Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Throwback Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

Throwback review from March 2015 - I remember this one like it was yesterday!!!

The True Meaning of Smekday is a middle grade sci-fi contemporary humor novel by Adam Rex.

Hoo Boy!

I think I’m in love!!!

When young Gratuity (Tip) Tucci is assigned a school five-page essay to explain the true meaning of Smekday (previously Christmas, now the day the first aliens invaded and renamed Christmas), she ends up writing a WHOLE LOT MORE than five pages.

Instead we get the full story of just what happened to Tip when she determined to find her Mom as the aliens stated that all American humans must migrate to Florida, how she joined forces with the alien J.Lo and kept track of her cat, Pig.

I can’t really imagine saying more without giving away too much laugh-out-loud goodness!

The True Meaning of Smekday is AWESOME!!!

It’s very funny – yet also has enough seriousness and legitimate emotion to have a level of care and investment in the characters to make it, well, all the more AWESOME!

I absolutely adored J.Lo – a hilarious, adorable, lovable alien that provides a hefty amount of chortling as he gives the history of his alien race, the Boov. Not to mention their interesting way of speaking English!

The True Meaning of Smekday is truly entertaining – constantly. It’s an adventure of hilarity for ALL AGES! It features a great friendship, loyalty, lots of fun, surprising twists and a perceptive and clever narrative.

A couple of snippets of ACTUAL notes I wrote as I read The True Meaning of Smekday:

“Oh my gosh!! So sweet and cute!” and “So awesome I could almost cry!!”

Yep – I loved it.

Plus, the illustrations (also by Adam Rex) are amazing!

Cannot praise it enough – a happy little bibliophile am I!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Throwback Review: The Princess in the Opal Mask

Throwback review from March 2014 - I have the sequel and have yet to read it. So exciting!!!

The Princess in the Opal Mask is a YA historical fantasy by Jenny Lundquist.

Just as with Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy, this novel has a sense of a fairy-tale, of a fantasy, but does not actually feature any magic or enchantments. Somehow we all put it in the fantasy genre anyway; I suppose because it just has that vibe and time period sense.

Anywho, I LOVED THIS BOOK.

Let me tell you a little about it, hmm?

Princess Wilhamina, since she was introduced to the kingdom of Galandria as an infant, has always worn a mask. Over the years this has caused rumors to rampage from speculating that she must be horrendously ugly, that a look upon her face blesses others, or the one that speaks to Wilha’s deepest personal fears – that those who look upon Wilha’s face die.

Wilha herself does not know why she must always wear a mask, but she has learned to stop asking…

Elara, orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, has spent her life becoming numb. Living with the cruel Ogden family, Elara has endured things that have left her broken off mentally from others – and no longer able to connect to the one friend she did have.

Elara desperately wants to know the truth of her identity and escape from her surroundings, and she’ll use her dagger if she has to.

As talk of war or peace between Galandria and long-time nemesis of the kingdom Kyrenica increases, Wilha and Elara unknowingly are led to meet. And when they do, everything changes.

There is a chance for both to possibly improve their futures – but there are risks.

There are choices…

When I went into The Princess in the Opal Mask, I admit it – I didn’t expect that much. That sounds terrible, but sometimes as a bibliophile you can get a little jaded.

It only took a handful pages to turn that thinking around.

Initially I was unsure of the writing quality, but then the utter hostility of Galandria’s people and the sad mystery of the princess constantly wearing a mask intrigued me and added to an edgy grit that The Princess in the Opal Mask quickly proved to have.

Then I was caught.

There is a LOT of questions and secrecy, and I have to say – it worked for me.

I liked the romantic element of both characters, and with time came to appreciate both Wilha and Elara – despite Elara’s acidity and hardness due to the life she’s endured. There was some heavy character development here, which I really, really valued.

The Princess in the Opal Mask has a ton of danger, conspiracies and intrigue going on. Mix that in with convincing bitterness, resentment and cruelty done very well and we have a plot that is sharp and stinging both on a personal and epic level.

I came to care for both Wilha and Elara and be in deep suspense as we followed their switching narrative voices. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m being purposefully vague – but please believe me when I say it was awesome.

The Princess in the Opal Mask is engrossing, addictive, gripping and surprising. I LOVED IT!!!

Happily, there is a sequel mentioned to be released Fall 2014.

I want it ASAP!!! Hopefully you’ll feel the same.

I think you will.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Throwback Review: Shades of Grey

Throwback review from May 2015!

Shades of Grey is a dystopian satire novel by Jasper Fforde.

In a world where color perception determines the hierarchy of a Colortocracy society, what you can see is everything.

That’s why Eddie Russet is trying to secure a marriage into the powerful Oxblood family to combine his better-than-average Red perception to their aristocratic name – yet those plans are upended when he and his father are sent to the fringe town East Carmine.

Manners, rules and accepted mores in the Chromatacia seem a bit more lax in East Carmine – dangerously so. Beyond the normal fear of lethal swans and lightening, the sneaky Yellows seem sneakier than ever, the deMauve’s are angling to marry their horrid Violet to Eddie and he’s finding himself fascinated by a Grey named Jane.

Riskiest of all is the knowledge Eddie begins to gather in East Carmine – truths behind the ordered, peaceful, rule-abiding Colortocracy that shed light on its deceptions…

And it’s that innate inquisitiveness that could lead him away from a life of conformity – of career and spouse – and into trouble.

Jasper Fforde has to be one of the most imaginative authors out there right now. Seriously, what a unique, wonderfully bizarre concept!

We are introduced to a futuristic world in which everyone is, essentially, color blind. What they can see leads to where they are ranked in society – who they can marry, what jobs they can do, etc. Education, preference and love have nothing to do with it.

Plus, there is the abundance of RULES. Rules ranging from the illegality of manufacturing spoons (therefore making all spoons currently in existence a high-value, high-demand item) to the time of day you are allowed to drink Ovaltine.

Eddie is, of course, a fully immersed member of this society and we get to watch him go from embracing and believing in it to beginning to question it. He’s a likable character that cannot seem to help his curiosity, yet fears it as well.

Characters in Shades of Grey have, dare I say, colorful personalities! They burst from the pages with snappy dialogue and make the wacky world around them easier to accept – though the intricacies of Chromatacia are still confusing at times.

I loved it. It’s so absolutely different in every way. It’s hilarious, insightful, suspenseful and even a little romantic. There are supposed to be two more books – rounding out a trilogy – yet it has been six years since the release of Shades of Grey.

That’s okay. I will be patient. I am immensely interested in where this story will go – and willing to wait as long as it takes!

In the meantime, Jasper Fforde’s other novels will continue to sweep me away into a level of intelligent creativity that is not so easily found in today’s literature.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Spotlight: Against All Silence


The new novel AGAINST ALL SILENCE (pub date: August 23, 2016). 

The book, which is a sequel to SILENCE OF SIX from E.C. Myers, will tell the next part of Max’s story with some recurring characters from its predecessor.

E.C. Myers is the author of the Andre Norton Award–winning Fair Coin and Quantum Coin, young adult science fiction novels published by Pyr.

It’s a fun read that combines thriller with computer hacking knowledge.  It’s a little Mr. Robot.

After being a key figure in the exposing of government corruption, Max Stein has spent a quiet semester abroad in Paris, studying, staying off the Internet, and looking for his long-lost mother. But just as he is about to fly back to the United States for the holidays, trouble manages to find him once again.

Max receives a call from Penny, his on-again-off-again girlfriend who is part of the expert hacking duo DoubleThink. She wants him to meet with Ada Kiesler, a high-profile whistleblower hiding out at a foreign embassy in Berlin. Max has no interest in getting drawn into another corporate conspiracy. But when airport security suddenly detains him on suspicion of cyber-terrorism, he has little choice but to get involved. Soon Max and Penny are tangling with a new group of shadowy figures who are determined to control how the world shares its information. And some figures from Max’s past resurface, including his own mother, whose life has mirrored his own in more ways than he’d realized.

In this action-packed follow up to THE SILENCE OF SIX, Max and his hacker friends must fight to expose a corrupt corporation that has been systematically taking control of the Internet.


AGAINST ALL SILENCE
Author: E.C. Meyers
Release Date: August 23, 2016  (hardcover)
Genres: YA Thriller, Hacking/Computer Science
Synopsis: In the action-packed sequel to SILENCE OF SIX, Max Stein and his hacker friends must fight to expose a corrupt corporation that has been systematically taking control of the Internet.


PUB. DATE: August 23, 2016 / 368 pages / $13.99
ISBN: 9781945293085
PUBLISHER: Adaptive Books
B&N LINK: Here