by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
Colin Fischer cannot stand to be touched. He does not like the color blue. He needs index cards to recognize facial expressions.
But when a gun is found in the school cafeteria, interrupting a female classmate's birthday celebration, Colin is the only for the investigation. It's up to him to prove that Wayne Connelly, the school bully and Colin's frequent tormenter, didn't bring the gun to school. After all, Wayne didn't have frosting on his hands, and there was white chocolate frosting found on the grip of the smoking gun...
I thought this was an interesting mystery. It's from the perspective of Colin, a boy with Asperger's Syndrome. His highly analytic mind, coupled with a separation from emotions, makes him a brilliant investigator. Like his idol, Sherlock Holmes, Colin knows that he can discover who actually brought the gun to school. Along the way, he makes a highly unlikely friend and learns to acclimate to school and being social with his peers, maybe even finding a girlfriend...
A quick read with a good mystery from a unique perspective.
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
Gritty and real, this zombie apocalypse survival story gripped me from start to finish. Definitely for high school readers, as opposed to middle schoolers, there's a lot of very real mature things happening as these teens try to survive. As a reader that prefers realism to a perfect happy ending, I very much enjoyed the fact that Sloane's story does not shy away from the horrors of a zombie "infestation." It would not have felt as authentic to me if Sloane suddenly became a perky rah-rah kind of girl and everyone survived.
Happy ending hunters may not like what they find here...but, readers looking for a more true-to-(fictional)life experience will appreciate this compelling tale.
The earth is in the middle of WWIII. The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and the war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning.
The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.
As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay...
This book may be on the longer side, but you would never know it once you start reading. It is fast-paced and will totally suck you in. I couldn't stop reading once I started! The characters are interesting, the world is startling familiar, yet believably futuristic, and as soon as I finished I requested the second book.
Video games. Giant fighting robots. Evil corporations.
Siege and Storm
by Leigh Bardugo The Grisha Trilogy, book two
Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can't outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
A stellar second installment in this dark fantasy trilogy. (Check out my review for book one, Shadow and Bone) Again, Bardugo's world feels alive and real in a way some authors struggle to achieve. The eastern European feeling is evident throughout and I still felt like I could just step into Alina's world and feel the Darkling's power threatening everyone.
The shivers that I felt reading the first book were ramped up a notch and I found myself unable to stop reading as I dove deeper and deeper into Alina's desperate situation. I loved that she was torn, unable to stop thirsting for power, but conscious that she must keep herself in check to save her people.
I cannot wait to see how this darkly fascinating story ends.
As you all know, when I LURVE a book, I give it a Gold Star Review here. Well, to liven up the blog a little, I'm going to (try to) interview the author of each book that receives a coveted Gold Star! I hope you'll enjoy these quick, little interviews.
Today's guest is the fabulous Josin McQuein! I'm so excited. I loved Josie's science fiction thriller,Arclight. You can go back and check out my gushy Gold Star Review here.
Welcome, Josie! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with me. I have just a couple of quick questions for you:
1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs, to write Arclight?
Ha! All told? 15+ years. Arclight came from several other things that I starting writing back when I was in high school. Most of it was from a space opera screenplay that I wrote as a teenager. Other bits and characters came from a vampire novel that never was, and a zombie story that didn't work.
Once the story was framed out as Arclight, however, it was about 18 months from first draft to final edit.
2. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?
I think maybe mysteries or science fiction for an older audience.
Neither Arclight, nor Premeditated (comes out in October!) started off as YA-centric. I aged the characters down to fit the category, but originally, the component stories all had adult casts.
3. I LOVED that Arclight revealed the science-fiction-y bits slowly as Marina started to discover the Arclight Leaders' secrets... did you do any special research into some of the "history" that Marina discovers, the things that bring them to a world with the Fade?
Not really. I'm a long-time sci-fi fan, and my original career path was genetic engineering. I had just enough base knowledge to cobble together some pseudo-science to make the Fade "work."
For the internal workings, the Arclight's not that different from reality, at its heart. The people in charge don't always consult with the rest of the population before they make decisions that can effect everyone, and this is especially true for young people. It's sad, but adults don't always trust that teens have the capacity to reason through problems on their own.
And this may sound strange, but I never "set" my stories anywhere. The settings exist in a void, to me, so I don't usually research settings. No cities or geographical locations were mentioned in the original drafts; that was added later because my editor wanted something a little more concrete.
4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be? Go everywhere. (LOL, that's on my list, too!)
Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund Companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the island of Galatea, an uprising against the aristocracy has turned deadly. The revolutionaries' weapon is a drug that damages their enemies' brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.
On neighboring Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous teenage aristocrat Persis Blake. Her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo . . . is her most dangerous mission ever.
Justen is hiding things, too—his disenchantment with his country's revolution, his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he's pretending to love. Persis is also falling for Justen, but when she discovers his greatest secret—one that could plunge New Pacifica into another dark age—she realizes she's not just risking her heart, she's risking the world she's sworn to protect.
Review: Now, this book doesn't come out for a while, but I really loved the advance copy I got to read, so I wanted to share it with you anyway. Keep an eye out for it this fall!
Like For Darkness Shows the Stars(see the gold star review here), this book is based on a classic. This companion book is actually inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I've never read, but having read the description I can very much see how the Scarlet Pimpernel inspired Persis' Wild Poppy.
I found Persis herself to be a fascinating character. Uber-intelligent, Persis realizes that in order to do the best thing for her country, while it's on the brink of war, she must actually play dumb. Persis becomes the epitome of a superficial socialite in order to defray any suspicion...in order to let the Wild Poppy remain undiscovered. She is SO good at her scheme that even her parents have no idea what she's really up to... Experiencing the dichotomy of Persis' two worlds, the whirlwind of the posh Lady-in-Waiting and the dangerous rescue missions as the Poppy... it was so exciting, I felt like I could drop right into her world.
I loved watching the relationship develop between Persis and Justen. I like that DP does not do "insta-love." These relationships have major ups and downs, and often the characters really have to work at it for things to work out. That makes them feel SO much more real to me. I like the added depth and the gratification I feel when they finally head in the direction I'm dying for them to go, LOL. [And, yes, for those who are wondering, we do get a connection back to FDStS in this book...]