Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons (Penguin)
Released: November 29, 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Yes - #2: Prodigy, January 29, 2013
Source: Library
Once known as the western coast of the United States, the Republic is now a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors, the Colonies. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Obedient, passionate, and committed to her country, she is being groomed for success in the Republic's highest circles.Born into the slums of the Republic's Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives might not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June tries desperately to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

The world of the Republic is so vividly portrayed, from the wealthy elite to the street kids - everything is so detailed that as you read, you feel when the characters move from one to the other. When June enters the Lake Sector, you don't have to work to remember that she's out of her comfort zone. The way events are described through her eyes lets you absorb her feeling of being out of place. And when Day is in the other part of the Republic, again it's obvious that he doesn't belong there, just from the way he moves and talks in contrast to the very different behavior of the people who do belong.

What makes this so important is the way June and Day interact, both before they're allies and after. There's always a clear division between them, even as their similarities and shared goals become clearer, even as June is swayed by Day's accusations against the Republic. Their relationship is so much richer because of this, because their personalities match the places they came from. This changes though, toward the end of the book, and I'm assuming it will change even more in Prodigy.

I'm looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops, but also I'm impatiently waiting to find out just what secrets the Republic is hiding, what the story with the Colonies and Patriots is, and I'm hoping we get to see a little more about how the United States ended up divided and at war with each other...

Prodgiy comes January 29, 2013!

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Author: Hilari Bell
Publisher: Courtney Literary (prev. ROC Penguin, 2000)
Released: (eBook re-release) November 1, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: No
Source: Author for review
Earth’s leading scientists were able to repel The Vrell, an alien slave trading race, by developing a rapidly mutating virus that killed the invaders. But that victory came at a price. Now Earth’s teenagers are dying from GED, a genetic disease caused by the virus. There remains one hope for the planet's future; to locate an earth colony established before The Vrell attacked.

Scientist Irene Olson sets off on an expedition to track the lost colonies, bringing along her nephew Mark, who is dying from GED. Though they have found many colonies, alien diseases have killed everyone. The scientists are losing hope when they finally reach Navohar, a planet where the colonists have survived a deadly plague. Their blood and DNA could cure Earth’s dying children...but only if Irene can uncover the secret the colonists are hiding.
Brilliantly detailed and expertly crafted, Navohar is an exhilarating ride of exploring new territory and navigating complex moral situations. 

The biggest thing that stayed with me throughout the whole novel was an impression of just how richly and lushly detailed the world of Navohar is. First of all, the way the planet doesn't have just one alien race but a varied and layered ecosystem including micro-organisms and (six-legged) animals - I love that, it makes it so much more 3D, so complex and exciting to experience. And Irene is the perfect guide to experiencing these complex situations. Her propensity for profanity in a time when youths have become more conservative in their language (!), combined with her pig-headedness and determination, mean that we get to see the world of Navohar clearly and without (too much) bias, and her openness to new experiences means that we see everything through a wide-eyed wonder. Her tone is so irreverent, so openly annoyed and openly delighted at various points, that the whole story, though it actually is quite serious, ends up being a really fun, laughter-filled read.

I love the rest of the people in Navohar also, and some of them add to the fun quality of the book as well. They're just as multi-layered as the wildlife on Navohar, and it's really interesting to watch how things play out based on each character's personality. And what I loved was that we know of course that everyone is going to end up fine, that everything will be alright - but which everyone? With such a big split between the groups over the colonists' secret, I was kept guessing right up until the end. The last scene alone turns on itself so many times, first this group having the upper hand, then the other, that I didn't know how exactly the situation would be resolved until the last page.

The moral question of the story is part of what keeps us guessing until the end. It's not an easy decision. And what makes it more complex is Irene's statement at the beginning of the novel about what Captain Willard decided to do about the embryos found on each planet, when he decided to take them back to Earth since their colonists had all died, because "'Enough life has been lost already,' he said. A moral man." Which makes his future actions more ambiguous.

A small point I found amusing was the naming of the planets. Irene says in an aside that when people started colonizing planets, they had to find enough names for all of them, so they had a program randomly generate names and discarded only the ones that seemed silly. "After all, who wanted to colonize Grizzelskrink?" As an amateur linguist, I love that scenario.

And the end - it's perfect. I can't say too much about it without giving away all the little surprises that crop up throughout the book. But it's perfect because it captures how completely Irene accepts her decision and her situation - and it's funny!

In My Mailbox 39

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!



Friday, January 18, 2013

Blog Tour - Summerset Abbey

Author: TJ Brown
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)
Released: January 15, 2013
Genre: New Adult Historical Fiction
Series: Summerset Abbey #1 
   A BLOOM IN WINTER (Summerset Abbey #2) March 5, 2013
   SPRING AWAKENING (Summerset Abbey #3) August 6, 2013 
Source: Kindle
1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war.

Rowena Buxton
Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “under class” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.

Victoria Buxton
Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever… 

Prudence Tate
Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as ladies maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey… 

TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.
 There are two aspects of this book, both connected, that make it so amazing. The first thing is the lushness of detail of Edwardian life. Everything sounds so real, and so natural to the way the characters react to it! But more than that, it's the interactions of the characters, the things they have to deal with and how they deal with them and each other, that really makes the historical facts come alive. The relationship between the three girls becomes dictated by societal conventions, and the budding romances of each girl are again shadowed by societal conventions. Even without the historical aspect, the relationships are brilliant and breathtaking. Heartbreaking when things beyond their control affect their relationships, but giddy and fun the way any twenty-something should experience romance.

This era is the perfect setting for this plot, with its rumblings of social change. I asked TJ Brown:

If you were living in Edwardian times and were trying to cause social change, where would you rather be working towards that from: from upstairs in a position of nobility, or from downstairs in a position of service?  

That's actually a really tough question, because there are pros and cons to each position. You'd think that upper-class women had more freedom of movement, but often times they were incredibly hemmed in and the expectations placed on them were very high. However, if you had a great deal of money, your "eccentricities" were often overlooked and working for a good cause was considered an acceptable pastime. Of course, society dictated what a good cause was. And remember, there was a huge difference between American society and English society as far as it pertains to philanthropy and doing good works.  Philanthropy, as we know it, was pretty much created here in the US by incredibly wealthy families who made their fortune in business… something which was rather looked down upon. These people, many of whom wanted to join society but lacked family ties, tried to buy their way in by giving a fortune to hospitals, musical societies, libraries, etc, and attaching their name to it. This gave American rich women far more latitude in working for the social good of others. While standards had definitely loosened during the Edwardian era in England, as far as who was allowed to join polite society, (to a certain extent), the nobles didn't give their money quite as lavishly,(often times there wasn't much money to give) and rarely attached their name to it.  It just wasn't the "done" thing.  Women did good works, of course, but it wasn't as socially acceptable for the upper classes as it was here in the states.

You would think that the lower classes would be so busy surviving, they wouldn't be able to afford the time to work toward social change. Though  social restrictions may not have hampered them as much the practical necessity of earning a living, the  women of the lower classes in both the US and England, were instrumental in working for change, especially as it pertained to suffrage. They often have much less to lose than a woman of higher status and change would affect their lives positively on a much more personal, level. These women were in the trenches of social change. It's harder to embrace change when your life is a comfortable one.

So to answer the original question, I think I would rather be a part of the lower classes when working for social changes… I like being in the trenches!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shadows in the Silence

Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Author's Website:
Publisher: Katherine Tegen (HarperCollins)
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Angelfire #3
Source: ARC from Publisher

Ellie knows her darkest moments as Preliator are still to come, and she has everything to fight for. She must fight for Will, fight for humanity, and fight to save herself. When she must assume her full glory as the archangel Gabriel, Ellie's humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold power, and she must hold tight to who she is and whom she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.

I'm a little reluctant to review this book. I have very mixed feelings about it. To start with, I fell in love with the characters throughout the first two books, and I was highly anticipating the final installment. What I loved about the first two books was the lightning pace, the way everything always seemed extremely urgent, even during downtimes, and the sizzling romance and oh-so-real relationship between Ellie and Will. In this book, though, I felt like those areas were a little lacking. 

The book opens with Ellie and Cadan traveling to find a cure for Will, who was poisoned during a fight. The first few scenes are mostly Ellie and Cadan talking. Aside from being a divergence from the pacing of the other books, when conversation happened amid action, not in place of it, these opening scenes also use tactics to explain what happened up until now, to get the reader back in the story, and these tactics slow things down considerably. I didn't fully remember the whole story, but I picked up pieces as I read, and I wish the author hadn't felt the need to recap the important points upfront. With the precedent set by the first two books, I expected to just jump in, and I didn't get that. The rest of the book is like a start-and-stop. There are just too many slow parts where I was itching for things to happen - they spend a lot of time in planning instead of acting.

Ellie and Will's relationship is for the most part satisfying in keeping with the tone of the other books. All the relationships, especially Ellie and Cadan's, are fully explored and realistic. But Will seems to have stagnated in this book, going over the same issues again and again. The main point of their relationship in this book is that it shouldn't have happened, and it feels kind of belabored at times.

The part that is completely in keeping with the first two books is the action scenes - they're just as heartstopping, just as thrilling. When things are happening, they happen!! The reapers are just as disgusting, just as vicious, and the sacrifices the good guys have to make, the people and reapers they lose, are heartbreaking. I liked that there is a hierarchy of evilness and ferocity, that the reapers take less time to fight than Sammael and Lilith, whose fights last for a few terrifying pages.

But. I did not like the end at all. I didn't feel like everything was resolved in regard to Heaven, which may be because it's meant to be a bit open-ended - another war could rise at any time because there are still other creatures in Hell. But when we're talking about angels serving God and Fallen rebelling against God - where is God? I liked that the story steered clear of sticking to any specific religion (though following the Judeo-Christian story), but some mention of God, not necessarily his appearing as a character but just something... And then the way Ellie and Will's relationship ends felt completely tacked on. That last bit could have been left off, and in my opinion, the series would still be worth it. I know that the majority of readers want a happy ending, and ending before that scene would have brought the wrath of readers on Courtney's head, but still - it felt like a quick response to anticipated readers' reactions.

So basically, I love the series, and I probably will read Angelfire and Wings of the Wicked numerous times, but I'll leave off Shadows in the Silence

Thursday, January 3, 2013

YA Tour in YOUR City!!

Have you ever wished that a big YA book tour would make a stop in your hometown? Well, here's your chance for that wish to come true! YA2U is a program that features five award-winning and best-selling authors who are holding a contest to see what city they should visit in an exclusive tour stop!

The authors are collecting votes from January 1 to February 15, and any city in the continental US or any Canadian city that has an international airport can win an exclusive visit from all five authors, including an author panel and book signing! Entering is super easy--and if you help spread the word about the contest, you can also enter win a signed copy of all of their books (TEN signed books in total!)--and the book contest is open internationally!

The authors in the program are:

And they want to have an event in your home town! To participate, just got to the YA2U website and let them know what city you want them to come to. And while you're there, help spread the word about the contest and you can be entered to win all of their books--TEN signed books in total! 

Why should the YA2U Team come to your hometown? Why not join in the fun today and share with others about this program and your hometown. The more votes your town gets, the closer you are to having your very own personal tour stop! Vote for YOUR town here!

And if you help spread the word, you can also participate in the book giveaway. Tell them that you learned about YA2U from me and we both get extra entries in the contest! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway