Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Not a Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Series: Standalone
Genera: Dystopian Sci-fi/Speculative Fiction
Subjects: survival, drought, post-apocalyptic, water, Ohio
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 309 pgs.
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: HarperTeen: Katherine Tegen
Summary/ product description: “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….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.”

My Review: This book was a scary, realistic, near-future thrill ride. So parts of the book were fast and exciting, and there were some very gruesome parts too. I felt near the beginning the story was kind of slow. Lynns mother did have a lot of survival advice, though. This book definitely will teach you about survival in a drought environment. Cholera was mentioned. It’s true that you shouldn’t drink water from the wild unless you boil it first to kill the bacteria. I learned that from Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild.
The issue I had with this book was the 3rd person narration. Also the slow plot. I feel like so much more could’ve happened in the story. Especially if the was a sequel, which there won’t be. But there could have been adventure. Instead they mostly defended the pond and hunted. The disruptions in their routine are what make the story so interesting. The setting is a very secluded farmhouse in the southern Ohio countryside.
There’s very few characters, which makes it easier to know who’s who. The character development is pretty good. I really think Lucy is the most interesting character. She’s only five and has a personality that reminds me of Ellie from Ashes by Isla J. Bick. I love it when there’s little kids or siblings in books. The main character usually cares so much about them and would do whatever they could to save them. I’ve seen this a lot in dystopian YA.
There was a little romance in the second half of the book between Eli and Lynn. Eli, who’s 16, wasn’t survival savvy like Lynn. He used to live in the city and is very new to fending for his life. Lucy is his niece/his older brother’s kid. He teaches Lynn about things he knows, and she teaches him survival skills. I liked the scene when he explains what flirting is. Also, I really like Lynns neighbor, Stebbs. He’s at least 40 and kind of like the father figure that Lynn was missing out on since he father left Lynn and he mom before she was born. Stebbs is like a helpful uncle. Lynn hasn’t spoke to him in person in years. He helps her out in her time of need and becomes a comfort. He’s crippled in one leg, but can still help with hunting deer and storing food. I really liked the part when he talked about water-witching or dousing. I don’t think it’s genetic like he said. Anyone can do it and I’ve seen many demos of it on TV on documentary shows about Stonehenge.
I didn’t like how this book ended. It wasn’t happy or nicely wrapped. It also didn’t leave much room for a sequel. I kind of wanted to cry, but didn’t. I had the feels, but not very strong ones. I was kind of angry and wanted more. I recommend this book if you liked Ashfall by Mike Mullin, Ashes by Isla J. Bick, The Water Wars by Cameron Stratcher, The 5th Wave, In The After by Demitria Lunetta, The End Games by T. Michael Martin, Life as We Knew It and other survival/post-apocalyptic YA books. This book also reminded me of NBC’s Revolution. I kept picturing Lynn as the character Charlie, and her mom as Charlie’s mom. Also, if you enjoy Man vs. Wild, read this.
Cover Art Review: I love this cover so much and I have a lot to say about it. The yellow and green hue contrasts well with the bleak grays. The teal title looks like it has depth in the landscape. I love that it’s stacked. I love the color scheme in general. I like the satin finish/texture of the dust jacket. I love how the pond and the title have a gloss finish. The landscape is very cool and dystopian. The girl standing on the roof of the house fits the story. Sadly the house in the book is much bigger (2 floors, plus an attic and a basement). The scenery looks too much like a desert in New Mexico rather than a wooded countryside in Ohio. I’m also not to crazy about the typeface used for the author’s name. It should be sanserif instead of an oblique serif.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Never by K.D. McEntire

Series: Lightbringer (bk. 3)
Genera: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Subjects: reapers, ghosts, supernatural, California, San Francisco
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 310 pgs.
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: Prometheus: PYR
Summary/ product description: “The Lightbringer trilogy's dramatic conclusion!
The Never is on the brink of destruction by the Lady Walker. Wendy, shorn of her Light by the Reapers, must be the one to save it from the beasts between the worlds. Now no more powerful than an average spirit, Wendy reluctantly strikes a balance between Elise, the new Reaper matriarch, and Jane, a Reaper gone rogue. Torn between her duty to her friends, the Riders, and her duty as the Lightbringer, Wendy must rush to learn the secrets left behind.
She must make the ultimate sacrifice to bring the worlds into balance once more... even if it costs her very soul.”

My Review: I was a bit disappointed with how this series ended. I ended up skimming parts of this book, mainly due to the typography. The text was pretty small. But also the book’s written in 3rd person, and we don’t really get much inner dialog. I think it’s 3rd person limited, but it’s not really clear. I’m not sure what to say about this book now that it’s over, but I don’t want to put it down completely. I gave it three stars for a reason. There a few things I really enjoyed.
The things that I did enjoy about this book were the humorous dialogue and the mythology behind reapers. I love how the characters talk to each other. I also loved how we found out about Piotr’s past. There’s a mention of Valkyries! I love Norse mythology. I love stories with reapers and ghosts too, but mythology is even better.
Wendy is also really tough and I liked how her brother and sister got to take part in the story because Wendy didn’t have her body, which was in a coma. There were a few interesting thing I realized about this series. The main character’s name is Wendy, and the love interest is Piotr, which is Peter. And the Never is where the ghost are. I drew a very interesting conclusion (mostly because of watching season 3 of Once Upon a Time). This is kind of a retelling of Peter Pan in a way. Wendy Darling was in Peter Pan. The Never could be like Neverland. The author must have name her character because of her love of the Peter Pan story.
I also liked the setting. San Francisco sounds like a cool city. I read many books and watch many shows set there. I like how part of the story was at the Winchester Mystery House. I remember the episode of Ghost Adventures when they had a lock down there. It’s a really cool and strange building with a crazy maze of rooms.
I recommend this book to fans of Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, the Soul Screamer series by Rachel Vincent, the Die For Me series by Amy Plum and Vampire Academy.
Cover Art Review: I love the cover illustration, but I don’t like where the title is. It’s hard to read and not very visible. Too close to the author’s name and not large enough. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Fallout by S.A. Bodeen

Series: The Compound (bk. 2)
Genera: Sci-fi/Realistic Fiction/Thriller
Subjects: mystery, family, wealthy people, experiments, Washington state
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 326
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $16.99
Publisher: MacMillan: Feiwel and Friends
Summary/ product description: “In this long-awaited sequel to The Compound, Eli and his family can run but they can't hide.
After barely escaping from the compound where Eli’s dad kept his family for six years, they’re learning to acclimate to “normal” life—whatever that is for them. It seems like the entire world wants to know what happened to this high profile family.
Slowly they begin to make their way back into the world, but Eli can’t escape the creeping feeling that they’re being watched everywhere they go. But by who?
Eli’s anxiety is heightened as unnerving information continually surfaces about Eli’s dad’s company. Not to mention the sketchy new friend his twin brother Eddy has. Nothing seems to be “normal” anymore. New people are entering their lives—but who can Eli and his family trust?"

My Review: The Compound, which was originally a standalone, now has a sequel. I wasn’t sure how a sequel would work out. Everything seemed wrapped up at the end. But now that I’ve finished that sequel, I’m pretty happy that it was written. After living six years in the compound, Eli and his family have to adjust to a more normal life. Everything his father told him was a lie. The world didn’t end and his twin brother is alive. Eddy’s been living in the real world while Eli was stuck in his father’s creation.
The beginning of the book was mostly Eli’s adjustment to the real world. Eli’s family is now famous for something other than being rich. He doesn’t like how the world might see them as freaks, and how social media talks about them. Their mom isn’t ready to let them out into the real world, but they decide they need to adjust, so he convinces her to let them go on outings. The first outing is to Costco. It was a pretty funny choice, since their rich. They do usually shop online, but Reese wanted to do real shopping. The next one is to the aquarium, which sounds fun for the little kids.
The first half of the book did not have a sci-fi feel at all. There was some mystery, but it felt realistic and contemporary. There was a theme of how we are affected by our parenting vs. our genes or parentage. Nature vs. nurture. Lexi want to know who her birth parents are and Eli doesn’t want to be like his dad. It isn’t till the last hundred pages that we get to the sci-fi stuff. There’s an island owned by their father. He kept it a secret, and he apparently had some major plans. This ties in very well with the first book.
There’s a theme of what’s ethical vs. not ethical. Eli’s father did some very unethical things because he likes to be innovative, not because he wants money. It reminded me of Maximum Ride, because their father was kind of like the evil scientists who think their doing the world a favor by playing God, and coming up with crazy innovation that have terrible consequences. What their father wanted to do sound very Benjamin Button-esqe.
The ending was crazy and kind of scary. The book had became unputdownable and I sped through it like a wildfire. I’m not sure if there will be a third book. I don’t think so because the ending seemed to wrap up, but there could be possibilities for a third book. If there is, I will definitely read it.
Cover Art Review: The cover reminds me of the Razorland series. It’s probably the same designer. I like the green, and that it’s metallic and embossed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Series: Standalone
Genera: Sci-fi/Mystery/Horror
Subjects: parallel universes, parallel worlds, doppelgängers, creatures, quantum physics, friendship, high schools, love, Maryland
Age/Grade Level: Teen
Length: 359 pgs. (How awesome is that?)
HC/PB: Hardcover
List Price: $17.99
Publisher: HarperTeen: Balzer + Bray
Summary/ product description: “Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.
Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.
Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.
Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.
But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.
By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?
From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.”

My Review: This book was so faced paced that I’m sure I could’ve read it in one day, or sitting if I had the time. I really didn’t want to stop reading. Both Ten and Possess were edge-of-your-seat horror/thrillers, though one was paranormal and one wasn’t. This book is a sci-fi thrill ride of awesome proportions. Gretchen puts the awesome sauce into a standalone once again. Her writing style and 3rd person limited POV narration seems flawless. It’s well paced and never boring.
3:59 took parallel universe stories to a whole new level. It started out kind of Parent-Trap-ish, with Josie and Jo switching places, but then became this crazy sci-fi, Fringe-ish story. I’ve read so many parallel universe books lately. Many of which are HarperTeen titles. It’s becoming popular, but still less popular that dystopian. I loved that the parallel world had creatures made of shadow. It made the story more creepy and dark. I also loved that Josie was such a science geek, with scientist parents. I loved all the talk of quantum mechanics and all these theories I’ve never heard of. Gretchen did her research, and I even learned something!
The dialogue is very smart and humorous at times. I especially loved Josie’s friend, Penelope. She was also a science geek, and she was very helpful to Josie in both universes. The love interest, Nick was much nicer in Jo’s universe that Josie’s, since he cheated on Josie on their one-year anniversary of dating. Josie and the other Nick’s relationship ship grew and started to remind me of Peter and Olivia from Fringe. Universe-crossed lovers.  Jo was different from Josie. Where as Josie’s a science geek, Jo is the queen of the school and feared by all. Most of the high school drama takes place at the beginning of the book, so we don’t see as much later on.
There were so many plot twists later on in the story. Some I could have guessed, and some not. This book was just really amazing, and I hope you all enjoy it to. If you liked the following books, check this out: Parallel by Lauren Miller, Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell, Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris, Through To You by Emily Hainesworth, False Memory and False Sight by Dan Krokos, and of course, if you liked Fringe, the TV show, I recommend this.
Cover Art Review: Cool and minimal. The flip-clock face title is clever. I like the girl’s face peering from the spine ever so slightly. I love the teal and green used on the description and author parts of the cover jacket. It’s a well-designed cover.