What I love most about Holly Black as a writer is that she makes it seem so easy to completely explode apart a genre with her own unique take.
Holly Bl...moreWhat I love most about Holly Black as a writer is that she makes it seem so easy to completely explode apart a genre with her own unique take.
Holly Black: “So, you think you know all about mythical creatures? Bam! The Spiderwick Chronicles.” “Have you had faerie tales read to you since you were a child? Boom! Modern Faerie Tales.” And finally: “Is the market over-saturated with vampire novels? Ta-da! The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.”
**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more w...more**spoiler alert** Having enjoyed Kresley Cole's adult novels, I was interested to see what her YA would be like. It's definitely smoldering, in more ways than one. The heat between Evangeline (Evie) Greene and Jackson (Jack) Deveaux sizzles on the page, while the real burning fire of the Flash - the end of the world event that has killed almost everyone on Earth, turning the survivors into evil creatures called Bagmen who eat anything with liquid, or plain ole cannibals, or power-hungry militants - is gruesome enough to give you nightmares. Among the few non-evil survivors are 16-year-old Evie and the motorcycle-riding, whiskey-drinking, bad-ass bad boy Jack.
**SPOILER ALERT. PLOT DISCUSSED**
Former schoolmates from opposite sides of the bayou in Louisiana, the book opens with Evie talking about what happened in the week leading up to the Flash, the end of the world as everyone knew it. It's the first week of school and as one of the most popular and richest girls in the county (cheerleader dating the hot quarterback, etc.), Evie is trying her hardest to pretend it's business as usual. What she's concealing is the summer she spent in a mental institution, drugged and brainwashed into denying her psychotic episodes. She sees things - burning skies, plants that come alive - and often sleepwalks while having nightmares. Her mother sends her away, denying everything, and Evie is forced to play along. Everything is okay at first, but despite taking her meds, the hallucinations begin to happen all the time, and the voices in her head - voices of other teenagers - just won't stop. She also can't stop the fleeting flashbacks to a memory of her grandmother who used to tell her about Tarot; the characters were real in her grandmother's stories, not just symbols on cards. Add to all that the pressure her boyfriend is putting on her to have sex, the intense attraction and dislike she feels for new kid Jack Deveaux, and Evie is a hot mess.
Then the Flash happens, the scorching sun burning everyone and everything exposed. Evie and her mother were able to hide in their basement, but almost everyone else they know wasn't so lucky. With supplies running low, Evie makes a desperate discovery - her blood brings plants to life. Secretly tending a garden in her barn, Evie tries to not feel desperate at her mother's weakening condition, the rumors of the military and cannibals heading her way (not sure which is worse - to be repeatedly raped or murdered and eaten?), and she has no way out. Until Jack Deveaux rides up on his motorcycle one day, just ahead of the approaching army. When her mother dies in the night, Evie agrees to go with Jack on one condition - he take her to find her grandmother who Evie secretly thinks may have some of the answers to her hallucinations.
Evie has begun to realize that Tarot is real, that the voices in her head are really the voices of other teenagers who represent other Tarot characters, and that Evie herself is one of them. Along the way, Evie & Jack pick up other teenage survivors - Matthew, Selena, and Finneas - who Evie recognizes as other Tarot characters. It seems each Tarot character has a choice, whether to fight on the side of good or evil, though Evie has a hard time recognizing this battle within herself. As Evie, Jack, and the crew continue on their dangerous cross-country journey, they are fighting an uphill battle against almost everything - limited food and water, the Bagmen, the cannibals, the army they have to avoid, and most of all, their attraction to each other. Jack and Evie have an undeniable connection, Matthew loves Evie but like a brother, Selena wants Jack, while Finn wants Selena. It's all raging battles and raging hormones as the crew tries to adjust to each other, their powers, and what to do next. Both Jack and Evie have secrets to hide, and despite all they've been through, both don't quite trust each other. As Evie gets closer to realizing just who and what she really is, she realizes one of the things that scares her the most is that Jack will reject who she may turn out to be - she's not just the Poison Princess, she is the Empress, the one who will win over the other Arcana, the other members of the Tarot, by seeing them all dead with their glyphs written on her body.(less)
For fans of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, have I got the series for you! Outpost, the sequel to Enclave, and...moreFor fans of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, have I got the series for you! Outpost, the sequel to Enclave, and the second book in the Razorland trilogy, is releasing in September, meaning the first two gripping adventures in this young adult dystopian trilogy are going to be available.
enclave 202x300 Book Review: Outpost by Ann AguirreTo bring you up to speed, in Enclave, Deuce was born an raised in an underground community on a post-apocalyptic Earth. She is a Huntress, and together with her fighting partner, Fade, she helps find food for the enclave and guards it against the Freaks – mutant humans who act more like beasts, animalistic in their eating habits (including attacking and eating humans) to survive. Life is far from perfect, but Deuce is satisfied with her place in the Enclave. Until she finds out the Elders are more manipulative than she could have ever imagined. When one of her friends is framed by the Elders to be used as a sacrificial example to the Enclave, Deuce steps forward instead. Banished from the only life and home she has ever known, Deuce is lucky that Fade exiles himself with her. Fad has not always lived underground, and so now the two travel through the dangerous tunnels, running and fighting for their lives, in an attempt to make it topside and see what the above ground world holds. But life up there is no picnic either, and as the two travel across the wasteland, they continue to have to rely on each other and their fighting skills. Picking up two more outcasts along the way, this group of four make their way toward an uncertain future, trying to reach one of the walled communities that exist in the North.
In Outpost, having made it to relative safety, Deuce, Fade, and their friends have been adopted out into the community. Forced to act in a more feminine manner – wearing dresses instead of pants, her hair in braids, forbidden to carry her knives, and made to go to school – Deuce feels lost and strains against the constraints of the apparent civilized society’s rules. Until the community realizes the outpost has Freaks of their own to fight, and what’s worse, the Freaks are no longer the mindless creatures driven by instinct. They have banded together for the first time in anyone’s memory. In order to save the outpost, its citizens will have to rely on the fighting skills Deuce and her friends have brought with them. No one is safe yet.(less)
**spoiler alert** Melissa Marr hits it out of the park again in this book that took everyone – herself, her publisher, and her fans, as she was not sc...more**spoiler alert** Melissa Marr hits it out of the park again in this book that took everyone – herself, her publisher, and her fans, as she was not scheduled to release this year – by great surprise. What’s not so surprising is that if this book had any amount of graphic sex in it, it would be shelved in the paranormal adult romance section. It doesn’t, making it both appropriate and perhaps a tad disappointing for readers 16+. What it doesn’t have in sex, it makes up for in spades with magic and witchcraft, casual and purposeful violence, harsh emotional realities, and that romantic and sexual tension that can only be created by two people destined to be on opposing teams while being together. When you’re introduced to a centuries-old battle between witches and daimons, what else can you expect?
**Spoiler alert! Plot discussed!**
Mallory is, unknown to her, the missing daughter of Marchosias, ruler of the daimon world. Hidden for 17 years by her birth mother, Selah, a daimon Watcher, and her adopted father, Adam, a very powerful witch, in the Earth realm, Mallory was raised to hate and fight against daimons. Adam has used his magic to keep her from knowing her true daimon self, and that she is why they keep moving so often. He also uses magic to erase her memory of fighting the daimons Marchosias has sent looking for her, and that the new boy, the first boy, she has ever liked, is in fact Kaleb, a cur from the daimon realm, a part-time assassin hired to discover Mallory’s whereabouts, and one of the final contestants in the fight-to-the-death competition held at the Carnival of Souls. Once he does meet Mallory, the game changes, as they are both unprepared for the connection they have.
Kaleb recognizes Mallory as his mate, and when Adam goes missing in the daimon realm, Kaleb will stop at nothing – even aligning himself with Aya, the half-witch, half-daimon child of Evelyn, head of the Council of Witches, and Aya’s familiar, the daimon Belias – to help Mallory travel to the daimon realm, explore her daimon nature, stand up to her birth father Marchosias, and save her adopted father Adam.
I can’t help but be reminded of the machinations of the ruling families during the bloodiest years of European history, and half expect to see these twisted plot lines in a Showtime series like The Tudors someday. Earth vs. daimon realm, witches vs. daimons, parents vs. children, love vs. hate – all face off in Melissa Marr’s newest book, first in what is sure to be a trilogy or series.(less)
The best way to describe this book is The Breakfast Club meets zombie slasher flick - and if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you should read...moreThe best way to describe this book is The Breakfast Club meets zombie slasher flick - and if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you should read it anyway for a surprisingly funny teen romance/adventure. Bobby, formerly of the UK, then the US, now back to the UK, is frustrated, sad, lonely, pissy, and SO very tired of her perky classmates on the pre-school year ski trip. When everyone gets off the bus at a rest stop on the way home, Bobby stays on-board, and unfortunately, so does Smitty, the class "rebel-without-a-cause". This turns out to be a good thing when their entire class turns into a bunch of raving zombies, and it's up to the two of them, plus a few other stragglers, to save both themselves and the rest of the world.
The who-dunnit twist at the end needs a little bit more (lead-up? explanation? context?), but ties up some loose plot points nicely. The writing manages to keep pace throughout the plot, amping up the action and the tension with each short chapter. A relatively breezy read, Bobby & Smitty's banter breaks up the suspense, while Alice (the popular cheerleader) and Pete (the brain) play helpful supporting roles. For a cleverly-written romp through the Scottish countryside, I highly recommend this, dare I say it?, teen zombie adventure.(less)
I had the chance to read this in manuscript form when I was interning at HMH. LOVED IT! It is the best kind of female fantasy heroine. Can hardly wait...moreI had the chance to read this in manuscript form when I was interning at HMH. LOVED IT! It is the best kind of female fantasy heroine. Can hardly wait for the rest of the series.(less)
Teenage girl thief. That should really be 'nough said, right?
Kat (Katarina Bishop) comes from a family of thieves. One of THE family of thieves (of wh...moreTeenage girl thief. That should really be 'nough said, right?
Kat (Katarina Bishop) comes from a family of thieves. One of THE family of thieves (of which there are about 7 in the world). In book 1, Heist Society, Kat tries to give up her thieving ways, only to end up pulling the biggest heist of her life with a full team of other teenage thieves in order to clear her father's name. In book 2, Kat has stayed true to her desire not to steal for stealing's sake. She has begun returning stolen goods taken from Jewish families during World War II. Only these she pulls these jobs on her own. No team, no backup, half the time no one knows where she is. That doesn't sit too well with certain members of her team/family, most notably the sexy possible love-interest Hale and Kat's cousin Gabrielle. Hale and Gabrielle are trying to badger Kat back into the family fold when Kat is contacted by an old woman and her grandson who beg her to make the heist of the century to return a stolen emerald to their family and restore their family's name.
When you head a team of teenagers that has stolen a Cezanne from one of the most heavily guarded museum exhibits in the world, in certain circles, your name becomes a famous one. Names are powerful things, like the name Visily Romani, one of the sacred names among thieves. When the old woman evokes the Romani name, saying he is the one who sent her to Kat, Kat knows she has to take this job.
But this is not just any emerald, and this is not just any job. Kat would have to steal the Cleopatra Emerald, the one rumored to be cursed by the doomed love between Cleopatra and Marc Antony, the one no one has ever successfully stolen, including Kat's very own Uncle Eddie. The one he's forbidden anyone in the family to steal. Kat knows she's on her own for this one...or is she really? Hale and Gabrielle have no intention of letting Kat go after the emerald by herself, and as they crisscross the globe, their team grows in numbers as faces old and new let Kat she doesn't have to be alone, on this job or any job in the future.
The plot thickens with a double-cross, a first kiss, a long-lost family member, and the customary high-class stakes, adventure, and excitement I've come to expect from an Ally Carter novel. Not super-fluffy, but also missing most of the super-teen-angst (thank goodness!), this is a light, enjoyable, well-written read. You don't need to have read book 1 to understand book 2, but it's an equally enjoyable read, so I highly recommend you dip into both.(less)