[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen

[Book Review] The Sage Challenger by Chad Rasmussen


“The day Arian Coles stepped into the CUBUS his life would be changed forever. His scores were high enough to thrust him into the world’s greatest and most dangerous competition. But this is no game, the winner will become one of the ten world leaders–a Sage. According to Sage Law there must always be Ten Sages, but the eldest, Kanja, is dying. He must be replaced. Unable to find a suitable replacement among their own people, the Sages turn to the working class populace and institute the Challenger Competition. Through their love of intelligence, athleticism, technology, and extreme sports they have created The Challenges–ten Challenges in the most dangerous locations on earth. Making friends and foes along the way, Arian must be on his guard at all times. He must decipher his feelings between Maria and Ciana and decide if one is his ally or enemy. At the brink of death, Arian will have to prove if he has the fortitude to make it through unimaginable adversity and be crowned a Sage. But is this the end goal for Arian? He must decide what his true purpose is.” 

My Review:

Wow! What a ride! Full disclosure: Chad Rasmussen lives in my neighborhood. It always makes me a little nervous to review books for people that I know. What if I hate it? What if it’s poorly written? Especially with first-time authors, you never know what you’re going to get. So, when his wife asked if I’d read his book, I said, “Yes,” and then I got worried. However, I needn’t have worried. In his debut novel, Chad Rasmussen takes one part Hunger Games, one part The Amazing Race, and one part Olympics, and successfully mixes them all up into one crazy concoction of action, revenge, betrayal, amazing feats, and change for the Cive people. You can’t help but like Arian. He’s strong, determined, intelligent, easy to relate to, and courageous. The Challenges are insane! Racing on snowboard-type boards on sand dunes, capoeira to the death, soccer on water skates, and flying suits. I was really glad that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law introduced me to capoeira so that I knew what they were talking about. I watched them in a tournament once, and it was quite exciting! Here’s a video of what capoeira is. It’s 8.5 min, but you just need to watch the first couple of minutes to see what it is.  

What did you think? Pretty fun to watch, right? Now just picture them fighting to the death using capoeira. On a small platform. Thousands of feet in the air. Scary! Overall, I’d say that this book is well written. The characters are developed well, the story flows well, is easy to read and understand, and it’s full of action. The Challenges are exciting to read about, and the relationships Arian has with Maria, Shen, and Komi add such a great element to the story. I loved how they supported him. I’d say that overall it was a bit predictable, but there were enough surprises along the way to keep me reading. I came to enjoy this sci-fi world that Chad Rasmussen has created. The ending was a bit of a drop-off-a-cliff, so I hope there is a second book to take us off the ledge we’re hanging from.

Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (There was one swear word that I remember, so not terrible there, and there isn’t any “intimacy,” except for some brief kissing. It is quite violent though. A lot of characters die, and some of them quite graphically.)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult and up (12+)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and Chad Rasmussen does live in my neighborhood; however, this did not affect my review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Earth-Sim by Jade Kerrion   Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card   The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

Before The Fall

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley


“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family. With chapters weaving between the after-math of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage. Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.”

My Review:

Talk about intense! I was hooked from the very beginning. The characters and their lives were so intriguing. They were well developed, real-to-life, and each of their stories drew me in. There were times I liked Scott and times I didn’t, but overall he just seemed like an ordinary guy who was thrown into a very difficult situation and really didn’t know how to handle it. I can totally see how he could go from hero to suspect with the media as it is today, and that it sad. Seeing it from that perspective made me think a lot about the media and how things are reported. It was also a good chance to take a step back from some of the current stories and look at them from a different perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the feelings of the moment, and easy to forget that there are real people with real lives behind the stories. Anyway, that was a little bit of a tangent, but it was part of the story. The story was well crafted, and transitioned easily in between the past and the present. As each piece of the puzzle is put into place, your mind tries to figure out if that piece is the one that matters, or the one that caused the horrible tragedy. You’ll think you’ve got it figured out, and then comes the next piece that has just as much cause for scrutiny. I thought this book was well written with surprises, twists, suspense, and a human element that holds the whole thing together. I couldn’t put it down!

The only negative I have about this book is the language. Oh boy! It has so much language that had I not been reviewing it I would have stopped reading it. Had it been a movie I would have walked out. Boo. Why? Why does it need the language? Why ruin a great story line with such distracting profanity? It’s irritating and disappointing. As a reader it is very distracting. There are the normal words, and then there are way too many “f” words. There is also an interesting “intimacy” scene that isn’t, but it is. There’s drug use, and there is also the violent situation that the whole book is based on where lots of people die. It’s too bad; I would love to recommend this story to my friends and family, but I can’t because of the language. However, if profanity does not bother you, you will love this book.

Rating: R (Not recommended for YA or younger readers) There is so much profanity, especially the “f” word. There is an “intimacy” scene that is, but it isn’t. There is also drug use and a violent situation where lots of people die.

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book is a SheReads.org book of summer!

The Shadow Throne (Book #3 of the Ascendance Trilogy)

The Shadow Throne (Book #3 of the Ascendance Trilogy)
by Jennifer Nielsen


War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does. His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighboring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

My Review:

I like Jaron, but boy does he drive me crazy! I think we are 100% opposite from each other! I do not like taking risks, I’m not witty, and hopefully I’m not as crazy as he is (My kids might disagree with me on that one). Just like always, Jaron is crazy and makes rash decisions that affect those around him. Besides Jaron driving me crazy, I have really enjoyed this series. The characters are fun and interesting, the plot is full of surprises and unknowns, and it’s full of action and adventure. This is a great last book. There were a few surprises that I did not like, though. It was funny because my 11 year-old and 13 year-old sons read this book before I got to it, and they kept telling about these twists that they didn’t expect or like. I thought they were being dramatic! And then when I got to those parts I would plead with them to tell me that those things didn’t really just happen. Yeah, maybe I’m the dramatic one? Some of those surprises ended up being ok, but others did not. There’s a hint of mystery in this book, which adds a fun dimension. I thought the plot progressed well, the characters grew and developed, and it all ended up as it should have. It may have ended up too nicely tied with a bow, but it’s a middle-grader book, and I loved it anyway. Middle-graders still need a good tied-with -a-bow ending sometimes, and honestly, so do I. So it was good. If you like the first two books in this series then you definitely need to read this one!

They are fighting a war, so it is violent in some places. People die, including a few main characters. There are descriptions of the fighting that are a little graphic. There is no profanity or “intimacy” (yay!).

Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy,” but there is some violence as they fight in the war, and people die, including a few main characters.)

Recommendation: 4th grade and up. This is a great middle-grader read. It would make a fun read-aloud as well.

Castle of Fire

Castle of Fire (Adventures of Jonathan Moore Book #2) by Peter Greene
“The once-orphaned Jonathan Moore is now reunited with his father, though soon leaves the comfort of family and London on what is considered by all to be a ‘peach’ of a mission. However, with the arrival of another midshipman holding a severe but unexplained grudge, life aboard the HMS Danielle is anything but pleasant. Why are the new midshipmen his enemies? Who is stealing food from the ship’s stores, and why must Jonathan and Sean sneak into a heavily guarded Spanish fort in the middle of the night to do some burglary of their own? In the second book of the Adventures of Jonathan Moore Series, Jonathan must capture a stolen British ship from blood-thirsty pirates, solve the mystery of the surprising stowaway, and defend his honor and his life during a fierce duel to the death with a murderous adversary. Alone and vastly outnumbered, the crew of the Danielle engages in a violent battle on the wild seas south of the farthest tip of Africa. Only Jonathan, Sean, and an unexpected guest can turn the tide of the struggle by unlocking the secret of a mysterious island and re-igniting the ferocious power of the Castle of Fire!
I loved the first book in this series, Skull Eye Island, and my boys did too. Since I received the second book, a long time ago, my boys have asked me many times if I have read it yet. Well, I finally got to read it! Good ol’ Jonathan is back at it, with his trusty friend Sean. The characters are the same, with the exception of a few more. The characters in this book are so fun. I love their personalities and their relationships. There are a few grumpy old (and young) sailors, and even a few happy ones have their moments of temper, but they each have their place on the ship, and each makes for a great story. There is a lot of action in this book, as there was in the first book. There’s sword fighting, pirates, cannons, stealing pirate ships, a little romance, a stowaway, friendship, and much more. 
I didn’t love this book as much as I did the first, unfortunately. I thought it started slowly and didn’t really get into the story or the action until half-way through the book. I was disappointed. However, the end of the book was great and got back into the adventure and the fun of the first book. The ending made reading this book worth it. There were a lot of grammatical and spelling errors in this book, which drove me crazy. I hope there is another edition out that has fixed all the errors, but I’m not sure if there is. This book is clean, though, and that is fantastic! I love it when I can hand a child a book and not worry at all about questionable words or content. If you liked the first book in the series then you should read this one. Push through the beginning and you’ll love the ending. 
Rating: PG (Fighting pirates, sword fighting, a few minor characters die)
Recommendation: 9 years old (Fourth Grade-ish) and up. My boys read Harry Potter in third grade and Fablehaven in second grade. If that is the case then this book would be fine for third graders. It’s no worse than Harry Potter. There are some sailing terms they may not understand, but that is a quick (google) fix. 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

George Goes To Mars

George Goes To Mars by Simon Dillon
(Summary taken from an email the author sent me) “When George Hughes discovers he has inherited the planet Mars, he goes from poverty to becoming the richest boy on Earth overnight. Accompanied by his new guardian, a mysterious secret agent, and a crew of astronauts, George voyages to Mars to sell land to celebrities wanting to build interplanetary homes. But sabotage, assassination attempts and an alien threat plunge him into a deadly adventure.”

This book has a little bit of everything: action, adventure, mystery, space, a touch of romance, a few surprises, and some politics scattered here and there. Hahaha…..you know how I feel about that last one in middle-grade and early YA books. Yeah, not my favorite. Anyway, there are some good moments in this book. I liked a few of the characters. I liked Giles and I liked George’s parents. I also liked a few of the characters on the space expedition. For some reason, I just didn’t latch onto George. I’m not quite sure why, but I didn’t relate to him at all. The story line was ok. I actually found a lot of it too unbelievable to even go with. It’s not fantasy where you can kind of go with it, it’s sci-fi and supposed to be realistic, and I didn’t really find it to be realistic. The whole premise was a little out there for me. I wanted to like this book because I liked “Uncle Flynn,” Mr. Dillon’s other book, but it just kind of fell flat for me. My boys might like it more than I did; maybe it’s more of a boy thing. I usually like sci-fi, and space can interest me, but this time I just didn’t care what happened to George (even though I wanted to), and that usually isn’t a good sign. 

There are a couple of swear words, but that’s all. There’s some violence with fighting and bullies, and a deadly river with some graphic descriptions. There are some deaths as well. 

I might give this to my boys to read (they are 12 and 10), because it may just be a boy thing. I’ll let you know if they enjoy it more than I did.

Rating: PG+ (Minor language, violence with bullies, deaths, fighting in a war, and a deadly river with some graphic descriptions)

Recommendation: 5th grade and up (10-11 year-old), and  I think boys will be more interested than girls.

(It’s only $.99 on amazon.com right now, so it might be worth the read.)

Uncle Flynn

Uncle Flynn by Simon Dillon
(Summary taken from an email the author sent me)When timid eleven year old Max Bradley embarks on a hunt for buried treasure on Dartmoor with his mysterious Uncle Flynn, he discovers he is braver than he thought. Together they decipher clues, find a hidden map and explore secret tunnels in their search. But with both police and rival treasure hunters on their tail, Max begins to wonder if his uncle is all he seems…”

I liked this book. I liked the characters, especially Max. I also liked Uncle Flynn. I thought they were developed well. Uncle Flynn is quite mysterious; there isn’t a whole lot of history or detail in regards to him, but it definitely makes him more intriguing. The writing is okay; it moves a little slowly in some parts, but then the action will pick up in others. There are some surprises and twists that made the book more exciting and interesting. There are a few unbelievable parts, but it’s ok because by the time you get to them you’re hooked and you just keep reading anyway. I liked the adventure and mystery in this book. I enjoyed the story and thought it was entertaining. I think that the middle-grade and early YA crowd will especially enjoy it.

There were one or two swear words and some close calls with a panther. There are some bad guys who try throughout the book to capture or kill Max. 

I enjoyed this book and am now excited to hand it over to my 12 and 10 year-olds. I think they’ll enjoy it as well.

Rating: PG+ (One or two swear words, some minor violence)

Recommendation: 5th grade and up (As far as content goes, I think it would be okay for fourth graders, and maybe even a really good third grade reader, but the way it is written lends itself more toward a reader that is a little bit older.)

Emblazed (The Division Chronicles: Book Two)

Emblazed (The Division Chronicles: Book Two) by Connie L. Smith
(Summary taken from an email from the author) “After all the preparations, Nicholai’s warriors stand on the threshold of warfare, the demons entering the realm in battalions and the world unknowingly depending on the army’s success to continue intact. But the battle is only the beginning of deadly struggles, and the soldiers will soon realize how little they know, how many things are at stake, and how much they have to lose. Love, hate, hope, despair, anguish, joy… The journey is a gauntlet of emotion and combat, threatening their resolve as much as their lives. Will their training and ties be enough, or will the complications and the forthcoming evil forever cripple the world’s last hope of survival?”

I liked this sequel! I liked that we got to see more of the characters, and got to know them better. I thought the fighting scenes were described well and were well thought out. It was a little violent, but not too much. There were a few main characters that died, which was sad. And one of those was especially gruesome and painful. I liked watching the progression of A.J. and Julius’ relationship, along with the relationship between Johnny and Kenna. I liked it when the characters found that the abilities they knew they had were able to perform in different ways. I liked watching the individual characters being tested and finding they could do more than they thought they could. This book is a lot less choppy, and the different points of view continue throughout the entire book. I would have liked more description about the Division. What did it look like? How could they tell it was there? Could they touch it and open it up from their side? Could they see into the other side? If so, what did it look like? I’m still curious to know why A.J and Julius’ relationship is so important, and why Nicholai won’t interfere, in fact, he seems to be pushing it along. Book Three??? This one also ends very abruptly……

There isn’t any language, which is great. It is more violent and gruesome, in some cases, than the first one. It is not over-the-top though. There are two relationships, and the couples kiss. It doesn’t go any father than that, but there are some innuendos, and hints that they might want it to go farther. They are in a war, so there is fighting and some gory descriptions of monsters dying. Johnny still smokes quite a bit, but at least it is not a main focus in this book, and there are no more drunken parties. 

Rating: R (No language, some innuendos, kissing, a character who smokes, violence-including fighting in a war with monsters and a few main characters dying, one being especially gory and gruesome.) The first book is R, so I’ll just keep this one at the same level.

Recommendation: 18 and up.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Essenced (The Division Chronicles: Book One)

Essenced (The Division Chronicles: Book One) by Connie L. Smith
(Summary taken from amazon.com)Years ago, demons were forced out of the earth’s realm by a band of supernatural fighters, banished from the place and its people in the aftermath of a horrific war. It should’ve ended there – would’ve – if not for the final demon’s claw snagging on the open portal. What felt like victory became only a reprieve, the winning warriors understanding that the tear would spread, and the demons eventually would escape exile. It was only a matter of time, and a need for future defense – a question of genetics and essences, magic and power. Now, centuries later, a new army must bind together – one of teenagers with inhuman potentials and abilities… AJ went to bed Sunday night an average teenage girl, clumsy and athletically lacking. So when she wakes up Monday morning with super-strength, she does what any rational person would do: She goes into denial. When a smoking hot guy in a suit shows up, rambling about the end of the war and demons spilling through some kind of rift, she refuses to listen, telling herself he’s insane. Except weird things just won’t quit happening, and the guy keeps popping up in her life, trying to explain the changes suddenly happening within her. Is she crazy, or is this guy… not so crazy after all?”

It took me probably three days of picking this book up, putting it down, picking it up, and putting it down, to finally get passed the first page. I didn’t really get it at first. I had to keep rereading. Blah….but I pushed through those first few pages….and as soon as it got to A.J. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t figure that first part out, but once I got to A.J. I read it in a few days. She is such a good character. She’s strong, willful, angry, sweet, smart, not-so-smart, whiny, needy, tough, you know, everything a 16 year-old girl is. I loved the part about her smashing her alarm clock! It hooked me for sure. I thought Julius was a fun character as well. Even though I knew what he was there to do, he still kind of creeped me out at first, but then he turned into a pretty good guy. I felt bad for A.J. and the other essenced; it would be extremely difficult to do what they did. I wish she could have given her sister a little more info. (like telling her she had a very important mission to go on), but I guess she couldn’t. Once they got to the training center there were a bunch of great characters. I loved Ray-Ray especially. I thought all the different characters were very creative and fun. I liked learning about all the different abilities and magic powers. The first 50% of the book is written about A.J., and then all of a sudden, at about half-way through the book, it splits off into the different viewpoints, and I didn’t love that. I thought it made it a little choppy and took away some of the flow. I liked watching the characters grow into their abilities. I liked that they were stronger and better than they thought they were. I think that goes for all of us most of the time; we are stronger and better than we give ourselves credit for. I liked that they had to work hard too. They didn’t just wake up with magic powers and become heroes instantly, they had to work really hard for it. I liked that a lot. Most successes and talents don’t come that easy, we need to put effort into them in order to achieve them. I also liked that they needed to learn to work together, as a team. There were several grammatical errors in this book, but they weren’t bad enough to hinder my reading. It ended abruptly, but that is why I had the second book all lined up and ready to go. 

I’m having a difficult time rating this one. There isn’t any language, and no “intimacy.” Yes, there is definitely some tension between A.J. and Julius, and maybe an almost-kiss or two, but that’s it. There is some minor violence as they prepare for the upcoming war. So, you’d think it would be good for the 5th/6th grade crowd and up, but no, I don’t think so. There are a couple of things that I haven’t encountered in young adult or middle grade books before, so I’m not quite sure. One of the characters becomes a VERY heavy smoker. He wears 5 nicotine patches on each arm, chews the nicotine gum, and still needs to smoke. I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but that is just disgusting, and I do not think it is appropriate for the middle grade kids for sure. I really don’t think it’s okay for the YA crowd either. The only thing it has going for it is that he knows it is gross and so does everyone else around him. They don’t make it seem like a healthy or good thing to do. He doesn’t want to do it, but is compelled by the changes from the magic. The other thing is that these kids are between the ages of 16 and 19. The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. One of the kids goes out (which is a whole different story that didn’t make sense to me at all….how did he get out and why did no one know he was gone??) and steals a lot of beer. Then, the leaders of each group proceed to get completely drunk and wasted. There are pages and pages devoted to what they said when they were drunk, what they sang, how they acted, how much they drank, etc. That is not okay for anyone under 21 for sure. Now, they did get in a lot of trouble and paid for it the next day, with hangovers, angry angels, and extra training sessions. It was also not made out to be a good thing. However, do I want my teenager reading about that? Ummmm…..no. So, what to do, what to do??? I guess I’ll put it at 18 and let parents make the choice. I know my sensitivity level to drugs and alcohol may be higher than other people’s. It’s too bad, because I think my 12 and 10 year-old boys would really like the story. Other than those two things I really enjoyed this book, and have already started the second book. 

Rating: R (No language, no “intimacy,” and only minor violence, but one character is a HUGE smoker and a bunch of 16-19 year-olds get very drunk at a late night party.)

Recommendation: 18 and up. This one is going to need to be a parents’ decision. Those things may not bother you at all, in which case you’d probably feel comfortable letting a younger teenager read it. 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Note**As of when I posted this, this book is free on amazon!

The Betelgeuse Oracle (Book One)

The Betelgeuse Oracle (The Betelgeuse Chronicles Book #1) by Joseph Macchiusi
(Summary taken from the back cover of the book) “Thousands convulse and perish. Electronics die. Aircraft plummet. Food and water are scarce. Trapped in this huge calamity, James Muir suffers bizarre visions. Desperate to reunite with his wife and young daughters, he cannot resist the command of a mysterious Voice berating him in ancient Egyptian. He must embark on a quest for ‘the Stone.’ Haunted by the erosion of his own sanity, hunted by gunmen, James joins a group of strangers desperate to escape a metropolis transformed into a burning, violent wasteland. But what awaits them beyond the fringes of the city? The Stone has a fanatical will of its own. As strangers become friends and lovers, James realizes that even if the trek doesn’t kill him, he may not be strong enough to match the Stone’s baffling power.”
Wow. What to say, what to say? The character development in this book is fairly good. The characters, although a lot of them are very unlikable, including James, seem realistic and have some depth to them. There are some good descriptions of events that occur and places the characters find themselves in. After that, though, I’m just not a fan of this book. Mr. Macchiusi’s writing style is strange and difficult to read and understand, especially because he constantly uses fragmented sentences. It drove me crazy. The grammatical mistakes alone made this book difficult to read and understand. I read the prologue several times trying to understand what in the world was going on. I finally just moved on. And then I found James. And I didn’t like him at all. He is a very unlikable character. He has a bad attitude about everything, especially when he is at home with his wife and daughters. Then this event occurs that changes life as we know it, and I got so lost. I kept having to go back and remind myself who the different characters were.  I knew James was being led by some unknown force, but it just didn’t come together for me. The ending was confusing and very lackluster. It goes back to the characters in the prologue talking about time travel and eons of time, and I was confused and had no idea what had happened. Also, the profanity in this book is awful. There are so many “f” words that I lost track after just a few pages. And that’s not all; almost every other profane word is also used abundantly. There is also “intimacy” and lots of violence. It is a very gory and gruesome book. Lots of people die, and they don’t die calmly in their sleep. Yeah, this book is definitely not for me. I do not recommend this book.
Rating: R (Lots of profanity, including dozens of “f” words, violence, gore, death, “intimacy,” slavery)
Recommendation: Adult 
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

The Tulip Eaters

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten
(Summary taken from the inside book cover) “It’s the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand. Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration with the local police to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents’ attic leave her with as many questions as answers–and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family’s darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her. As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she’s drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother’s alliances may have long ago sealed her own–and Rose’s–fate.”
I’m not going to lie. The first few chapters in this book are gruesome and gory. I almost couldn’t handle it. I almost stopped reading. Fortunately, I kept reading. I had to. As a mom I had to know what had happened to Rose and if Nora was able to find her. This is seriously a nightmare scenario. It is every mom’s worst fear come true. And every daughter’s as well, because that is not what any of us want for our mothers. So on I read and read and read. I couldn’t put it down. Some of the characters are well done and compelling, and some of them are over-the-top and not realistic (Amarisa). Nora’s reactions seem to be a little extreme, although since I’ve never been in her position I can’t judge. I know I would go crazy. Seriously. I don’t think I could sit around and wait. I’m not sure I would go as far as she did, either, though, because I’m too much of a rule follower. Having a missing child may change that though. Momma Bear would most likely come out in ways I wouldn’t expect. I felt bad for Nora too. Learning that your life and parents were nothing that you thought they were would be extremely difficult. I really liked Nora’s friend Marijke. She was a voice of calm and reason, and supported Nora through all of the craziness. I also liked Richards, although he is only in about half of the book. The Rosen family creeped me out. All of them. Okay, all of them except for Henny. I do not understand their thinking or reasoning, and definitely did not like their justification for doing what they did. I’m not one to hold a grudge for over 30 years, so I had a hard time understanding their mentality. I was especially disappointed with Leah. Their actions were a bit much. 
I liked the pacing of the story and thought it was captivating. I don’t know any Dutch, so when the characters started speaking in Dutch I just had to guess. It would have been nice to have a translation on some of it. I enjoyed learning the history of the Dutch during World War II. It wasn’t a happy one, but was anything during that time period happy? I liked the title, but I thought the story would be more about the people living during that time; more about the actual people who had to eat the tulips. It wasn’t, so I’m not quite sure why it is titled that way. There is a lot of language in this book. There are a lot of “f'” words and lots of others as well. There is an attempted rape, murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, and lots of action. But don’t worry, there is also a little romance. I really did enjoy this book. It may have a lot of coincidences and be a little unrealistic, but, like I said, I couldn’t put it down until I knew that Nora had Rose safe in her hands. Did that happen even at the end? Oh, you’ll have to read it to find out! Once you start, hang on and be prepared for a wild ride! 
Rating: R (This does not follow the moving ratings exactly, it is just my way of saying that it is not appropriate for younger readers.) A gruesome murder, murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, attempted rape, and a lot of language, especially the “f” word.
Recommendation: Adult
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.