ARC Review: Ride On by Gwen Cole

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

35804615Ride On by Gwen Cole
Release date: May 22nd, 2018
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Young adult, dystopian
Format: eBook

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The law can’t help her. But one outlaw can.

In the near post-apocalyptic future, the skies are always gray and people are constantly searching for the sun. For teenage outlaw Seph, it’s the only world he’s ever known. With his horse, his favorite pistol, and his knowledge for survival passed down from his dead father, Seph knows it’s safer to be alone. But after a run-in with a local gang that call themselves the Lawmen, and having been wrongly accused of murder, Seph teams up with Avery—a determined girl whose twin brother has been taken by the same gang.

After living in a small, rundown town her whole life, Avery knows nothing of the Wild—the lands controlled by nobody where travel is risky. With Seph’s help, they track down her brother but quickly find the tables have turned and they are now the ones being hunted. With rumors of mysterious dangers to the south and a safe sanctuary to the west, they’ve only got one option, but getting there won’t be easy with the Lawmen on their trail. The only thing that matters in the Wild is how fast your trigger hand is, but Seph doesn’t know if his will be fast enough to save them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gwen Cole’s debut novel, Cold Summer, and couldn’t wait to start this one. I nearly missed it on NetGalley and consider myself quite lucky to have been able to read it early. This is a book that you really need to read! It was full of surprises, action and drama.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I went into it. The cover isn’t that imaginative (this book deserves better) made me think it would be a straight up Western (no, I didn’t read the description which clearly stated that it was based in a “near post-apocalyptic future”). However, the book was so much more as it was a wonderful blend of the two genres…dark, moody and dangerous. I was automatically hooked from the first page. I particularly enjoyed the gunfights (you’ll be unable to stop reading) and how the chapters alternated between characters, providing a unique glimpse into Cole’s dystopian world.

What I loved most were the characters, something I think Cole does very well. They were so real and I felt deeply connected with the book’s leads, Steph and Avery. Here, like in her debut, Cole is able to craft complex characters. Nothing is straightforward, black or white. The characters have to make difficult choices and are often haunted by the things that they have done. Oh, and there is a romance, but it was honestly adorable. A nice little addition that didn’t take over the entire story. It felt organic and natural, not forced and instant like so many romances seem to be in YA.

Another standout aspect of Ride On was the setting. The world was slowly revealed as the book progressed and not fully laid out in the first chapter. Nothing was just given away and there certainly were no information dumps. Like the characters, everything felt like it was explained at the right time. The book wonderfully walked the fine line between descriptive passages and oversharing. As a result, the world truly came to life for me. I could see myself riding a horse in a grey and dusty world or opposing riders chasing after me through a dilapidated town made out of scrap metal and mismatched pieces of wood. My imagination ran wild with this story and I absolutely enjoyed every second of it!

Cole has honestly become one of my favourite new authors. I can’t wait to see what she releases next!


About the Author

1080169Gwen Cole grew up in upstate New York and then moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college. Instead she played bass guitar in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She enjoys large jigsaw puzzles, playing Xbox and softball, and watching movies. Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.

Website | Twitter | GoodreadsFacebook

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ARC Review | Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

25092254Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
Release date: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, science fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Edelweiss

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Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

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“I don’t want to go, but I also don’t want to stay. Two worlds I don’t want to be a part of. Two worlds I don’t belong in. And the worst part is I don’t have a choice. I stand and take a step off the porch, my foot landing on snow instead of grass. Everything changing in an instant. I don’t have to open my eyes to know I’m here.”

As soon as I stumbled upon this book on Goodreads I knew that I NEEDED to read it! So, I added it to my TBR and low and behold it was on Edelweiss. Now, Edelweiss and I aren’t really good friends. I never get approved for anything on the site but the book gods were working in my favour! I quickly downloaded Cold Summer and started it a few minutes later. It was AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and HEARTBREAKING and ROMANTIC all at the same time. The book was everything I wanted and more! It’s just…so difficult to describe how much I enjoyed reading it.

The book is told through two alternating points of view, which I liked because it really allowed me to get to know the characters and fall madly in love with both of them. The story revolves around Kale who can travel in time to the past. Now, normally I would be super jealous. I studied history in university and am absolutely fascinated by World War II (my main area of study), however, Kale’s journey to the past is completely devastating. He cannot control where and when he travels. One minute he’s trying to keep his life together in the present and then poof…he’s traveled back in time. He’s essentially struggling to live the life of a normal teenager in the present and trying to stay alive as a soldier in the past. Unlike other stories that I have read about time travel, Cold Summer doesn’t romanticize it. It dives into the impact it has on the person’s emotional, mental and physical state. My heart ached for Kale. The scenes set during the winter of 1944-45 were heartbreaking — the blood, the loss of life and the tough choices that had to made to survive.

The story’s other main character, Harper, was very likeable. She’s a gammer, kind of shy and fearful of opening up, all characteristics that I could identify with. Harper was such an essential part of the story as her POV offered another layer to the impact time travel has on those around Kale. Yes, he’s the one who is doing the actual traveling but those left behind are also emotionally scarred. Harper does her best to support him but she can’t help being frightened and anxious about his safety. He leaves and her life is basically put on hold, halted with worry and fear.

This book was so addictive. I read through it incredibly fast! I was totally swept up in the story and with short chapters, I just kept on reading and reading. I also found myself fangirling over all of the Doctor Who and Firefly references made throughout the book. My little nerd heart loved it! My only tiny nitpick would be how the end dragged out a bit longer than needed. For being a fast paced novel, the final three or four chapters slowed everything down to a crawl. It could have been wrapped up earlier without losing any of the emotional impact.

Cold Summer is a book that you NEED to read!! It’s not just for fans of history, romance or time travel. It has a little bit of everything but is so much more. It’s been days since I read it and I’m still thinking about it. *sigh*


about

1080169Gwen Cole writes Young Adult books and her debut novel, COLD SUMMER, will be released in the spring of 2017 with Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.

She grew up in upstate New York, moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college, and worked a various number of jobs including pharmacy technician, meat clerk, ranch hand, and a receiving specialist at Target. She may or may not have written a number of books while working at certain jobs.

At the age of eighteen, Gwen played bass in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She can also play piano, guitar, and wishes she could play the cello. Her favorite place to vacation is Wyoming, where she gets to wear a cowboy hat and pretend she actually is one.

Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.

Website | Twitter | GoodreadsFacebook

Waiting on Wednesday

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.25092254

This week I’m looking forward to Cold Summer by Gwen Cole. I love the idea of time travel and one of the periods of history that interests me the most is the Second World War. The book blends these two and deals with the fallout of bouncing back and forth between time periods. It sounds incredibly interesting! The book will be released through Sky Pony Press in May 2017.

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Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future. Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.