May 28, 2014

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Branded (Sinners #1)

Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
A Sinners Series

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best. 
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home. 

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain. 

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. 
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. 
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.


I turn on the faucet for a long while only to discover ice-cold water rushing out. The water never warms and I begin to understand. The Commander thinks he can wash away my soul by freezing me to death. He thinks he can destroy me by stripping away my possessions. But he can’t and I won’t let him take my memories, my ambition, and my pride.
He thinks I’m so easily broken.
The Commander doesn’t know anything about me, what I grew up with, what I endured—the father I lost, the mother I hate, the brother who walked out of my life, and the stepfather I was forced to accept. He thinks since I was rich, making me poor will cause me to give up. What he doesn’t understand is that, after my father passed away, I grew up behind walls of hatred. I had nothing, but had everything at the same time. I owned expensive clothes, enjoyed good schooling, and lived in a nice home. But my body was just a shell protecting an empty, desperate heart. My life was a colorful fa├žade.
I had so much time to sit and think. I spent the majority of my life between four walls. I was abandoned, neglected, starved, betrayed, and abused. I’ve already been treated like the scum of the earth, so the Hole is nothing new. He wants to erase every sign of my existence on this earth, but I won’t let that happen. He can strip me naked, but he’ll never reach my soul.
It’s personal, completely personal.


About Abi and Missy 

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

My Review

3.5 Stars

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Branded blog tour, organized by Mark My Words Book Publicity. I'm particularly excited for this tour, because the author duo of Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki are from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is only a half-hour or so away from me. So, these are local girls, and I'm so happy to help them promote Branded!

Branded was an intense, emotional book. Lexi Hamilton was named a sinner of lust by her mother, of all people, and sent to The Hole. In The Hole, she was branded - tattooed around her neck so that everyone knows what her sin is. She is assigned a guard and a job. Right off the bat, we see that Lexi gets preferential treatment from both her guard, Cole, and her boss, Sutton. That treatment keeps her alive, and as time goes on, she learns that things are going on behind the scenes that might change everything for her.

Branded could be divided into two parts. The first part I'd label as "The Hole." It details Lexi's arrival at The Hole, her branding, her meeting Cole and Sutton and her activities at the hospital where she works. It also chronicles her budding forbidden relationship with Cole.

The second part of Branded could be called "The Hole Beneath The Hole." This part would be about the rise of the rebellion looking to take down the Commander and his totalitarian regime.

The Lexi in part 1 was different from the Lexi in part 2. Drastically so. In part 1, she was timid and ashamed. She was afraid to open up and afraid of her own feelings. She forges relationships, though, in unlikely places. She befriends the head surgeon at the hospital, Sutton, as well as a terminally ill little girl. She develops a relationship with Cole and his big dog Zeus. At first, they're civil. Then, they're friends. Finally, they admit their feelings run deeper than that. But, in The Hole, guards can't have relationships with sinners or both will be tortured and killed. It definitely complicates things for both Lexi and Cole.

The Lexi in part 2, I honestly didn't like very much. Yes, she finally reaches deep down and develops some lady balls. But, she seems to sacrifice her softness and kindness in order to do so. She treats Cole like crap, which irked me to no end since he had risked his life over and over again for her. The second someone else from her past shows up, Cole becomes a very quick second choice, even though this other person doesn't always treat her well. I appreciate her wanting to stand on her own two feet, but she shouldn't do it at the detriment of the relationships she had formed to that point.

Cole is an awesome character. He's mean and awful in the beginning, but he softens toward Lexi pretty quickly. His efforts to protect her and take care of her made me melt. And, the way he loved his dog was pretty damn adorable too.

There's a lot of stuff going on underneath the surface. There's a rebellion growing, and its leader and how it got started is somewhat surprising. The Commander is always shrouded in secrecy, and when his identity is finally revealed, it was also surprising. I appreciated the twists and turns in the story and I'm glad the authors didn't draw out the reveal of some of them into the next book. I hate it when that happens!

Branded comes to a satisfying close, although there are enough loose ends still hanging to make me interested in what comes next. I hope the Lexi in the second book is closer to the one I saw in part 1. I liked her much better and I liked her with Cole much more. And, I hope there's much more Cole in book 2. More Cole could never be a bad thing. 

1 comment:

Abi Ketner said...

Thank you!!! And no worries… there's plenty of Cole <3