Sunday, November 30, 2014

Don’t Let Go by Michelle Gagnon

Series: PERSEFoNE (bk. 3)

Genera(s): Realistic Fiction/Action Thriller

Subjects: hackers, technology, diseases, adventure, fugitives, conspiracies

Setting: Contemporary times, Throughout the USA

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV, past tense: Noa, Peter, Daisy and Teo

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 335 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “In this pulse-pounding final installment of the Don’t Turn Around trilogy, which in a starred review Kirkus called “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens,” Noa and Peter race across the country in their search to destroy Project Persephone before time runs out.

After a devastating loss, Noa Torson is out of options. On the run with the three remaining teens of Persephone’s Army, she is up against immeasurable odds. The group is outnumbered, outsmarted, and outrun. But they are not giving up.

When Noa and Peter realize they can’t run anymore, and that Noa’s health is failing, they know they must go back to where this began. But when they come face-to-face with the man who started it all, the question becomes, can they win?

This riveting final book in the Don’t Turn Around trilogy ratchets up the action as Noa and Peter confront the evil that has chased them and won’t let them go.

My Review:  This is the first book in this trilogy that I was fully able to enjoy. Maybe I was just in the right mood for it this time. The first two books just didn’t have the epic amount of action and adventure that this book did. There was some romantic stuff, but it wasn’t the most important thing. I really liked that Noa and Peter were back together for this book. They are both amazing hackers (and Zeke was too). They have great dialogue. Also Teo and Daisy are so cute together. All their dialogue is lovey-dovey and funny.

Don’t let go had a dystopian-esque feel to it. It was very much a thriller. It’s a little on the sci-fi side with Noa’s implanted thalamus and the made up disease of PEMA. This book is so much fun, but there’s also some questionable subjects. Kidnapping and organ trafficking and murder and whatnot. You can discuss it. The book leads into an epic conclusion and we finally discover what PEMA really is.

I’d compare it to the Unwind series, but instead of unwinding AWOLs, street kids were being kidnapped to be experimented on and used to find a cure for a disease called PEMA. I love to hacker stuff. I always feel like hackers have superpowers because they can manipulate technology (but hackers can be bad when they use their powers to steal you information). /ALLIANCE/ is a hackivist group that Noa and Peter are apart of. It is like the real hackivist group, Anoymous. I watch Agents of SHEILD and Skye is a hacker, and I also watch Scorpion on CBS, another great TV show about hackers. Anyone who’s a fan of those shows or thriller maybe enjoy this series.

Cover Art Review: I like the silhouetted hand and fist and the title. The color scheme is good. It’s a sticking cover. Wish it were metallic.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Series: Beware the Wild (bk. 1)

Genera(s): Paranormal Romance/Southern Gothic

Subjects: swamps, folklore, supernatural, mystery, missing persons, memory, siblings

Setting: Sticks, Louisiana (A town near a swamp/Bayou)

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Sterling Saucier

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 327 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.”

My Review:  I went into Beware the Wild without knowing what it was about. I only knew that it was paranormal and set in the Louisiana bayou. With such a creepy cover, I couldn’t help but be interested. I started out by introducing us to our main character Sterling whose brother disappeared into the swamps only hours before. She’s pretty different from the usual heroines I read about. She’s was starting to develop an anorexic eating disorder ever since her brother decided he was going away to college. Her father was abusive and her brother protected her. Now they have an African American stepfather who’s a deputy of their town’s police department. Her mother is much happier with Darold that she was with Sterling’s dad.

Sterling and her best friend Candy are looking out at the swamp and talking about Phin. Sterlign sees swamp lights and Candy tells her it’s called the Wasting Shine, and usually only the drunk and crazy claim to see it. Candy is a very logical girl. When Sterling is at home and by her self in her yard, a girl comes out of the swamps and everyone believed her to be Sterling’s sister and everyone has forgotten Phin. A person disappears and you are the only one who remembers then, and they are replaced. People though Sterling was losing it to heat stroke or lack of food. They say Lenora May has always been her sister. Sterling knows she’s not crazy. I wanted to know what happened and with that the story pulled me in. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone. That’s only about 30 pages into the book. It starts out with a bang, for lack of a better phrase.

As the book goes on we find out what happened and who or what’s behind it. There’s lots of creepy, disturbing and heat wrenching things that happen. Also there some romance between Heath and Sterling. I love the complete uniqueness of this book. I realize it’s a standalone and I won’t get more, but wish there was more. It’s this amazing mix of mystery and southern gothic. It takes folklore to a new level. I love stories and show about the bayou and swamps. I never been to the south and now I’m intrigued. I would never venture into the swamp without being in a larger group because I heard all these stories on TV about people being lost forever, or losing time. Lots of ghost stories. And alligators, of course. There are gators in this book too.

If you pick up Beware the Wild, you are in for a unique treat. If you enjoyed paranormal stories set in the south, like Beautiful Creature, Ghost Huntresses, or TV shows like the Originals, you may enjoy this. Also, if you love anything related to New Orleans or Louisiana, swamps and gators, then check it out.

Cover Art Review: Love the creep title treatment for the word wild. The swamp tree background with the wasting shine looking like fireflies is very cool.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Series: Not a Drop to Drink (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi

Subjects: survival, adventure, travel, action, post-apocalyptic

Setting: Traveling from Ohio to California. Many states. Set 10 years after the previous book occurred.

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV, past tense: Lucy, at age 16

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 371 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen: Katherine Tegen

Summary/ product description: “The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier”

My Review:  An amazing companion novel/sequel, In a Handful of Dust might even be better than the first book Not a Drop to Drink. This is a survival adventure though a post-apocalyptic world in which water is hard to find. Even though it’s technically a companion novel, I’d suggest reading Not a Drop to drink to hear Lynn’s survival story.

I didn’t mind the 3rd person or dislike any of the characters. It’s purely gripping dystopian survival. The plot is mainly the physical journey and Lucy’s own personal journey of becoming a woman. The first book was set solely in Ohio, but this book takes us from there all the way to California. I love books with travel and adventure. Especially when they travel to real places. Lynn and Lucy start in Ohio, then go through Indiana, Illinois (where I live), across the Mississippi into Iowa…and so on.

She has Lynn for support. Lynn, who’s now 26 or 27, still has her rifle and has great aim with it. Lynn is tough, and Lucy’s more emotional and hopeful. Lynn talks like a country person and Lucy talks more like she grew up in a town, which she did. Lynn seems more like a cowgirl. In the first book she didn’t do much traveling, but she does have survival expertise.

There’s no romance in this book. Lucy and Carter liked each other, but he’s only in the beginning of the book. This book focuses on a different kind of relationship. A Mother/Daughter or Mentor/Apprentice kind of relationship, but it’s more like Guardian/Adopter Daughter.

If you have not read these books and like YA dystopian, then you should read them. If you enjoyed: Ashfall, Rot & Ruin, Matched, Under The Never Sky, In The After, or any other YA books with survival and adventure, then give this series a chance.

Cover Art Review: Love the colors, which are the same as the 1st book’s cover. A very epic landscape with the characters traveling. And a big title.

Infographic from Epic Reads:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Series: Snow Like Ashes (bk. 1)

Genera(s): High Fantasy

Subjects: magic, seasons, winter, royalty, kingdoms, adventure, war, princes and princesses, king and queens, warriors, rebellions, slavery, orphans

Setting: The Kingdoms of Primoria

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Meira

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 416 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen: Balzer & Bray

Summary/ product description: “A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.”

My Review:  This extremely unique and thoroughly entertaining fantasy novel is a must read. I did not wknow what to expect going into it, but I loved it! Meira is such a funny, relatable character. She know’s she’s not perfect, but she is pretty kickass with a chakram. Some people have compared her to Zena Warrior Princess (which I never saw). Meira seems like any teenage girl who wants some guy to love her and wants to do what she’s always dreamed of. (Her character voice/narration reminded me of Alina Starkov and Rose Hathaway) She wants to be a warrior and to know the kingdom that she came from. The king of Spring has destroyed that.

The world building was pretty amazing. Set in a world that is completely different from our own, it’s complex and simple at the same time. There’s a nice may inside the book drawn by the same person that did the map in Exquisite Captive. There are four Season Kingdoms, (west to east) Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Honestly, if I made this world I’d have the season arranged in a circle with a mountain power source in the center so that spring and summer where near each other instead of furthest away.

There are also four kingdoms that have normal rotating season, know as the Rhythmus. Spring has an evil ruler, which is funny because when you think of spring, it’s usually a happy time of year, but also usually rainy or stormy. Winter (the usual least favorite season because horrible driving conditions) has been taken over by spring and Winterians are in work camps. Each kingdom has a magical conduit (object with power in it) and winter’s was destroyed (a locket broken in half). There’s even more to this world and you’ll find out once you read the book.

There’s also something major that you find out in the book. About a character. I predicted this would happen from about page 100, maybe sooner. It started as a hunch, but when it come to YA books these plot twist hunches are always right for me. Obvious or un-obvious, it’s maybe foreshadowing by the author, possible clich├ęs or my psychic-ish ability to predict what the author is going for (Like I did with Cinder, Shadow and Bone, and recently, Messenger of Fear). I was happy because it makes this book even more epic. I will not say what it is because I don’t want to spoil it but when you anticipate it make the book more exciting. 

Now it’s excited for book two (Prediction for sequel's title: Frost Like Fire, Ice Like Fire, Ice Like Flame). Anyways, it’s just about winter. It’s November and it snowed already, so this could be the perfect read for winter even when it’s not set in Winter. Fans of Shadow & Bone (Grisha Trilogy), The Young Elites by Marie Lu, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, and others fantasy YA books may enjoy this. Also Frozen and Once Upon a Time fans may like it because the wintery magic.

Cover Art Review: Love this cover. The Chakram made me this it was a Japanese fantasy, but it’s high fantasy like The Young Elites or Shadow & Bone. It’s metallic and really beautiful photos are used.