November 30, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Unblemished by Sara Ella {Book Review}

I was very excited to receive a gift package of SIX new books from The Fiction Guild (a review division of Thomas Nelson Publishing), in honor of their anniversary a couple weeks ago. There was a mix of genre and many were new-to-me authors. While I don't have to review all of them, I knew there were several I wanted to read. But where do I start? Every book lovers dilemna! LOL. I decided to start with debut author Sara Ella and her young adult fantasy book Unblemished. I really enjoy young adult fantasy, so I decided to give it a go!
Unblemished by Sara Ella ~ A Book Review

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About the Book

Unblemished is the debut novel for author Sara Ella. Unblemished brings us to the world of seven Reflections--parallel worlds, in which Earth as we know it is the 3rd Reflection. Our lead character Eliyana (aka El) lives in 3rd refection in the city of New York. She loves her city where she lives with her mom Elizabeth and her best friend (and yes her crush) Joshua. But it's not perfect in her world, and she knows this with every person she meets--for she was born with a birthmark on her face. An unusual red vine-like collection of flourishes that cover the right side of her face. Having been subjugated to all sorts of teasing, disdain, and avoidance by most of society Joshua and her mother are the only ones who treats her as if it's not there. 

A few weeks before she turns 18, her life turns upside down when her mother is killed in a fire. Suddenly she's thrust into a world without one of the only two people who have loved her. But then, after the funeral, everything she knows as normal explodes, when it's revealed that there is a boy with the power to render his victim immovable, arrows soaring through central park, a man appearing and disappearing, and her best friend Joshua revealing he's her Guardian from another Reflection. Thrust immediately into scenarios clearly unworldly, El must accept that everything she's ever held to be true, may be a lie---including her mother's death and her family history. Now she will do anything to find her mother and be reunited--including being taken to another Reflection where everyone is out to get her--because it turns out her birthmark is not just a birthmark, it's a sign that she's someone they have been waiting on for a very long time, and has the power to bring either light or darkness to the world, depending on who has her in their control.

My Thoughts

I don't know what I was expecting with this novel, but it blew me away! Once the story started going, I couldn't put it down. It was just the type of fantasy I enjoy with twists and turns every step of the way, and the kind of plot where just when you are sure you have it figured out--you get slammed with something else. 

There was SOOOO much in this book. I had to re-read chapters now and then because little pieces were strewn and I needed to make sure I didn't miss anything! The lead character Eliyana is very well done and really grew and changed throughout the book. I enjoyed having pieces of her past woven throughout the story. I am not always good with first person narratives, but this one was very well done and I think it might have lacked something if it had been done any other way. 

This book had pieces of other fantasy books I have enjoyed--like the 13th Reality series by James Dashner with its parallel worlds, the Animorphs series where humans can morph into other creatures, and Twilight in that people had a special gift (aka superpower). But I don't think I ever felt like "Oh I've read this before." It was like taking the best of everything I loved and putting it into this book.

The ending makes you think--and throws a MAJOR twist you don't see coming--or at least I didn't, and actually explains the Prelude in the book (which I JUST figured out). I was left just wanting to pick up the next book and start reading!

I think Hollywood could have a FABULOUS time with this book--it has everything they love. Love triangles, "super powers", secrets, good vs evil, battles, and personal sacrifice. 

I also want to add, that while I initially expected some sort of Christian fiction tie-in (there wasn't any mention of God or the gospel--beyond obvious dark v. light, good v. evil and a few deeper messages hiding--kind of like JR Tolkien and CS Lewis do), the book is a CLEAN fantasy. There are just a couple quick kiss scenes. And the battles aren't gory. I think this makes it a great choice for those who want to provide a "safe" fantasy series for their children.

I know it's shocking, but I have given Unblemished one of my rare 5 star ratings. It was everything I could have asked for in a Fantasy novel and more--great plot, twists and turns everywhere, no slow parts, constant having to piece things together, a lead character with faults--and it left me wanting MORE! I cannot wait to get the next book in the series Unraveling which will be released July 2017. I have heard from the author, that this is a trilogy, which means nothing will be completely resolved in book 2 either! LOL

Unblemished (Book 1 of Unblemished Series)
by Sara Ella

It's going to be so hard to wait until July 2017 for the next book! But Unblemished is actually a book I would read again, so I could pick up things I missed the first go around--the true sign of a 5 star book! I hope you will add this book to your TO READ list if you like fantasy, it doesn't matter that it's YA genre at all.

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