: Great cast of characters, science fiction, books like Ender’s Game but better, laugh out loud humor, male protagonists, realistic characters, space battles, action, adventure, fast paced reads, fun

 

Top Ten Books About Friendship

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

So something I just discovered is that there are a lot of books that just have generic friendships that I was meh about. However, there were also some books that had a bunch of GREAT friendships that made me swoon over their beautiful friendship-ness. Here the top ten of those are!

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Review: “Vortex” by S. J. Kincaid

VortexVortex (Insignia #2) by S. J. Kincaid

Goodreads | Amazon

The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

4 stars

WARNING: This review WILL contain spoilers for the first book, Insignia. Read my review of that one HERE!

I already knew, when I started reading this book, that there was no chance of me having the ridiculously enthusiastic reaction that I had to the first book. Still, I was excited to open the pages and get into a story I was sure to make me laugh. What I found was a plot in two, strange parts.

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Waiting on Wednesday #38

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

VortexTitle: Vortex (Insignia #2) 

Author: S. J. Kincaid

ETA: July 2nd, 2013

Summary from Goodreads: The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

ARC Review: “Insignia” by SJ Kincaid

Insignia (Insignia #1) by SJ Kincaid

Goodreads | Amazon

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.
Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?
Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

4 1/2 stars

This ARC was received via a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thank you Goodreads and Katherine Tegen Books! You can get a copy of your own on July 10, 2012.

You know those books that you never want to end because you’re having so much fun?

This is one of those books.

In all honesty, when I won this off Goodreads I wasn’t sure what to think. I certainly wasn’t dying to read this book by any means, but I figured it would be a neat present to give my brother. However, because I’m a good girl and I totally enjoy the opportunity First Reads gives people, I knew that I HAD to at least try to read and review it.

I am SO GLAD I did.

I don’t usually read books with 14-year-old male main characters. Usually I find them annoying as the species themselves. 😉 However, Kincaid brings Tom to life with fantastic ability. I feel his adolescent pain and really get to know how he ticks. Whereas sometimes I feel YA/middle grade books can present caricatures of adolescent life, Kincaid brought forward a REAL fourteen year old boy.

And it wasn’t just Tom, either. All his friends, from his best friend Vik to loner girl genius Wyatt were just fantastic. All the dialogue, the reactions and the jokes were spot on for the age range and wonderfully written. Plus, the humor wasn’t tired or cliché. I literally doubled over laughing in places, remembering the ridiculous jokes that I had as a kid. I want to throw around more adjectives, but I’ll bottom line with: characters in Insignia = perfect.

I was also impressed with Kincaid’s world building. There was a LOT going on, and you can tell that every facet is thought out. I could almost picture the new world map. The new governmental structure, the whole fight–it’s a wild concept, but it all had concrete “facts” to make sense of it. Yes, in places it felt a little bit like an info dump, but Kincaid usually managed to dole out the finite details in manageable doses. I could not find one hole in the extensive explanation.

I also really loved how the plot kept moving. There was plenty of action and suspense, all written excellently. This was also one of the few books were I looked forward to the slow downs, too, because Tom and his friends were just so fantastic when they were simply hanging out. I mean, a whole chapter where they run around trying to put virus in each other’s heads and Wyatt ends up making them all impersonate sheep? Pretty irrelevant to the larger plot, but MAN that was FANTASTIC.

To be sure, there were a few things that I found a little farfetched, such as Tom’s friendship/courtship of a certain enemy who shall remain nameless to avert spoilers. It just didn’t make sense as a thing that would legitimately happen. Also, while I enjoyed the range of bad guys and the fact that there was really no black and white where they were concerned, I felt that we weren’t given enough time with the “bad guy” at the end, or even proof of something that would make him act the way he did. I also had to wonder why a few characters, such as Heather, were even there.

All in all, I really enjoyed Insignia the whole way through. It was one of those books where I just sat back and allowed myself to enjoy the ride. I am still certainly going to let my brother read it, but now he HAS to give it back. This is one that I’ll enjoy rereading when I need a laugh and some excitement.

Stacking the Shelves #1

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews!

Hi everybody! Welcome to my first ever Stacking the Shelves! For those of you who don’t know what this is, its blogging or vlogging about the different books we’ve received in the last week. This gives you readers a hint at what’s coming up on the blog, and also gives us bloggers a chance to squeal about all the awesome goodness we’ve got coming in. So without further ado, here we go!


In summary:

Borrowed:

~Iron King by Julie Kagawa – Goodreads

Won:

~Insignia by S. J. Kincaid – Goodreads

Book Swap:

~Tithe by Holly Black – Goodreads

~Valiant by Holly Black – Goodreads

~Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor- Goodreads

Gift:

~Rapture by Lauren Kate – Goodreads

~Legend by Marie Lu – Goodreads

~Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck – Goodreads

~Oh The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss

Egalleys

~Defiance by CJ Redwine – Goodreads

~Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louis Rozett – Goodreads