Friday, February 28, 2014

Impulse

Impulse is a YA contemporary sci-fi book by Steven Gould, and a sequel to his Jumper series.

I read Impulse as a newbie to this series. It’d probably have been even better if I’d had a chance to read Jumper and Reflex first – but Impulse did well on its own, too.

Cent, the sixteen-year-old daughter of parents Davy and Millie, lives in a remote cabin – hiding from the people who kept her father imprisoned and tortured him because of their desire to control his ability to teleport, or “jump”.

This means that Cent’s primary view of the world is from TV, movies, the internet – not anything real. Deciding enough is enough, Cent pleads with her (understandably) cautious parents to let her go to a normal high school in a safe town.

Right around the time they agree, Cent’s own ability to “jump” like her parents is discovered – and she begins to utilize her strong intellect from years of stringent home schooling to experiment with it a little.

Once she enters high school, she realizes that her newfound ability to “jump” may come in handy – but could end up changing all of their lives…

Impulse was interesting – in some ways it didn’t feel like a YA novel at all. In the best ways.

What I mean by that is that Cent’s relationship with her parents is refreshing and mature – mostly. Even the way she interacts with others has a level of confidence and wisdom that isn’t that common in YA normally. It’s also realistic because she has spent her life around adults only, really.

Impulse has an absorbing premise, though I did initially feel as though I was jumping (ha) into an established story – oh wait, I was!

Yet Cent’s sturdy, tomboyish and intelligent, which translates into a fast-moving, attention-grabbing story that deals with the sci-fi elements of teleporting and more gritty issues in high school. It was easy and smooth to read and I really liked the characters.

It definitely made me interested in reading Jumper and Reflex. Maybe someday!

Monday, February 24, 2014

For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a YA post-apocalyptic romance by Diana Peterfreund.

Elliot North is of Luddite nobility. Since she was a child she was taught that the Luddites, who outlawed most technology, were the reason the human race survived after a genetic experiment went wrong many generations ago.

That experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction.

As one of the Luddite nobility, she has always been aware that her purpose is to protect the Reduced and enforce the Luddite principles to shun technological advances.

Yet, as a young adult, Elliot knows things aren’t as simple as that.

She was childhood best friends with Kai – a servant that was born to her family. He is not Reduced, but does not have the rights of a Luddite – he is one of the many Post-Reductionists that are changing the way the world looks at the future.

Her friendship, her love, with Kai was fractured four years ago when Elliot refused to run away with him.

When she chose to stay and look after the estate, and the remaining Reduced.

Since then, she’s staved off the heart wrenching regret by acknowledging that without her her spend-happy father and oblivious sister would have already destroyed their business. She’s had to work at the estate’s survival – keeping everyone fed and clothed.

But the loneliness is always there. The wonder of where Kai went. If he is still alive. If he made it.

When a group of shipbuilders request renting part of their estate, Elliot is quick to agree – as they desperately need the money – despite the group being Post-Reductionists, which her father wouldn’t be pleased about.

Among the group is Captain Malakai Wentworth.

Elliot’s heart nearly stops when she realizes it is a nearly unrecognizable Kai. A Kai that seems angry and harsh – entirely resentful of Elliot’s decision all those years ago.

Could there be the smallest possible hope of a second chance between them?

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling, a reimagining, of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

And OH MY GOSH I love it.

Immediately I could see and appreciate the resemblances to Persuasion, mashed with an initially unclear but intriguing post-apocalyptic world. And as more details became known, it’s truly an original and fascinating world that Peterfreund created.

The unspoken, heavy with feeling, connection Elliot and Kai have is stunningly reminiscent of Persuasion with passion and a restrained, mysterious past that is revealed in a lovely, paced manner.

For Darkness Shows the Stars has a strong, resilient, intelligent heroine in Elliot. Her pain is palpable but she’s no pushover. I really, really liked her – and kept feeling the urge to reread Persuasion.

This is a novel that, in my opinion, transcends the YA genre and shows just how remarkable YA can be. It’s suspenseful, meaningful, and weighty. It nearly brought tears to my eyes!

It’s so nice to read a romance about a soul connection, a friendship bond that became more – instead of just superficial, hormonal infatuation that pales sharply in comparison.

The quotes from Jane Austen’s novel pierced my heart as they were peppered perfectly throughout this honoring, respectful, incredible retelling.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is achingly, amazingly beautiful!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Teardrop

Teardrop is a YA start to a contemporary fantasy trilogy by Fallen author Lauren Kate.

Eureka has never cried.

Not since she was a little girl and her mother drilled that into her in one shocking, startling moment.

But now her mother is gone. Killed when an out-of-nowhere wave swept them off a bridge and drowned her. Who knows how Eureka survived.

She wishes she didn’t.

Filled with suppressed emotion and deep grief over a mother she loved deeply, Eureka still hasn’t cried.

There’s not much left that she really cares about. There are a couple of childhood friends and her two little half-siblings and dad – but she feels so dead inside.

When Ander, a pale boy with eyes that seem to know her inexplicably, warns her that she is in danger – she tries to brush it off.

But her mother’s odd inheritance of a locket, a letter, a puzzling stone and a book no one can read come into her possession – she begins to wonder just what her mom was keeping from her.

Upon finding someone who has the ability to translate the strange book, she learns that it is a story of a girl whose heart was broken and cried an entire continent, Atlantis, into the sea.

It disturbs Eureka.

There may be dark secrets concerning herself that she needs to uncover, she may need to listen to Ander when he tries to tell her things she doesn’t want to hear.

And she, and those she cares for despite the barrenness inside of her, may truly be in danger.

As you fellow bibliophiles may recall, I very much liked Lauren Kate’s Fallen – and then each successive book in that YA fantasy quartet was liked less and less by me.

That’s why I go into this new trilogy a little hesitantly. I’ve been burned before, after all.

Teardrop has an admittedly powerful prologue, though.

Deep mourning and negative emotion have made Eureka a stoic, rather different, sad individual and heroine for our story here. I liked it, but it was also depressing.

There’s an interesting, slow-building but intriguing vibe.

The book from Eureka’s mother that begins to get translated didn’t do much for me – and I admit I started to get a little frustrated with the pacing. The only thing truly keeping me hanging in there was the tension in Eureka’s interpersonal relationships.

Action finally started to pick up a LITTLE just as I was starting to get fed up with the lack of information and procession of an actual plot. Finally revelations began to flood in near the end along with a couple of surprising twists.

Teardrop then had a rather horrifying, shocking climax that was very disquieting.

So, I was left feeling a little “hmm”.

Essentially, I kind of wanted more from Teardrop but I do feel intrigued. Maybe the second book will make my feelings easier to understand.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star is a YA paranormal contemporary novel, and the first in the Shades of London series, by Maureen Johnson.

When Louisiana born and bred Rory Deveaux had the opportunity to pick where she wanted to go to school while her professor parents had a sabbatical in Bristol during her senior year of high school, it didn’t take long for her answer: London.

A boarding school in London, rich with history, was exactly what she wanted.

But a little too much history is coming to life as she starts to settle in at Wexford, in the East End of London.

Murders, mirroring the shocking Jack the Ripper slayings of more than a century ago, are occurring very near her new home. The spree has the city on edge, yet also oddly spellbound with the revisit of one of the age-old unsolved serial killers of history.

With almost no leads, mysteriously wonky CCTV footage, and no witnesses – the police are desperate to find this new Jack the Ripper before he follows through on all of the murders.

Then Rory spots the only prime suspect.

But she’s not just the only one who’s seen him…

She also appears to be the only one who can.

Personally, I love Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever (oh my gosh, will a third book EVER come out???), so when I realized that she had penned a supernatural thriller – I was THERE.

Rory is an original, witty, Southern heroine that has an individual personality that didn’t feel cliché. I liked the way she dismissed embarrassing moments with humor. Following her as the odd American out among the English students was fun and made her relatable.

In The Name of the Star, I also loved the London boarding school environment – a non-magical Hogwarts!!!

But what was also undeniably entertaining was the chilling, increasingly creepy suspense that Maureen Johnson penned here. It’s gripping, scary, and, well, pretty darn awesome.

I really, really enjoyed reading this spooky novel.

The Name of the Star has excellent humor, fantastic characters, and a cozy atmosphere that can smoothly turn into a frightening one.

I’m so ready for the next book, it’s ridiculous!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cold Spell

Cold Spell is a YA contemporary retelling of The Snow Queen by Jackson Pearce.

Since Kai and Ginny were children they’ve been best friends, growing up together, playing in their building’s rooftop rose garden.

Now they are seventeen and their close ties have developed into something more. Something sweet and strong, something with kisses and plans for the future.

With the arrival of a beautiful, enigmatic girl named Mora, however, Ginny sees an abrupt, dramatic change in Kai. And, almost overnight, he and Mora disappear.

Though struggling with the perception by others that Kai may have simply broken up with her in a cruel manner and taken up with a girl he just met, Ginny knows him. She knows Kai would not do this to her.

Despite the small, painful doubts in her heart, Ginny goes after them – after Kai.

She’s armed with a book that Kai’s superstitious grandmother filled with articles and clippings about dangerous, non-human creatures and one being she fear above all others: The Snow Queen.

Searching for Kai is forcing Ginny to be stronger than ever, alone without Kai by her side. If she even finds Kai, will she still be the same person that he loved?

Will he still be capable of love?

Previously I have read Sweetly and Fathomless by Jackson Pearce, and was stunned by both. I have to say that she is fantastic at reimagining fairy tales into a dark, modern-day-world story. She’s done it yet again with Cold Spell.

In a very short amount of pages I am convinced of Kai and Ginny’s love – a love that is mature and based on years of friendship. This was vital to the rest of the story, to believe in this love – and Pearce succeeded, in my opinion.

Just as in the other books in this series, Cold Spell quickly escalates to a level of unease and creepiness mixed with emotional anguish. There’s a seeping sensation of ice cold and melancholy.

Cold Spell is spooky, mesmerizing, hypnotic and unique. I appreciate the way each book ties into each other in subtle but important ways – characters are hinted at or return. In the future, after I finally read the very first book Sisters Red (I own it now, it should be this year, ha!), I want to read all four of these books in quick succession to catch all the carry-over more easily.

Here we get a story that is chilling and impossible to put down and stop reading.

I will say that the time spent with the Travellers felt odd and out of place. I tried to go along with it because I loved everything else about Cold Spell, and as that part of the book ended up being rather persistent and lingered through the remainder – I ended up accepting it.

The Travellers just felt less real to me, made it less believable to me as a whole. But, in the end, it didn’t affect the book in a negative way. Cold Spell was just too good.

I felt Ginny’s desperate hope as though it were my own – and my final thoughts were (as noted):

Excellent, excellent, excellent.

What else can I say?

Except I hope Jackson Pearce writes more fairy-tale retellings!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Persuasion

Persuasion is a classic novel (that hopefully all bibliophiles have heard of) by Jane Austen.

This was the only Austen novel I had yet to read – and I had to fix that!

Anne Elliot is seven and twenty and not yet married.

Eight years ago she had been in love. She had been engaged.

But as he was a poor, lowly Royal Navy man, her family and friends persuaded Anne to break it off with Captain Wentworth.

She is still unmarried – because she knows she will never love another man as she loved him.

When circumstances throw them together again, Anne finds it difficult to ignore the searing pain of seeing him – the look of low regard in his eyes that she has resigned herself to deserve.

And yet – is there hope?

Her heartbreak all these years later leads her to realize that her feelings are no less deep – and the persuasion that led her to give him up all those years ago could not touch her now… if he would only have her once more.

Oh wow.

It’s been a while since I’ve read Jane Austen – I seriously need to carve out some rereading time, people! – but my vivid memories of adoring her novels was reignited with Persuasion.

The amazing prose and language that is impossible to rush, improbable to imitate, takes my breath away.

There’s this universally understood tone of melancholy – no matter the fact that Persuasion was published almost two hundred years ago. Jane Austen infused this story (and all of them, let’s be frank) with such a heady sense of emotional realism – of passion and love.

Here, though, unlike her other novels – Persuasion is a story of heartbreak and strong, painful emotions. Love lost, time passed, and an older heroine. There’s a maturity and a yearning to Persuasion that swept me away.

I. Loved. It.

This is an epic love story – a beautiful novel. Fantastic, colorful, personality-filled family elements, social scenes, and the core of loneliness in our poor, solitary Anne’s soul led me to feel for her deeply.

If you haven’t yet read Persuasion – well, you need to!!!!!

Right. Now.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Breaking Anchor

Breaking Anchor is a YA adventure by Henry Melton.

Tommy Dorie is used to his eccentric scientist father Nick sending coded messages via text.

Whether providing a scavenger hunt, a “pop quiz” or checking to make sure Tommy was following instructions, his father expected him to follow his orders. Which Tommy normally did, as they had increased since his mother’s death – and he knew his father was dealing with it in his own way.

Though it’s not always convenient. This time it’s interrupting a potential date with a girl that has another guy waiting and willing in the wings.

But when Tommy gets home – it’s not the average situation.

His laptop is missing, there are odd messages on the answering machine and new texts from his dad are directing Tommy to go to the sailboat they’ve worked on.

Quickly, Tommy begins to realize that the training his dad had drilled into him may come in handy since nothing is what it seems – and real danger is creeping up on him…

Henry Melton has written many sci-fi/fantasy novels that I have heralded – such as Golden Girl, Star Time, The Copper Room, Pixie Dust and more.

In this case Breaking Anchor is more of a YA suspense novel, taking more of an adventure/espionage vibe.

Sadly, it didn’t really work for me.

Henry Melton’s intelligent and mature writing is here again – so there will be many fans of Breaking Anchor, and deservedly so – but the plot and characters unfortunately never connected with me.

It’s an unusual but real complaint that I was bothered by Tommy always calling his dad “Nick”. I don’t know why but it drove me crazy, and initially really confused me as to whether “Nick” was his dad or not.

There’s some racial plotting that was sort of peculiar to me. Not that it isn’t a real issue in some areas, I’m sure it is – but it just felt like a strange side plot.

The story itself involving mysterious persons after Tommy just continued to not interest me – and maybe part of it was my lack of interest in Tommy himself. I really hate to say these things because, again, I know that it’s a worthy book and you should read it for yourself.

Eventually I had to start skimming it – Breaking Anchor just wasn’t a match for me.

I think when it comes to Henry Melton’s style I like the serious Sci-Fi, the humorous kind, or the fantasy. When it comes to scientific principles being used in a realistic way with some kind of governmental thriller aspect, it just doesn’t catch my interest in the same way.

Read Breaking Anchor for yourself, though! You may love it! In fact, I hope you do!!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Chronicles of Crestomanci Volume I: Charmed Life & The Lives of Christopher Chant

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume I includes Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant, the first two novels in Diana Wynne Jones’ fantasy series.

Neither Cat or Christopher Chant can perform even the simplest of spells – they’ve given up the idea of being good at magic.

So, when they’re introduced to situations that greatly need it – what will they do?

Cat relies on his sister – strong in magical abilities and personality – as they enter the Chrestomanci’s castle as wards and find little to like there.

Christopher yearns to please his uncle as his nighttime childhood jaunts to other worlds appear to be useful, if secretive, to him.

Both are involved in dangerous schemes without knowing it… will they defeat them?

It was difficult coming up with a synopsis for this novel, since it’s an omnibus of the first two and I really didn’t want to give much of anything away.

There’s a strong chance that you’ve already read Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant, as they are much older titles! I am only just getting introduced to Diana Wynne Jones, back with Howl’s Moving Castle, and I must say – I’m delighted!!!

The first story in The Chronicles of Crestomanci, Volume I, Charmed Life was, well, charming! Also, original and very imaginative.

Cat as a character goes through impressive character growth in the novel. All the characters are interesting, bursting with personality, and the locale of this fantasy land plus the Chrestomanci castle sweep the mind away quite pleasantly.

What’s especially nice is that beyond Charmed Life being satisfyingly magical and full of slow-brimming, excellent surprises and continual twists, there’s this feeling of a cohesive plot that pulls all this whimsy together.

It’s enjoyable and fun but has enough depth and wight to make it mean something.

Then the second book, The Lives of Christopher Chant, gives us more history – goes back in time a bit from the first book, and allows us more insight and a glimpse at truly intriguing characters and situations.

I wasn’t sure if the second book would be able to meet the high standards I had of the first, yet it matched or maybe even exceeded them!!!

The Lives of Christopher Chant was also entertaining, different, and enchanting.

I know I’m not giving a lot of details, but I hope you realize that these two books in one was a BLAST!!! They feature children characters but I was pleased to pieces and I’m going to be going on my 26th birthday this year.

So, check it out!!!

I now desperately want the next four books (in two omnibuses!).