Chasing Before – book review

Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans

Chasing Before is the second thrilling book in The Memory Chronicles, written by Lenore Appelhans.

It’s expected that when Felicia and Neil arrive in Level 3, they’ll be starting to prepare for their divine vocations. But a series of explosions ripping through Level 3 during Felicia and Neil’s training period changes everything. Tensions rise and casualties mount. A rift forms between Felicia and Neil, and it grows wider when Felicia starts to receive memories from the Morati. These memories make her doubt those she loves, but she can’t stop her curiosity from taking over. Felicia has to find out the truth about her life – even if that means putting everything at risk.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was really grabbing and I didn’t want to put it down. It’s been a while since I’ve read the first book in this series, but I had no problems getting to know the characters again and remembering exactly what was going on. I fell back into Felecia’s world immediately. I remember that I didn’t like the first book in this series very much. However, this book definitely made up for it. I loved every second I spent reading it and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen. Honestly, I didn’t have very high hopes for this book because I didn’t enjoy the last one too much. But I found my expectations were greatly exceeded. There was so much action in this book and so many twists that I never saw coming. Perhaps the first book was just setting the scene for this one. I felt so much more connected to the characters and the storyline in this book. Whatever Lenore Appelhans did to make this book so much better than the first, I love it.
I liked Felicia a lot more in Chasing Before. I really enjoyed watching her desperately try to seek out the memories from her past. I liked her determination in trying to discover the secrets of before. I wanted her to discover the truth, and I found that I wanted to find out the secrets of her past just as much as she did. I really liked Neil in this book. I was unsure if I really liked him in the last book, but I fell in love with him in this one. Another character I loved in this book was Julian. The love triangle between Julian, Neil and Felicia worked very well. There was something about Julian that made me fall in love with him, but ultimately I knew I wanted Felicia and Neil to stay together. One more character that I really enjoyed spending time with in this book was Autumn. She was Felicia’s friend when they were both alive. I liked getting to know her better and seeing how her and Felicia worked together. Those four characters definitely stood out to me and I loved getting to know them even more. The only thing about this book that I felt could have been improved is getting into more depth or just forming more relationships between Felicia and the minor characters. I didn’t ever quite get to know how some of the characters fit into the story and I felt as though a couple of them weren’t very important, and therefore I didn’t care about them like I did for the main characters.
Another one of my favourite aspects of this book would be all of the twists. This book had more twists than a corkscrew. I loved not knowing if I could trust everyone and everything that was going on. At the end of almost every chapter, something new happened or something changed to make me feel as though I had to keep reading. I didn’t want to put the book down! It was so intriguing and thrilling. I’d give Chasing Before by Lenore Appelhans a score of 8.5 out of 10. If you’ve read Level 2/The Memory of After, I’d definitely recommend reading this one!

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

Level 2 – book review

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Level 2 is the first book in its series, written by Lenore Appelhans.

When Felicia died unexpectedly before her eighteenth birthday, she awakes in a stark-white afterlife limbo, known as Level 2. Level 2 is the midway point between Earth and Heaven, also known as Level 3. Felicia and her fellow drones spend their time reliving memories of their past and mourning everything they’ve lost. For Felicia, this is her family, her friends, her boyfriend Neil… and even Julian, the guy who broke her heart.

But when Julian brakes into Level 2 to find Felicia, he tells her that he knows where Neil is. Desperate to be reunited with Neil, Felicia joins Julian. But is Julian everything he says he is? Is he hiding something dark beneath his alluring and charming exterior? But that isn’t all. Felicia soon learns that she’s in the middle of an ancient war between good and evil. She must join the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, to ensure the safety of everyone in Level 2 and to be with Neil once again.

I liked reading this book, but sadly, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I had wanted to read this book for ages, so when Allen & Unwin Publishers Australia gave me a review copy, I was so thrilled that my wishes had come true. Unfortunately, Level 2 didn’t meet my wishes. I expected this book to be a sci-fi / futuristic thriller with some kind of gaming element to it. It is called ‘Level 2’, after all. What I read was more about the past than it was the future. It felt like we spent more time thinking and reliving the past than staying in the future. I really liked the idea of renting memories and reliving your own to pass the time and that was probably my favourite aspect of the book. I loved reliving Felicia’s past, however I didn’t find where she was and what she was doing in the present very interesting. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to Neil and how Felicia died, not because of the pressing need to save people who are already dead from evil angels. It was a weird concept to wrap my head around.
From the start of this book, I was intrigued to find out more about the place Felicia is in. However, I didn’t think the world building was very good and I wanted to see more futuristic elements added into the story. All I knew about the place that’s called ‘Level 2’ is that everything is white, people have these pod things that they relive memories in, and that’s all. Felicia explains all people do to pass the time in Level 2 is relive their memories. I would have liked to see more futuristic things, other than the pods. It sounded like all there was in Level 2 were pods. I wanted more gadgets and sci-fi elements and I felt the book was lacking this.
I found what Felicia was doing in Level 2 was extremely boring. The idea of fighting the ‘angels’ and joining the rebellion really lost my interest. Furthermore, it seemed like this book spent a lot of time talking about God and angels. Felicia went to church when she was alive. Her boyfriend, Neil, was a dedicated member of the church they went to every Sunday. In Level 2, Felicia was fighting evil angels. She wondered about God. Obviously Felicia was a bit religious, but I didn’t think we needed to spend that much time thinking about heaven and angels.
Felicia wasn’t one of the strongest characters I’ve read about, but she was determined and I felt connected to her. Reliving her memories gave me more of a feel as to what she was like when she was actually alive and I think that’s how I came to care about her. I didn’t really know whether I liked Neil or not. I suppose we’re sort of forced to like the main character’s love interest if we’re reading in the eyes of the main character, but I didn’t really feel anything towards Neil. Julian, on the other hand… wow. Julian was probably my favourite character. We first meet him when he unexpectedly walks into Level 2. No one seems to know who he is, except Felicia. She then relives memories of Julian where we get to know how Felicia met him and who he really is to her. As Felicia relived more and more memories of Julian, I began to fall in love with him. When him and Felicia were together later on in the book, I felt that he was being a bit mysterious and I really liked how he was so alluring. Towards the end of the book, I began to doubt him. I wasn’t too surprised to learn of his little secret. That, along with most of the other plot twists in the book, seemed a little too easy to guess.
Overall, this book was an okay read. I’m disappointed that the book didn’t really pick up pace until the very end and the ending seemed a little rushed. The idea of this story was good, but I wished it could have been written better. Most of this book was flashbacks, and although I really liked the flashbacks, I felt like the story needed to progress, not be stuck in the past. I didn’t like Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans as much as I had hoped, and I’d give it a score of 7 out of 10. I will read the next book in the series, but I hope for much better things to happen.

Thank you to Allen & Unwin Book Publishers Australia for kindly sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.