Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bookanista Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Lilac's father is the richest man in the universe. Tarver is a decorated military hero, but from a poor background. Lilac and Tarver would never spend much time together under normal circumstances, but when the spaceship they're traveling on crashes on a mysterious planet, leaving them as the only survivors, they'll have to rely on each other to survive.

THESE BROKEN STARS contains some of my favorite romance tropes - forbidden love, the slow-burn, and what I like to call "stranded together" romance. (An aside: another recent book I read with this last trope was SURVIVE by Alex Morel, where two strangers are the only survivors of a plane crash and must learn to trust each other to find civilization -- there are certain crazy parallels to THESE BROKEN STARS in it, so check it out if you're a fan of the trope too!)

I've seen THESE BROKEN STARS pitched as "Titanic in space" and that's certainly accurate in the beginning scenes, though once on the planet, I'd compare it more to the TV show Lost. In any case, it's super creative and addicting (considering I read it instead of working on my revisions which are due in less than a week) and definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

THESE BROKEN STARS comes out on December 10, 2013. Find out more about it at Amie's website. Also, check out this interview I did with the authors about the whole series and its dystopian elements.

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

FTC disclosure: Gifted (thanks Melody!)

Other Bookanista reviews this week:

Shari Arnold has chills for BY BLOOD, by Tracy E. Banghart
Rebecca Behrens is wondering at WONDER, by R.J. Palacio
Christine Fonseca has all the feels for DARKEST MERCY, by Melissa Marr
Nikki Katz is gushing about BLYTHEWOOD, by Carol Goodman
Stasia Ward Kehoe has taken a shine to GOLDEN, by Jessi Kirby
Jessica Love has fond memories of ALL OUR YESTERDAYS, by Cristin Terrill

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bookanista Review: Half Lives by Sara Grant

Icie's parents warn her of an imminent biological attack and urge her to find a mountain shelter that built to store nuclear waste but was never approved for that purpose. It may be her only chance for survival. Years in the future, the cult of the Great I AM, led by teenage Beckett has arisen on the mountain. They keep to themselves to avoid the terrorists that live in the nearby ruin of a city.

HALF LIVES is such a fascinating story. On a pure enjoyment level, Icie's story is the one with the high stakes, high emotions and edge-of-your-seat suspense.  But Beckett's story engages for another reason - the careful and imaginative worldbuilding.  It's a micro-culture based on today's Facebook society, and without any of the context, the cult's practices sound like rants of a crazy person.

I had the pleasure of attending a revision workshop with Sara Grant, so reading HALF LIVES was incredibly enriching for me on a craft level.  One of her revision tips was to color code each character's dialogue and revise each separately to make sure they are distinct and consistent. I was very impressed with the character development in HALF LIVES, so her process definitely paid off.

HALF LIVES is available now.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

FTC disclosure: Netgalley

What are the other Bookanistas recommending this week?

Shari Arnold gushes about HYSTERIA by Megan Miranda

Shelli Johannes-Wells raves about RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight

Shannon Messenger adores THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West

Tracey Neithercott is mad for EARTHBOUND by Aprilynne Pike

Kimberly Sabatini dishes about ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein

Katy Upperman can't get enough of AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Memory Chronicles News (with obligatory cat photo)

The Memory of After paperbacks have arrived at my house (!!!) and Lu snagged one for himself already.

The paperback version of Level 2, The Memory of After will available in stores September 3rd.  It includes a cross-section of a Level Two hive as well as a sneak peek of Chasing Before, the sequel due Summer 2014.

I'm running a quick Goodreads giveaway for 4 copies of the autographed paperback  (Lu can't hoard them all) so enter here by August 30th.

Oh - have you ever wondered why there are no celebrities in Level Two? Well, now you can find out the reason at Scott Reads It as part of the Authors are Rockstars Tour!

Also, less than a week until the Chasing Before cover is revealed. I'm so excited for you all to see it -- it fits the story so well and also looks amazing next to The Memory of After cover. :D 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

Nere has always felt more comfortable in the sea, and one tragic day, she finds out why - she was genetically altered to be able to live under water as part of the Neptune Project. The Neptune Project was a covert experiment with the aim of building a better future away from the pestilence and war on land. Nere's quest for survival has just begun.

I'd classify this one as a middle grade adventure book. Though the main threat is a dystopian government that wants to get their hands on the project kids, the dystopian elements are mainly in the background - i.e. the reason the Neptune Project was started and kids were experimented upon.  For the most part, Nere faces obstacles that have to do with survival in the ocean, such as terrifying sea creatures. And the action in this novel is non-stop thrilling. As soon as Nere escapes one dangerous situation, she's thrust into another. Be warned - there are some deaths.

But at least Nere has super cute dolphins to help her on her journey.  Fortunately, the dolphins came off as strong, wise allies instead of the more annoying type of sidekick role that "talking" animals are usually forced into. (They "talk" via telepathy).

THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is available now. Find out more about the it at the author's website.

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

FTC disclosure: Picked up at ALA

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bookanista Review: The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy

Rain just wants a better life for her and her sick brother than they can get in Earth City, so when a charming spaceship caption named Johnny offers her passage in return for being "his girl", she readily agrees. Unfortunately, Johnny is not what he seems to be, and Rain is going to have to fight in order to survive his ship of horrors.

First off, let me say that if "new adult" ever includes genre fiction, then THE COLOR OF RAIN would be a good fit. It's quite a bit more mature than most YA (think Ellen Hopkins), but the grounded writing (which earns a Zombie Chicken Merit Badge) never sensationalizes what amounts to sex trafficking in space.

The main stage of THE COLOR OF RAIN is Johnny's spaceship and I admired the careful wordbuilding here in regard to the levels and how colors revealed a girl's status.  There were also some great reveals concerning the real purpose of the ship, tight action scenes, and terrifying "out the airlock" sequences.

It was not difficult to understand Rain's motivations - she acts out of love for family and friends, even when Johnny tries to break her of the habit. I loved her strength.

At first I was resistant to the idea of Ben as a love interest, but he definitely grew on me. I might have even been a tiny bit misty-eyed at the end.

THE COLOR OF RAIN is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: Review copy from publisher

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

What are the other Bookanistas loving this week?

Christine Fonseca has chills for UNRAVEL ME, by Taherah Mafi
Kimberly Sabatini is spreading some love for BY BLOOD, by Tracy Banghart

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bookanista Review: In the After by Demitria Lunetta

I was in a reading slump earlier this summer, and IN THE AFTER pulled me out of it. I really couldn't put it down. Fast paced and terrifying, IN THE AFTER gets the Zombie Chicken Merit Badge for Action.

So in book math, IN THE AFTER is INTO THE FOREST by Jean Hegland meets THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin meets THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young. Read it and you'll see what I mean.  Amy is a survivor in this post-alien invasion world and I legit feared for her life.

What else? I loved Amy and Baby's relationship. The only part I wasn't so terribly keen about was the big twist, because I was hoping for something else, but that didn't detract at all from my overall reading experience.

Find out more about IN THE AFTER at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: Review copy from the the publisher

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

More Bookanista love:
Jessica Love sees stars for GOLDEN by Jessi Kirby

Tracey Neithercott discusses A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES by Rachel Harris

Katy Upperman gushes about OCD LOVE STORY by Corey Ann Haydu

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chick-O-Saurus Rex Trailer Premiere + Photos

We're super thrilled that our Chick-o-Saurus Rex picture book trailer is now live (many thanks to Vania at VLC productions) - check out the exclusive reveal at Fuse 8 on School Library Journal! Leave us a comment and let us know how you like it.

Last Saturday we had our first event at Watermark Books in Wichita, KS.  Check out this awesome display in the window.

We had fun reading the book aloud and signing for the great crowd that came out.  Lots of chicken fans in Kansas!

Don't forget that we'll be at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, VA tomorrow at 3:30 pm.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bookanista Review: Coda by Emma Trevayne

There won't be much of a Dystopian August this year because I am traveling and in the edit cave at the same time, but I do have a few reviews and features for you, starting with CODA.

CODA is a very cool novel.

Exhibit A: Anthem. Anthem is a rocker who can pull off guyliner, who takes care of his younger twin brother and sister, who is extremely loyal to friends and (maybe) girlfriend Haven, and who is about to give a shock to the system of keeping the populace drugged out on music.

Exhibit B: The writing. Trevanyne knows music, and she knows how to convey that feeling you get when you're lost in the beat and nothing else matters.  The music scenes were some of my favorite in the novel.

Exhibit C: The twists. CODA gets a twists badge because it surprised me multiple times despite the plot being of the typical rebellion against the dystopian government variety.

CODA is out now!

FTC disclosure: I got a signed copy at ALA.

See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

See what the other Bookanistas are raving about this week:

Stasia Ward Kehoe admires ALL MEN OF GENIUS by Lev AC Rosen

Jessica Love delves into DIRTY LITTLE SECRET by Jennifer Echols