Tuesday, September 2, 2014

GUEST REVIEW: COMPLICIT by Stephanie Kuehn




Title: Complicit
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Genres: YA, Thriller, Mystery
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell. 

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.




REVIEW

A true page turner, Complicit is one of those books that I simply could not put down. When Jamie Henry finds out that his sister had been released from juvenile detention, his hands go numb and he changes from a dedicated student to a person who is suddenly driven by an urgency to find out the truth about his past and his birth mother. When his sister, Cate, starts to drop hints and pointers during phone conversations, his need to know becomes an obsession.

This is the kind of review where it is better to say as little as possible in order to avoid giving spoilers. For me, the three things that truly make this book outstanding, are the characters, the dark atmosphere created by the prose, and the highly disturbing and wonderfully twisted end.

The author truly gets into her main character's mind. Nervous, easily distracted by negative things, insecure and often very confused, Jamie is a complicated person and, clearly, mentally unstable. His sister, Cate, comes across as manipulative, spiteful and mostly insane, yet, we are told that she used to be a clever, outgoing and kind person.

The third important character, Jenny, Jamie's girlfriend, is such a cleverly flawed person that it made me ask serious questions about Jamie's ability to make healthy choices.

Often dark and depressing, this book gives the reader a look into the confusion of two thoroughly troubled minds. The negative reaction of the community towards the brother of an arsonist augments the morose atmosphere of the book.

If psychological thrillers and surprising endings are your thing, I recommend Complicit as an absolute must read.








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ABOUT the AUTHOR


I'm a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. My very first job was working in one of those bookstores.

Passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. I currently live in Northern California with my family and our wild menagerie of pets. CHARM & STRANGE and COMPLICIT are out now. DELICATE MONSTERS will be out in 2015. 



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Monday, September 1, 2014

REVIEW: ANGELFALL by Susan Ee




Title: Angelfall
Series: Penryn and the End of Days, #1
Author: Susan Ee
Publisher: Feral Dream
Publication Date: May 21, 2011
Genres: YA, Post-Apocalyptic, Thriller
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

  



REVIEW

I can’t believe I waited so long to read Angelfall! I kept putting it off, until recently when I saw the umpteenth glowing review for it on one of the many book blogs I follow. I decided there and then it was going to be my next read, and guess what? I already have the second book, World After, which I’ll be reading very soon. 

Penryn and Raffe’s story is all kinds of amazing. The first ten percent or so of the book didn’t interest me much, but once Raffe, the exiled archangel, came into the story the pace started picking up. My interest was cemented even more so when I discovered that Penryn’s mother is batshit crazy (it’s either that or she’s possessed by something really dark). But wait, let me not get ahead of myself. She might be watching.

I loved this book for two reasons. One, absolutely magnificent characters, and two, a plot unlike any other angel apocalypse book I’ve ever read before. This is not about good angels battling demons from hell, and humans caught in the cross-fire. It’s about good angels sent down to earth for reasons unbeknownst to them (but known to their leader); them losing their leader, and now going rogue and turning against each other in a power struggle...with our world caught in the middle. So basically the world was destroyed by beings we’ve always believed to be good and peaceful, but in Penryn’s world they’re not.

Penryn and Raffe are two characters who incidentally land in the same situation, but for different reasons. She wants to find her seven-year-old sister who is paralyzed from the waist down and who was kidnapped by angels, and Raffe was kicked out of the angel community and is trying his darndest to get back in for reasons of his own. No, don’t ask, it’s all about angel politics and who will be their new leader – or so it seems. You actually have to have patience while reading Angelfall, because only near the end is it possible to piece a lot of it together about what is happening, and even then you’re still left with a multitude of questions. But let me tell you, there are things in this book you’ll never see coming until it hits you smack dab in the face. And it will make your insides churn.

Penryn is a terrific character and exactly the type of protagonist I’d love to see more of in YA fiction.  She is trained in every kind of martial art imaginable, and she saves Raffe way more times than he saves her. She’s hardly ever the damsel in distress, but when she is, she takes care of the problem like a boss. I’ve read so many self-published angel vs demons paranormal romance novels the past couple of years, I expected the romance in this book to be instantaneous and stomach-cramp-inducing swoony. But, thank goodness, I was wrong. So. Very. Wrong. The little bit of romance there is (if you can even call it that), is more towards the end. It takes a backseat to the plot and isn’t icky or cheesy at all. I think it might be more a focus point in the next book or books thereafter (but let’s hope not).

Penryn gets the daylights beaten out of her time and again, and so does Raffe. I always appreciate it when an author doesn’t coddle her MCs. She shows the reader what they’re truly made off. Did I mention that Penryn’s mom is scary crazy? Seriously, she freaked me the hell out! And then there’s the discovery Penryn makes in the underground lab underneath the basement of the angels’ “lair”. Let me just say: the angel scientists in this story are heartless and evil. What they did to Penryn’s sister, countless children, and the abominations they bred in glass cylinders is outright shocking. I honestly didn’t see that coming. Not to mention what they did to Raffe. My heart broke for him.

Angelfall isn’t without it faults, though. The word-building in my opinion needs a lot more work and if it wasn’t for the incredibly compelling plot that had me reading during every waking second, I would’ve given this book a four-star rating. The dialogue between Penryn and Raffe was absolutely hysterical, and made up for whatever the world-building lacked. A narcissistic angel held hostage by a disgruntled teenage girl? You can only imagine how that would go. However, I would’ve liked to know what happened on the day the world ended. How did it happen? Where was Penryn when it happened? I need more explanations! Maybe these issues will be addressed somewhere in the rest of the series.

Angelfall is a completely original, addictive read. I can see why it is generating thousands of positive reviews on book review sites. Kudos to Ms Ee for creating characters and a storyline that rocks! 




  


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ABOUT the AUTHOR


Susan Ee is the bestselling author of the Penryn & the End of Days series which takes place in the San Francisco bay area. The first book, ANGELFALL, is being translated into 20 languages around the world. The second book, WORLD AFTER, was recently released in Nov. 2013 to international acclaim. The film rights to the series have been optioned by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Good Universe. Susan used to be a lawyer but loves being a writer because it allows her imagination to bust out and go feral.



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

REVIEW: COIN HEIST by Elisa Ludwig




Title: Coin Heist
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Publisher: Adaptive Studios
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 3/5

SUMMARY

The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint – which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes – an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore.

United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies – the slacker, the nerd, the athlete, and the "perfect" student – band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. The diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Elisa Ludwig's Coin Heist is a fun, suspenseful, and compelling thriller, told from the revolving perspectives of four teens, each with their own motive for committing a crime that could change all of their lives for the better—if they can pull it off.




REVIEW

One of the reasons I added Coin Heist to my wishlist of books I’d like to read in 2014, is because I imagined it to be a YA version of something action-packed like the movies, Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job. Reading the book summary after finishing the book, I have to admit I feel a little cheated. Where’s the “suspense”, the “fun”, and the “compelling” the summary has promised?!

Every time I put the book down, I had to motivate myself to pick it back up and continue reading; that’s why it took me so long to finish it, because I kept reading other books in between. I can’t even say which one of the four main characters was my favorite, because they were all relatively the same; each void of a unique voice, just with different problems and reasons why they need the money, and all of them from different social standings. This probably explains why I didn’t find it to be a “compelling” read.

The missing “fun” and “suspenseful” elements are easy to explain because there aren’t any. What’s so “fun” about reading chapters and chapters of four people complaining about their lives? There wasn’t even any humor to be found anywhere in this story. Warm and fuzzy feels? None. I’ll begrudgingly agree that there is a small amount of suspense in the last few chapters when the actual heist is going down, but I was disappointed that it was only about ten percent of the book. The other ninety percent is to explain every character’s motivation for wanting to rob the U.S. Mint, the little bit of romance that develops, and a little planning for the heist a.k.a., Operation EagleFly.

However, this was not such a bad read. A bit on the bland and dramatic side, and missing a couple of promised elements, but not bad at all. The four different perspectives worked well, and the writing flowed easily from one scene to the next. It is clear that a good amount of research went into this book, and I found everything about how the minting process works fairly interesting. I had certain expectations of this book which weren’t met, but I do feel that there will be many who would enjoy Coin Heist thoroughly. I enjoyed it enough to want to read more books by this author.

An eARC of this book was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.




  

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ABOUT the AUTHOR


My debut young adult novel PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins) was released in March 2012, and the sequel, PRETTY SLY, is out in March 2014. COIN HEIST, a YA thriller, is out in June 2014 (Adaptive Studios). I live in Philadelphia with my husband and son. 



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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

REVIEW: THE JELLY BEAN CRISIS by Jolene Stockman




Title: The Jelly Bean Crisis
Author: Jolene Stockman
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

A total meltdown. The whole school watching. Now Poppy’s an ex-straight-A with no Plan B.

When Poppy Johnson throws away a full scholarship to Columbia, she can only blame the jelly beans. The yucky green ones? Midnight cram sessions and Saturday’s spent studying. The delicious red? The family legacy: Columbia, and a future in finance. Except now it’s starting to look like Poppy’s jelly bean theory is wrong. School has been her life until, but maybe it’s time to start living now.

Poppy has thirty days to try a new life. No school, no studying. Just jumping into every possible world. Thirty days to find her passion, her path, and maybe even love. The Jelly Bean Crisis is officially on.




REVIEW

The Jelly Bean Crisis was recommended to me by one of my most trusted book-addict friends, and what a terrific read it turned out to be. After having read countless less-than-mediocre attempts by inexperienced self-publishing authors, I’ve been steering clear of indie books for the past couple of months. Jolene Stockman’s The Jelly Bean Crisis can be shelved right up there with bestselling traditionally published works!

First off, this book is extremely well-written compared to other self-published books. The storyline flows easily and the characters, especially Poppy, our leading lady, has been expertly developed. She’s likeable, easy-going, intelligent, perceptive, and reasonable. What stuck with me most about this story is the originality of the plot, especially considering the genre. This is not your average YA plot with the expected, predictable romantic interest, although it does have a little romance. Still, the romance between Poppy and who she at first thinks of as her stalker, unfolds gradually and convincingly.

I enjoyed that this is a story about a teen wanting to make an informed decision about her future, and in order to do so she embarks on a “gap month” to explore a few possibilities for a potential career path that would make her happy. Ultimately, she wants to make a difference and inspire others to do the same. This decision not only affects her, but also her family and friendship with her two best friends, Ella and Bex. Poppy is used to doing everything for everyone; pleasing her parents and teachers, but now she wants to do something for herself - which is easier said than done.

As the reader follows Poppy’s exploration of career possibilities, she becomes an even more likeable character at every turn. Her energy and excitement, while trying out different career positions, positively pops off the page as she throws herself into each activity! Even though she discovers that most of it isn’t her passion, she continually takes something positive from each experience with her. Just when she’s ready to quit, she discovers the biggest truth of all, which finally...well, I’ll leave it to you to find out. 

The comparison with how Poppy’s life plan relates to getting to the red jelly beans in her jelly bean theory makes perfect sense. It did to me anyway. Along the way we meet all sorts of inspiring characters trying to make a difference in the world. The reader also learns that there are many others who, in tiny ways, contribute to our daily lives in ways we might take for granted.

The Jelly Bean Crisis is a unique and clever read with lots to smile about, and heaps of warm and fuzzy feels. With this novel Jolene Stockman has proved that she is one of a few independent authors who, by creating insightful characters and writing an uplifting story that breaks away from the YA norm, truly understand what young readers want. I’m excited to read more of her books!



  



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ABOUT the AUTHOR


I'm a writer of books, an eater of wedges, and a lover of exclamation marks.

My YA nonfiction, Jawbreaker - Unlock the (U)niverse lets you explore who you are and decide who you want to be.

My YA nonfiction, Total Blueprint for World Domination shows you how to design your dream world and make it happen!

My YA fiction, The Jelly Bean Crisis follows a high-achieving teen who goes against expectations to find a dream of her own.

I live in New Zealand and love gravy, fizzy drinks and shiny things.



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Monday, August 25, 2014

REVIEW: NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis




Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Series: Not a Drop to Drink, #1
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….




REVIEW

For a very long time I absolutely refused to read this book simply because I saw it as yet ANOTHER dystopian novel which is probably built on a predictable, swoony romance foundation, following a tired and overused post-apocalyptic plot formula. It only took a single review from one of the many blogs I follow to change my mind. And probably also the news that it has been optioned for film (read more about it, here). Whichever way, I have no regrets for giving this book a chance. It turned out to be not what I expected at all.

First I have to say that this is a character-driven novel. There are only a handful of characters to keep track of, and every one of them brings something new to the story. Let’s start with our leading lady, Lynn. Lynn is an enormously fascinating character and one I believe McGinnis wrote exclusively for me seeing as I’m always carrying on about weak female protagonists in the YA genre. Having been raised for the past sixteen years of her existence in a rural part of the countryside, Lynn has never had contact with any other human being other than her mother, Laura. All she understands, because of her upbringing, is that she has to defend her only source of cholera-free water with her life. Shoot now, don’t ask questions at all.

But what makes Lynn so fascinating? Well, there are certain human emotions which are completely foreign to her, such as compassion, gratitude, humor, flirting, falling in love, and so on. With the rest of the characters steadily entering into the story, each one of them contributes to helping Lynn experience and understand different kinds of emotions. Furthermore, I absolutely loved the fact that Lynn is such an incredibly fearless character. Most emotions which influence our decisions are foreign to her, so when she has to make life or death choices, it is - in the early stages of the story – relatively straightforward decisions void of the emotions that might make her hesitate and second-guess herself.

The rest of the supporting cast is made up of similarly charming characters (with the exception of Neva). There’s Lucy, the five-year-old bundle of energy Lynn is forced take under her wing and keep safe from the harsh elements and starvation. Stebbs, Lynn’s neighbor who is the first person Lynn has contact with aside from her mother. I just want to say that apart from Lynn, Stebbs is a terrific character who teaches Lynn the things her mother has never taught her, and who ended up being a few characters’ saving grace. He brings a certain warmth to the story which leaves a void when he isn’t around. That’s the best way I can think of describing it.

When Eli’s character was introduced, I started worrying that this is the point where the storyline will revert to the typical dystopian romance backbone to further the plot. In some ways it did, but then there’s that unexpected twist just before the end which made me realize the author brought him into the story for a different purpose than I originally thought (about which I was quite relieved). Turns out I was wrong about the romance aspect also, and the story continued to be about Lynn’s survival in the wild and defending her only source of water as well as the handful of people to whom she’s offering shelter.

Vera, Neva, and Eli play relatively smaller parts than Lynn (obviously), Stebbs and Lucy, but their roles aren’t less important. The pacing is quite slow and if it’s an action-filled plot you’re after, this is not going to satisfy that need. The little action there is, is more towards the end of the story and it isn’t much. Although I’m happy with the ending, I did wish the chapters where Lynn’s little three-man army overtook the neighboring village could’ve been more fluffed out.  

All in all this was a superb read. Strong characters, a memorable story, a little tongue-in-cheek humor, a few hair-raising moments, and lots to contemplate, Not a Drop to Drink is inarguably one of the better dystopian novels I’ve read in a while, and I can’t wait to get started on its sequel!








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ABOUT the AUTHOR


I'm an avid blogger, posting six days a week to my personal blog, Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, which features interviews with agents, established authors, and debut authors. Learn how they landed their agents, what the submission process is really like, and how it feels when you see your cover for the first time. I also do query critiques every Saturday on the Saturday Slash for those who are brave enough to volunteer.

I also contribute to the group blogs From the Write Angle, Book Pregnant, Friday the Thirteeners, The Lucky 13s, The League of Extraordinary Writers and am a member of the Class of 2k13.



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Monday, August 18, 2014

REVIEW: THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen




Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.




REVIEW

Peeps, I was absolutely blown away by this book, and as much as I would love to give you a detailed account why you should read this book, I don’t think I’d be able to adequately describe the magnificence of this fantasy novel to you without pages and pages of fangirling. You simply have to read it yourself. That’s all there is to it. The two main selling points to it, in my opinion, is that one, it’s rumored that The Queen of the Tearling is going to be adapted for the big screen and will be starring Emma Watson as the Glynn Queen (although, if you ask me, I think it would work better as a TV series – I mean, imagine Game of Thrones as a movie…), and two, there isn’t even a hint of romance to be found in this book. You can read more about the anticipated movie version of this book, here.

Here’s the long and spoiler-free short of it. Kelsea’s mother used to be the Queen of the Tearling. She was self-obsessed, vain, and didn’t care much about her kingdom and people. The only clever decision she ever made before she was murdered was to send her baby (Kelsea) far away to be raised by two people she trusted the most. Kelsea grew up learning very little about her mother, and not knowing who her father is. On her nineteenth birthday her mother’s Queens Guard fetched her from the cottage in which she was raised for nineteen years - the only place she had known her entire life - to take her back to the Tearling to rule it. At this time Kelsea’s uncle was standing in as regent, and because he is a stupid greedy bastard he wanted the kingdom for himself and tried to have Kelsea killed before she could be crowned as queen. Kelsea’s mother, Queen Elyssa, who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed either, signed a treaty almost twenty years ago with the Tearling’s biggest enemy, the Mort Queen (aka the Red Queen), to leave the Tearling in peace. This treaty requires that every year thousands of Tearling folk and their children be sent to neighboring Mortmesne to work as slaves, and perform other unsavory acts, in the Mort kingdom. This all is the basic synopsis of the story, but you’ll find that it is merely a drop in the bucket as you peel away every layer of this brilliant story.

Rich in world-building, detailed history, and intriguing characters, The Queen of the Tearling is a rare gem. Kelsea is not so much an unusual character, but she is perceptive, brave, and intelligent, and I admired her greatly. Surrounded by enemies at every turn and with constant threats to her life, she keeps her head in every situation and many times reminded me of Daenarys in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. She’s blatantly honest about her faults and shortcomings, but is far from a Mary-Sue.

Many characters are introduced along the way and I appreciated how the author elaborated on each of them without it becoming an avalanche of info dump on the reader. I even felt sympathy for the characters who betrayed Kelsea. They were all so well-written. Often I took a moment to just sit back and let the writing sink in, and I frequently thought to myself what a skilled writer Johansen is. Sensitive readers should be warned that this book contains a relative amount of mature content, as well as profanity. It wasn’t overdone and fit in perfectly with the storyline, so it didn’t bother me at all.

As I was reading this book, I was thinking of all the things I was going to say in my review to convince others to take a chance on this excellent novel. The thing is, I can’t. There is just so much I want to say that it would be impossible for me to sum it up in one page. I took a chance on this book which I initially hadn’t wanted to read because I didn’t feel like reading another fantasy with a romance backbone. (I was very wrong about the romance backbone, so by the way – there’s no romance!). It took many positive reviews from bloggers I trust before I was convinced to read The Queen of the Tearling. Now I can’t wait to read the next book! This is not a quick read, but every minute spent reading it, is worth it. Johansen is a phenomenal writer and I’m now a fan who will be following her progress diligently.






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Sunday, August 17, 2014

GUEST REVIEW: HUNGRY by H.A. Swain




Title: Hungry
Author: H.A. Swain
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Genres: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopian
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 3/5

SUMMARY

In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.




REVIEW

Imagine a world where food is no longer available, a synthetic cocktail replaces all nourishment and one gets inoculated to suppress the desire to eat. Add to this that people talk to one another through their electronic gizmos rather than through direct face to face contact, and dystopian society is the word that comes to mind.

Unfortunately, although all seem fine on the surface, the discontent of those for whom the inoculations and genetic tampering do not work all the time, as well as a few resistance groups, lurk just under the surface, waiting for the opportunity to start a rebellion.

The world building in this book is remarkably imaginative. The depiction of underground organizations like the Dynasaurs and Analogs, as well as how unrest starts and escalates, is highly realistic.

I, however, found it difficult to connect with the characters. The main character, Thalia Apple, is torn between loyalty towards her parents and love for Basil. Basil, unfortunately, is in so many minds about so many things, I ended up thinking of him as bipolar. No wonder then that the attempt he and Thalia makes at romance isn't exactly successful at first.

There is no shortage of action and suspense in this novel. Apart from a rapidly developing plot and the main characters' romantic interludes, this book accurately portrays the possible downfall of one corrupt power just to let in a new social order that could be an even worse alternative.

From a synthetically oppressed society through a mostly destroyed world, to a nature-worshipping cult; this book takes the reader on a suspense-laden, highly exciting, and often emotional journey. (Ellen Fritz)








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