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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Dystopian, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 174
1. Meet a New YA Star, Tora From “Burn Out”

Seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds is one of the last survivors on Earth when the sun starts to burn out way ahead of schedule. She is tough and sarcastic which has helped her to survive, yet she also has a vulnerable side that comes out when she comes across fellow survivors.

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2. Book Review: Rebel Heart


Rebel Heart
Dust Lands Book 2
by Moira Young

Warning: this review may contain spoilers for the first book, Blood Red Road. If you haven't read Blood Red Road, I highly recommend it! It's about an incredibly tough heroine on a quest to save her brother in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. 

In Blood Red Road, Saba had one goal: find and save her twin brother Lugh from the people who took him. Saba knew that once she found Lugh, everything would be all right. But everything is most definitely not all right. Lugh and Saba have both been changed by the traumatic things they experienced, and the bond that connected them their whole lives seems to be broken and unrepairable.

Saba and Lugh, along with younger sister Emmi and another young man, Tommo, are on their way west to start a new life. Jack, whom Saba recently discovered is her heart's desire, separated from them to take a hard journey to deliver bad news, but he promised to meet them in the west. Saba is desperate to go west and find Jack again, but the group is stuck in the Waste, waiting for an injured horse to heal.

Then word comes that the Tonton, so recently defeated by Saba and her friends, have a new leader, who is cleansing the land of everyone except his own followers, killing or driving out the weak and the old, and taking the young and healthy. What's worse, Jack has been seen with the Tonton and may be one of them. Saba can't believe that Jack would be a part of such horrors, and she's determined to go back and find the truth, and help if she can.

Like Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart is a roller coaster of a story that grabs you and won't let go. Saba is one of the best YA heroines I've ever read. She's tough, oh yes, she's tough, but she also has heart and depth and an unshakeable resolve. Saba is a flawed heroine. She makes mistakes, she's not always kind, and she sometimes lets her single mindedness blind her. But Saba is a person who cares deeply, and would do anything for her family and her friends.

As with the first book, Rebel Heart is told in first person in Saba's distinctive voice and dialect, which is a little difficult to read at first, but it doesn't take long to seem natural, and it's such an integral part of the book that it's hard to imagine this book without it. The entire book is also written without quotation marks. All dialog is simply written out as part of the text with nothing to set it off. This also seems odd at first, but you get used to it and don't notice it. The biggest effect, to me, is that with the breakneck pace of the novel, the lack of quotation marks to slow the eye down contributes to a feeling of going downhill without brakes.

Overall, Rebel Heart and its predecessor, Blood Red Road, are excellent books that will have strong appeal to anyone who enjoys dystopian YA literature. Although more post-apocalyptic than dystopian, there are some dystopian elements in the Tonton society ruled by their new charismatic leader, the Pathfinder, and the book has a dystopian feel to it.

Rebel Heart ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and the third book, Raging Star, is due out May 13. I can't wait to read it!

Who would like this book:

Anyone who enjoys young adult dystopian books and who doesn't mind the unusual punctuation and dialect.

Rebel Heart is a 2013 Cybils Awards Nominee. The first book, Blood Red Road, was the 2011 Cybils winner for YA Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Get it from:
Audiobook:

Rebel Heart is available as an audiobook from Audible.com. I haven't yet listened to the audiobook, but I did listen to the audiobook for Blood Red Road and thought it was very well done. Narrator Heather Lind did an excellent job. There appears to also be a version narrated by Moira Young, but Audible tells me it isn't available in my area, so I suspect it's the Canadian version. The links below are to the Heather Lind narrated version.
FTC required disclosure: Reviewed from purchased copy. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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3. TURNING PAGES: RIOT, by Sarah Mussi

A few years back, protest came to the attention of the world consciousness in a brand new way. A loosely organized group of individuals, some self-identifying with Guy Fawkes masks, dedicated their time to disrupting the social order, in order to... Read the rest of this post

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4. Ignite Me - Review


Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) 
by Taherah Mafi
Publication date: 04 Feb 2014 by HarperCollins
ASIN: B00DB2YN0C
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Fiction/Dystopia
Keywords: Dystopia, Revolution, Paranormal
Format: Hardcover, ebook, Audiobook
Source: Borrowed


Synopsis:

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.


Kimberly's Review:

I have such a hard time reviewing this series. I am not a fan of the series in general, but I have to admit that there is something so totally addicting, I cannot help but need to know how it all ends.

There's a lot of action in this final book which keeps the reader engaged and the pages turning. 
Honestly though, there's so much about this story I just don't get.

Like - Where is everyone?

There is only one regime in place that is ruling everything (bad guys) and one in place that oppose them (good guys). Once the rebels take that over, they can control everyone. Where are the rest of the people? (And don't tell me they all got blown up because that is a lie) Other rebellions outside of this area? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

How is this girl going to lead the country? Juliette suddenly decides she is the most capable of being the leader and she is going to rule. Okay, now even very young monarchs who come to power have years of training, education, learning language and politics. Juliette can barely complete full sentences and she's convinces an entire army that she should rule on pure strength alone. She doesn't make a case at all about her leadership abilities, her plans for the future, her thoughts on uniting the nation. No, she breaks things with her enormous physical strength and everyone else is staring at her going- Wow. We'll follow you.

WTF? She has declared herself supreme ruler when she can barely control her feelings and gives no indication that she understands anything about the politics, world views, different cultures and societies. 

Why is anyone letting Juliette make the decisions? Is it just because has a boyfriend who is rich and has food and shelter? Is it because she has super human strength? Juliette still does not scream leadership material even by the end of the book. 

<shakes head> huh?

Okay, let's give in for a second and forget all I said above and that Juliette is the most capable of people willing to put everyone and her followers first. Let's say she's going to unite everyone, lead them to green grass and bunnies and rainbows. Let's say it's in her and I just can't see it.

But then, what about this horrific love triangle???

Honestly, I think my main problem with the book are the characters. The three main characters, Juliette, Warner and Adam, are all thought to be  a certain way. They are introduced to the reader as a certain person and the reader believes it. That is, until the rug is pulled out and I have to re-learn everything I thought about the characters. Sometimes this technique works. But when it's done to all three of the main characters, and none of them feel justified, I have to call foul. Juliette's switch is probably the slowest, most normal of them. It starts in book one (shriveled in a corner, oh but quickly she wants to fight) and then does it again in book three. But Adam and Warner's 180 degree change was so unnatural, I feel like it was just the author's way of appeasing the mass.

If you're not familiar with the series, Warner aka Big Bad, was a really awful character. He was cruel to our Juliette and yet, by book two, everyone was in love with him. Adam, the sweet boy she knew before she was imprisoned, was left by the wayside. Now to have to justify Juliette being with Warner, she has to:

1. Make Warner honorable and awesome and loving and kind and 
2. Make Adam awful and cruel and mean and ugly. 

I'm sorry but this just makes me want to scream. Sure, maybe this was all planned. But it's such an abrupt changes of these characters make me think of one word: 

Cyborgs. 
That's right.
Cyborgs have replaced the real Adam and the real Warner and they're not getting them right.

But alas, no. These changes were the real thing. (Why?!?!)

Also, there was a whole lotta drama. D.R.A.M.A Like over the top drama. I mean, I'm all about teen angst and all but sigh. It was a lot and slowed down the momentum of the book.

Kenji is my favorite character by far and he steals every scene he is in. Funny, warm and human, I love how he reminds everyone that they are alive. I also loved James, Adam's little brother. He brings some much needed innocent and comic relief, especially his fun scenes with stoic Warner. 

I have to admit that though I can't say I liked the series because I had such major problems with it, Ms. Mafi does something right. She creates a story with great dialogue. She keeps the pace going and even I had to read the whole series to find out what happens. I guess that counts for something.




Visit the author online at www.taherehbooks.com, Facebook and follow her on Twitter @taherehmafi



Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more details, please see our full disclosure policy here

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5. Guest Post by Isaac Solomon, Author of Emanuel Stone and The Phoenix Shadow

Today, Isaac Solomon is visiting with a guest post about terrorism and social media.  What do you think?  What are your thoughts on social media and what’s the impact on organizing social rebellion?

“How terrorists will utilize social media in the World of Emanuel Stone in 2024.”

By Isaac Solomon

EMANUEL STONE AND THE PHOENIX SHADOW

In the dystopian world of 2024 with widespread lawlessness, social, political and economic chaos, terrorists will have ‘ramped’ up the use of social media in all its forms to further their sickening agenda. The effectiveness of mass communication for evil is documented in recent history; the Arab Spring, the UK riots and dozens of conflicts internationally are galvanized simply by the use of social media.

Cheap and accessible

Social media’s convenience, affordability and global reach – platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, television and audio recordings are key tools used by terrorist groups who have developed sophisticated mass media communication strategies. No doubt by 2024 other media will supersede the top three.

Target audience

In the broken world of Emanuel Stone social media is employed as a means of recruitment, manipulation, indoctrination and control of converts/followers. Preying on the vulnerable and disaffected, using an age old tactic terrorists of the future will exploit fears while promoting selfish vanity and pride to destabilize society. Research has shown that troubled adolescents demonstrating obsessive-compulsive behaviour, depression, generalized and social anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, introversion, and other maladaptive behaviours tend to suffer more from internet addiction.

Anonymity

Cyber warfare thrives in the shadows and secret places. Even with increased security IT measures, extremists of the future will devise greater means of anonymous communication. With access to substantial finances, intellectual capital and political support in some instances, it is likely that fanatics will continue to use and develop comparable technologies that may even supersede some national capabilities. Highly advanced hacking software, disposable mobile phones as well as embedded information are strategies that will escalate.

Fuels societal dysfunction

It is not unreasonable to foresee that terrorists of 2024 will go all out to captivate the minds of people young and old – and for this social media in all its forms visual and aural will continue to be a key weapon of warfare. So well they employ the old adage: ‘Monkey see, monkey do!’ What people watch, write and listen to is what they will eventually play out.

About the book:

“Tragedy often gives birth to courage.” In the beginning life was sweet for the Nottingham teenager Emanuel Stone, until a gruesome triple killing changed his young life forever. Plagued and tormented by terrifying dreams and nightmares, Emanuel struggles in his grief to find meaning and hope. In the chaos and near anarchy of 2024 will his young heart ever heal? Will there be a purpose for his life after all? Meanwhile, thousands of miles away from the mountains of Peru to a sleepy Scottish village, a drama of love, betrayal, deceit and intrigue is unfolding. In a bizarre twist Emanuel finds himself unwittingly drawn into a vortex of international terrorism. Just who are the old man and the stunning blonde in the apartment next door?

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6. TURNING PAGES: THE LAST WILD BOY, by Hugh MacDonald

This novel reminds me of Lois Lowry's THE GIVER, Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE and, peripherally, BUMPED by Megan McCafferty. It has echoes of the style of AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix and Jeanne DePrau's THE CITY OF EMBER as... Read the rest of this post

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7. Verisimilitude in Dystopias

by Deren Hansen

[The following is some of the material I'm going to cover in my presentation on Verisimilitude at Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) 31, on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm.]

"Truthiness," coined by Stephen Colbert, "was named Word of the Year for 2005 by the American Dialect Society and for 2006 by Merriam-Webster." (see Wikipedia)

I certainly enjoyed the humor of truthiness, but there's a perfectly good, albeit venerable, word who's original sense means the same thing: verisimilitude. Verisimilitude is "the state of quality of being verisimilar; the appearance of truth; probability; likelihood." (Webster 1886)

Having the appearance, but not the substance, of truth is generally not considered a good thing. Fiction, however, is an exception. When you're dealing in something that in absolute terms is a lie (because it never happened in the real world), verisimilitude is a virtue.

There is an art to giving readers enough of the appearance of truth in your story that they are willing to suspend their disbelief. Howard Tayler is fond of saying, "Explain the heck out of something small, then wave your hands over the big things." In other words, show your readers you know what you're talking about in one case and they're more likely to assume you also know what you're talking about in others.

More generally, verisimilitude depends upon patterns and precedents, not arbitrary assertions.

Consider, for example, the recent bumper crop of dystopian novels.The societies in which the stories take place tend to cluster around the ends of the spectrum between order and chaos. At one level, this clustering is simply classic extrapolation: taking an aspect of current society, amplifying it, and working out its ramifications. But at another level, we're in the midst of creating dystopian tropes and, soon, clichés, because some authors commit a sin with their society that they would never commit with their antagonists: stereotying.

There's no room in modern literature for characters who are purely good or evil. Characters, at least the ones who ring true, are more complex. Indeed, the best villains sincerely believe they are the heroes of their own story and the fruit of their labors will be a better world.

So how do you avoid stereotypes, like a definitionally oppressive government, when developing your dystopian society?

Socrates set the precedent way back when, in The Republic, he suggested the way to understand personal virtue was to examine virtue on the scale of a state. In other words, approach your dystopian society just as you would an antagonist.

Just like good characters, societies need back stories that outline a plausible path to the present. People generally don't wake up one day and decide to be evil. Similarly, whole societies don't turn to oppression overnight. The good news is that a society showing the lengths to which reasonable people can go is far more frightening than one that's just bad because it's bad.

The proper study of how societies change over time keeps an army of sociologists, anthropologist, and historians busy. A short note like this doesn't begin to do justice to such a rich field of study. But one key to creating believable dystopian societies is to remember that there are always winners and losers: one person's dystopia is another's utopia. And the real engine of any society is the much larger group in the middle: people who are neither winners nor losers, but buy in to it because they believe they can be winners too one day.

[If you'd like more on this topic, you may be interested in my book on verisimilitude in writing.]

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.

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8. Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

 

 

Title:  What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t. . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable—hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.


Review:

Wow, wow, wow!  This is one of the most original YA books I’ve read in a long time.  The narrative is tense and compelling, and the setting, which is revealed in small, teasing snippets, is thought-provoking.  I admit that when I first picked this up, I was skeptical about it holding my interest.  Eva, the narrator, is the less dominate soul, and she shares her body with Addie.  Addie has complete control of their body, and Eva, at first, just seems to be along for the ride.  As they make two new friends, however, Eva is given the hope that someday she might have some control back over the limbs and voice she shares with Addie.  Once the government discovers that Eva still exists, however, she and Addie are imprisoned in a medical facility where the evil Mr Conivent promises their parents that Addie will be “cured.”  Using their ill brother’s medical treatments as the bait to take custody of the girls, Eva and Addie discover a sinister plot to cut one of the forbidden souls from the hybrids the scientists are experimenting on. 

Addie and Eva are deviants in their society.  Everyone is born with two souls, and by the age of ten, most of the lesser souls have “settled,” leaving only the dominant soul behind.  Eva and Addie never settled, but after being shuttled from doctor to doctor, they have learned to keep Eva’s continued existence at secret.  They pretend that they have settled because they realize how important it is to be considered “normal.”  They are tired of doctors, tests, and examinations, and they are afraid of what will happen if it’s discovered that Eva’s soul still very much entwined with Addie’s.

When Addie and Eva form an uneasy friendship with Hally, their secret is exposed, and they are confined to Nornand, a government institution.  They discover the terrible truth about the fate of the children who they have been told have gone home.  With their lives on the line, they desperately seek a way to escape the institution.

I liked both Addie and Eva.  They are scared to death, but they take frightening risks to find a way to freedom, not just for themselves, but for all of the hybrids at Nornand.  In order to learn more about what’s going on, they do some things that had my heart pounding.  Sneaking around and learning the secrets of Nornand, when it’s obvious that the doctors and nurses, and later, the review board, don’t care about their health, safety, or well-being, had me on the edge of my seat.  I hated having to put the book down to go to work!

I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t want to give away any spoilers.  I loved the main protagonists and the the secondary characters, and I completely bought into the plot.  I found What’s Left of Me to be a suspenseful, exciting read.  This book lived up to, and even exceeded, all of my expectations.  I enjoyed the time I spent with Addie, Eva, Hally, and Devon, and hope to spend more time with them in the future.

Grade: B+/A-

Review copy obtained from my local library

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9. Monday Review: UNDER THE NEVER SKY and THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT by Veronica Rossi

Reader Gut Reaction: The first book in this trilogy, Under the Never Sky, was on my radar since it launched, but I hadn't gotten around to reading it until my library recently dangled a free e-book version of it and its sequel in front of me. Being... Read the rest of this post

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10. New Voices: Opening the Book with… Mindy McGinnis!

Imagine a world where water is the hottest commodity. Author Mindy McGinnis has done it in a thrilling, terrifying way in her debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink.

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

Of course, after reading this fantastic dystopian novel, we jumped at the chance of having Mindy come by and open the book with us!

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

Choosing is so hard! I’ll say A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Right now I’m reading Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Tucholke.

What is your secret talent?

Um… I can flip a stack of quarters off my elbow and catch them in my palm. Also I have very fat thumb pads.

Fill in the blank: _______ always make me laugh.

British men.

My current obsessions are…

SHERLOCK, local history and the roots of criminal profiling.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Do your homework. Half the battle is learning the industry.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

Didn’t steal it from the library.

How did you come to write this book?

I watched a documentary called Blue Gold, which is about a projected shortage of potable water on our planet due to overpopulation. It was a horrible thought – we all need water to survive, and it’s something we can’t make. I went to bed very grateful for the small pond in my backyard, and that night I dreamt I was teaching a young girl how to operate a rifle so that she could help me protect the pond. I woke up and thought, “Hey… I wrote a book in my head just now.”

I asked myself what this child would grow into, and my main character, Lynn, was the answer. I don’t plot at all, I simply write. With Drink I was very fortunate in that the book really wrote itself. It wanted to be told. Lynn’s transformation from isolationist to human being had to be slow and believable, but not at the expense of pacing. I knew I needed supporting characters that could make this an interesting read without lots of explosions and fight scenes. Stebbs walked in and saved me there!

Thanks, Mindy! You can find Not a Drop to Drink in stores now!

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11. New Voices, a Word from the Editor: Not a Drop to Drink

Yesterday we heard from Mindy McGinnis about her fantastic debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink. Today, we hear from her editor, Sarah Shumway. Sarah, take it away!

There’s nothing like falling into the spell of a new voice, a striking view of reality, and into the life of a character you know you’ll never forget.  Falling in love with a book is sometimes a thing that happens gradually over the course of a story, but sometimes the first words on a page signal that the feelings are going to come tumbling out of a book and straight into your heart. The very first words of Not a Drop to Drink have that spark for me: “Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond…”

The books I’ve always loved most are those that show me something that I’ve never even imagined and make it real, make me feel. And I love wild books – ones where characters, especially strong girls, have to work to squeeze a good life from a harsh world. I started young with those books, as in Laura Ingalls in the Little House books and Karana in Island of the Blue Dolphins. I love books that challenge me, along with the characters, to rise above difficulty, limitations, and to become more than we knew we could be.  And Lynn, the heroine of Not a Drop, is such a strong character. Not a doubt there. She’s strong in a way that is more than physical or emotional. She’s real. She’s a product of her circumstances, stubborn and rough, but she discovers her heart.   And her story pushes every one of my “appeal” buttons: that strong and distinctive heroine, a gripping survival story, beautiful, sometimes poetic writing, a vivid setting in a fully-realized world, and plot twists like WOAH.  Oh, and it has some good kissing.

One of the most interesting discussions I’ve had with Mindy and with my colleagues here at HarperCollins is about how to categorize this book – is it dystopian? Post-apocalyptic? But I’m kind of proud to say that it really defies genre. While Not a Drop has plenty to offer fans of hugely popular dystopian fiction, what I appreciate is that it’s more than that. It’s different and special because it’s not about challenging a world gone wrong, but it’s about challenging people to be stronger in their own lives and hearts.  And when the trends have come and gone, I think Mindy’s book – Lynn’s story – will persist in grabbing readers’ hearts and imagination, the same way that the frontier or desert island books many of us loved as children and teenagers are still perennial favorites.

I’m so proud to have helped bring Mindy McGinnis and Not a Drop to Drink to an audience. Almost two years after I first read a draft, this book still makes my heart pound, my spine tingle, and my fingers itch to turn pages, and I hope all readers will feel the same when they get their hands on it.

Sarah Shumway is an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books.

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12. Book Review: Shadows



 Shadows

by Robin McKinley

It's not just that Maggie misses her father, or understandably resents her new stepfather, Val. No, it goes beyond that: Val has too many shadows. Whenever Maggie looks at him, she sees him surrounded by wiggly shadow shapes with too many appendages. It can't be magic, because there is no magic in Newworld. Anyone with the potential for magic must have a procedure to snip the gene before they reach puberty, and even though Val is an immigrant, he wouldn't have been allowed in if he had any magic.

Maggie tries not to think about it, and avoids Val as much as possible by throwing herself into her work at the local shelter, which isn't hard, since Maggie loves animals anyway. Then a cobey — a "coherence break" in the universe — opens nearby, and with one revelation after another, Maggie begins to discover that the world — and Newworld specifically — is full of surprises, among them that Val is not such a bad guy. When the situation goes from bad to worse, Maggie and her friends set out to set things right, accompanied by five very large dogs, a cantankerous Maine Coone cat, a friendly shadow named Hix, and one stubborn algebra book.

Shadows is a fun book with loads of teen appeal. Maggie's voice as the narrator is authentic and entertaining, if a bit rambly in parts, and there's gentle humor woven throughout the book. The pacing is excellent, perfectly balancing character development, excitement, humor, and reveals. All of the characters are interesting and well-developed, including animals, shadows, and semi-animate objects. Even the dogs each have distinctive personalities. Although Maggie finds she has some unusual abilities, she can't do it alone - it takes the combined efforts and abilities of everyone to succeed. There is romance, but it's not overdone and I like the direction that McKinley went with the it.

There are dystopian elements, such as soldiers in the streets with scanners, roadblocks, and forced genetic manipulation, but I wouldn't call this a dystopian book. The focus is not on fighting against a dystopian government, although there is certainly some of that. Instead, it's more about finding yourself and discovering that the world is a different place than you thought.

Shadows is a 2013 Cybils Awards Finalist in the YA Speculative Fiction category.

Who would like this book:

Readers of both traditional fantasy and dystopian stories will enjoy this, as it has elements of both. Dog lovers, cat lovers, and origami artists will also find a lot to appreciate.

Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Reviewed from library copy. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.


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13. Book Review: The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince
by Alaya Dawn Johnson

June and her best friend Gil are thrilled to wrangle an invite to the official celebration of the newly elected Summer King, Enki. But they never anticipate that Gil and Enki will fall in love, or how much Enki will affect both of their lives. Although the Summer King has no real power, Enki, who comes from the lowest level of society, is determined to use what influence he has to help his people. June and Enki begin to collaborate on a big art installation, one that they hope will both send a message to the city, and win June the Queen's Award. But none of the three can forget that at the end of the summer, Enki will die. Because the real purpose of the Summer King is sacrifice in service of the city.

The Summer Prince is a brilliant book on so many levels. To start, it's an achingly immersive story set in a future Brazil. Added to that are elements from the Sumerian myth The Epic of Gilgamesh. Going deeper, there are the themes: power and sacrifice, choices and consequences, privilege and class, order and change. Finally, there is the writing: Alaya Dawn Johnson has created a beautiful tapestry so intricately woven that the patterns aren't always obvious on the first read-through. Even on my second read I'm not sure if I saw everything.

Palmares Tres is a gem of a city where past culture and future culture merge. It's a city where people still Samba and eat Vatapá stew, where grafeteiros create masterpieces and street gangs fight with capoeira. And yet it's a city with deep class divisions, where class hierarchy is literally expressed in the city tiers: the higher classes live on the upper levels and the lowest class lives on the bottom tier, where the the stink of the algae vats is ever present. This physical expression of class hierarchy is not a new idea in science fiction, but it's well done here. That stink, known as the Catinga, becomes a powerful symbol in the story, and in fact the higher tiers call the lowest tier "The Catinga."

Palmeres Tres is a city ruled by a matriarchy: a Queen and a council of women called Aunties. Many of them have forgotten the purpose of power, and while they, in their own way, seem to love the city, often their machinations seem designed to protect their own power rather than benefit the city. Most residents of the city live 200 years or more, setting up a situation where anyone under 30 is considered a juvenile, and not to be trusted to make good decisions. So we have class conflict, gender conflict, and age conflict, and with his election as Summer King, Enki becomes the touchstone at the center of all these conflicts.

I've seen this book described as dystopian, but I don't think that it quite falls into that classification. The traditional definition of a dystopia is one that seems utopian on the surface, but is later revealed to be oppressive and deeply flawed. I think that in some ways The Summer Prince turns that around: the flaws are fairly obvious early on, but as you continue to read it becomes clear how much the citizens of Palmeros Tres love their city with a genuine love, even in spite of the flaws. However, The Summer Prince is similar enough to dystopian literature that I think it will appeal to teens who enjoy dystopian books.

It's not necessary to be familiar with The Epic of Gilgamesh or to even recognize those elements are there to enjoy the story, but if you are familiar with the Epic it's a sheer joy to discover the iconic story of Enkidu and Gilgamesh wrestling in the streets transformed into a heart-stopping Samba when Gil and Enki first meet. The Summer Prince is not really a retelling of the myth, but there are some interesting parallels.

June is an imperfect character who struggles throughout the book to make the right choices. Her dream is to be recognized as a great artist, and when that dream comes into conflict with her awakening social awareness, she doesn't always choose the right thing. She blames her mother for her father's death, and because of that she's mean to her mother. All these things make her a believable, realistic character whom the reader can identify with as she grows through her association with Enki.

The Summer Prince does a great job of representing people who are underrepresented in YA lit. All the residents of Palmeros Tres have skin of varying shades of color, and Enki himself is described as being exceptionally charismatic and with very dark skin. Sexual relationships, both same-sex and opposite-sex, are depicted in a natural, unfettered way that's totally a non-issue. In Palmeros Tres it doesn't seem to matter whom you love.

The Brazilian setting is a refreshing change from books set in European-based settings. I personally loved that the book represented a culture and people that you don't often see in American YA Fiction, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this review of The Summer Prince by a native Brazilian, Ana of The Book Smugglers. I'd encourage you to read the review, but in short, Ana is concerned that the Brazilian cultural elements are not always used accurately, and don't go any deeper than those elements that outsiders identify with Brazil, such as samba, Carnival, and capoeira. To Ana, it feels like a stereotype.

I've been thinking a lot about Ana's review over the last few days. Does the book stereotype Brazilians? Maybe - it's hard for me to know since I'm not Brazilian. Should a writer be able to write about a culture as an outsider to that culture? This, I think, is the crux of the controversy, and I've seen good arguments on both sides. I personally think writers stretching to write about things outside their personal experience is a good thing, because it helps to bring those ideas and cultures to other people who are not familiar with them, but the outsider has to work harder to get it right. I found an interview with Johnson where she says about her research, "I read a lot of books, particularly about the history of the African diaspora in Brazil. Also got advice from my sister, who studied in Brazil and knew many sources. And sent it to Brazilian writers for help."

I totally understand Ana's frustration and annoyance with the book. It's not quite the same thing, but I studied a martial art for 18 years, and I get really annoyed when I read a fiction book that gets the martial arts details wrong. So I get how frustrating it would be to have your culture portrayed inaccurately. But it does sound like Johnson did try get the details right, and I hope that maybe it will at least it will inspire young people to want to learn more about Brazil and read up on it, as I did after finishing the book. In balance, I think that a book like this that encourages young people to think outside their comfort zone and learn about new ideas and new cultures is a good thing. There are no easy answers, but I think it's important that we keep having these conversations as we try to get it right.

The Summer Prince is the 2013 Cybils Awards winner for the YA Speculative Fiction category.

Who would like this book:

Science fiction and dystopian readers, as well as teens who like reading about other cultures.

Get it from:
FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher for the purpose of Cybils Awards judging. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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14. Sever - Review


Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) 
by Lauren DeStefano
Publication date: 12 Feb 2013 by Simon & Schuster
ISBN 10/13: 1442409096 | 9781442409095
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Category: Young Adult Dystopia
Keywords: Dystopia, End of series, Revolution
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Source: Purchased


Synopsis:

With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.
Kimberly's Review:

This is a hard book for me to review because I loved Wither, the first book in The Chemical Garden trilogy, so much. 

Without giving too much away, Rhine has escaped the mansion only to find herself at Reed's house, Vaughn's long estranged brother.

Searching for her twin brother, and trying to come to terms with her feelings for both Linden and Gabriel, Rhine embarks on a quest that will answer her questions once and for all. But not all the answers are what she wants them to be. And some of them she wishes she never knew.

I had a lot of problems with Rhine in this book. I loved her in the first two books- independent, strong willed and wanting nothing more than to survive and go home. And while this Rhine isn't that far from the old, she is slightly different. She's been through so much and she's very damaged by the events of the previous two books. But instead of making her more sympathetic, I felt more distant to her character. Her urgent need to find her brother, and then once she does eventually find him, she doesn't scream at him all of the evil she's encountered. (This will make sense once you read the book) I was so frustrated with her! She's also super confused about her feelings for Gabriel and Linden, which just became grating on me. I'll explain.

I am probably in the minority, but I have to say that I am probably on team Linden. Yes, he's pretty dense and should have been paying more attention to the evil that was his own father. But Linden's character grows exponentially during this final book and so by the end, I was hoping that she would end up with him. He was always my favorite of the two, between him and Gabriel and though the sister wife thing does creep me out, I still think Linden is the better choice.  However, this of course proves problematic because he also has Cecily, his youngest wife still on his arm. 

Cecily has also grown. In Fever, book two, the story took Rhine away from both of them and when she returns, they've both matured. While I can't say I like Cecily, I don't mind her and in fact, I may actually have respected her by the end.

What is strange is that Gabriel is mostly absent in book three. This is supposed to be her big love interest! It really hurt my feelings towards Gabriel because he was MIA for so long. I re-attached myself onto Linden. Sorry Gabriel, but even when you were the main character in Fever, I still wasn't a fan. I don't think you had a strong enough personality, and I never really understood what Rhine saw in you.

Now let's talk about Rowan. Rowan, the brother who Rhine is after. Rowan, who is barely a character at all in book three. I'm really sorry but I don't get it. There is nothing special about Rowan and as for their deep, twin relationship, I didn't feel it. He seemed like a secondary character that just appeared for plot sake. I wasn't emotionally invested in Rowan. She searched the country, confronted dangers and evil, for this guy?

I read books two and three right after the other and they move very fast. I love how the story flows so quickly you can get lost for hours in the world. Their world is scary, mean and unforgiving. There's a lot to like about The Chemical Garden trilogy.  I love the freshness of the story and felt like the characters were always in real danger, just escaping by their skin. I love the big reveals during the end, including Rhine's revelation and Madame's secrets.

Overall, I enjoyed Sever and the entire series. While I didn't have a great sense of the characters or motivation behind them, the plot was fast and I wanted to know what happened next. I would recommend it for older YAs as well as adults looking for a dark dystopian.
 


Visit the author online at www.laurendestefano.comFacebook and follow her on Twitter @LaurenDeStefano


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15. This Week’s New and Notable Releases–Part 1

There are a ton of awesome releases this week, so I split the adult list into two parts. First up are the PNR/UF and Fantasy titles. So many of these are on my wish list! What’s on yours?

Check back tomorrow for new romance releases.

Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.

 

Dark Currents: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey (Oct 2, 2012)

Daughter of the Sword: A Novel of the Fated Blades by Steve Bein (Oct 2, 2012)

Death’s Rival: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter (Oct 2, 2012)

Ember’s Kiss: A Dragonfire Novel by Deborah Cooke (Oct 2, 2012)

Ghosts of Memories: A Vampire Memories Novel by Barb Hendee (Oct 2, 2012)

Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Oct 2, 2012)

London Eye (Toxic City Book One) by Tim Lebbon (Oct 2, 2012)

Mate Claimed (Shifters Unbound) by Jennifer Ashley (Oct 2, 2012)

Mortal Ties (Lupi) by Eileen Wilks (Oct 2, 2012)

Phantom Shadows (Immortal Guardians) by Dianne Duvall (Oct 2, 2012)

Revelation (A Novel of the Seven Signs) by Erica Hayes (Oct 2, 2012)

Savage Hunger by Terry Spear (Oct 2, 2012)

Skarlet: Part One of the Vampire Trinity (Vampire Babylon Trilogy) by Thomas Emson (Oct 2, 2012)

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Oct 2, 2012)

Werewolf in Denver: A Wild About You Novel by Vicki Lewis Thompson (Oct 2, 2012)

Wicked Whispers (Castle of Dark Dreams) by Nina Bangs (Oct 2, 2012)

Courting Trouble by Jenny Schwartz (Oct 1, 2012)

Mark of the Witch (The Portal) by Maggie Shayne (Oct 1, 2012)

Wild Hearts in Atlantis by Alyssa Day (Oct 2, 2012)

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16. This Week’s New and Notable Young Adult Releases- October 2nd

Here are this week’s YA releases.  A ton of these are on my wish list, including Breathe, Death and the Girl Next Door, Poison Princess, and Fall to Pieces.  Which titles are you most anticipating?

Click on the cover for the Amazon product page.

The Assassin’s Curse (Strange Chemistry) by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Oct 2, 2012)

Breathe by Sarah Crossan (Oct 2, 2012)

Chasing the Skip by Janci Patterson (Oct 2, 2012)

Broxo by Zack Giallongo (Oct 2, 2012)

Dark Lord: The Early Years by Jamie Thomson (Oct 2, 2012)

Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones (Oct 2, 2012)

      

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak (Oct 2, 2012)  

Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant (Oct 2, 2012)  

Fall to Pieces by Vahini Naidoo (Oct 2, 2012)

Fangirl by Ken Baker (Oct 2, 2012)

Feedback by Robison Wells (Oct 2, 2012)

Fire Season (Star Kingdom) by David Weber and Jane Lindskold (Oct 2, 2012)  

 

 

Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean (Oct 2, 2012)  

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente and Ana Juan (Oct 2, 2012)

Kiss & Make Up by Katie D. Anderson (Oct 2, 2012)

 

Live Through This by Mindi Scott (Oct 2, 2012)  

The Last Dragonslayer (Chronicles of Kazam) by Jasper Fforde and Jane Collingwood (Oct 2, 2012)  

Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass (Oct 2, 2012)

      

Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom, & the Challenges of Bad Hair by C. C. Payne (Oct 2, 2012)  

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow (Oct 2, 2012)

Poison Princess (Arcana Chronicles) by Kresley Cole (Oct 2, 2012)

      

Poltergeeks (Strange Chemistry) by Sean Cummings (Oct 2, 2012)   

Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy) by Caragh M. O’Brien (Oct 2, 2012)   

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (Oct 2, 2012)

      

Shifter (Wicked Woods #6) by Kailin Gow (Oct 2, 2012)   

Son by Lois Lowry (Oct 2, 2012)   

The Suburban Strange by Nathan Kotecki (Oct 2, 2012)

      

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (Oct 2, 2012)

Villain School: Hero in Disguise by Stephanie Sanders (Oct 2, 2012)

Whispers at Moonrise (Shadow Falls Novel (Quality)) by C. C. Hunter (Oct 2, 2012)

      

Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed (Oct 1, 2012)   

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick (Oct 1, 2012)   

The Dogs of Winter by Bobbie Pyron (Oct 1, 2012)

      

League of Strays by L. B. Schulman (Oct 1, 2012)   

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch (Oct 1, 2012)   

Pinned by Sharon Flake (Oct 1, 2012)

      

Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies by Jordan Jacobs (Oct 1, 2012)   

The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda (Oct 1, 2012)   

Skinny by Donna Cooner (Oct 1, 2012)

      

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (Oct 1, 2012)   

Undertakers: Queen of the Dead by Ty Drago and Eric Williams (Oct 1, 2012)   

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler (Oct 1, 2012)

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17. Banned Books Week, continued

Following Scott's excellent post on Banned Books Week, I wanted to add my personal experience regarding this topic.

I was born in Argentina at the peak of the last military dictatorship, in 1977. The society in which I was born and raised was oppressed for years until the people united against tyranny and said "Nunca Mas," Never Again. When I was young, there were a lot of things that weren't available to me and the rest of the population. Some of them were books, music, and theater. Whatever made it to the public was dubbed in Spanish with all the consequences this brings. The message was diluted to what a small group of people thought it was okay for society. In fact, it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I read Little Women in English for the first time and discovered that several paragraphs and whole chapters had been deleted from the translated version I had memorized as a child. I felt like I had been hit in the stomach by a futbol going a hundred miles an hour (and I have in real life. I know that feeling very well)

Among other things, I had never even heard of The Hobbit or of the Lord of Rings Trilogy. When I arrived at BYU, one of the first things I did was go to the library. I was overwhelmed by the amount of books that the walls and countless shelves of not one floor, but five! I could have stayed there forever and never go to class. In fact, if I never stepped in a classroom but was allowed to spend as much time as I wanted in that library, I would have been satisfied.

Fortunately, I did go to class; one of the first ones was an English honors in which we discussed The Lord of the Rings. I remember the very first quizz. I studied for hours, unused to the difficult language of the book (English is my second language after all, but Tolkien's wasn't the English I had studied for years).

I was dismayed when I read the questions. I had no idea who Bilbo was, and there were five questions on this character. When I complained to the professor, he said he had included questions from The Hobbit, and since it was popular culture we all should know it.

I still disagree with his logic, although it makes sense in a way. Eventually I did very well in that class, and I think the professor had a reality check: not all students came from the same background and culture, and as a consequence defined popular culture a little different from him.

Where I'm going with this is, no small group of people has the right to say what I am allowed to consider writing/reading/seeing/saying. During the military dictatorship countless artists were exiled from Argentina because their work was deemed revolutionary, anti-patriotic.

When I was in high school I had the blessing of being friends with a group of girls who, like me, loved reading and discussing the ideas we read. We borrowed and lent books to each other, and we talked. There were many books I read that I didn't like. But I could read them, or put them away if I didn't want to continue giving my time to something I didn't enjoy. Yesterday, I was reading a Stephen King's book in English for the first time, and I reached a passage that really disturbed me because of the violence. I put it away. Do I think no one should ever read that book? No. Everyone has the right to read whatever they please. My son is almost twelve, and he's a read-a-holic like his mother. However, there are some books I don't want him to read yet. There is plenty of time for some things. But when he's old enough, they'll be available for him.

Sometimes when we read these now so popular dystopian books, we as readers are horrified by some aspects of those fictional societies. I'm horrified because I lived in one, and the effects of the lack of freedom TO THINK are devastating. My country still hasn't recovered.

Read books. Banned or not. Think for yourself. Give others the same right.

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18. Cover Shot! The Elite by Kiera Cass

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I’m not too enamored with the dress, but I love the title font and graphic for The Elite by Kiera Cass.  Are you reading this series? What do you think of this cover?

In stores April  2013.

     

Not available

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19. This Week’s New and Notable Young Adult Releases–October 9

There are a couple of big buzz titles this week.  Velveteen, Mystic City, and Valkyrie Rising are at the top of my wish list.  What’s on yours?

Click the covers for the Amazon product page.

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin (Oct 9, 2012)

After by Ellen Datlow (Oct 9, 2012)

Samurai Awakening by Benjamin Martin (Oct 10, 2012)

The Bridge by Jane Higgins (Oct 9, 2012)

Bushman Lives! by Daniel Pinkwater (Oct 9, 2012)

Guardian  (A Halflings Novel) by Heather Burch (Oct 9, 2012)

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh (Oct 9, 2012)

The Katerina Trilogy, Vol. II: The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges (Oct 9, 2012)

My Own Revolution by Carolyn Marsden (Oct 9, 2012)

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence (Oct 9, 2012)

The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab (Oct 9, 2012)

Paradise by Joanna Nadin (Oct 9, 2012)

Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay (Oct 9, 2012)

A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Gonzalez (Oct 9, 2012)

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (Oct 9, 2012)

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson (Oct 9, 2012)

Velveteen by Daniel Marks (Oct 9, 2012)

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (Oct 9, 2012)

Demon Eyes (Witch Eyes) by Scott Tracey (Oct 8, 2012)

Foxfire (An Other Novel) by Karen Kincy (Oct 8, 2012)

The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) by Michelle Cooper (Oct 9, 2012)

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20. Waiting On Wednesday–Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

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

Yeah, yeah, everyone seems to be waiting for Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans.  Me, too!  I’m officially tossing my hat into the waiting pile.

In stores January 2013

    s

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

What are you waiting on?

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21. This Week’s New and Notable Young Adult Releases–October 16

Lots of nice stuff here! I am looking forward to The Space Between Us, Zom-B, and Crewel.  What’s on your want to read list?

Beta by Rachel Cohn (Oct 16, 2012)

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters (Oct 16, 2012)

Crewel (Crewel World) by Gennifer Albin (Oct 16, 2012)

 

Game Changer by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Oct 16, 2012)

Have a Nice Day by Julie Halpern (Oct 16, 2012)

Hidden (House of Night) by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast (Oct 16, 2012)

    

The Innocents by Lili Peloquin (Oct 16, 2012)

The Islands of the Blessed (Sea of Trolls Trilogy) by Nancy Farmer (Oct 16, 2012)

Kiss, Kiss, Bark! by Kim Williams Justesen (Oct 16, 2012)

Lily the Silent: The History of Arcadia by Tod Davies and Mike Madrid (Oct 16, 2012)

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara (Oct 16, 2012)

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos (Oct 16, 2012)

    

Sanctum (Book 1 in the Guards of the Shadowlands series) by Sarah Fine (Oct 16, 2012)

Shadow of the Hawk (Wereworld) by Curtis Jobling (Oct 16, 2012).

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski (Oct 16, 2012)

    

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez (Oct 16, 2012)

Starstruck: A Fame Game Novel by Lauren Conrad (Oct 16, 2012)

This Is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Oct 16, 2012)

    

TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code by Alex Scarrow (Oct 16, 2012)

Zom-B by Darren Shan (Oct 16, 2012)

Daniel X: Armageddon by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (Oct 15, 2012)

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22. CYBILS F/SF: Partials, by Dan Wells

One of the rare straight SF novels of the Cybils season (not that rare overall, but this year has some better science than last, I think) this book was meant to be a quick sip whilst doing something else, and I ended up putting off whatever else it... Read the rest of this post

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23. Interview with Elsie Chapman, Author of Dualed

I am super geeked to welcome Elsie Chapman to the virtual offices today.  Her book DUALED, Random House, hits stores shelves February 26th 2013.  This is one of my most anticipated 2013 reads, so I’m thrilled to chat with Elsie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Elsie Chapman]  Mangler and consumer of words, nurturer of little humans and furballs, lover and friend, loud music hound, sushi and caffeine enthusiast.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Dualed?

[Elsie Chapman]  At its heart, I can say it’s a story about finding self-worth, and what it means to different people, under different circumstances.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Elsie Chapman]  My son asked me one day, how did we know we all didn’t have a twin out there and just didn’t know about them. So the idea pretty much took off from there. I wanted a girl MC who was strong but still vulnerable, and a main love interest who was able to let her be her own person.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe West?

[Elsie Chapman]  Loyal, solid, stubborn.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If West had a theme song, what would it be?

[Elsie Chapman]  Run by Snow Patrol. I listened to that one a lot while I was writing Dualed!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing West won’t leave the house without.

[Elsie Chapman]  Her gun. Or her set of switchblades.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Elsie Chapman]  Music, movies, lyrics, the odd quote.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Elsie Chapman]  Music, tea, time. I tend to write in major gluts, so if I’m on a roll, I just kind of disappear for a while.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Elsie Chapman]  The very last book I read that still had me thinking about it days later was The Curse of the Wendigo by Ricky Yancey. It’s book 2 of the Monstrumologist series, and I absolutely cannot wait until I have time to read book 3, The Isle of Blood.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Elsie Chapman]  For reading in general, I can’t remember. But I read a lot of Stephen King when I was young, and he was the author who kept me reading.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Elsie Chapman]  My to-be-read pile keeps growing, so I try to work on that. I’ll clear out the PVR, marathon some movies, bake. Most recently, while I was waiting for edits to come in, I decided to finally check out Tumblr. It was way too much fun so now I’m on that, as well. Though it’s not author or book or writing related at all, just super random stuff I happen to enjoy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Elsie Chapman]  You can find me at all these places! And thank you for having me on your blog, Julie!

Goodreads: goodreads.com/elsiechapman

Blog: elsiechapman.com

Twitter: twitter.com/elsiechapman

Facebook: facebook.com/elsiechapmanauthor

Pinterest: pinterest.com/elsiechapman

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

You can pre-order DUALED from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital

 

DUALED Blurb:

Two of you exist. Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

Author bio:

Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

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24. Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop! Win London Eye by Tim Lebbon!

Welcome to my Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and  co-hosted by Babs Book Bistro.  This hop runs from January 1st – 7th 2013, and you can win lots of new reads.   Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away a finished copy of Tim Lebbon’s London Eye.

 

About the book:

The Hunger Games meets The X-Men in an exciting post-apocalyptic debut.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers.

The rest of Britain believe that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But Jack and his friends, some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday, know that the reality is very different.

At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London, and it is incredible. Because the handful of Londons survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

 

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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25. Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title:  Breathe

Author: Sarah Crossan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


Review:

The premise of Breathe hooked me and made me what to read it.  I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and though I have been disappointed by many of them lately, Breathe kept me completely engaged in the plot.  That’s not to say that there weren’t any flaws, because there were quite a few, but I was so caught up in the story that I overlooked most of them.  One that was hard to overlook was the personality reversal of Petra, the leader of the Resistance.  When the chips were down, she went from being tough as nails to completely caving in and giving up.  I don’t understand how she was the leader of this rebel group for so long, how she sent her people out on dangerous, life-threatening missions that lead to many of their deaths, when she couldn’t even find it in herself to fight back when she’s confronted with a war.  Yes, the odds were so against her people that it didn’t look like they had a chance in Hell of winning, but just rolling over and giving up without a fight made me dislike her even more.  How she ever became the leader of the resistance in the first place is beyond me.

When Bea and her best friend, Quinn, head out of the pod for a short camping trip, their plans are disrupted by Alina, a member of the Resistance, who is fleeing from the Ministry.  Alina’s crime? She stole some plants.  Yup, in this horrific vision of the future, all plant-life has been destroyed, the oceans have been polluted, and as a result, there isn’t enough oxygen left in the atmosphere to support life.  The oppressive Breathe, the corporation that developed the pods and the life giving machines that fill them with breathable air,  making a fortune selling air to the citizens of the pod.  If you think having a gas meter or an electric meter is a pain, imagine having a monthly bill for the air you breathe.  The poor struggle to make ends meet, while the wealthy have so much money they can splurge on personal air tanks so they can jog or play sports.  Stewards patrol the streets, punishing those who walk too fast, or carry burdens without a permit.  In the public areas of the pod, there are strict rules dictating how quickly you can move or what you can do because you are sucking up all of that valuable free air into your lungs.  I love the concept behind this story!

After Bea and Quinn help Alina, their lives are thrown into chaos.  Quinn’s father holds a high ranking position in Breathe, and as a Premium, there is little that Quinn has had to do without.  Bea, on the other hand, has parents who are working themselves to death to pay for her air.  As she attends school and works hard to be promoted, Bea is consumed with guilt.  Her parents are always so tired, and always so worried about everything.  When she fails to secure a spot in the Breathe Leadership Program, she is devastated.  That was going to be her ticket to an easier life for her and her parents, and she blew it.  So a trip outside, to the Outlands, sounds like just the thing she needs to clear her head and forget her disappointment.  Quinn is providing everything she needs for the trip, so she might as well go and enjoy herself.  And she is, until they run into Alina.  Quinn, a very clueless, privileged young man, sees Alina, finds her beautiful, and immediately falls for her.  He’ll do anything in his power to help her.  Even hurt his best friend, Bea, who has loved him forever.

The love triangle did get a little annoying, because I didn’t think Quinn was worthy of Bea’s unyielding devotion, and Alina wasn’t my favorite character.  While I thought that Quinn and Alina deserved each other,  I didn’t want to see Bea hurt, because she is so kind.  She is willing to risk herself for others, without hesitation. Neither Alina nor Quinn have her best interests at heart when they both have the power over her to keep her from harm.  That was disappointing, because after everything that they had been through together, I expected better behavior from both of them.  Plus, Bea would have put herself in harm’s way to protect both of them, and they didn’t deserve that.

The ending is one of those non-endings that seem inevitable in YA books, and it left me disappointed.  I have been trying to resist starting new series until most of the books are out, but this was sitting on the library shelf, and despite a few reservations, I checked it out.  Now. When I knew the next book won’t be out until later this year.  Ugh.  I am glad that I read it now, but I worry that I won’t be in the same frame of mind when Book 2 hits shelves.

If you are in the mood for a fast-paced dystopian with a compelling premise, give Breathe a try.  I gobbled it up in a few short hours, and was engaged in the plot the entire time.

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

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