Monday, January 20, 2014

Blog Tour Review: Arcadia's Gift (Jesi Lea Ryan)

Arcadia Day was in no way prepared for the death of her twin sister in the first book of this series, Arcadia's Curse, nor was she prepared for empathic abilities to begin manifesting and generally ruining her day to day life. The battle to control her new extra sense hasn't gotten any easier in book two. Cady is struggling to get through one day at a time. School is a nightmare as the raging emotions of hundreds of teens scramble her ability to think. Hope comes in the form of an invitation to join a research group away from home that studies psychic phenomena. Ready to try anything, Cady agrees to go, but the experience turns out to have a darker side than she was ever expecting.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was excited to get a copy of book two. Some of the great aspects from book one, like great characters that were easy to connect with and relate to definitely carried over into this book. I found myself going on an emotional roller coaster ride with Cady as she struggled to make it through each day, but Ryan manages to give readers a connection with every character, no matter how small of a part they play.

I was surprised by how much I sympathized with Cane (Cady's sister's ex-boyfriend who has developed strong feelings for Cady). I really found myself liking him and applauding his protectiveness of Cady. Bryan, who I loved in the first book got under my skin a little (as intended) when he began focusing too much on himself and not realizing how much Cady was being affected. The new characters Cady meets in association with the research program will pull readers in from the moment they meet them. Bastian, especially, will catch readers' attention with his troubled heart and damaged soul. I loved the relationship Cady and Bastian developed, bonding over their difficult experiences.

The storyline itself was expertly developed. The focus moved from Cady figuring out what was happening to her with the new abilities she was experiencing to learning how to live a normal life while experiencing more emotions than one person was meant to feel and process. The initial chapters deal with Cady trying to manage on her own, but she soon realizes it isn't working. Knowing who to turn to isn't easy though. Telling her best friend and her father about her abilities scares her more than she can admit, but when a friend she met online offers her a chance to leave home and really learn how to live as an empath without losing her mind, Cady doesn't see any other option.

I suppose it should be fitting that a story about an empath should be absolutely drenched in emotion, but I was still surprised by how much this story got to me. Cady personal struggle is enough on it's own to captivate readers. She is a wonderfully deep and soulful character. The emotional pull escalates, however, when Cady is drawn into and assignment for the company funding the research project and she finds herself locked up with the expectation to do as she is told. Cady is given no choice in her role in the assignment and it broke my heart to watch her nearly crumble in the face of such a terrible experience. Not many books make me cry, but this one did. I simply could not stop reading, hoping someone would get there in time to rescue Cady before there was nothing left to rescue. I don't have a single complaint about this book, and I would highly recommend it to just about any reader. I can't wait for the next book!

Arcadia’s Gift:
Audible (audio book)
iTunes (audio book)

Arcadia’s Curse:

Jesi Lea Ryan Jesi Lea Ryan grew up in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, IA.
She holds bachelor degrees in creative writing and literature and a masters degree in business. She considers herself a well-rounded nerd who can spend hours on the internet researching things like British history, anthropology of ancient people, geography of random parts of the world, bad tattoos and the paranormal. She currently lives in Madison, WI with her husband and two fat kitties.