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Book Review & ARC Giveaway: Erased by Jennifer Rush

“What’s wrong? Do you want me to get Sam?”
“No,” I said, but the word came out too breathy, too quiet.
Was it another flashback? Why here? Why now?
“I’m getting Sam,” Dani said and started for the door.
I tried to stop her but stumbled, pitching forward.
The sound of paper scraping against paper.
The sound of a voice.
“How long are you here?” The question echoed in my head. It was my voice asking it.
Just tonight,” Dani answered.
The flashback took ahold of me, and the motel room faded away, the smell of cleaner and iron disappearing, replaced with the smell of pine and flowers and something smokey.
We were in a a bedroom. Mine, I thought. From my old house. My old life.
I sat cross-legged on the bed, and Dani sat next to me.
I must have pouted, because she laughed and pushed the hair behind my ear. “Don’t be sad, bird.”
“I don’t like it when you’re gone. Dad is mean, and Mom doesn’t say or do anything. I’m so bored.”
Dani stiffened. “How is Dad mean?”
“I don’t know. He yells a lot.”
“Has he…” Her voice cracked. “Did he hit you again? I mean, when you get in trouble? Or when he yells?”
I frowned. I couldn’t remember him hitting me ever, so I said, “No. I don’t think so.”

Dani relaxed and blew out a breath. She curled her index finger and thumb, cupping my chin. “I’ll come back for you. I swear it. You just have to be patient.”
“I don’t want to be patient.”
“It won’t be much longer now. Sam’s gonna help me get you out. It’ll be an adventure.”
I brightened. “Will Nick go with us?”
Dani rolled her eyes. “Why would you ever want that crabby pants to come with us?”
“I don’t know.” I picked at the blanket spread out beneath us. “He’s nice to me. He showed me how to make these.” I held up a piece of paper that was folded into a bird. “He said his mom showed him how.”
Dani held the bird by its sharp, pointed tail. “Did he, now? Well, in that case, maybe we should bring him along. Maybe he can fold us a boat out of paper and we can sail across the ocean.”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s dumb. It would sink.”
She laughed again and smoothed down my hair. “You never know. Anything is possible, bird, if you wish for it hard enough.”


Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick are fleeing from The Branch and their top secret genetic and memory program, and fighting to regain their memories that have been wiped during their treatments. Flashbacks come and go, making little sense, and Anna is trying to learn the Boys’ rules: Don’t draw attention, always carry a weapon, know your surroundings, and watch your back. But when her sister Dani turns out to be alive, and more of her memories of her life before surface, can Dani trust Sam or any of The Boys? What was the real reason her memories were erased?

In this sequel to Altered, Jennifer Rush picks up right where she left off and keeps the reader running until the end. The danger and action are exponential, with not only the secret Branch on their heels but flashbacks bringing back memories to everyone, casting loyalties in doubt. In addition, the Branch has new tricks up their sleeves, and will stop at nothing and no one to make sure that Anna is in custody and the rest are captured or killed. The back stories on Anna, Sam, and Nick are more fully fleshed out, leaving readers wanting detail happy, yet they only add to the twists within the story.

My feels:


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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who loved Altered, as well as readers who are looking for books similar to movies like The Bourne Saga (erased memories/secret agents). Would also tie in well with dystopia books like False Memory (Dan Krokos), Mila 2.0 (Debra Driza), and  Starters/Enders (Lissa Price). 

Nonfiction tie-ins could include Spies of Mississippi: The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement; The Dark Game: True Spy Stories from Invisible Ink to CIA Moles; and Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies.

NOTE: Does contain violence (hand-to-hand combat, gun use, explosions, etc.), as well as distrust in government, and some sensual action. 

I mention the distrust in government because I had someone come in a few weeks ago that was looking for an alternative reading for class for their teen for a dystopia that did not have distrust with the government. True story. I did not hear if any of the books that I gave them (not dystopias but similar in themes) worked for the school.


SPOILER SPACE
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I loved this book SOOOOOOO much more than Altered, and I am glad that Anna turned into more Jinx than Bond Girl of the Day. Even with all of the flashbacks and no way of telling who to trust, she kept things together, defied everyone- and when the CRAP came out that almost everyone was against her save The Boys she kicked ass and took names, in triplicate.

Dani: I guessed what the outcome of Dani was going to be, and I was disappointed that I was right. I had hoped for more, but there’s only so much that you can do, I guess.

Nick: I am so happy that he turned out to be much better than a dick that he was in the first, although I secretly hoped that romance would bloom. Especially with each flashback revealing more and more about Anna’s and Nick’s past and how it was intertwined, I was hoping that maybe maybe…..

The Cover: I can see the huge outcry online about the cover. If you look at the Altered finished cover, it is extremely similar to the finished cover above.

http://i785.photobucket.com/albums/yy137/soulunsung/altered--jr200_zps074f9227.png


Yet those who looked at the Altered and Erased advanced reading copy and the cover for Forged (a prequel), you got an eyefull:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ocos7uvKfxk/UMqNLIFTPTI/AAAAAAAAAyo/q0FYHtmnje4/s1600/ALTERED.jpg  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zRujtSGGVZI/UTnw1ItrqoI/AAAAAAAABb4/MuqiIPhOloE/s1600/Erased%5B4%5D.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FieyWo5Y3S4/UoCAIoK6bHI/AAAAAAAAB1s/wmWspHXEDlM/s1600/Rush_Forged.jpg

 So if you want eye candy, that can be disappointing. Me, I actually like the published covers with the graphics going all around and through. To me, it makes it less romance/bodice ripper book (which it’s SO not so false advertising), and more appealing overall. YMMV.

WANT A REVIEW COPY? Tell us what you think of Altered or share another book that you would pair that is in the same theme (erased memories, government teen training program, etc.), and your email in the comments below! Giveaway will end on Sunday, March 9.


Book Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

The door shut behind him and his footsteps pounded down the steps. I whirled on Nick. “Why did you do that?”
 
He cracked a knuckle. “You think you have any right to my memories? To my life before this? You don’t.”
 
Trev rose behind me. “Anna.”
 
“why do you make me look like the bad guy?  Like I can’t keep your secrets or something.”
Nick tsked. His expression turned coarse. “Because what if you can’t? You’re the daughter of the enemy. We never should have brought you in the first place.”
I started for him, not that I even knew what I planned to do. Punch him? Gouge out his eyes? A hard dig of the thumbs, don’t give in, even if it makes you squirm.
 
Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Trev stepped between us. Don’t, the look on his face said. You’re being ridiculous.
 
I huffed in resignation as Nick cracked another knuckle. The tension felt thick enough to braid. If it weren’t for Trev, I was almost certain Nick would have fought me, not even caring that I was a girl.
 
And that was a fight I would never win.
 

Anna and her father are working on a top secret project for The Branch- involving the splendid and genetically altered Boys (Sam, Trev, Cas and Nick) and an attempt to turn them into the perfect soldiers. Hidden underneath their farmhouse, Anna assists by taking blood samples, making notes, and interacting with The Boys, but never knows what the project is, or what the end goal is.  However, there is one thing she knows- she is especially connected to Sam, more so than is safe. When The Branch decide that the project is over and collect their specimens, The Boys and Anna escape and go on the run across the country away from the farm and following clues to discover the missing memories of Sam and hopefully why they were in the project to begin with. Yet, even though Anna’s attraction to Sam is growing stronger with each passing moment, could his past break them apart?

Jennifer Rush’s writing really captivates a reader, and the action will draw teens in looking for more than your typical romance story.  Trev, Cas and Nick add their own dimensions to the world Rush builds, and the twists and turns within their story lines never stop.  There is a LOT of violence (killings, gun-play, martial arts fighting- think teenage Jason Bourne on paper) so it is not for your more conservative readers.  However, those who love romance books with a kick will really like this one- it’s a nice, fast read.  I’d actually pair it with readers who liked Kady Cross’ Steampunk Chronicles- adventure and romance rolled into one.  Also, think Maximimum Ride by James Patterson.  Add it if you have a large YA collection, I suspect demand will be high.
 
Altered is published by Little, Brown, and will be released January 1, 2013. Interested in winning my ARC of Altered? Give me your favorite action/adventure book with your email in the comments below!

I really wanted to LOVE this book, but I ended up only liking it (3 out of 5 stars).  Genetic manipulation, hidden super soldiers in the basement, secret military projects, running from The Branch- it was like The Pretender, The Bourne series, and James Bond rolled into one.  It was marred however, like a lot of Bond movies, by the heroine.
 
It’s not that I wanted Anna to be something more than she should have been, but I needed her to have a little bit of confidence in herself or to understand more why she doesn’t.  We get the story through Anna’s eyes, and the only thing Anna has in her eyes is Sam. Everything else is secondary; her father gets shot, but she can run off with Sam and as long as he’s near that’s OK; Sam can kill everyone, but as long as she can see him, that’s fine – I wished that she was a little less wrapped up in Sam. 
 
It doesn’t help that a few times in the first half of the book she refers to herself in a derogatory tone and I just want to smack her upside the head. It’s mentioned in the first few chapters that Anna has taken COMBAT training for Pete’s sake, snap into it.  I don’t want you to be Jinks or Wai Lin, but could you please not be Bibi?  Anna does come into her own a little bit, and I have to wonder how much of it has to do with the plot twists and story line, but Rush never goes into that in Altered, so I can only go with what she gives me- and what she gives me does not give enough background to figure out why Anna doesn’t have faith in herself, and then suddenly can fight and command by the end of the book. *sigh*
 
There are also a LOT of plot twists and turns with Altered, and a HUGE one I didn’t see coming- things I like, which is good.  There are also some unbelievable things in there (rainbows and butterflies), which I don’t like.  The ending was a little too quick, and I wanted MORE.  More character building, more substance, more build-up to a world that I could have easily fallen in love with, as opposed to just like with.  


Interested in winning my ARC of Altered? Give me your favorite action/adventure book with your email in the comments below!