In the Shadows

After wrapping up my previous post on MILA 2.0, I decided to dive into yet another book-in-progress. I honestly didn’t expect to get so involved in the story that I would finish it in a matter of hours. That book is In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo.

Now, I’ve read other works by Kiersten White before (Paranormalcy, Supernaturally, Endlessly, Mind Games, and Perfect Lies), but this one is a little different. In the Shadows is told in both text and art. White wrote the text story, and the amazingly talented Jim Di Bartolo presented another story through his illustrations. I knew the art and text stories were connected, but it didn’t become clear until the very end just how they fit together.

Cora and Minnie live in a quaint town in Maine where their mother runs the local boarding house. One day, a mysterious young man, Arthur, comes to stay with them, and life as they know it is never the same.

Arthur is a rather taciturn boy, but he looks after Cora and Minnie and vows to protect them from the past he fears may have followed him. And he’s not the only one. Two new young men have arrived at the boarding house, and they have more in common with Arthur than any of them know.

Charles and Thomas, sent away by their wealthy father, are in Maine for a while. Charles is slowly dying, and Thomas is determined to make his brother’s days as happy as possible. Part of that happiness comes in the form of Minnie, one of the girls living at the boarding house. Charles is enamored of Minnie, and, while she enjoys his company, her attention never really leaves Arthur, the brooding young man who lurks in the shadows. Thomas, on the other hand, quickly turns his attentions to Cora, and she seems to have feelings for him as well. But is love in the cards for any of these young people, or is an unknown threat just waiting to tear them apart?

It seems that Arthur, Charles, and Thomas–or their families–are somehow connected to an ages-old society, a society that will do anything to protect its secrets. These young people are in very real danger, and they will have to use their wits and every ounce of strength they have to get out of this mess alive.

Arthur knows more about this looming threat than he’s telling, but he doesn’t want to go down the road that drove his parents mad. He may not have a choice, though. When evil threatens his friends, Arthur must make a difficult choice that could impact his life and the lives of those who care about him. What could this choice mean for Arthur and his future? Only time will tell…

_______________

If you enjoy books like Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck or others that combine text and art to create unique and memorable stories, I think you’ll be very happy with In the Shadows. Both the art and text in this book presented interesting–and often terrifying–tales, and the closer I got to the end, the clearer the connections between the two became.

I read a digital copy of this book via NetGalley, but I think this is definitely one case when a print copy would have been preferable. At the book’s conclusion, when the connections between the two stories were revealed, I would have liked to flip through the book’s artwork to see what I may have missed. That’s not so easy to do with an ebook (especially one read with Adobe Digital Editions, a less than desirable ereading option). So, take this advice: READ A PRINT COPY OF THIS BOOK! (Sorry for screaming at you, but I had to get my point across!)

I’m still debating on whether or not to purchase this book for my elementary school library. I think a lot of my students will enjoy it, but the illustrations do contain some scary imagery that elementary students may not be able to handle or even understand. I do think In the Shadows would be a very welcome addition to middle, high school, and public libraries. It’s a quick, easy read that packs a punch.

If you’re still not convinced to read In the Shadows, take a look at the eerie trailer below. It effectively captures the mood of the artwork present in this book and makes me want to read the book all over again!

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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MILA 2.0

If you enjoy books like I Am Number Four, Mary Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox, or even Cinder by Marissa Meyer, MILA 2.0 might be the book for you.

This first book in Debra Driza’s thrilling series introduces readers to Mila, a sixteen-year-old girl who has just moved with her mother to Clearwater, Minnesota. A short while ago, Mila’s father was killed, but Mila has only a few, fuzzy memories of the life she once had. Despite this, Mila is trying to make a life for herself in this small town. She’s trying to make friends and fit in, especially with popular girl Kaylee, and she’s even getting to know the new guy at school, Hunter. Everything changes, though, when her friend gets reckless on the road one day, and Mila is sent flying…

The accident should have ended Mila’s life or, at the very least, caused her serious bodily harm. Instead, she barely has a scratch…except for a little problem with her arm. When Mila, Kaylee, and Hunter examine what they expect to be a horrendous wound, however, they see something that none of them expected. Wires, tubes, and a weird, milky fluid are present where there should be muscle, bone, and blood. What is going on, and what could it mean for Mila?

Mila soon discovers a horrifying truth about herself (and the reason why her “memories” are so fuzzy). Her “mom” reveals that Mila isn’t exactly human. She’s an android, created in a lab to be used for military defense. When Mila’s mom, or co-creator, realized just how human Mila was becoming, she stole Mila, a billion dollor government investment, and went on the run. She wiped Mila’s memories of her time in a military compound and implanted new memories of a life growing up as a normal girl. If that’s the truth, though, why is Mila having disturbing flashbacks of white walls, experiments, and torture? Just what was done to her before the grand escape, and what will the powers that created her do to get her back?

Mila and her mom soon figure out that someone is after them, and they’ll do anything to capture Mila, so they go on the run once again. But what will happen when their latest escape plan leads them right back into the vile clutches of those who sought them in the first place? What will become of them? Will Mila accept her android nature and turn away from everything that made her human? Will she have a choice?

When Mila comes face-to-face with her creators and their continued work, she’ll have to rely on both her machine capabilities and human emotions (which some perceive as liabilities) to avoid her termination and her mom’s elimination. Can she pass the horrific tests set before her, or is it already too late? Is anyone willing to help her, or does everyone see her as nothing more than a disposable machine, incapable of real feeling or emotion?

Well, Mila is about to show everyone just what they’ve created, and one thing is certain. Nothing will ever be the same.

_______________

Just like The Adoration of Jenna Fox, I think MILA 2.0 could generate some interesting discussions of bioethics, technology, and how far science should go. I’m a bit of a conspiracy nut, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some government–and I’m not saying which one–was experimenting a bit with android technology or other forms of artificial intelligence. Are these things being used for defense? I don’t know (and a big part of me doesn’t want to), but I’m sure it’s being considered. What implications could this have? Just how “human” would these machines be, and what could that mean for their effectiveness? What should be considered when terminating one of these projects? It’s difficult to wrap my mind around all of it, and books like MILA 2.0 often raise questions that even I had not thought of. I’m hoping others will feel the same.

Deep, ethical questions aside, I think MILA 2.0 is a great example of science fiction for the young adult crowd. Mila is a strong character, coming to terms with her abilities and what she is. She doesn’t, however, let these new, unexpected truths define her. Sure, she’s an android, but her “humanness” is what really makes her special. She uses what others perceive as deficiencies to her advantage, and that often gives her the edge she needs. All readers can learn something from that.

In my opinion, MILA 2.0 is a great addition to middle grade and young adult collections. It’s an electrifying read that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It’s also, like I mentioned, the first book in a series. The second book, MILA 2.0: Renegade, is now out, and there’s also a prequel novella, The Fire, available as a free ebook download. I’ll get to these as soon as I finish up a few other obligations.

If your interest has been piqued at all, I urge you to give MILA 2.0 a try. For more information, check out the author’s webpage, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also like the trailer below from HarperTeen. (It doesn’t give much away, but it’s worth a look!) Happy reading!

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Hero for WondLa

Warning:  Read The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi before reading this post.  That is all.

I read the first book in Tony DiTerlizzi’s WondLa series a little over a year ago.  The second book, A Hero for WondLa, was released in May, and one of my summer reading goals was to finish this book so that I could share it with my students when we return to school in the fall…which is NEXT WEEK!  (Cue the back-to-school nightmares and anxiety attacks.)  Anyway, I finished the book early this afternoon, and, like The Search for WondLa, this second book is a fantastic journey that will appeal to readers from age 9 to 90. 

A Hero for WondLa has elements of fairy tales, science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian fiction.  This book in particular seems to be a brilliant hybrid of Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, The Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland, and Avatar.  The main character is a strong female who rises above her circumstances and uses her wits and, more importantly, her compassion to save herself and those she cares about.  But will it be enough to save an entire planet?  Let’s find out…

Eva Nine, having traversed the treacherous wilderness of Orbona and experienced the loss of her dear Muthr, is on the verge of yet another adventure. She’s being taken to New Attica, a human city, where Eva is sure she’ll find the sense of home that she’s always longed for.  Her trusted alien companion, Rovender Kitt, accompanies her, and he immediately senses that something about this journey is a little “off.”  But Eva is too excited about meeting other humans, so she ignores his warnings and heads to New Attica to become part of this seemingly utopian society.  But all is not as it seems in New Attica.  Eva feels no sense of belonging in this strange city (which is a lot like the Capitol in The Hunger Games), and she soon learns that the city’s leader, Cadmus Pryde, has iron control of the city and all of its citizens…and he wants to control Eva as well.

With the help of some old and new friends–and one relative she never knew existed–Eva Nine escapes this city and its mysterious leader.  While she’s leaving New Attica, though, Eva learns of a plot to take over the whole of Orbona (the planet we know as Earth).  Cadmus Pryde wants to expand his rule and destroy all traces of alien life on the planet.  Eva can’t let that happen.  But what can one thirteen-year-old girl possibly do to prevent war?

As it turns out, quite a bit.  Eva’s ability to commune with the creatures around her–and her tendency to see the best in everyone–might just be what the world needs to combat the terror that is coming.  For she has something that her enemies do not.  Eva Nine is pure of heart, and that may be the best “weapon” she can use to save the wild, beautiful planet she loves from certain destruction.  Will it be easy?  No.  Will lives be lost or forever changed?  Absolutely.  Will it be worth all of the sacrifices in the end?  We’ll just have to wait and see…

I’ll admit that, like The Search for WondLa, it took me a little while to get into this book.  (It probably would have helped if I’d read them back-to-back instead of over a year apart.)  Once I did, though, I found A Hero for WondLa to be a delightful book, and I’m hoping I can use it to get more of my female students interested in science fiction.  The main character is awesome, and I truly enjoyed seeing how she grew and matured as the story progressed.  I know she’ll be even stronger in the third book. 

I’m not sure when the third book in this trilogy will be released…or even what the title will be.  But I am sure that Eva Nine and Tony DiTerlizzi will be taking readers on yet another fantastic adventure!

If you’d like to learn more about this wonderful series, I strongly urge you to visit http://wondla.com/home/.  This is a phenomenal website and even includes an interactive component (WondLa-vision).  You can also follow author Tony DiTerlizzi on Twitter @TonyDiTerlizzi.

Published in: on August 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Endlessly

Warning!  Read Paranormalcy and Supernaturally by Kiersten White before proceeding with this post!  I just finished Endlessly, the final book in this fan-bleeping-tastic series, and I don’t want to spoil things for you!

Nearly two years ago, I was introduced to Evie.  Like most of my friends, Evie is fictional.  She exists in the wonderful, weird world of Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series.  From the very beginning, I found Evie to be witty, sarcastic, reckless, heroic, and, even with all of that, completely relatable.  Yeah, she’s a little on the paranormal side (hence the title of the series), and she may be torn between a gorgeous faerie and a half-mortal/half-water spirit boyfriend, but she’s still just a girl who wants to find her place in the world.  She’s just not quite sure which world she’s supposed to be a part of…and that’s where things become a bit problematic.

Anyhoo, this evening, I finished Endlessly, the third and final book in this series, and I am beyond sad to say goodbye to Evie, Lend, Reth, and so many other characters who I’ve gotten to know over the past two years.  This final book took Evie and company on a bumpy, roller-coaster-ride of a journey that revealed so much about Evie’s nature and how important she was to humans and paranormal creatures alike.  Every chapter brought something new–usually a seemingly insurmountable problem for Evie–but this character demonstrates maturity that most adults could never dream of.  Does she always make the right choices?  Probably not.  But she always does what she thinks is right, and that’s all that anyone can ask.  (I know I’m getting a little deep here, but bear with me.  I’m kind of in mourning for the end of this series, and writing all of this helps me to work some things out.)

In Endlessly, Evie is faced with a whole bunch of problems, but there’s one big one that sort of eclipses all the rest.  It’s up to her to send the world’s paranormal creatures back to their home.  It seems that almost everyone expects her to do this, but no one really asked her if she was willing, so Evie’s chafing a bit at all of the responsibilities being heaped on her shoulders.  On top of this, the Dark Queen of the Unseelie Faerie Court and the new management of the IPCA will stop at nothing to prevent Evie from opening the gate to send the faeries, selkies, elementals, dragons, unicorns, and other assorted creatures on their way.  Evie must choose her path quickly if there is any hope to save her friends, her world, and herself.

Evie must also deal with a faerie (Reth) who will do nearly anything to convince Evie to cross over with him, her boyfriend Lend (who is half-mortal/half-elemental) who may or may not decide to stay with her on the earthly plane, a sister who she only visits in dreams, and a friend who is manic and psychotic on a good day.  To say that Evie has a lot to deal with would be an understatement.  But deal with it she does, in the only way she knows how…with her trademark humor, wit, sarcasm, leap-before-you-look recklessness, and guts.  Is she afraid?  You betcha.  But Evie does what she must, even when the choices and sacrifices she must make threaten to destroy her.  Will Evie succeed in her quest to restore normalcy to her world and others?  Does she have any hope of a quiet, normal life after all of this?  You’ll have to find out for yourself when you read Endlessly by Kiersten White…because I’m not going to tell you any more!

If it’s not already crystal clear, I bleeping LOVE this series!  If Kiersten White rewrote the dictionary, I would probably read it.  Humor, even in the most serious of situations, just leaps of the page.  I enjoy that.  And even though I’m not really fazed by cursing in YA novels, the lack of cursing in this one jumped out at me.  Yes, there were a lot of “bleeps,” but even those added more humor to the story.  This series is great for middle grade, teen, and adult readers, and all of them should read these books.  The entire Paranormalcy series is made of sunshine, rainbows, and awesome.  Case closed.

If you’d like more information on this series and upcoming books (like Mind Games–due out on February 19, 2013) by the hilarious Kiersten White, check out her blog, Kiersten Writes.  You can also follow her on Twitter @kierstenwhite.  Her tweets, like her books, always bring a smile to my face!

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Romeo and Juliet Code

I freely admit that I tend to judge a book by its cover.  After all, it’s the first glimpse of a book that I get.  A good cover will tell me what genre the book falls into, what the target audience is (young readers, middle grade, YA, adult), and just a smidge about the book–without giving anything critical away.  It will also show me a little about the book’s tone.  For instance, a dystopian book with a bright pink cover is probably a bad idea.  I want the covers of these books to be as bleak as the environments depicted on the pages. 

The cover of my latest read, The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (another nominee for the 2012-13 South Carolina Book Award), was, in my most humble opinion, a failure on all counts.  The book itself was okay, but it did not match the cover in any way.  That bothers me.  Anyway, here’s the cover:

Now, judging by the cover, and even the title to a certain degree, one would likely expect this book to be a middle-grade, contemporary–possibly geeky–romance. Well, one would be wrong. The Romeo and Juliet Code is a work of historical fiction. It takes place from May to December of 1941 in the town of Bottlebay, Maine. Is there anything about this cover that suggests historical fiction to you? If there is, please let me know!  There is a small bit of romance in this book, but certainly not enough to warrant this cover.  Maybe I should have my students design a more fitting cover for this book. 

Moving on to the story…

The Romeo and Juliet Code introduces readers to Felicity Bathburn Budwig, a young  British girl who is moving to Maine to stay with relatives for the duration of World War II.  Her parents leave her with family members she’s never met, and Felicity doesn’t really know where her parents are going or when–or if–they will return for her.  They don’t even write to her…but they do send letters to her Uncle Gideon.  Felicity is barely allowed to touch these letters.  That, of course, makes her want to know what the letters are hiding.

With the help of Derek, a boy who lives with the Bathburn family, Felicity learns that these mysterious letters are codes being sent from her parents.  But what do they say?  What is the code’s connection to Romeo and Juliet?  Do the codes have anything to do with the war that is sure to involve America at any moment?  Just what are her parents involved in?  And can Felicity and Derek figure everything out–including the mystery surrounding the turmoil in the Bathburn family–before they lose their minds?  Discover the truth when you read The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone.

While this book is a decent historical mystery with a dash of young love, it wasn’t exactly a quick read, and that–along with the misleading cover–will make this one a hard sell.  I know some of my female students will pick up the book because of the current cover, but the “bait and switch” here might turn them off once they start reading.  Most of my male students won’t pick up this book at all because the cover makes it look like a “girl book.”  Again, a redesign would help tremendously, and that may well be how I get students to read this one.  I’ll give them the opportunity to recover my library’s copies of this book with their own designs.  They’ll have to create covers that accurately depict the book without giving too much away.  Of course, they’ll have to read the book to enter the cover design contest.  Something to think about…

If you’d like more information about The Romeo and Juliet Code and other books by author Phoebe Stone, visit http://www.phoebestone.com/.

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Insurgent

Warning!  Read Divergent by Veronica Roth before continuing!  (And, honestly, if you haven’t already read Divergent, I’m silently judging you.  Just kidding…but not really.)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that Veronica Roth’s Divergent was picked as my top read of 2011.  Well, it looks like the sequel, Insurgent, is in the running for the top book of 2012.  (The jury is still out on which book is better.  I’m still trying to decide.)  I finished reading Insurgent yesterday morning, and I was totally blown away.  The ending alone made me utter a few choice words, and I’m still processing a lot of what happened and what it could mean for book three.  This post will likely be a short one—for me, anyway—because I don’t want to spoil things too much for you guys, but I also don’t quite know how to put my feelings on this book into words…but I’ll try.

Insurgent picks up almost immediately where Divergent concluded.  (It might behoove you to reread the final chapter of Divergent before starting Insurgent, or just check out this link to Veronica Roth’s blog for a handy-dandy “guide to remembering stuff before you read Insurgent,” http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/but-i-read-divergent-year-ago-your.html.)

  
Tris, Tobias (also known as Four), and company are on the run after the Erudite attack on Abnegation (including the simulation that turned many Dauntless members into assassins).  Tris trusts Tobias with her life and her heart, but she knows that even he is keeping secrets from her.  Tris is crumbling from the inside out, overcome with grief and guilt over the deaths of her parents and the actions that led her to this point.  She wants to confide all to Tobias, but how can she when she doesn’t know how he’ll react to the heavy burden she’s carrying?  Especially since he’s got his own demons to overcome.

As Tris and Tobias are trying to figure out where they stand with each other—and with the remaining members of their factions/families—they must also worry about the war being waged all around them.  Who can they trust with the truth of their Divergence (aptitude for more than one faction)?  How can they combat the Dauntless traitors who have allied with the Erudite?  Can they convince Candor, Amity, the remaining Abnegation, and the factionless to join in their quest to overthrow the Erudite who wish to control everyone and everything?  What if these groups have their own agendas?

War has broken out between the factions, and no one knows who can truly be trusted.  Friends (and family) become enemies.  Enemies become allies.  And secrets are revealed that shake what little foundation is left in Tris’ world.  What does it really mean to be Divergent in this war-torn society, and why is the Erudite leader—and all-around evil genius—Jeanine so determined to wipe them out?  What is Jeanine trying to hide, and can Tris find out before everything she has left is destroyed?  The truth is out there, and it’s up to Tris to bring it to light…no matter what the cost.

I’ve tried not to give too much away here, and I’m pretty sure I’ve succeeded.  This is one book you really need to read for yourself.  Like I said before, the ending alone was enough to send me into a cursing frenzy.  (I just reread it a few minutes ago, and it managed to shock me all over again.)  Totally didn’t see that coming.  In my everyday life, I hate surprises, but I love it when a book manages to surprise me.  It doesn’t happen often enough.  If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Insurgent, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this epic journey will end.  Now, the countdown is on to book three!  The title and cover are still TBA, and I’m assuming we can expect the book to be released sometime in May of 2013.

If you want to learn more about the Divergent trilogy and author Veronica Roth, visit http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/, http://thedivergenttrilogy.com/, check out the Facebook pages at http://www.facebook.com/#!/DivergentSeries and http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Veronica-Roth/108433975887375, and follow the author on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/VeronicaRoth. You may also like this book trailer from Harper Teen (that gives absolutely nothing away).

I would like to add that, even though the majority of them were the bad guys in this book, I still consider myself a member of the Erudite faction (as I’m sure most other librarians would).  I spend most of my life in the pursuit of knowledge, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others…sometimes even when they prefer me to shut up.  If you are a proud Erudite member, you may want to check out the Erudite Faction tumblr site at http://eruditefactionnews.tumblr.com/.

Published in: on May 6, 2012 at 10:52 am  Comments (1)  
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Dead to You

Last night, I finished reading Lisa McMann’s latest novel, Dead to You, and proceeded to spend the rest of the night thinking about the book.  (I didn’t sleep much.)  Dead to You, like McMann’s other YA novels (Wake, Fade, Gone, and Cryer’s Cross) kept my interest from the very beginning and kept me thinking long after I finished the book.  (I’m still processing how it ended.)  It was gripping, tense, and made me eager to turn the page.  Dead to You was a quick read with a sympathetic male protagonist, and is a perfect pick for reluctant male readers.  (There is some bad language in the book and a couple of rather frank depictions of, shall we say, what goes on in the mind of an adolescent male when confronted with an attractive female, so I would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone under the age of fourteen.)  Anyone who reads this book will be intrigued by the premise—a boy kidnapped when he was seven and returned to his family nine years later—and eager to see how this story plays out…

Ethan De Wilde went missing when he was seven years old.  No one had any clue about his whereabouts…until now.  Sixteen-year-old Ethan has returned to his family after nine years, and he’s totally unprepared for what his miraculous appearance truly means, especially since he can’t remember anything before his abduction.  His little brother Blake, though, remembers everything.  He remembers seeing Ethan get into a black car with two strange men.  Ethan has no recollection of that, but he does know that he lived with a woman named Ellen until she abandoned him at a group home a year ago.  After he left the group home, Ethan found out where he truly belonged and made his way back to his long-lost family.

Ethan is trying to recall memories of his first seven years, but he’s overwhelmed with all his return means.  His family—which moved on without him—is readjusting to having Ethan home.  His mom and dad are constantly fighting, Blake seems to be jealous of all the attention Ethan is getting, and little Gracie—the “replacement child”—doesn’t really know what’s going on.  Ethan is struggling with lost memories, going to school, feelings for the girl next door, and controlling his urge to run away from the madness his life has become.

Just when Ethan finally begins to feel safe and at home, something happens that throws his life into a tailspin once again.  Ethan doesn’t know what to do, how he can get past this, or what it means for his future.  But he does know one thing.  Unlocking the memories of Ethan’s first seven years will change everything, and no one will be prepared for the fallout.  Read Dead to You by Lisa McMann to learn what happens when things long-buried—memories, secrets, lies, resentments—rise to the surface and threaten to destroy everything.

I predict that Dead to You will be an easy sell in high school libraries everywhere.  The book’s length is not intimidating to reluctant readers, teen readers across the board will find something to identify with, and the story itself is so fascinating that all readers—teen and adult—will be riveted until the very end.  Also, the discussions that the ending will generate will be quite interesting.  (It almost makes me wish I still worked in a high school so that I could talk to teens about this book.)  Dead to You provides great opportunities for students to take the story and write their own endings.  What happens next?  I’m sure the answers would be as varied as the young adults who read this book.

If you’d like more information about Dead to You and other books my Lisa McMann, visit http://lisamcmann.com/index.html.  You can also follow the author on Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest.

For even more, check out this video from Simon and Schuster with Lisa McMann talking about Dead to You and what her readers can expect next!

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 9:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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As I Wake

Occasionally, I come across a book that reminds me of a favorite television show.  That is the case with Elizabeth Scott’s As I Wake.  Throughout the book, I was comparing the events to that masterpiece of weirdness, Fringe (Fridays at 9pm on Fox).  Both As I Wake and Fringe deal–to a certain degree–with people crossing between alternate realities and the consequences of those “travels,” and both of them leave me very confused.  I don’t like being confused, but when we’re talking about alternate realities, I guess confusion is inevitable.

As I Wake begins with Ava. She just woke up, and she has no idea where she is, how she got here, or even her own name. Nothing–her mom, her friends, school, home–is familiar, and she has the unsettling sensation that she doesn’t belong here. Apparently, Ava has amnesia, but she senses that her memory loss goes much deeper than anyone knows.  What’s wrong with her?  And how can she fix it?

In dreams, Ava gets glimpses of another life…a life that is very different from the one she’s supposed to remember.  A life full of danger, conflict, spies, and loneliness.  A life that shows her past, including the boy that would change everything.  Are these really just dreams, or are they memories that someone has tried to suppress?  How can Ava possibly know what’s real and what’s not?

When Morgan, the boy from Ava’s dreams, appears in her strange new world, Ava knows that her dreams are really memories of her true life, the reality she was born into.  Can she get back to her old life with Morgan?  Why was she sent away from it to begin with?  Does she even want to return to a reality that held so much pain and danger…even if it did contain the love of her life?  The answers are not simple, and Ava’s decisions could mean the difference between life and death…and not just for her.  Find out what happens when Ava truly wakes up in As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott.

I mentioned that this book reminded me of Fringe, and it did.  At the end, I was left thinking “What the crap just happened?”  (This happens a lot when I watch Fringe.)  Unlike Fringe, though, I wasn’t really invested in the characters in As I Wake.  I’m still not sure what led Ava to be in an alternate reality, and I’d really like to know what happened to the Ava she replaced.  (I know that sentence was probably confusing.  Trust me.  I know how you feel.)  I want to know more about Ava’s work in her original reality, and why she felt so drawn to Morgan.  The author hinted that Ava and Morgan had known each other in other realities, even other time periods, but the idea wasn’t fully fleshed out.  I’d also like more information on some of the secondary characters.  Some of their stories are pretty complicated, and the book delved into those a little, but I didn’t feel that these characters had the depth that they could have.

All in all, As I Wake was an okay book.  I enjoyed that it made me think about physics and alternate realities, but the book could have been so much better had some of the plot lines been further explored.  I was not at all happy with the ending, and I think it could have been a lot clearer.  I still have no idea exactly what happened (and what it meant for the previous 268 pages).

I’ve read a couple of other books by Elizabeth Scott (The Unwritten Rule and Living Dead Girl), and I think both of them are much better written than As I Wake.  (Living Dead Girl still gives me nightmares.)

For more information on As I Wake and author Elizabeth Scott, visit http://www.elizabethwrites.com/.

Published in: on March 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Fox Inheritance

Caution:  Read The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the first book in Mary E. Pearson’s Jenna Fox Chronicles, before proceeding.  Also, if you read the first book nearly three years ago (like me), you might want to skim through it before opening The Fox Inheritance.

I first read The Adoration of Jenna Fox way back in 2008. I was still a high school librarian, and I can remember giving dozens of booktalks on this book to my students. I loved the book, and I was intrigued by its core subject matter–the thought of where science and medicine could take society in the future. I think some of my students were as well. We talked about things like cloning, preserving human consciousness after bodies have worn out, and government control of science and medicine. In short, The Adoration of Jenna Fox generated some fairly intense discussions. The sequel, The Fox Inheritance, is sure to follow in those footsteps. You see, Jenna Fox was not the only person whose mind was “saved” and put into a new and improved body. It just took a little longer–about 260 years–for her friends, Locke and Kara, to “wake up.”

Locke has been in limbo for 260 years.  260 years of total darkess, with nothing but his thoughts.  Thoughts of the night he and his friends, Jenna and Kara, were in a horrible accident.  Thoughts of his past and how he would do things differently.  Thoughts of the world that has surely forgotten him and continued to go on.  Thoughts that seem to connect with Kara, his friend who is just as trapped as he is.  They have no bodies, and their minds are imprisoned in a small box…until they are finally released. 

After a dark, horrifying 260 years of nothingness, Locke and Kara now have new and improved bodies.  They can finally feel, taste, hear (something other than the noise of their own thoughts), communicate, and live their lives.  But what life do they really have?  They are seemingly stuck in an altogether different type of prison.  Dr. Gatsbro, the man who “saved” Locke and Kara, is using them to further his own agenda.  The entire world has changed in the 260 years they missed.  Everyone they knew is gone…except for Jenna Fox.

Kara and Locke soon escape the clutches of the nefarious Dr. Gatsbro, and venture out into a world that is totally unfamiliar.  The country they were born into has split in two, robots perform many tasks once reserved for humans, and no one can be trusted.  Gatsbro and his goons are hot on their trail, and Locke and Kara are forced to seek help from unexpected sources.  Dangers lurk around every corner, but the two escapees have just one goal–get to Jenna Fox. 

Their reasons for reaching Jenna, however, are very different.  Locke wants answers to questions and wishes to be reunited with an old (and I mean really old), dear friend.  Kara, though, seeks her own brand of justice.  Why was Jenna saved so soon and not them?  What was so special about Jenna that she got to experience life for the past 260 years while they were left forgotten on a shelf?  Why didn’t she come back for them?  Why did she let them suffer for so long?  Well, Kara is determined that Jenna will suffer just as much as she and Locke did.

As Locke and Kara travel across the country, they once again face the past that has always haunted them.  When they come face to face with Jenna, will they let the past destroy their present, or will they rush headlong into a future filled with possibilities?  Read The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson to find out!

I’ve glossed over a lot of details in this post.  I didn’t even begin to touch on the science and technology featured in The Fox Inheritance–and even The Adoration of Jenna Fox–or how those “advances” seem all too possible in our world.  I’m a little paranoid, so it’s very easy for me to imagine that someone somewhere is working on being able to transfer a mind into a computer and then back into a fabricated body.  (I thought about Robocop, Blade Runner, and movies like that when I was reading this book.)  It’s very disturbing to think about.  What are the implications here?  Can–or should–society or governments do anything to stop science and technology from going as far as they can?  What will the role of bioethics be in the future?  Think about it.  I know I will.

If you’d like more information about author Mary Pearson, the Jenna Fox Chronicles, and other books, please visit http://www.marypearson.com/index.html.  According to her blog, we can look forward to a third and final book in the Jenna Fox Chronicles.  There’s no word yet on what the title is or when the book will be released.

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Clockwork Prince

Even though this post will not be a typical one for me, I will be talking a bit about Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy (which is the prequel trilogy to her Mortal Instruments series).  If you haven’t read all of the books that precede Clockwork Prince–especially Clockwork Angel–I strongly urge you to do that as soon as possible.  All of these books are unbelievably amazing, and the events of today only increased my love of these series.

Now, for the good stuff…

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Cassandra Clare.  As part of her book tour for Clockwork Prince, which was released on Tuesday (and which I finished reading last night), Ms. Clare paid a visit to Greenville, South Carolina.  I live just a few miles away from Greenville, and I was understandably excited about meeting one of my favorite authors.  The event was sponsored by a local independent bookstore, Fiction Addiction, and held in a spot called the Hangar at the Runway Cafe (near the downtown airport, obviously).  And I have to say it was one of the most well organized book signings I’ve ever attended.  (I went to see Stephenie Meyer at a Barnes & Noble in Georgia four years ago, and it was absolute chaos.  Imagine thousands of people crammed into a B&N for upwards of five hours.  Shudder.) 

Anyhoo, Cassandra Clare entered the Hangar and answered questions from the audience.  The first few people who asked questions even got a free t-shirt.  I was one of those people…and here’s the back of the shirt:

I asked who she would pick to play Magnus Bane if she had any say in the movie casting.  Her answer both surprised and delighted me–Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on Glee.  She said that his ethnicity matched Magnus’, and he seems to have no problems kissing a boy.  For those of you who’ve read the Mortal Instruments series, you know how important this is.

Ms. Clare answered lots more questions on how she overcomes writer’s block, using outlines in her writing, how much influence she has over the upcoming City of Bones movie (very little, sadly), the love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa in Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince, other books she would recommend, how she would encourage aspiring writers, where her ideas for her books came from, the real-life settings used in the books, the inspiration for the character of Magnus Bane (one of my favorites), and much more.  Throughout the question-and-answer session, Ms. Clare kept the audience laughing and made us fall more in love with her and her wonderful stories.

Then, it was time for the autographing to begin.  I took seven books to be autographed–City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Steampunk!–and Ms. Clare graciously signed all of them.  Check it out:

 

Everyone who attended also received a cool Shadow Hunter poster. 

Christmas came early for yours truly this year.  I got to meet one of my favorite authors, tell her how much I loved her books, and I even had the opportunity to recommend a few books to her–Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series was at the top of my list.  This was an awesome afternoon for Knight Reader.

Now, I’m sure you might be wondering a little about Clockwork Prince, the latest book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.  Well, I’m not going to tell you much about the book because there would be spoiler alerts all over the place if I did.  I will tell you, though, that we learn more about why Will is such a butthead most of the time.  We also delve into Mortmain’s past and what he might be planning for the Shadow Hunters.  For me, however, the driving force in this book was the dramatic love triangle between Will, Jem, and Tessa.  It was infuriating, powerful, and traumatic–for them and for me.  I just hope their situation resolves the way I want it to in Clockwork Princess.

Speaking of Clockwork Princess, it has an expected release date of December 1st, 2012.  (Yes, we have to wait nearly a year for it.  Curses!)  Also, there are two more books in the Mortal Instruments series to look forward to:  City of Lost Souls, due out May 8th, 2012 (and the cover should be released soon), and City of Heavenly Fire, due in September of 2013.  There’s also another Shadow Hunter series in development, the Dark Artifices, which will take place roughly five years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire.  So, there’s lots more Shadow Hunter goodness to look forward to.

If you’d like to learn more about Cassandra Clare and her amazing books, you might want to check out these websites:

You can also follow Cassandra Clare on Twitter @cassieclare.

I will leave you now, dear readers, for I am spent.  It has been a great day filled with books, authors, and fellow word nerds.  I wish every day could be so awesome.

Published in: on December 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm  Comments (3)  
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