Monday, December 30, 2013

Blog Tour Book Review and Giveaway: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau

Title: Independent Study
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Series: Book Two in the Testing Series
Published By: HMH Books For Young Readers (January 7, 2014)
Source: ARC Copy Provided by the Publisher (in exchange for an honest review)
Tour By: 
Genre: YA Dystopian

Book Description:
In the series debut The Testing, sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies . . . a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In Independent Study, Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas—and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her—and her loved ones—in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.

About the Author:

Ever since I can remember I loved telling stories. As I grew up, I started performing those stories on the stage. Creating vivid characters and singing wonderfully complex songs were my passion. I graduated from Millikin University with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance and then continued onto DePaul University for my Masters Degree in Opera Performance. From there I went onto perform across the Chicagoland area in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals. I also started teaching acting classes and private voice lessons to pass my passion along to the next generation.

Not exactly the path you’d expect a writer to take.

I’d never dreamed of writing a novel. But I loved to read. Then one day I had an idea and I started to write. I found my passion for creating characters lived on the page as well as the stage. It is my hope that the characters I’ve created resonate with you and make you smile.

I still teach voice lessons and sing for the occasional professional event. But the rest of my time is spent with my husband and son while dreaming up new and interesting stories. I hope that someday I hear yours.

I really liked the first book in the series The Testing and I just knew that I would be moving on to the next because honestly, I had high hopes for it. Yes it reminds me a little (read very little) of the Hunger Games, but more than that, it was an adrenaline, heart pounding, fun filled read. Where you never knew what was around the next corner, who could be trusted or what was going to happen next.

I am happy to say, the second book stood up to the first and was every bit as good if not better than it's predecessor.

Charbonneau has managed to create a dystopian world disguised as good but really very cruel and sinister under the seams. A world where rulers aren't always the bad guys and even worse, the teachers teaching the next generation are even worse than the “bad guys”. A government every bit as corrupt and disturbing as the one that caused the destruction in the first place.

I was really hoping that the world and government would be explained in more depth and detail than it was in the first book, and while not everything was answered, we do get a lot of answers for those pesky questions from the first book and even some for those that pop up in this one.

I once again loved Cia, how strong and how smart she is. How willing to trust even when everything screams in her not to because of what she has seen and heard from her time in the Testing and from what very little she really knows about the people and agency that surrounds her. 

There is so much corruption, so many secrets and so many unnecessary and cruel games that go on in the world that she lives in that I really can't even fathom it. What it must be like to live like she does. To see people die in front of her and to know that it is all in the name of the good of the land.

I was so glad to see Michal play a bigger role in this as well as some new, and every surprising allies and friends in the new group of students that join Cia in the dorms. Ian, Tomas, Will, Enzo, Stacia, Raffe, I really enjoyed all of them and not knowing who could be trusted and who was good or bad and who was just trying to survive. 

The plot definitely thickened with the way this one ended and while it wasn't a total cliffhanger, it was definitely a put you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next move, at least, it was for me and I, for one, will be awaiting the next chapter in the story. 

*All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the author, publisher or tour cost. I was not compensated for this review.*

Tour Schedule:

Week One: 
12/30/2013- My Guilty Obsession- Review 
12/31/2013- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Interview 
1/1/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Guest Post
 1/2/2014- Hannah Reads Books- Review 
1/3/2014- K-Books- Review

Week Two: 
1/6/2014- Fiktshun- Interview 
1/7/2014- Parajunkee's View- Interview
 1/8/2014- Jenna Does Books- Review 
1/9/2014- The Book Cellar- Guest Post
 1/10/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post

3 INDEPENDENT STUDY prize packs with a finished copy of the book, a GRADUATION DAY ARC, a bracelet, pencil, & temporary tattoos! US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I have heard amazing things about the first book in this series and I can say I'm really curious about it. I'm so glad you enjoyed this sequel. Great review, Ali :)

  2. Ok, I own the Testing and I guess I need to dig it out. Something stopped me from reading it and I cannot remember why, but I love that Independent Study was strong if not better than book one. Lovely review!

  3. I actually have both the Testing and Independent study on my need to buy list, but lack of funds has prevented me from actually going forth with this. I love the premise though of both books and REALLY need to get them soon!

  4. "I am happy to say, the second book stood up to the first and was every bit as good if not better than it's predecessor."

    YES!!! I love when a sequel gives the first book a run for its money, it seems for me more often than not I'm disappointed in second books. So glad that's not the case here. I've heard great things about this series and I cannot wait to start it. Though I'm a little nervous about the ending you mention:) Lovely review Ali!

  5. I hope you are all able to try this series!

  6. Thanks Jenny, I hope you give this one a try!

  7. This is one series I saw on a lot of peoples best reads. I am for sure going to get this when I get the chance.

  8. I always just thought this was a HG knockoff, but it sounds like it's not. Maybe I will have to grab the first book, you made it sound very appealing!

  9. I am happy to hear that Pam!

    Candace, it does sort of remind me of the Hunger Games but it is very different too. It has the same feel with the dystopian world (and the first challenge in the first book) but everything else is different.

  10. This sounds like a great series. Kind of different from what I've been reading, which sounds really refreshing. I am glad to know that the second book lived up to your expectations. Wonderful review.

  11. Ah yes, I remember you loving The Testing. I should squeeze it in when I have a chance. That's great that the 2nd book was strong, too.

  12. I want to read this series! I can't believe I'm lusting after the second book and already missed the first book - which I'm also lusting after. They both sound so delicious. Thanks for the giveaway.

  13. Hey Joelle, great picture of you with the skates. I don't think I've seen that one before. Thanks for the giveaway & Happy New Year everyone!!

  14. I got book 1 a few weeks ago because it was free, I love the premise of it and glad to hear the world building seemed good! I think I would like Cia :) we shall have to see!

  15. I've seen a lot of great reviews for this series. I would love to win this and start the series!

  16. I cannot wait to start this series. I've heard positive things about the first book.