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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Variant by Robison Wells

Title: Variant
Author: Robison Wells
ISBN: 9780062026088
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: October 18, 2011
Page #: 375
Source: ARC from the publisher @ BEA

Summary (subject to change with final draft):
"Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life. He was wrong. Now he's trapped in a school surrounded by a razor-wire fence, where video cameras monitor his every move - and where breaking the rules equals death. When he stumbles upon the school's real secret, he realizes that escape may be impossible.

In this pulse-pounding dystopian thriller, Robison Wells artfully blends the action of Gone with the tension and suspense of The Maze Runner and Lord of the Flies. The result is a story that is unpredictable and hauntingly real."
First Lines:

(subject to change with final draft)
"'This isn't one of those scare-you-straight schools, is it?' I asked Ms. Vaughn, as we passed through the heavy chain-link gate. The fence was probably twelve feet tall, topped with a spool of razor wire, like the kind on repo lots and prisons."
Page 1

I know that the description lists this book as dystopian, but I'm not sure that's how I would classify it. The story takes place within this school where the students are being watched and are being punished according to crazy rules. So the dystopian society is inside the school (or perhaps the people running the place), but it's set in today's world. That makes it a little more difficult to classify, but I'll go with it.

Okay, so imagine that you got accepted to this amazing school and they were giving you a full scholarship. You've been in foster care all your life and nothing has ever gone right for you. Of course you jump at the chance to go to this wonderful new life. Only to find out that when you get there, things are not exactly as you would expect. There are no teachers, no adults... just a bunch of kids who have separated themselves into gangs. You'd want out, right? The only problem is that you're locked in - and to attempt escape is punishable by death. Crazy, right?

The more Benson finds out about this school, the more he tries to plan his escape. The classes are barely that and they are required to play paintball at any time. It's as though they are a part of some huge experiment to see how they survive on their own. And when he starts to find out some of the secrets... that's when things really start to go down.

I got seriously sucked into this story. Enough that I just sat down and read most of it today. It pulls you in with the action of paintball and fighting strategies. It's also interesting to think of how they have segregated themselves into these gangs. I can't even imagine where I'd place myself if I realized what was going on. You spend a lot of the book trying to figure out the end game for the people watching the students. They are made to do some crazy things - and you can't help but wonder why they are doing those things.

I promise not to ruin the ending for you. I totally didn't see it coming, though. There were a lot of "hang on, what?!" moments toward the ending there. I also found myself saying "oh no! oh no!" throughout the last, like, 100 pages. It's craziness. Not to mention that there is a HU.MON.GOUS. cliffhanger. Now that I've finished the book, I think I'm more confused than I was during the story. But trust me when I say I will definitely be reading the next book!!

Those that love dystopian novels and action/adventure stuff will really get into this one. There's almost non-stop action and lots of conspiracy talk. I think boys especially will be glad they got their hands on this one. It's an amazing story of life and loss and friendships that will have you second guessing the whole time.

I will absolutely be recommending this book. I think lots of readers will love it and I cannot wait to hear their reactions. I need people to discuss the ending with - it's just that insane. :) I believe this is the first YA book for this author (please correct me if I'm wrong). And I am excited to see what else this he has to offer in the future! Well, including the second book to this novel - as I'm now in need of knowing what happened.
Other Blog Reviews:

Reading Teen
Where the Wild Books Are
SinMotion Reads
antidrug reads

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (63)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Juliet Immortal
by Stacey Jay
To be Released: August 9, 2011

Summary from Barnes and Noble:
"The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet?! Count me in. Not to mention that the cover is beautiful. I'm definitely looking forward to this one. It's historical fiction meets retold story meets contemporary paranormal romance! I'm pretty sold, I believe :).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston

Title: How to Rock Braces and Glasses
Author: Meg Haston
ISBN: 9780316130295
Publisher: Poppy/ Little, Brown and Company
Released: September 2011
Page #: 294 (subject to change in final version)
Source: ARC from the publisher @ BEA

"Gorgeous, uber-harsh, and uber-stylish, Kacey Simon is the undisputed social dictator of Marquette Middle School. That is, until an eye infection and a visit to the dentist leave her with Coke-bottle glasses, and a mouth full of metal, and... a littthsp! Dissed and dismissed by her popular friends, Kacey is forced to hang out with a boy who wears skinny jeans and jams in his own band. But as she adjusts to life as a loser, she's surprised to find that Skinny Jeans is kind of hot, and his band is pretty cool. Suddenly, hitting rock bottom feels oddly uplifting. Could rocking braces and glasses be the best thing to ever happen to her?

In this hilarious reversal of the cool crowd versus the nerd herd, a popular girl finds herself in Loserville and realizes it's about time she paid back all the bad karma she built up as Queen Bee."
First Lines: (subject to change in final version)

"Real journalists are born with a sixth sense. It's our most reliable source; an inner voice that tips us off when there's more to a story than meets the eye. My sixth sense has never been wrong, which is probably why I'm the first broadcast journalist in Marquette Middle School history to have her own weekly segment."
Page 1

Let me just start off by apologizing for the quality of the image above. Had a hard time finding a picture of the cover, so this image is from my own sad little scanner and my used and abused copy of the ARC. I have heard that the official cover is being released soon... so I promise to give y'all that as soon as I have it. Excited!

This is a story about a girl in middle school who has tons of changes thrown at her in a short amount of time. It's all about how she deals with it and what changes come because of them. Hm. That was sort of abstract sounding... let's try this: Most Popular Girl gets glasses and braces. Friends dump her. She realizes what her life has been like and starts to make changes.

I'm just gonna say this... I always wanted the popular girls in school to be hit with stuff like this. Though, I also wished for them to get fat. Ahem. Too bad none of it ever happened. Confession over. Middle school is totally that time when everyone starts changing in different ways and friend groups get shifted around. At least that was my experience. And this story tells about one group that goes through a huge change - their queen bee has been taken out.

The whole thing kicks off with a faulty pair of purple contacts - which I love. I had my own pair of faulty purple contacts when I was in middle school. While Kacey's problem is with the eye drops... mine was that one eye was allergic to them. Go figure. But it's totally realistic like that and you can completely imagine every bit of it.

Okay, so I loved this book. I think anyone who is going through the middle school trauma or ever had either braces or glasses will very much relate. I know I did. There's also a really great theme of figuring out who you are. Kacey starts out as this outgoing, speaking her mind, popular girl. Once she has a new outlook on life, she starts to realize how she has been to people - and people finally tell her how she's been acting. It begins a whole new personality check for her. Kacey is a journalist and uses that as a shield throughout the book for making snarky remarks about people. She starts to realize that there is a fine line between honesty and kindness.

I honestly thing tons of girls will love this book. I will definitely be recommending it along. There's plenty of humor and some romance to get you into the story. I loved how realistic the situations were and how things were resolved. The author did give me a little insight about the ending. The final book is going to have a couple of chapters added to the end - which I think might give a little more depth to the ending. I'm excited to read those chapters, for sure.

I've seen lots about a tv show coming out with this title. I'm hoping for good things. We'll see. I believe this is also a debut author and I am looking forward to reading more from her in the future! Until then, check out her blog/website for more info.
Other Blog Reviews:

YA Book Divas
Okay, so it's a brand new book... but people need to make sure they get it. So fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Title: Glow
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
ISBN: 9780312590567
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Page #: 307
Source: ARC from the publisher @ BEA

Summary from Barnes and Noble (not much of a summary on the book itself):
"If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.

The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean's sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.
First Lines:

"The other ship hung in the sky like a pendant, silver in the ether light cast by the nebula. Waverly and Kieran, lying together on their mattress of hay bales, took turns peering at it through the spyglass."
Page 3

Just to start things off, I do want to mention the cover of the book. The one I read is the image above. I did see recently that a different cover has been released. So the one I put here may or may not be the final cover.

The story is about two vessels that were launched from Earth once to a point where it was destroying itself. The people on the ships are to be the colonists of New Earth - a whole new planet to continue the human species. Each ship has different ideas about the other. Enough so that one of the ships attacks the other - causing our main characters to be stripped apart and forced into two totally different worlds.

I've never read a book like this before. Rarely do I read space stories. Really. I'm all for science fiction, but I've always steered clear of the space stuff. I'm not sure why... but I really, really liked this one.
After further thought about it though, I think the difference between some space stuff and this one is simple. Aliens. There aren't aliens in this book. It's just about people dealing with other people who are in similar circumstances. It could have taken place anywhere, but the issues of gravity and growing crops and fertility all make it very specific to the environment. I really loved the creativity.

This book is absolutely packed with action and drama that the kids on the ships face. There's so much packed in, you feel like things are in constant motion. Though, that helps a lot with the flow of the book. It's so well written and thought out. There is enough description that you can imagine the setting - even though it's such a stretch. At least for me.

One of the overarching themes of the book seems to be strength. The strength to go on. The strength to pull through. The strength to lead those around you... and so much more. There are some things that are underlying issues about the people on the ships that you never hear straight out. But you understand how things may be and how they affect the children in the story. That's pretty vague, but you don't hear about it fully until the middle of the book and I don't wanna skew your view of the beginning :).

I will definitely be recommending this book. Especially to those who are into lots of action and adventure. Both boys and girls can get into this one - you have one of each as protags. I would probably keep it to older teens. There is a lot of death and fighting that is pretty intense. There are also some issues mentioned that are pretty adult in nature - they may not be fully understood by younger readers.

This is the first book in a trilogy and I am so excited for the next one. And yes, this one isn't published until September, so it might be a while. One thing I loved is that while I know there will be a next book, I didn't feel like we were left on a huge cliffhanger. Yes, I want to know what happens next... but I'm not stuck in the middle of a thought. Loved it!
Other Blog Reviews:

Alpha Reader

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (62)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

The Hidden (The Hollow #3)
by Jessica Verday
To be released: September 6, 2011

Summary from Barnes and Noble:
"A love that knows no bounds

Abbey knows that Caspian is her destiny. Theirs is a bond that transcends even death. But as Abbey finally learns the full truth about the dark fate that links her to Caspian and ties them both to the town of Sleepy Hollow, she suddenly has some very hard choices to make. Caspian may be the love of her life, but is that love worth dying for?

Beautifully spun, emotionally gripping, and irresistibly romantic, The Hidden will leave you breathless."

I absolutely loved the first two books in this trilogy. It's a big twist on the Sleepy Hollow story - and it's been a great road. I understand this is the last book (obvs... with it being a trilogy), so I'm interested to see how the story turns out.

What are you waiting on this week?

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Title: My Life Undecided
Author: Jessica Brody

ISBN: 9780374399054

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

Page #: 296

Source: ARC from the publisher

"Having never once made a good decision for herself, fifteen-year-old Brooklyn Pierce starts a blog and asks her readers to take over her life. But she's about to learn that who you fall in love with isn't a choice. Jessica Brody once again delivers an utterly original, fast-paced comedy with a message teens will appreciate: it's okay to make mistakes."
First Lines:

"The sirens are louder than I anticipated.
Not that I ever in a million years anticipated sirens at the beginning of all this. Otherwise, obviously, I never would have agreed to it.


It's a bitch."
Page 3

Well, for starters... that's not the cover that's on my book. Apparently they changed it for the final draft. Though, I was seriously warned on my arc... what with the massive sticker over the cover and all :).

This is the story of a girl who continuously makes bad decisions in her life. Because of this, she decides to start a blog where the people out in the world make all of her decisions for her. All of them. She starts with simple stuff like whether she is going to try out for rugby or the debate team. Then it upgrades to her decisions about boys.

It's such a cute idea - and honestly I thought about starting some sort of poll via the blog. I think I saw someone's blog that cited this book on polling. Can you imagine not making any of your own decisions in your life? I think I'm too much of a control freak to let someone else decide things for me.

There were several parts where I seriously laughed out loud. It's not often that a book can pull me in so fully, but the author has a wonderful sense of timing and humor. Hats off to her! I've decided I should probably find her other book (Karma Club) if she writes in the same way. Very clever and very funny. I'm becoming a fan.

I love that in the story when our main girl veers from her original poll answers, things get super tricky. She's a really cute character - and I love that she's just been dumped by the popular girl and is trying to find her way all on her own. Social suicide and all that :). I was definitely cheering for her in the end.

I think any girls who are into the cutsy, romantic fiction will really get into this book. It's a fun premise and anyone who spends much time online can get the feel for how the story flows. I'll be recommending it on... but mostly to those romance lovers. And chick lit. If you like chick lit, you'll love this one.
Other Blog Reviews:

Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
The Hiding Spot
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
The Teen Bibliophile
Reading Nook
The Book Worms
Night Owl Teen

Moving is Hell on the Blog

Well, I've been through some huge changes lately. The only thing you can tell from the blog is that I haven't been posting. I promise I haven't abandoned ship. It's more that I've been crazy busy and unable to fit much else into my days - even just reading. Sigh...

So, my husband and I recently moved from NYC back to Tennessee. It was a necessary move and I'm glad we did it. I'm not glad to have left my job... job searching seriously sucks. But it's good for me mentally and to be closer to my family. That was one of the main reasons.

Now it's time to play catch up. I've got reviews to write and tons of blogs to read. My blog reader is brimming. Hopefully it won't take me too long to get through them. Luckily I only have two reviews to get off - I've had so little time to read lately, it's almost a blessing at this point. In the next day or so I hope to have those taken care of.

Note to any publishers/editors: If you have my address on file, please email me because it's changed (theninjalibrarian@gmail.com). Thanks!

Hope to be caught up soon! Thanks for your patience.

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