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The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, 2) by Rick Yancey

1395241820000-9780399162428-InfiniteSea-hires-2- The Infinite Sea

When we left Cassie, Evan, Ben/Zombie and the rest, everyone except Evan had escaped from the camp. Evan had sacrificed himself, and they were all waiting to see if he would make good on his promise and come back, which, for an alien, prompted an uneasy sort of trust.

Now, they all are waiting in an abandoned, rat-infested hotel to see if they will be found out by the aliens. While they’re stuck inside, tensions are high, especially between Ringer and Cassie. On Ben’s orders, Ringer leaves to try and find them all a better hidey-hole, and feisty, obstinate Teacup wants to go with her. When she’s walked a few hours away from the hotel, Ringer discovers Teacup has followed her and she’s on the edge of death, because she was found and shot at by the aliens. Ringer, despite her cold assurances, does not have an icy heart and can only surrender to the aliens in the hopes that they will save Teacup. Meanwhile, Evan has survived his destructive acts of the last novel but not without serious injuries. He finds his way to Cassie and the others, but knowingly leaves a deadly former alien friend on his trail. Their old enemies haven’t let them get away so easily, and have laid their own trap upon Ringer’s capture. It seems all members of the party are certainly doomed, but they have a chance if their faith, hope, and especially love are strong.

This series is one of the most peculiar in young adult literature, I believe. It reads as much more literary and abstract than the regular gamut of YA, not that there’s anything wrong with that as it encourages deeper comprehension on the part of its readers. Still, a struggling reader will have more trouble with this series than most YA fiction, but it might encourage different types of readers, especially males and adults. I find it to be one of the most subtle books but deep in psychological meaning. All of our characters have changed so much since the beginning that they have almost found entirely new identities and this process continues here. Ben and Cassie still struggle to accept Evan, as Evan fights to reconcile his alien-ness with his humanity and love. Ringer, who is so prickly, cannot stop herself from caring about Teacup, and this is her greatest weakness. One of the other mysteries, which we discover a bit more about, is the reason for the 5th wave and the waves that had gone before. Why are the aliens sniping people, or brainwashing children to become soldiers, or planting their own into human bodies? You probably will find more questions than answers here, so read closely. The first half of the book fairly drags since it concentrates more on narrative than plot, but then races to the finish so quickly that you’re dumbfounded that it’s over. Scenes jump from character to character to present a whole story that the readers must add up for themselves. I thought this story wasn’t near long enough and almost seems it didn’t progress as much as the first book. I guess we’ll see.

Last month, The 5th Wave won a Teens’ Top Ten spot and will be coming to the big screen in 2016. (I probably shouldn’t confess this here, but Chloe Grace Moretz creeps me out! Not she herself, but because of earlier characters she has played. It will be hard to convince myself to see the movie with her as Cassie! )

 

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Destined for Doon (Doon, 2) by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

DestinedforDoon_highres Destined for Doon

The sequel to the lovely historical yet modern romance of Doon does not disappoint! If you loved the last book, you will be super excited for this one! And those of you who are tempted into picking up your mom’s or sister’s adult romance novels should find this an excellent age-appropriate substitute. Plenty of action, humor, and swooning romance all mixed up in this fantastical adventure.

At the end of Doon, Veronica wholeheartedly decided to stay and become queen of Doon with her love, Jamie, while her saucy best friend Mackenna made a calculating decision not to abandon her dreams of the real world. She wasn’t ready for a Calling, that of a romantic life in Doon with a true love (who shall remain nameless), but wanted instead to pursue the stage.

It’d been almost a year since she’d left Duncan MacCrae standing on the Brig o’ Doon, and though it’d been some time, she hadn’t forgotten him, not even just because she kept seeing visions of him everywhere, a bit of Doon’s magic reaching its fingers into her world. Just as she’s about to go onstage and play her key character, she finds this particular vision is real. Duncan really is standing outside her door, and he’s come to take her back to Doon since Veronica has need of her. Everything promptly falls into a romantic mess. Kenna may have a boyfriend, Duncan might not even care about her, some of Doon’s citizens are interested in betraying their new Queen, and a magical blight is destroying the borders into Doon and killing anything in its path. Their only hope is to band together, put aside their quarrels, and try to find a solution before everyone is caught and killed in the zombifying blight. And, more importantly, has Kenna lost the chance of true love, and of staying in Doon, for once and for all?

I just love this series and I’m so excited there’s going to be more! (Summer 2015!)

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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New Fantasy: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne and The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

I have two really great fantasies for you today that I am very excited about! Both have strong female main characters and are full of adventure, romance, danger, and a bit of magic.

2014-07-30-MidnightThiefJKT Midnight Thief

Kyra, an orphan turned talented thief, is approached by the head of the Assassin’s Guild, James, to infiltrate the Palace in exchange for coin and teaching. Kyra, who is always struggling to make ends meet, accepts in spite of feeling uneasy about the deal and turns her talents to filching information for James. Meanwhile, Tristram, a young knight at the Palace, is determined to stop the attacks on his city. They call them Demon Riders for their people ride large cats and have been terrorizing the outer city for months. Tristram is trying to avenge his friend, but somehow the Demon Riders are ahead of his every step. Something is forewarning them, and he must catch the thief. Kyra is that thief, and as she’s been working with James for a while now, she is growing deeply unhappy at his methods. When Kyra faces a tough decision, kill for James or her friends will be killed, she finds her fate wrapped up in Tristram’s, and discovers secrets about guild she has been working for, leading to an irreversible knowledge about who she is and what she must do to fight for her own truths.

Fans of Tamora Pierce and possibly the Warriors series will like this book. While I’m not going to give any of Kyra’s secrets away here, it did seem like she was hard to grasp for the reader at the beginning. She was mysterious, but also hard to connect with, perhaps because Kyra herself doesn’t fully have a grip on her own sense of self. She is poor, orphaned, and the only thing she can cling to is her skills and her two friends, even her home might be taken away from her at any moment. Her deal with James changes all that, but like many glittering possibilities, it is too good to be true. And despite seeming harmless and beneficial to herself, Kyra’s actions have consequences and have the power to change lives, a truth we all would do well to remember. As things get worse and worse for her, Kyra discovers she has the potential to change everything. Like Kyra, what differences could we make if we choose to do the right thing, rather than by staying silent or taking the easy route? Also, I don’t think the cover did this book enough justice though it certainly was intriguing. It seems to suggest a doorknocker, though perhaps that was intentional and it is the door to Kyra’s destiny?

(Did anyone catch the brief nod to Arrow in that synopsis? Was not intentional, I assure you.)

 

Kiss of Deception The Kiss of Deception

When Princess Arabella of Morrighan, First Daughter, privately known as Lia, secretly flees the duty and tradition of her marriage to the prince of the neighboring kingdom Dalbreck, she just wants her own freedom. She’s spent most of her life being a disappointment to her father, her mother, the Scholar, and the Chancellor. She’s tired of being an object, a pawn, something to be used and thrown away. She’ll show them she can make her own decisions and she can survive. Despite knowing that the alliance between Dalbreck and Morrighan was to defend against the warring barbarian kingdom Venda, Lia can never marry a man who would send his father to find a bride for him, and won’t be a soldier in her father’s army to just do as she’s told. She and her attendant, the loyal Pauline, travel to a fishing and trade town, Terravin, posing as farmer girls. There, she and Pauline find jobs from Berdi, Pauline’s adopted aunt, and work as barmaids in Berdi’s tavern. Never mind her royal blood, Lia can learn and be grateful to do menial jobs as a regular citizen. It seems she and Pauline have escaped from her father without any repercussions, except for a small bounty placed upon her head. Lia loves her life in Terravin; she has even besotted two young men, Kaden and Rafe, who each have their own secrets as they had been in pursuit of Lia, one an assassin and the other a prince. Her idyll cannot last forever. Little does she know just how far the repercussions of her escape have changed the kingdom of Morrighan.

One of my favorite books this year, and alas, a convoluted love triangle, though with a very big twist that leaves you slightly muddle-headed and questioning all of your facts. Arabella is truly a girl with the mettle of iron, as she defies her family, the government, the other authorities, and spurns her enemies at the face of death. Her amours, Kaden and Rafe, present two flip sides of a coin, and at any moment, you’re pitting one against the other and constantly changing your opinion though one did stand out to me. The unfortunate Pauline is both likeable and pitiable, and I was left wondering about the truth of her circumstances. Still, you can’t help rooting for a romance, a happy ending, and for the plucky heroine and her friends. An epic adventure that you’re desperate to continue just as it ends.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Happy Halloween with Blur by Steven James!

 

Hello everyone! I have a murder mystery for you in the spirit of Halloween! This is a very clean, but eerily creepy read for those of you who love mysteries.

dca150_94b04db8685949478d368e1b493de768_jpg_srz_333_498_75_22_0_50_1_20_0 Blur

When freshman Emily Jackson is discovered drowned in a lake, junior and all-star quarterback Daniel Byers is saddened but not altogether affected until he somehow sees Emily’s corpse rise up out of her coffin at her funeral and grip his arm, ordering him to discover what happened to her. Everyone sees his collapse, but no one else seems to see the horrifying vision of Emily. Daniel thinks it’s just a fluke, but as he chooses to investigate Emily’s death, along with a new friend Stacy, he finds clues about her death that don’t add up. Suddenly, he is pursuing a murder mystery and an unquenchable thirst for truth, even if he is crazy for seeing Emily’s ‘ghost’. Odd things begin happening to him, and his dad, a policeman, doesn’t know what to make of it either, especially when their dead dog’s bones are discovered on the roof of the car. Meanwhile, Daniel can’t figure out whether he likes Stacy or Nicole, his best friend Kyle is a little suspicious, and college scouts are following his football progress, despite an unfortunate accident during a game. Daniel has to find out what happened to Emily (Who killed her? Why? And especially, why were all these things happening to him? Was he the murderer?), but will finding the truth uncover something worse and what does that mean for his future?

Steven James is the author of two fantastic thriller series for adults, the Patrick Bowers files and the Jevin Banks Experience, and now he’s started this new YA series. Daniel is immediately likeable and solidly independent, and the events surrounding Emily immediately pull you into a fast race of discovery. Readers of all ages will enjoy this mystery, especially since the book is very clean despite the subjects of murder and paranormal events. I can’t wait to read the next book and see what becomes of Daniel and his special abilities. Check out the Blur website and Mr. James’s books. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. James in the past, and he gives great talks on the craft of writing.

If gruesome and gore is more your taste, you should try Maureen Johnson’s The Shades of London series, with the first book following a modern day Jack the Ripper. Ick!

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in YA Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult/Teen

 

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Author Spotlight: Rainbow Rowell

In honor of Teen Read Week coming up, here is a fabulous author who’s been very big in YA in the past two-ish years. She’s the author of four books, two for YA, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, and two for adults, Attachments and Landline. While I’ve read Attachments and thought it was great for the New Adult sector or anyone who happens to like chick lit (Meg Cabot’s books, Bridget Jones, etc.), we won’t be covering that book here.

Hope you will fall as much in love with Rainbow Rowell’s books as I have! She also seems like a cool author who I’d love to be friends with (right up there with a few of my favorites like Maggie Stiefvater, Veronica Roth, Meg Cabot, and more!). Check out her website for more information, including a blurb about two upcoming comic books she will be writing in the coming years!

First up is Eleanor & Park which is a Printz Honor book!

eleanor and park Eleanor & Park

In 1986 Omaha, Nebraska, teens Eleanor and Park have formed an unlikely friendship. Eleanor is the new girl, and not well liked for her appearances, but Park still takes pity on her and lets her share his seat on the bus since that first day. Every day they sit together and Park reads his comic books and lets Eleanor read over his shoulder. Park just can’t help but give her things, things he thinks she would like, and Eleanor can’t stop herself from taking them.

Park: Half-Korean with a father who thinks his elder son should be more, just more, and a mother who is nice to everyone. Park, despite his different heritage, is fairly untouchable by the local bullies because his dad’s lived there for years, and the fact that he knows taekwondo.

Eleanor: Bushy red hair and a large-boned body that earns her the nickname “Big Red”. Wears ratty men’s clothing. Is back with her mother, hated stepfather, and siblings because she wants basically unwanted. Her stepfather rules the household and terrorizes them all, denying them suitable food and other basic needs like privacy and clothing because he feels entitled to spend all of their money. Eleanor is bullied by Tina, a local girl, and by an unknown person, who writes terrible things in her notebooks.

They fall in love and readers fall right along with them, until when things fall apart, you’re still rooting for a happily ever after simply because you can’t imagine Park without Eleanor. While I love teen love stories, I especially loved this book! You can almost feel the sense of the 1980′s lifting off the page, but still connect with the characters and events that are happening because of how likeable they are. Every teen has something to identify with either Eleanor or Park here, like loving comic books or music, being athletic (his martial arts) or popular, most especially being different from other kids, or even having an upsetting home life as Eleanor does. Kids who have been bullied, abused, mistreated, or feel invisible will find something great in this book, most notably the hope that even if these things happen to you, in the future things will be better. A beautifully poignant and raw first love story.

This year, Eleanor & Park was just voted the #1 for YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten titles, and most deserved the award!

FANGIRL_CoverDec2012-725x1075 Fangirl

It’s Cath’s freshman year at college, and she’s being forced to get a real roommate instead of her built-in twin sister Wren. Cath’s roommate, Reagan, is a junior and appears to come attached with a boyfriend because Levi is always there even when Reagan is not. As everything Cath’s ever known is changing and she’s worried about her dad, who’s prone to forgetting his basic needs when he’s being a workaholic, and sister, who’s embroiled in the rampant drinking and partying college is famous for. Cath’s interests tend to be more literary as she is a fairly infamous fanfiction writer of Simon Snow and the love portrayed by the two main character boys, Simon and Baz (a fictional representation of Harry Potter perchance and a Harry/Draco slasher?) One of Cath’s classes is in fiction writing, but when Cath gets a failing grade because of writing some fanfiction, she can’t bring herself to finish her final short story. Luckily or unluckily, her father is put into the hospital and Cath gets a much needed break. However, her life is spiraling even more out of control as her sister has been speaking with the mother who abandoned them. It’s a story of self-identity, romance, and finding your own independence, and thereby finding your own strengths.

I loved this book! I loved that it also took fanfiction, which could be a red-headed stepchild among authors and writers, and gave it something more legitimate. Fanfiction might still be big, but it was huge during the Harry Potter fandom years. Other fan faves have had tons of fanfiction too. Some of them Buffy the Vampire Slayer, SupernaturalTwilight (in fact, fanfiction started 50 Shades of Grey and The Mortal Instruments series). I don’t know what the current fanfiction fad is, but take a quick google if you’re interested. (Watch out for those stories rated Adult!) Another unique thing about Fangirl is that of it’s audience. There has been some disagreement over it in the library world, but not too much. Fangirl is atypical YA, as it is actually more of the New Adult genre that has been emerging in recent years. (However, teens DO need to be able to read about older teens who are in college, so I fully support keeping it in the YA area.) It straddles the gap between YA fiction, which is usually typical teenage years, to transition into the adult collection. I think there should be a lot more books about this time, and Fangirl does it so well without dwelling on the mass of commitments that usually make the college years rather boring, as if it’s all about classes and schoolwork, or overwhelming, like when you add sports, romance, work, school, social activities…and the list could go on. Teen readers who are looking for that little bit of something more or maybe just looking over the next horizon will find Fangirl a book to pick up, especially if you’re the quirky, writer/reader type.

 

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