Grasshopper Jungle is a weird book. I mean, it's strange enough to be stuck inside a teenage boy's head, but that really didn't have too much to do with the weirdness of the book. Giant insects taking over the world was different, too, but it's not really why I'm saying this. Grasshopper Jungle is a mindfuck of a book because of manner in which the end of the world is told to us.
The writing of Grasshopper Jungle is not bad by any stretch. It is the most uniquely written book that I've read in a while. Austin Szerba tells of the apocalypse in a very roundabout way, describing events that seemingly have nothing to do with what is going on in the story. The book is filled with these "coincidences", and the apocalypse does not even begin until about 30% of the way in to the book.
The first part of Grasshopper Jungle was used, instead, to show readers the complex relationship between Austin, his gay best friend Robby, and his girlfriend Shann. Austin has started questioning his sexuality because of his love for both Robby and Shann. He is conflicted by his fantasies of having a threesome with them. It may sound like a little much for a YA novel, the teenage years are when sexuality is explored. We get to see Austin sort through is feelings and discover himself in the face of the world ending.
The part of Grasshopper Jungle with the bugs is pretty gross, but definitely unique. How it began was most certainly strange, and the taking over of the bugs was a little more graphic than what I've seen in YA before. (Not a bad thing.) It made me think of a really campy B movie, which is a compliment. I was never tense or scared, but it was a fun ickfest.
Grasshopper Jungle is gross, weird, unique, and something that I think both teens and adults will love. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, and I will be reading Andrew Winger's past works.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Waterfell by Amalie Howard has one of the most imaginative premises that I've read in a young adult novel in quite some time. However, I need you to throw the summary completely out of the window because very little from it happens until about halfway through the novel.
From the start I could tell that Nerissa Marin was not the average teenager. Okay, I'll grant that it was a given from the first pages in the novel that she wasn't human. That being said, she was different from most kids her age. While she had the typical selfishness that we expect from teenagers, she also had a great awareness of her responsibilities as a leader and of her potential of bringing danger to her friends. While she was standoffish to Lotharius "Lo" Seavon, she had a healthy relationship with her friends and "foster" family because she had no hesitation in talking about her problems or confiding in them. I liked that a lot. What I did not like was the instant lovey feelings that she felt for Lo, though she kept pushing him away. *sigh* I'll grant that she's a different species, and I know that instalove is a real thing with teenagers, but... *takes a deep breath* It's not my thing. Moving on!
You know what was awesome about Waterfell? The world-building. See, I went into the book thinking that I was reading about mermaids. Did you think it was mermaids? Look at the summary of the book again. No mermaids there! I will say that the Aquarathi are water creatures, but I'm going to leave it at that. (You aren't going to be reading Of Poseidon or The Little Mermaid.) I want you to be just as surprised as me when you find out what they are. While my mind was not exactly blown, I gave Amalie Howard the slow hand clap in my head for coming up with such a neat concept.
I did not care for how long it took for the groundwork for Waterfell to be laid. I enjoyed the world-building and getting to know the characters, but the plot that was hinted upon in the summary did not come about until well into the book. Waterfell read like a contemporary novel with just a dash of paranormal for a long time. There was a lot of focus on Nerissa's issues with high school drama, things going on with her friends and family, and pushing away the cute new boy at school for dumb reasons. The parts about the Aquarathi were the most interesting, but they did not pop up nearly enough for my taste. (What can I say, I love me some full-on fantasy!)
Overall, Waterfell was a good book with a very unique world. Nerissa is a great heroine and the Aquarathi are an interesting race. If you're looking for a "mermaid book" that is completely different than anything you've read before, then this is the book for you.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
The Rules for Disappearing is probably one of my favorite contemporaries that I've read. While I am...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
The Rules for Disappearing is probably one of my favorite contemporaries that I've read. While I am not usually drawn to the genre, I chose to read and review this novel because the author, Ashley Elston, is from my area. I read the book well before it's time on my reading schedule because I was a bit curious about the writing style, and I like glancing at the first page when I'm scheduling myself a certain amount of reading time. The next day, I had finished the book.
I guess I should tell you a little about the book itself. I want to call The Rules for Disappearing a light read because I breezed through it, though it's not necessarily light subject matter. Bad guys being out to get you and ending up in the Witness Protection Program isn't exactly a walk in the park. Poor Meg has to deal with constant upheaval, a loss of her former life, being deterred from making any new connections, a closed off day, a breaking down sister, and an alcoholic mom. However, it was easy for me to connect with her because she still goes through many things that teenagers deal with, Witness Protection or not. Meg feels like she's an outcast with ugly clothes, betrayed by her friends, and responsible for sticking her nose precisely where it doesn't belong. I think we've all been there. I felt like a lot of what Meg went through was metaphors for those (and other) teen struggles.
I really liked most of the characters, which helped move the story along. Meg was tired of her situation, and I love that she decided to do something about it. The mom in me was screaming at her because it was a terrible idea, but still. You have to love a YA heroine that doesn't just lie down and accept what's happened to her or wait on Prince Charming to rescue her. She also loves her family despite their flaws, real or imagined, and is very protective of her little sister, Teeny. Ethan, the love interest, stole my heart. He didn't give up on Meg no matter how many times she pushed him away, and he was always there for her, no questions asked. I even liked Meg's parents - Dad really did have their best interests at heart and Mom was trying, dammit.
I don't want to give too much of the story away because it really is a fun read. I was never exactly surprised by the events in the book, but I didn't grow bored with them. There was just enough suspense to keep me interested, but not so much tension that it made me skip ahead in the book. (Yes, I am guilty of that.) There is some romance involved in the book, but if that isn't your thing, rest assured that it does not overwhelm the story's plot.
All in all, I think The Rules for Disappearing will be enjoyed by most YA readers, especially teens. It's a great mystery with realistic characters and is a fun and easy read.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of Itching for Books Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review. The advance digital copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
I've read a lot of time travel and science fiction in the young adult realm lately, and I haven't been blown away. However, Cristin Terrill's debut, ...moreI've read a lot of time travel and science fiction in the young adult realm lately, and I haven't been blown away. However, Cristin Terrill's debut, All Our Yesterdays, is the best example of each that I've read this year. All of the characters are intriguing and realistic, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat, and the science is believable.
All Our Yesterdays is told through Em and Marina's alternating points of view. Em's story starts the novel. She's in a jail cell, obsessing over its need to have a drain in the middle of the floor, with only the voice of a boy in the neighboring cell to keep her sane. Her world is a dystopian disaster, and she has torture and terrorization to look forward to each day. Marina is living through events four years previous to that of Em, and she is a rich, snooty teenage girl who is plotting the seduction of her next door neighbor. Though it is not exactly mysterious who the two girls are, but the way ties that bind them together are revealed is never boring. The relationships between Em, Marina, Finn, James, and the doctor are also well done. Each relationship between any two of the aforementioned people is complex and startling at times. This all lends credibility to how believable the characters and their interactions are.
The most important part of time travel - and science fiction in general - for me is the science and explanations behind it all. I want to know how it works, and I want to believe it. All Our Yesterdays' time travel made sense to me, despite the fact that the concept and implementation of it was developed by a supergenius teenager. The way the theory of relativity was explained in the novel is how it was explained to me by a NASA scientist - and it makes sense. (No, really, it actually does.) I was completely on board and bought all of the science from Terrill quite happily... Until the last few pages. It broke my heart, but I ended the book saying, "Nope, I'll be buying none of that." If you're going to have time travel, you have to be consistent.
In the end, All Our Yesterdays is a fantastic novel and one of the best sci-fi reads for me this year. I'll be honest, the last pages is what knocked the star rating down to four (I am particular about my time travel), but the book is very good. Chances are, most of you aren't as picky as me and will enjoy this book very much.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
There's not enough deep space science fiction in YA, and I did not realize that I was missing it until I read Starglass by Phoebe North. There are others out there similar to it, namely Across the Universe by Beth Revis, but Starglass had a story all its own. Phoebe North spins the Jewish diaspora and makes it a sort of human diaspora in the world-building of the novel. I thought of that comparison because Asherah, the spaceship in the novel, exists to preserve Jewish culture. Yes, it's got a lot of religious influences in the story, but the world-building was unique and intriguing, so it all works. Oh, and there is this twist at the end that I didn't see coming. I love when those things hit me unexpectedly.
Terra was the main character in the novel, and I instantly connected with her because I felt sorry for her. Starglass starts out with her mother's funeral. This event lays the seeds for everything that happens to her three years down the road. It leaves her feeling very isolated because her family is no longer one with four people: father, mother, son, daughter. (That's how ALL families are made up on the ship.) When the story picks back up when she's fifteen, her dad is a verbally abusive jerk, her brother is married to an alright girl of a higher station, and she is waiting to find out what her job on the ship will be. Terra is hoping for a job as an artist, but she ends up in botany with a woman who did not want a tahmid (apprentice). She also has a lot of weird dreams about her bashert (soulmate) that not even BEGIN to make any sense until the end of the novel. The long and short of it is that she's a strong girl who makes it through a crappy three years, loyal to her friends and family, tries to do the right thing even when it's hard, and never stops questioning what she is doing or why. The last part has a lot to do with the murder she witnesses, but I don't want to spoil anything. Let's just say that things begin to spiral after that.
In case it hasn't come across clearly, I loved Starglass. However, there were a few things that I did not quite understand in the book. The letters to Terra, the daughter of one of the Earth-born passengers on the ship, throughout the novel helped with the suspense, but they threw me off at times. The current Terra's dreams were definitely confusing, and it was not until maybe 95% into the book that I saw the purpose in them at all. There is a social ladder that is a borderline caste system on the ship, but the job-based rungs of that ladder were vague. Some people married outside of their job level, but others acted like it was forbidden. *scratches head* These things did not detract much from my enjoyment of Terra's story, and the version of Starglass that I read was an ARC, so maybe it's changed.
All in all, Starglass was a mystery about a society shot into space and where it went wrong, and a coming of age story for Terra, who is faced with the constant struggle of doing what she believes to be the right thing. The religious aspects of the story sets it apart from other science fiction novels that I have read. Starbreak, book two, is due next year, and I am anxiously awaiting it.
- 4/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of Itching for Books Blog Tours in exchange for an honest review. The advance digital copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
In Dualed, we are brought into Kersh: a city-state in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been left infertile. The Board - the governing body...moreIn Dualed, we are brought into Kersh: a city-state in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been left infertile. The Board - the governing body - somehow has managed to find a way to create/grow human clones in labs two at a time. Every set of twins (or Alts) are separated at birth (hatching?) and each baby is raised by a different family. They never meet until the time comes for them to hunt down and kill their clone upon their activation. You see, the Board teaches that the survival of Kersh depends upon the strength of its population, so only those who kill their Alts are worthy of living there. This world-building is interesting, but it left me hungering for more. It seemed like there were holes in the story and zip-aheads (you know, when you fast forward in time - roll with it) that confused me a bit. When it came to other aspects of the story, I could suspend disbelief enough to believe Kersh wanted to be a land of killers, but I wanted to read more about why the Board activated certain individuals when they did. I also wish there would have been more showing of the parents and how they dealt with the loss of one child, but having another walking around, genetically the same.
The writing itself in Dualed was gripping, but I did have a bit of trouble connecting with the characters. West Grayer is a young girl surrounded by death and loss, and I think she is a fair representation of that. She is withdrawn and pushes away anyone who attempts to get close to or help her. I think this included me. However, West was fascinating to observe (I never felt like I was there with her like I do in many books), and I enjoyed her interactions with Chord. My favorite thing about her was the doubt she felt about being the worthy one, being as she was a hired assassin for other people's Alts. As for West's Alt, I wish I could have known her a little better. We were only given brief glimpses of her life, and mystery does not always translate to villainy.
After it's all said and done, I have to applaud Elsie Chapman for Dualed. There were times that I was left scratching my head because of the pace, but I never felt the urge to put the book down. I think the strange and broken future world that saw kids killing kids on the streets kept my attention trained so completely upon it. I knew from a few chapters into the book that it may not be for me, but Chapman had me and wasn't going to let me go. And though I know that Dualed's sequel, Divided, will be coming out next year, I found the ending to be completely satisfying. I'm a huge fan of Old School science fiction's open endings, but that's not the case with Dualed. I can't imagine that any readers will be left standing at the edge of a cliff begging for book 2 because of how it all wraps up. Then again, I just read the ARC, so there may be a huge twist at the end that I completely missed.
Teen or adult reader alike, I think you should read the book for yourself. It's so fast and action-packed, it's likely you will forget that you are reading.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a digital eARC of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
You know that feeling you get sometimes when you start a book, that it will be impossible to put down? My friends, Poison was just that. The world-building was rich, the characters were lovable, and the writing was perfect for readers of all ages.
Kyra was one of the Master Trio of Potioners, and a highly respected citizen of the Kingdom of Mohr. Princess Ariana, the heir to the throne, is her best friend and the reason that she is on the run. Apparently it is frowned upon to try to murder a princess, even if she's your best friend. The story begins three months after the attempted assasination with Kyra starving and desperate. She is willing to do whatever it takes to kill Ariana because she thinks that she will save the kingdom by doing so. She's also one of those characters that wants to protect everyone she loves, and while doing that, closes everyone out. Yes, Kyra is a person guilty of the whole "I'm doing it to keep you safe" silliness. She also believes in doing what she thinks is the right thing, even at a personal cost. Kyra does end up growing a lot in Poison.
As much as I loved Kyra (which is a lot), there was still enough of my heart to spread around to other characters. Fred was a good-natured, handsome young man that Kyra met on the run. From him she learned how important it was to be responsible to the people who care about her and to not close herself off from them. Rosie was a Katzenheim pig (which is a punchline for a joke in Mohr), who came to Kyra from Arlo, the King of Criminals. Rosie was the key to finding the hidden away Princess Ariana and - let's just face it - adorable. I almost want a pet pig myself now. (Almost.) As for Princess Ariana, she is not a typical princess, and I probably would be friends with her myself. She won me over wtih the underwear that she made "Kitty" (her nickname for Kyra) for her birthday. Ariana knows that "Kitty" takes herself too seriously and can't resist tweaking her nose a little from time to time. Trust me when I say the book is worth reading for how that plays out alone. It's still awesome on other levels, but that... *snickers*
The world-building in Poison is sound, but fairly typical of humorous fantasy adventures. There is almost always going to be the serious character who gets zinged by his/her funnier companions. Blunders, trouble, and other silliness will happen, and it will be a lot of fun. (It did in Poison, and it was.) Where the book surprised me though was with some of the twists. I did not see what I thought of as the main one coming (you can email if you want to know which one I'm talking about) because it never occurred to me to be expecting one. This is a trick that most authors' use only results in me being pissed at their shenanigans, but Zinn was successful in pleasing me and making my jaw drop a little. (It is a rare thing to surprise me in a book.) There was no sleight of hand or trickery - just really good writing.
The pacing of Poison is fast. The book grabbed me and did not let go until I finished. Or vice versa. I kept wanting more and more out of the story and had loads of questions - why did Kyra try to kill Ariana? who was Kyra engaged to? Why was that pig so damn cute? With each answer, I wanted to know even more. I could not step away from this novel until I was done. I'm already considering a reread because I made my journey with Kyra much too quickly.
Poison is a fantastic YA debut that I think will be around for many years to come. The book is a great crossover for middle grade, as well as adult readers. It is a funny, smart, and fast-paced novel that I plan on putting into everyone's hands. I recommend that you go find yourself a copy of this book immediately.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own. (less)
The Wicked and the Just is the debut novel of J. Anderson Coats. It is historical fiction and focuses on the lives of two girls forced together during the early years of England’s subjugation of Wales in the late thirteenth century and told from alternating points of view. The novel is aimed at the young adult audience.
Cecily d’Edgely thinks life is very unfair. Since her uncle’s return from the Crusades, she and her father lost “their” claim to the family holding. To make matters even worse, she is to leave her friends, family, and all that she knows behind to start a new life in Wales – that’s if she isn’t murdered by barbarians first. Once there, they are no better than foreigners in Caernarvon until her father is sworn in as a burgess.
Gwenhwyfar hates the English. Not only have they taken Wales, but they have also broken her family. Her father hung from the castle walls after he refused to swear allegiance to the English king. Due to her family name and the difficulty for men to find work, she is forced to work as a maid in a house that should belong to her. If it wasn't for her brother Gruffyd – who was too honorable to take jobs before family men – or her dying mother, she wouldn't have to deal with the English brat who she hates.
I enjoyed The Wicked and the Just, but it took me longer than usual to read it. The characters were believable, but I found hard to form a connection to them. Cecily was a spoiled rotten, nasty little brat who was capable of terrible cruelty, and "Gwinny" was like a shark waiting to strike. I always felt closer to Cecily – even though I felt the constant urge to shake her – because Gwinny terrified me. The title represents the characters because every one of them in the book behaved quite wickedly, and all believed themselves to be just or serving justice.
I do have one complaint about the language used in the book. Gwinny's chapters were written in a manner that went overboard in demonstrating that English was not her first language. It was hard enough to read her chapters with all of the rage she had pent up inside of her, but Gwinny's crudely written POV was distracting. This angry girl was a lot of things, but stupid or ignorant do not show up on that list. It definitely affected my ability to relate to her. Cecily's mixture of period and modern slang stood out a little at first, but it was not noticeable once I was well into the book.
Despite the minor issues that I found with The Wicked and the Just, I found it to be a well-researched, enjoyable, and educational read. I learned things about that period in history that I have only skimmed over in my own historical studies. J. Anderson Coats really brought the setting to life and was able to tell the story in such a way that neither "side" was vilified. I would even go so far as to say that it was one of the most unbiased historical fiction novels that I've read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction (young and older) or novels that center on enemies coming to see eye-to-eye.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
The Obsidian Blade is a science fiction novel by the2004 winner of the National Book Award for Young...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please
The Obsidian Blade is a science fiction novel by the2004 winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Pete Hautman. It is the first book in the Klaatu Diskos trilogy and is aimed at a young adult audience.
Tucker Feye enjoys his small town life with his reverend father, organ-playing mother, and two best friends in Hopewell, Minnesota. However, after Tucker knocks a shingle off the roof of the family home and his father disappears into thin air, he finds his life changing abruptly. His father returns with the mysterious girl, Lahlia, and a strange cat, but without his previously unshakable faith in God. In the days that follow, Tucker's mother slowly descends into madness. One day, Tucker returns home to find that both of his parents have inexplicably disappeared, and his long-lost uncle has come at the behest of Reverend Adrian Feye to care for him. With his life in upheaval, Tucker is inspired to begin experimenting with the disks and begins a series of events that could very well change the fabric of time itself.
The premise of The Obsidian Blade is something completely different from anything that I have read in the past. It was an imaginative take on time travel - disks built (or commissioned, rather) by a technologically and intellectually superior race. The disks are placed at the time and locations of events which are "the terrible, the horrific, the irreversible", such as the Martian biocide, the outbreak of Bubonic plague in France, and a death of a certain prophet. However, the brilliant uniqueness of the book is ultimately its downfall for me. Most of the time, I did not understand why characters were behaving the way they did. I never figured out the purpose of various events. I have no problem with accepting science fiction at face value, but I felt like I was blind-folded on a roller coaster ride. Do not let that dissuade you from reading the book - I still could not put the book down. Also, it may not be the best novel for a younger teenager due to some of the graphic brutality in some scenes, but it is nothing that would stop me from recommending this book to young adult readers.
The Obsidian Blade is violent, imaginative, and ultimately confusing, but it was a quick read that I enjoyed.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
Cobble Cavern is the first in a series of five middle grade novels written by Jon Erik Olsen. It, along with the next two books in the series, was originally self-published and is now being published by Cedar Fort Books. It follows the adventures of Flin Newby, his teachers, his classmates, and their bus driver after they are trapped underneath the earth during a field trip to Ireland for an international debate competition.
Flin Newby is poor. He is so poor that the only birthday present that he has ever received is an heirloom ring from his father when he turned thirteen. Despite his family's severe lack of money, Flin is able to work after school and save enough money to go to Ireland with his school's debate team. On the last day of the trip, the tour bus falls into a crevice in a cave. They find themselves in a strange underground world where their survival is questionable at each turn. This new environment is filled with snazzards, grimgoblins, and dangerous plants, but also new friends.
I found Cobble Cavern to be a creative and fun read. The world and situations that Erik Olsen created were interesting, thrilling, and quite unique. There were times that I was on the edge of my seat, so to speak, and glued to the book because I could not wait to find out what happened to the group. It was filled with monsters, nasty antagonists among the group, and fascinating world that I could see vividly in my mind from Olsen's wonderfully descriptive writing.
There were only two things that detracted from my enjoyment of the story. The first was the over-abundance of characters and the manner in which they were written. The main characters were fun and had distinct personalities, but the secondary characters tended to blend together. Several characters popped up throughout the story for various plot points, and I had no idea who they were or what they contributed to the story as a whole. I think fewer characters with speaking roles who were described more clearly could have been more effective in the book. My other issue was the brutality in a few scenes. I will grant that it was used for character development and to progress the story, but it made me extremely uncomfortable. The story is listed as Middle Grade, but I would definitely only recommend it to older MG or the younger end portion of the YA audience.
Overall, this was one of my favorite recent Middle Grade reads. Erik Olsen has created an enjoyable world, and it is a series that I look forward to continuing.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
Starters by Lissa Price is her debut novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the United Sta...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please
Starters by Lissa Price is her debut novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the United States. Everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 had died in the Spore Wars three years prior to the events in this science fiction novel. It is the first in a projected two-part young adult series.
Callie Woodland is an unclaimed "Starter" who is responsible for her seven year old brother, Tyler. Their parents are dead, and they have no other family to claim them. As a result, they are forced to squat in abandoned buildings and live on the run, along with former neighborhood friend, Michael. In order to support her brother, she decides to rent her body out to "Enders" via secret company, Prime Destinations, since any other work is illegal for individuals under the age of 19. Callie sees this as a great deal, until something goes wrong in the process.
I found Starters to be a very imaginative and well-written example of the sci-fi genre. As a young adult book, it is one of the best I have encountered. The dystopian US was both realistic and frightening - frightening mostly because it was so realistic. The premise was very plausible, and the explanations used in the world-building were very strong. As with other YA dystopians, I did not found myself asking, "How could this happen?" The characters in Starterss were the meat and bones of the novel and played their parts well in the progression of the story. Callie was a sympathetic character, and I was rooting for her to be successful from the first sentence. The secondary characters win the prize for the book because they were all such beautiful shades of gray. I was guessing who the "bad guys" were and never had it correctly figured out.
The one problem that I had with Starters was the pacing. While most of the story flowed along nicely, there were several parts that felt a bit rushed. Some scenes had things fall into place too easily, and I would have liked to know more of the motives driving a few of the characters. Overall, however, the novel was a fantastic debut. The story sucked me in and held me until the very end. It is a brilliant addition to the young adult subset of the science fiction genre (or vice versa). I cannot wait for Enders and future projects from Lissa Price.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
The Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow is Lorin Barber’s first work of fiction about Copernicus “Nick” H. Stringfellow – a Twinkies-powered, super-genius superhero who lives his life to help others. It is published by Cedar Fort books with a March 13th, 2012 release date. Its target audience seems to be young adult, although all ages could find enjoyment in this book.
Nick Stringfellow is a strange fellow. He drives cross-country in his 1969 Chevy Impala SS 427, picking up hitchhikers and helping his fellow man when/wherever possible. When the wind blows him to Seattle, Washington, he calls in a favor to one of his old friends to get a job at the Harborview Medical Center as a “nurse at large”. While there, he makes new friends and tries to come up with ways to make these various individuals’ lives better.
I found The Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow to be a very sweet, funny, and enjoyable read. The protagonist, Nick, is a man on a mission to make the world a better place. He goes out of his way to be helpful to everyone he meets and is quite endearing. His backstory is filled with a little bit of sadness, and he reminds me a bit of T. S. Garp from The World According to Garp by John Irving (minus the sex). The Secret Life is littered with a multitude of minor characters, and the housekeeper, Jemima, is my favorite. The best line of the book is when Nick offers her three thousand dollars a month to clean his house a few hours a day. She tells him, “Honey, for $3000 a month, I’d clean between your toes with a Q-tip.” (ARC, Page 30) I laughed out loud. These minor characters are used to show us the facets of Nick and give him opportunities to grow (as much as a super-genius can).
Something I enjoyed the most of this novel was the little tidbits of information that Nick would rattle off randomly. He was a well of knowledge and was quick to share it, whether his listener liked it or not. Mr. Barber had to have researched a good bit of miscellaneous trivia to provide so many extra facts to the story. I also found the Twinkie-related consonance to be hilarious, even if it began to go a little overboard.
On the downside, I had a few problems with The Secret Life. The main one was that Mr. Barber used stereotypes as a crutch. Every character that was introduced in the story had his or her age, height, weight, race, beauty, and level of hygiene presented. The fat, less than hygienic men were the bad guys that had to be punished (and seemed to be drunks also); the less than pretty or older females were waiting to be swept off their feet by the just as unattractive man; and the beautiful, intelligent woman who had a great career was only being successful while waiting on someone with whom she could start a family. Despite them being so wonderfully described, each one lacked development in the book. There were also a few plot points that went absolutely nowhere. Perhaps there will be a sequel to this novel, but that brings me to my last issue. I would say the book stopped more than ended. Each chapter of the book was its own little story that, while fitting in with the flow of the book, mostly wrapped up at the end of its own little section. I cannot say the same for the book. The only end that was even remotely tied was with one of the villainous minor characters, and the book ended with him. I was left staring at my Nook, asking “Is this it?!”
Although I had my problems with the aforementioned items, I found myself enjoying the book. I think anyone looking for a quick, fun read would relish going on an adventure with Copernicus H. Stringfellow.
A copy was provided by the publisher through Net Galley for review.(less)
In Robin Wasserman's latest young adult novel, readers are swept away into a story of intrigue, thrill...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please
In Robin Wasserman's latest young adult novel, readers are swept away into a story of intrigue, thrills, murder, betrayal, alchemy, and conspiracy five hundred years in the making. The Book of Blood and Shadow is a history-laden treasure hunt unlike anything in its genre.
When Nora Kane's older brother Andy died, she had to slip away into a new life. Her parents were closed off, and high school would never be the same again. She changed schools and made all new friends who knew nothing of her past life (for the most part). Unfortunately for her, things fell apart once again after she, her boyfriend, and best friend began to crack the code in the ancient Voynich manuscript. As her life is turned upside down, she is forced to go halfway across the world in search of truths about the distant past, her friends, and what really happened the night that her best friend was murdered.
There are few things that I love more than an author who does a lot of research. The amount of work Wasserman spent studying the settings, plot points, and historical references in the book really shines through the pages. The historical truths have been beautifully fictionalized, and my enjoyment of it overall surpassed that of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. I also appreciate Wasserman detailing what is real and what is used in a purely imaginary fashion in the Afterward of the book. It made me a very happy quasi-historian.
I generally love action-packed, twisty thrillers with history filler, but I hit a few bumps while reading this. I had a hard time getting into the first person narration, which usually is not a problem for me. It may have had something to do with the huge influx of background information at the beginning of the novel. However, once I got into the swing of things, I was sucked into the story. The biggest problem that I had with the book was the majority of the second third of it. With all of the historical and geographical references and five hundred years old letters written by Elizabeth Weston, the plot dragged. It broke up the pacing of the story so much that I became disconnected from the characters both from the present, as well as the past. Fear not, because once again, the story picked right back up.
Overall, The Book of Blood and Shadow was an exciting, fun read that kept me guessing until the very end. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed National Treasure, The Da Vinci Code, and other conspiracy, treasure hunt thrillers.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. (less)
Emerald City by Alicia Leppert is a young adult romance that could easily be classified as contemp...moreThis review was originally posted at Krazy Book Lady
Emerald City by Alicia Leppert is a young adult romance that could easily be classified as contemporary, with just a hint of paranormal romance. It is Leppert’s debut novel, published by Cedar Fort Books.
Olivia Tate found herself in a very dark place. She had numbed any emotions that she may have had since the death of her mother. Her father was long gone, having left her and her mother fifteen years prior. She was able to go through the motions of life until finally everything becomes too much. A bottle of Valium later, she finds her life has changed (and been saved) due to the concern of her mysterious neighbor, Jude West.
When I started reading this book, I wanted to put it down. I do not usually enjoy reading about others floundering at the bottom of the deep void of depression, but I am so glad that I stayed with it. This is a story of survival, hope, sacrifice, and how just the little things can turn someone’s life around completely. The characters were very sweet, and it was easy to become attached to them. I am not usually a fan of romance, but this one was palatable. The book had a bit of a twist, but I had picked up on it almost immediately. (It's been done before.) However, it did not detract from the story or my enjoyment of it at all.
The book only had a few minor issues, with the main one being Olivia (and the only one really worth mentioning). I know how realistic it is for teenagers to feel so very hopeless, but I was irritated by what instigated her Valium consumption. (This is not a spoiler – it happens very early in the book.) She does not mourn the death of her mother or her loss of other personal relationships in her life. However, when she is called a freak at work after someone wanting a different waitress than her, she is driven to suicide. Olivia spent the first pages of the novel describing how numb she feels, but she gives up so quickly. It galled me a bit, even though I am aware that sometimes the burden can just become too heavy. Also, she was a very ill individual. I just wish she would have gotten stronger for herself. I will grant that she did see a mental health professional, but Jude was the driving force.
All in all, Emerald City is a lovely debut novel for Leppert. I finished it in two days and did not want to put it down. Due to the suicide attempt at the beginning of the story, I would only recommend it for the older young adult audience. That being said, maybe reading this would inspire someone in pain to seek help. Not everyone gets a Jude, and it is just important for someone to learn to stand on his or her own two feet. I think anyone who enjoys romance and contemporary books with a hint of the supernatural would be happy to get their hands on this book.
If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)
The Wolf Gift is Anne Rice’s literary return to her horror roots. She became famous with her Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches books and retu...moreThe Wolf Gift is Anne Rice’s literary return to her horror roots. She became famous with her Vampire Chronicles and The Mayfair Witches books and returns to the darker, paranormal themes with her latest novel.
Reuben Golding is a San Francisco reporter who travels to a mansion on the California coast to do a story on it for its owner, heiress Marchent Nideck, who was hoping to sell it. She inherited the house from an uncle who disappeared twenty years previously. After a terrible bloodbath at Nideck Point the first night in the mansion, Reuben finds that his entire life has changed.
I absolutely love Anne Rice. The Vampire Chronicles are some of my favorite books, and I even named one of my cats after a Mayfair witch. I grew up reading the mistress of horror, and she is one of my all-time favorite authors. The writing in The Wolf Gift is beautifully descriptive and exactly what I expected from Mrs. Rice. Unfortunately, I had trouble connecting to any of the characters. Reuben is an arrogant man-child who is offended by his own youth and beauty. His girlfriend and family are equally distasteful in their own rights. Rice’s books are always fraught with immoral and reprehensible characters (Lestat himself was deliciously terrible), so I was able to look past them. I was even excited about the Man Wolf superhero. The background crimes were engaging. However, this book is not for me.
I am embarrassed to admit that I could not finish this book. There are few things in a novel that I cannot stomach, and bestiality (even implied) is one of them. The situation leading up to it was also extremely unbelievable. I still think Anne Rice is one of the most talented story-spinners that I have ever had the pleasure of reading, and I am sure that The Wolf Gift continued just as absorbing as it began. I can even happily recommend this to others who enjoy horror or extremely dark books. I, sadly, cannot continue it myself, and I write that with a very heavy heart.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through NetGalley from the publisher. It in no way affected the outcome of my review.(less)