MINDWAR

Mindwar (Mindwar, #1)High school football star Rick Dial becomes depressed and immerses himself in video games after a car accident leaves his legs painfully useless. After racking up world-class high schores, the teen is recruited to fight real life baddies in The Realm – a virtual reality world created by Kurodar, a terrorist out to destroy the free world. Rick enters The Realm on several occasions, and each time the missions get more dangerous. He must fight for his life, because what happens to you in this virtual world affects your IRL body. Can Rick defeat Kurodar’s evil Axis Assembly and save not only the country, but his family as well? The novel’s overarching conservative and nationalistic themes turn this seemingly gamer-centric sci-fi series opener into an exposition on faith, forgiveness, family, and patriotism. With quoted Bible passages and casual conversations with God, the author brings to the forefront the importance of religion in the protagonist’s life. Sports commentary and video game jargon are awkwardly integrated into the narrative. Recommended for athletes, young gamers, and readers looking for YA books with a Christian outlook. Published July 8th, 2014. 

-Review originally published in School Library Journal, June 2014

Review: WHERE SILENCE GATHERS

Kelsey Sutton is one of my top 3 favorite authors that I discovered this year. Her debut novel, Some Quiet Place, is one of my favorite books ever, and one of my fave YA of 2014. 

Alexandra Tate has always been able to see personified Emotions, but now she is faced with a Choice. Revenge, her best friend since the drunk driving accident that killed her family, and Forgiveness, a tempting new Choice, compete for her attention. Even six years after the tragedy, Alex struggles with her grief and tries again and again to get justice for her family’s murder. Completing her senior year of high school loses priority as Alex uncovers mysteries about her father’s past, is chased by haunting voices that no one else can hear, and runs from faceless attackers threatening the lives of her remaining family and friends. A poignant, heart-wrenching story of grief, love, and loss, Where Silence Gathers combines an authentic narrative with tantalizing supernatural elements to create a powerful companion novel to Sutton’s debut, Some Quiet Place. It will appeal to fans of paranormal romances like Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Meredith Stoll, and Fallen by Lauren Kate. 

-Review originally published in School Library Journal, March 2014

Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place, #1)  Where Silence Gathers (Some Quiet Place, #2)

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Winger Read-a-Thon!

WINGER is a book about getting punched in the face, about facing your fears, about kissing girls that you don’t love, and fighting for things you may or may not believe in right at the moment. Publishers Weekly calls it a “brutally honest coming-of-age novel.” And you should be reading it.

Winger Readathon

 

WINGER comes out in paperback on September 2nd, 2014. Get your copy, and read along with us! Find it in a library, at a bookstore, or online. I highly recommend the first option, being a librarian myself.

To celebrate its release I’m hosting a WINGER Read-a-Thon! Throughout the month of September I’ll be hosting Twitter discussions of WINGER, live-streams of read-aloud sessions, posting reviews by teen readers, and doing other bookish shenanigans through the Interwebz. Stay tuned for details! 

“And then it’s always that one word that makes you so different and puts you outside the overlap of everyone else; and that word is so fucking big and loud, it’s the only thing anyone ever hears when your name is spoken. 

And whenever that happens to us, all the other words that make us the same disappear in its shadow.” – Ryan Dean West, WINGER

Post in the comments below if you’re going to be participating in the WINGER Read-a-Thon. Grab a button below and post it on your website/blog/fb/etc.

Post your updates, reactions, and progress with #ReadWINGER 

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WINGER synopsis from the author’s website: Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy. With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart. Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.


Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and an ALA Top 10 for 2014) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

Blog in Review – Search Terms

Here is something I have never done before – a review of the search terms used to find my blog through Google. I had no freaking clue that they would be so ridiculous. I fully expected the “libraries and manga”, the “anime club at library” and YA book series searches.

I did not expect the following:

attack on titan love -Love? Just love? Okay.

kill la kill ok for library - Uh, probably not. Sorry.

cat coffee nice day - Cat + coffee = nice day. Enough said.

in the shatter me series wo does juliette get with in the end - OMFG Do you expect me to spoil the series for you?! Seriously. What are you thinking.

anime kanokon sexy anime kanokon sexy – Pretty obvious what this person was thinking. 

chocolate teen male – I can’t even. This is my favorite one. I just. Wut. 

what is unstoppable corn – This is the most recent one, and it seriously made my day. What is unstoppable corn? Read GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE. Find the truth within.

why you should read homestuck - LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOMESTUCK. 

And now for some tame ones. Cause I occasionally run a serious blog:

top 10 books of 2014 – Totally expected. 

how to start an anime club at library – This is totally something my blog answers. Thank you.

librarians and cosplay – Yes, good.

realistic fiction for boys 12 yo – I hope you found some recommendations!

ya books about questioning your sexuality – I should probably write a full blog post on this. Seriously. I wish I had these books when I was a teen.

LET’S GET LOST

 LET’S GET LOST is the debut contemporary coming-of-age novel by Adi Alsaid, and he really gets it right the first time. This is a strong story that I highly recommend to anyone wanting a good contemporary story about love, friendship, family, and adventure. LET’S GET LOST is told in 5 parts, each one from a different character’s point of view. I absolutely loved having multiple points of view in a single story – this is something that doesn’t happen enough in YA fiction.

We are immediately thrown into the story from Hudson’s point of view. I really respect a story that gets started so fast, and then is able to keep up the pace. The writing is simply spectacular, the pacing is perfect, and the characters are just real enough to be someone you might know in life.

As for the issue of love at first sight, I think it is actually quite realistically handled. When Hudson first meets Leila he thinks, “I’ll be thinking about that face for weeks.” By the end of the first chapter he’s upgraded her status to: “I’ll be thinking about her for months.” This is real life. This is what really happens when you meet someone, and their smile makes your heart skip a beat. When your arm brushes theirs and you can feel it all the way down to your toes. Hudson is a seriously multi-dimensional character, and I honestly fell in love with him right away. The way he and Leila interact is really entertaining, too. The banter between them is just the right amount of funny and awkward, and the tension is cut in all the right ways.

Contemporary teen novels are often plagued by a sense of pretentious superiority in that their protagonists are something like literary hipsters, quoting American classics and obscure European novelists alike. Want to talk about Vonnegut? Don’t bring him up in a conversation you have with your friends in the back of a van while eating junk food, or in a diner booth slurping down milkshakes. In LET’S GET LOST the only Vonnegut we see is in quotes on a bathroom wall. This is realistic. This is what teens do. I’m not saying teens can’t have a deep conversation about literature, but that it is simply not appropriate content for this kind of book. Alsaid leaves the pretentious teens out of the book, and I am so grateful for that.

Let’s talk about Leila. You may think she’s just another manic-pixie-dream-girl, but you’d be wrong. Leila is just a girl on a quest to figure out some intense problems in the only way she knows how. Throughout most of the book Leila seems distant and fake – more like the idea of a road-tripping girl than an actual girl on a road trip. But there’s a reason for that, and it’s a good one. Leila is discovering herself just as much as we are discovering her, and the moments when she does are really subtle. You’ve got to look for them, to pay attention to the clues, like that she hates hospitals and cries while driving. When you’re reading from Hudson, or Bree, or Sonia’s point of view it isn’t always obvious when the real Leila sneaks through the facade.

The Verdict? Read it. LET’S GET LOST is just as good as John Green’s road trip novel, PAPER TOWNS. In fact, I liked it better. It’s more realistic, the characters have more depth, and while it isn’t as funny, it’s not meant to be comedic. Leila’s road trip is a serious personal journey of discovery, and I loved being along for the ride.

ARC August Challenge!

ARC August 2014

I just discovered that #ARCAugust is a thing, and I had to sign up for it! This is going to give me all the motivation I need to get through the pile of ARCS floating around my life. I love the idea of a challenge you set for yourself (just like NaNoWriMo!) but that lots of other people are participating in, too. So here’s my challenge: I will read 15 ARCS in August of 2014. 

At first I was thinking, how about 10? That sounds reasonable. Then I remembered that I am not a reasonable person and I need to step up. So here we go. I know a few of the books I’ll be reading, but certainly not all of them. Here’s a preview:

Let's Get Lost The Feral ChildCatch a Falling Star

Deliverance (Defiance, #3)

Mailbox Monday: ARCLIGHT & MERIDIAN

 

 

 

 

Arclight is the story of Marina, a girl who is rescued from The Dark. Yes, with the capital D. The Dark is the post-apocalyptic danger-land outside of the Arc, which is a haven perpetually lit by the brightest lights known to man. The lights are needed to protect the settlement from the Fade: creepy-scary-shape-changing monsters that break in and steal the Arclight’s people, then turn them into more Fade’s. There’s nothing worse than your people being turned into the very monsters you might one day kill – or be killed by.

Marina is treated as an outcast, and she feels like one-she has no memory of who she was before she was rescued, if her family is alive or dead, if they even loved her, and no one is revealing any secrets to her. When she helps to capture a rogue Fade Marina inadvertently starts a chain of events that will lead to her following that Fade into the Dark to discover secrets about her life, her friends, and the Arclight that she never thought possible.

Arclight is an exciting story, with twists and turns through the Dark and the Arc, leading you to surprises about the dystopian world, its characters, and its future that. . .you really might figure out before the end. Okay, it is a little predictable, but in a way it is really reassuring, because if I know who the girl is going to end up with and that she’s going to want to save the world I won’t be disappointed at the end, and I know there will be a sequel. Marina comes off as a bit whiny, but I suspect teens won’t notice because she might sound like them – doubtful, worried, anxious. Overall it was a great book and I’m looking forward to the sequel!


 

Fans of dystopian and science fiction series will love Arclight and its sequel, Meridian. With a unique premise, lots of plot twists, and unpredictable characters, the Arclight series is a strange new world that readers will love to discover.

Marina and the rest of the Arclight settlement are struggling to cope with the aftermath of not just a physical attack on their home, but a psychological blow as well. Everything they thought they knew about the Fade has changed, and the secrets and lies never stop coming. Marina and her friends learn shocking things about their respective family’s past and the history of the Arclight. On top of that, Rue and the other Fade reveal a new and dangerous threat from the Dark, one that the Arclight has seen hints of only in their nightmares. The secret of this new threat, and the intensity of the danger, will surprise readers up until the very end.

I loved getting to see more interaction between Marina, Tobin, Annie and the Fade. New Fade are introduced, developed, and become an integral part of the story. We also get to see half of the story from Tobin’s point of view, which provides a different perspective on the entire history of the Arclight, as well as the Fade, and the action that takes place throughout the book. Flipping the world on its head and taking the reader from one unique perspective to another is definitely one of McQuein’s strongest writing skills.

Overall Meridian was a strong follow-up to Arclight, continuing the unique sci-fi story and adding many interesting new elements that readers will enjoy.


 

Mailbox Monday Giveaway Time! 

I ended up with 2 review copies of the hardcover of Meridian, so I’m giving them away! Head over to Twitter to enter to win a copy of MeridianIt’s super easy to enter, and I’ll be choosing winners in precisely one week. Good luck!