Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA Dystopian
Published: November 22nd 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 435 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought


Book Summary:
Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
*The Chef's Review*
    Actual rating: 5/5 stars

I absolutely LOVE this book! When I first started reading Scythe, I began with high hopes because I had heard so many good things about it. The beginning was amazing and I am happy to say that it was incredible all the way through. And let me tell you, I don't normally read Dystopian books, but I am so glad that I made the exception because I would have missed out from a new favorite world.  

Scythe is about a Dystopian setting where humanity has created a certain "Utopic society" thanks to technological advances. The "Cloud" evolved into the "Thunderhead" where it holds all human knowledge. The Thunderhead takes care of all human beings, there are no deaths (if someone dies, they are revived), no wars, no diseases, no global warming, no hunger, etc. It is a nearly perfect life except for one thing-- the Scythes. In a world where there is no death, there must be balance for human population. That's how Scythes are created; they are a human organization that after proper apprenticeship, they hold the power to 'bring death' to society. Here is a small explanation extracted from the book:

"It begins on day one of apprenticeship-but we do not officially call it "killing." It's not socially or morally correct to call it such. It is, and has always been, "gleaning," named for the way the poor would trail behind farmers in ancient times, taking the stray stalks of grain left behind." ...  

The plot of this book is very unique. Most of the dystopian books that I've read have a dark and oppressive future, however in this story, the future seems very carefree and people live too comfortably. That life of comfort comes with a price and one that everyone is subjected to pay. I have to say that it is kind of nice to read that humanity came through and abolished wars, hunger, global warming and natural catastrophes (aaah, it is something that I constantly worry), but there are still evils and definite deaths.

The main characters of this story are Citra and Rowan who become apprentices to a Scythe. They are such wonderful characters with strong personalities and I really liked reading about them and how their story developed. As to the other characters, I think they were very well written and I adore reading about them as well. I loved how each Scythe wrote a journal and poured their thoughts into them giving the reader a chance to get a glimpse of their minds. My favorite Scythe characters where definitely Faraday and Curie.

Let's talk about the Scythedom! It is the only self-governing body in the world (the Scythe's organization), while the rest of humanity is ruled by the Thunderhead. This is the book's focus. In this society you can really appreciate how humans really haven't changed. Technology has revolutionized, but people are still people with their egos, politics, selfishness, childishness, etc, etc. I have to say that I find it intriguing and even though I was a bit skeptical at first in the ways of the Scythedom, I reasoned and came to the conclusion that there was a lot of truth in this society. They work in a complicated way, but not everyone is bad. There are also good people that perform their "work" with high morale, despite others that become and act as "a stone in the shoe".

Final Verdict:

Scythe is a phenomenal dystopian book and it has become my new favorite read from this genre. Aaah, I feel that I won't ever do this book justice, but seriously it is epic, thrilling and a definite must read! 


If you love Dystopian books, READ THIS! If you don't, STILL READ THIS. You won't regret it.


Happy reading! -- The Chef 

Waiting on Wednesday #56: Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf


Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:


Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf
June 5th, 2018, Entangled Teen
YA Fantasy
Pre-order: Book Depository Amazon
A lush, unique new fantasy trilogy about a girl tasked with stealing the prince’s heart…literally, from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lovely Vicious series.

Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.
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ISN'T THIS COVER GORGEOUS? I helped reveal this cover on the blog a few weeks ago and I still cannot get over how pretty it is!

BUT THAT PREMISE THOUGH. I just love the enemies to lovers trope so much and I cannot get enough of it! Also love how there's a witch controlling the main characters' heart, so intriguing!

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What are you waiting on this week? :)

The Week's Entrée #192

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

Last week my sister and I finally went prop shopping for bookstagram and we had fun but it's also quite hard! There's no such thing as craft stores in our side of Mexico so all the bookstagrammable things are pretty expensive here and not really worth it. But in the end we did find a few lovely flowers and ordered some stuff online and we cannot wait for them to get here :D And while it's technically for bookstagram, we are also working on getting things that we can use to decorate our home. Win-win!


In other news...


We helped reveal the paperback cover of DARK DAYS by Kate Ormand on our blog and we are giving away 3 copies to celebrate! Click here  or on the image to enter, it's international! :D
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New books!
{For review}
From authors, publishers, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.

So many thanks to Natasha Sapienza for sending me a copy of Prodigy Prince! Isn't this cover gorgeous?!?! And it sounds like such a fantastic read!!! And thanks to Glasstown Entertainment for the digital review copy of Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer! Cannot wait to dive into it soon! ♥

{Gift}


The ever awesome Danielle L. Jensen sent me a copy of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston so we can buddy read it. Sooo looking forward to it!!! ♥
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To Read This Week:


I will try to read Winter Glass this week since I am hosting a stop on the blog tour! Also need to read Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted for the blog tour and aaaah, don't know which one to read first!!! What do you think?!? :O
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And that's it for this edition of The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Waiting on Wednesday #55: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco!


Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:


Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
(Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)
September 18th, 2018, JIMMY Patterson
YA Historical Mystery
Pre-order: Book Depository Amazon
In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. . 

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?
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IIIIII NEEEEED THIIIIIISS BOOOOOOOK NOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!!
Stalking Jack the Ripper is hands down one of the best Historical YA novels of all times and I CANNOT WAIT for September to come! Also, did you take a good look at Escaping from Houdini's cover?! So perfect! This series is so fantastically bloody and mysterious and funny and swoony! It has everything you could wish for in a YA series and I'm super thrilled to learn about Houdini and what Audrey Rose & Thomas have up their sleeves against this new mystery. 

I AM READY.



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What are you waiting on this week? :)

The Week's Entrée #191

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

Last week was a super great week for bookmail which totally made my entire week month! It's always super fun to receive things, even though it takes around a month for packages to arrive when sent via normal mail. Why does Mexico have to have the slowest mail system ever?!?! Reason why I love DHL because they get things here ASAP. ♥

HOWEVER, my slow mail system has taught me over the years to be extremely patient, and also to build a friendship with my mailman. So that's definitely the silver lining! :D

Are you friends with your mailman/mailwoman? :)

In other news...


This week my friend Becky from The Life of a Book Nerd Addict & I are hosting our next Meet the Main Characters of 2018 (#MTMC18) chat on Twitter! Join us to chat with the main character (a princess!) of this YA Fantasy debut about a world with warring kingdoms and a girl who can control her enemies' minds, and suddenly, is able to envision a bigger evil that will destroy them all.

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New books!
{For review}
From authors, publishers, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.



The ever amazing Halie Fewkes, author of Secrets of the Tally, sent us Catching Epics (the sequel), and we couldn't be any more excited! She even was sweet enough to sign it to both of us ♥♥♥ Read this series of you haven't, it's amazing!!!

Huge thanks to Elizabeth Foster for the beautiful copy and swag of Esme's Wish! Cannot wait to read it as well, don't you think the cover is amazing?! :D Also big thanks to Mary Jane Capps for the gorgeous copy of Iloray! Super in love with the cover! ♥


Also FINALLY received the January Unicorn Crate!!! This is our last rep box for bookstagram and the theme was TALES OF TIME. It was an EPIC box, my favorite yet, and it included a stunning copy of Everless by Sara Holland (already read and LOVED this book) plus other time related merch! Might do an unboxing post this week. :D♥

{Purchased}


Totally forgot that back in September, 2017 I had preordered Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston until I got the Amazon email that it was on its way. I DIDN'T EVEN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PREORDER GOODIES. Total fail LOL. At least I have the pretty now! ♥
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To Read This Week:


I'm still reading Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (so goooood) and also started on Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake (also amazing!). I fear that both these reads will leave me in a terrible slump, but it'll be worth it! ♥
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And that's it for this edition of The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Book Review: The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Title: The Beauty That Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published:  March 6th, 2018
Page Count:  352 pages
Format:  ARC - Paperback
Source: From PRH International in exchange of an honest review 


Summary:
Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
.This review can also be found on YA Books Central.

The Beauty That Remains is a heartbreaking portrayal of loss, grief, and coping. It relates the stories of Autumn, Logan, and Shay, as they are left trying to pick up the shattered pieces of their hearts with the loss of their best friend, ex-boyfriend, and twin sister. 

This book is told in alternating point of views and each character has their own way of coping with the loss of their loved one. Autumn deals with anger and guilt, for not being there with her best friend when the car accident happened. Logan carries grief and guilt for wishing his ex-boyfriend to "die alone" six months before he is found dead in their school gym. And Shay feels lonely and empty after being left "twinless" as her twin sister loses her battle against Leukemia. 

The Beauty That Remains is not a light read. It starts heavy as you can feel the sense of loss and anguish of the characters, as well as their downward spiral to depression and emptiness. Each point of view is incredibly heartbreaking, yet I liked reading about how they slowly started to deal with the harsh reality because as much as this book is about losing someone we love, it is also about finding strength in those we have around us. It teaches that it is okay to rely on friends and family, and perhaps also in those we never thought we could find comfort in.

One of my favorite aspects of The Beauty That Remains is that, in a way, it's a simple storyline. There isn't a big, complicated conflict to solve other than an emotional journey with Autumn, Logan, and Shay. I appreciated being able to focus with each character's grief as they dealt with panic attacks, anger, confusion, depression, plus other coping mechanisms.

The cast of characters in this book is beautifully diverse and I loved how their race or sexual orientation is not an issue. For a second I thought it would be one of the plot conflicts, but it thankfully didn't go that way. I was particularly thrilled to find two of the characters to be Hispanics, like me!

Music is also a big part of this book and while I was reading I often found myself wishing I could listen to Unraveling Lovely, one of the bands mentioned. It is this band that links all three characters together, and it somehow made me think that if I could listen to their songs, my heart would also heal with theirs. It is of course impossible, but it didn't stop me to listen to some music as soon as I was done to lift my soul!

However, one thing that I wish this book had done differently was weaving its storyline a bit better towards the end. It felt rushed and I would have loved for the main characters to interact more with each other. Their quick apologies and condolences were not enough as they reunited for the first time in the whole book. Other than that this book was great!

Final Verdict:

With a wonderful diverse cast and a gut-wrenching look at loss and moving on, The Beauty That Remains leaves a gaping whole that only time will be able to heal. Highly recommended!

Trigger warning: Death, Panic Attacks, Suicide, Drug Use


Waiting on Wednesday #54: Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake


Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:


Beyond A Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
April 10th, 2018, HarperTeen
YA Fantasy
Pre-order: Book Depository Amazon
The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores. 

The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world. 

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world. 

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.
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Doesn't that premise sound intriguing? I actually just got a copy of this book and will read it soon! So excited! But honestly, what is it with crows that always make stories sound even more alluring? ;)


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What are you waiting on this week? :)

Audiobook Review: Ember Burning by Jennifer Alsever

Title: Ember Burning
Series: Trinity Forest #1
Author: Jennifer Alsever
Genre: YA Paranormal
Published: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Sawatch Publishing
Hour length: 8 hours and 47 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: From the author in exchange of an honest review


Book Summary:
Senior year was supposed to be great--that's what Ember's friend Maddie promised at the beginning of the year. Instead, Ember Trouve spends the year drifting in and out of life like a ghost, haunted by her parents' recent, tragic death.

At home, she pores over her secret obsession: pictures of missing kids-- from newspaper articles, from grocery store flyers-- that she's glued inside a spiral notebook. Like her, the people are lost. Like her, she discovers, they had been looking for a way to numb their pain when they disappeared.

When Ember finds herself in Trinity Forest one day, a place locals stay away from at all costs, she befriends a group of teenagers who are out camping. Hanging out with them in the forest tainted with urban legends of witchcraft and strange disappearances, she has more fun than she can remember having. But something isn't right.

The candy-covered wickedness she finds in Trinity proves to be a great escape, until she discovers she can never go home. Will Ember confront the truth behind her parents' death, or stay blissfully numb and lose herself to the forest forever? 
*The Chef's Review*
    Actual rating: 4/5 stars
Ember Burning is a fascinating Paranormal Young Adult book. It has a good beginning, an intriguing middle and a couldn't-stop-listening-until-I-finished-the-entire-book ending. I think that the cover is pretty and eye-catching. I listened to the audiobook format (which was my first audiobook that I've ever listened to) and I must say that it was a pleasant experience and I think that the narrator did a good job.

The book starts with Ember, the main lead character that lives in Leadville, a very small and secluded town in the mountains of Colorado. She was once a very cheerful and smart girl with a synesthesia condition (it represents to her by sounds, she sees colors with the sound of music), but she starts the story with a sadness and depression because of her parents sudden death. She feels claustrophobic in a town where everybody knows her story from which she can't escape. Ember surrenders to her pain and starts consuming harmful substances as a way out to her grief. One day, she wanders off to Trinity forest where she finds a fun crowd of people around her age and discovers that her pain is gone. However, the longer she stays, the more bizarre they seem... 

The story plot is very engaging. Ember Burning had a series of difficult subjects such as loss, rape, guilt, drug addiction and depression, and yet, they were written in such a way that the author didn't need to be very descriptive to make impact. But be warned, if you are triggered by these themes. 

I love the setting of this story. It was set in a small town close to the enigmatic Trinity forest. While listening to the story, I felt goosebumps just by imagining the place along with a combination of wonderment, magic and it was delightfully eerie.   

Ember had a medical condition called synesthesia that I think it was a fascinating topic on its own. I have heard about it, but it is until now that I looked it up that I know more  about it.  Whenever she hears music, she sees a combination of colors depending on the type of music. She calls it her "color crayon brain". I think it is a very interesting topic that I rarely get to read on books and I found it quite interesting.

I really liked the characters in the story. At first, I must admit that I had some trouble understanding Ember and some other characters  inside the book. However, as I kept listening to the audiobook, I began to realize why they acted that way. I specially liked Ember's grandma, even though she was a difficult person to live with, I think she was going through the same harsh sentiments as Ember, but didn't know how to deal with them. She was trying her best to take care of Ember, but clueless as to how.Also, I had a small problem with Jared (I believe it is spelled like this, but I'm not sure since I listened to the book). I felt like he showed little interest to Ember's well-being and that he left her to her own devices after the loss of their parents. He had to go to college, but I still believe that he shouldn't have left Ember alone.  

Final Verdict:

Ember Burning is a great Paranormal YA book for me. It had so many interesting elements to the story and the ending left me wishing for the next book ASAP! I'll be honest and say that paranormal is something that I don't generally read, but I certainly enjoyed this book. To all Paranormal Witchcraft YA book lovers out there, this is for you!  

Happy reading! -- The Chef 

The Week's Entrée #190

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

I've been struggling with back pains AGAIN and it's seriously annoying me so much because I cannot read in my favorite positions (a.k.a. lying down in bed until my arms hurt) Okay, perhaps the way I read is one of the causes of my back pain but not by much! Besides, I haven't been reading like that in a loooong time. I sure miss it! :(

ANYWAY, here's my favorite bookstagram photo from last week! We recently changed theme (warm-rustic) and I'm loving it so much! ♥



We recently had an issue with an account impersonating us and asking for people to dowload apps and such, but thanks to the wonderful bookstagram community, everyone reported and we managed to make Instagram to get it down! It was STRESSING but we are super grateful for everyone's help. ♥ Hopefully we won't have to deal with this kind of issue again!
.......
New books!
{For review}
From authors, publishers, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.


Thanks to Harlequin Teen for sendimg me a digital ARC of Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody! I actually already had one from YABC but I appreciate getting one for my personal account! Hope to read it next week! Also got access to All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor and I'm so excited to read it since I've heard nothing but good things about it!
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To Read This Week:


Will start reading my ARC of Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa!!! So nervous and excited!!! aaaah!!!
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And that's it for this edition of The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Book Review: A Kingdom Falls by John Owen Theobald

Title: A Kingdom Falls
Series: The Ravenmaster Trilogy #3
Author: John Owen Theobald
Genre: Historical Fiction Young Adult
Published: November 1st 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Page count: 368 pages

Format: Hardcover
Source: From the author in exchange of an honest review


Book Summary:
London, 1944. War is raging across Europe and Hitler's terrifying secret weapons, V2 rockets, transform life into a nightmare. After her mother was killed in an air raid, Anna Cooper was sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Now he too is dead, and Anna must seek help from her estranged father to discover her only chance of fighting back. Commandeering a Spitfire, Anna leads a crew of fearless pilots to intercept the deadly rockets. But Hitler has one final secret weapon, against which there is no defense. At the eve of a devastating war, Anna must confront the ghosts of her past and do what she can to survive in a world forever changed.
*The Chef's Review*
    Actual rating: 5/5 stars


I am pleased to announce that I have finished reading The Ravenmaster Trilogy and I loved it! I have to say that I feel a sense of accomplishment because it has been a long while since I've been able to finish a series. I have waited for this book for about a year and it was worth it!

This is a quick summary of my own. In this third and final book of The Ravenmaster Trilogy, WWII is still in full force and everyone is working hard to end it. Anna Cooper, the heroine of this story who is an ATA woman pilot, starts this book with the knowledge that V2 Rockets are a threat to her country. She is determined to bring that information to attention to the right authorities and help end the war as soon as possible. She doesn't have much luck, but Anna (with the help of some friends) will do anything in her power to stop them. Meanwhile, Timothy Squire, Anna's friend and love interest, is fighting his own battle and struggling to survive the war. 

Aaaah! I am so satisfied with how the story developed and came to an end. We get to see how Anna and all of her acquaintances change their way of thinking and adjust to all the changes that are taking place in their society. Most of the characters were already introduced throughout the series, but in A Kingdom Falls, I felt like everyone finally understood the seriousness of the situation and they started to act upon it.

I really enjoyed reading the multiple points of view, it was something that the other two books didn't have much, but in this third one, almost every chapter changed POV between Anna, Timothy and a few other characters. There were some parts in the story where some of the characters were having a conversation and the chapter changed along with the POV. I thought that was very fun and dynamic because each character was narrating their thoughts and emotions.

Another thing that stood out to me was that even though the situation in which the characters were living was grave, there were still bits of humor that relieved the tension of the story. I specially enjoyed reading about Timothy Squire's point of view, his thoughts were the most fun to me. Also, Anna Cooper's friends from ATA (women pilots), were always an entertaining group to hang around with, Bella and Joy in particular. 

Final Verdict:

A Kingdom Falls is a gripping historical young adult book full of WWII action, friendship, hard decisions, strong female characters and with a slight touch of humor that will leave you pleased with the outcome of the story. It is one of my favorite historical fiction books that I've read so far and I would happily recommend to all readers that like this genre. 

Happy reading! -- The Chef