(YA Review) A Mad Zombie Party by Gena Showalter

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 1.18.50 PMShowalter, Gena. Don Mills, Ontario: Harlequin Teen, 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 9780373211821
Formats available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. Hardcover $10.44. Kindle $9.99

Release date: September 29, 2015
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Themes: Zombies, grief, friendship, love, forgiveness
Rating: 4 Stars!!
Why’d I read it?: I am a longtime reader of Showalter’s books, and I’ve read the other books in this series. Check out my reviews for Alice in Zombieland (Bk. 1) and Queen of Zombie Hearts (Bk. 3)

Synopsis: 

Frosty lost the love of his life in the war agains Anima Industries and their zombie-creations. As he spirals into depression and his friends grow more concerned about him, he is visited by the spirit of Kat, his dead girlfriend. Ecstatic at the chance to see and talk to her again, Frosty is quick to agree to her terms: She’ll continue to visit everyday, and in return Frosty has to save the life of, and spend every waking hour with a mystery girl. Its only after agreeing that Frosty finds out the mystery girl is Camilla, the same girl who betrayed his friends to Anima Industries, the same girl who is partially at fault for Kat’s death. This is a story of redemption for Frosty and Camilla, as they are thrown together and find themselves both growing and chaining from the people they were, to embrace the future of who they will become.


My Thoughts: (No spoilers)

I have been looking forward to this book ever since reading the original White Rabbit Chronicles trilogy, featuring Ali and Cole. Frosty was a lovable character in that trilogy so I was excited to get a book from his point of view. This book is written from duel perspectives, with alternating chapters from the perspective of Frosty, and then from Camilla. I know this was being billed as a Romance, with Frosty learning to love again after losing Kat. I was a bit unsure about this since they were supposed to be completely devoted to each other before her death, I was curious how the author could have Frosty move on and get together with someone else, especially the girl partially responsible for Kat’s death. I’m happy to say that it was well done, and after meeting Camilla, and getting her perspective, it is easy to see how they could fall for each other. I also have to say that after seeing her reasoning for doing what she did to Ali and the gang, I completely understood. I honestly can’t say I would have acted any other way. She had her reasons and they didn’t stem from callousness or evil. In fact this book had a lot more “feels” than the original trilogy, and there were a lot of parts where my heart was literally hurting for the characters, and once or twice where I teared up! Watching Frosty try to deal with his grief, his interactions with “spirit-Kat,” and seeing Camilla’s inner turmoil, it was a very emotional read!

There also was a lot of great humor in this book, which was my favorite part of the original trilogy, so I was really glad to see that the sad and difficult parts of this book didn’t mean there was no humor. Theres a lot of laugh out loud situation between Frosty and Camilla, but also between the whole gang, especially Ali. Its great getting to see all of the characters once more, and this book wraps up the series more satisfyingly than the last book did, which I was happy to see. It also seemed, from the very end, that there might be some kind of spin-off in the works, though it appears it might be more “adult” rather than “young adult.” But that’s just my guess based on the ending, you’ll see what I mean.

I loved getting to know Frosty and Camilla, I adored the time we get to spend with the rest of the gang, and I actually did like Frosty and Camilla together. The author satisfactorily made me not mind that he was moving on from Kat, and I can be pretty committed to my characters original love interests, so that was quite a feat! Go ahead and give this one a try, especially if you’ve read the original trilogy, I think you’ll love it! I also don’t believe you have to have read the original trilogy, the world building is explained in this one, and it is a bit of a standalone, though you’ll definitely understand it more if you’ve read the other three beforehand.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The first three books in the White Rabbit Chronicles are Alice in ZombielandThrough the Zombie Glass, & Queen of Zombie Hearts


Extras:

  • Find some White Rabbit Chronicles wallpapers and other extras on the White Rabbit Chronicles website.
  • If you liked The White Rabbit Chronicles, you might find something else you like here, on Goodreads.com

About the Author: Gena Showalter is the author of the YA fantasy White Rabbit Chronicles, as well as an adult fantasy series.

Banned Books Week – Day 2 – My Top Ten Favorite Banned Books!


It’s Banned Books Week!

It’s day 2 of banned books week! We are celebrating Young Adult Literature this year. 

Check out my post for Day 1 – What is a Banned Book, anyway?

I’ve decided to commandeer the Top Ten Tuesday post this week, and instead of doing the suggested top ten, I’m going to post ten of my favorite banned YA books!


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Harry Potter series
by J.K. Rowling
Why was it banned?: Occult/Satanism

That’s right folks, HP has been one of the most challenged books in america, particularly between 1990 and 2000. In 1999 it was challenged 23 times, in 13 states. And why was it challenged? Because of “occult” themes. That means that some people thought exposing children to “witches” and “wizards” and “magic” was “unsuitable.” Which really begs the question, are those people also opposed to Disney films, classic fairy tales, and oh, say… IMAGINATION?! Weird because magic is a pretty fundamental belief for the average child, no? The human urge to censor is so strange to me.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by: Sherman Alexie

Why is it challenged?:
Accused of being anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

In 2014 this book made it onto the ALA’s top ten most challenged books. I read it and its phenomenal. Check out my book talk for it. I’m very unclear on how this is “anti-family” in any way and I find it interesting that its accused of cultural insensitivity. Because its written about Native Americans…. by a Native American. I’m not sure if it is the white culture, or the Native American culture who found this insensitive.  This book shows an unflinching view into the life of one “Indian” kid living on a reservation. And there is alcoholism, gambling, violence, cursing, bullying, and racism. Just like there is in real life.

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And Tango makes three
By: Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole

Why was it challenged?:
Accused of being Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

Sigh, I honestly can’t even begin to get into my feelings about this book being banned/challenged. It just upsets me so much. This one is actually a children’s picture book, not a YA book, but I wanted to include it because I loved it. It actually brought a little tear to my eye. Its based on the true story of these two apparently homosexual penguins who paired up at a zoo and built a nest, and put pebbles in the nest, seemingly hoping for a baby penguin to raise. At some point an extra egg was available so the zookeeper slipped it into their nest. They sat on it and prepared just like the hetero penguin couples did and eventually, voila! A new penguin family of three was born. A beautiful, heart-warming, and true story of love and family.

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Hunger Games
by: Suzanne Collins

Why was it challenged?
Religious viewpoint, unsuited to any age group

The truly frightening thing about this is that it wasn’t challenged due to violence (helllllooo! children killing children? for entertainment? This doesn’t upset anyone?) but rather because of “religious viewpoint.” I don’t even remember there being a religious viewpoint in this series. Am I forgetting it? I feel this is a perfect example of how ridiculous censorship is. How can people challenge this book because of the (nonexistent) religious viewpoint, and have apparently no problem at all with the violence. I mean, I read this when I was like 23 and even I found the violence disturbing. People are so narrow about sex, religion, and politics while being so lax about violence.

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Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
by: Louise Rennison

Why is it challenged?:
Probably because of its frank discussion of boys, & references to lesbianism, pornography and erections

This series is absolutely outrageous, laugh-out-loud funny. The main character does indeed dwell on the very things any 14 year old does and she had no filter, whatsoever. That kind of honesty scares some folks who feel too offended by the honesty and wanted to ban this book series! Check out my book talk for this series! It makes one wonder, at what point do adults stop remembering what its like to be a teenager? When do they suddenly start thinking that by avoiding issues of sex, drugs, and sexuality, those issues will disappear and teens won’t think about them? It boggles the mind, truly. I’m 26 and have not “adulted” to that degree of naiveté yet!

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Persepolis
by: Marjane Satrapi

Why was it challenged?:

Gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”

This was one of the first required readings I was assigned my first year in college for my undergraduate degree. Its actually a graphic novel and was also the fist GN I ever read! I liked it so much I immediately went out and read the sequel as well. Its actually an autobiography of the author Marjane Satrapi, and chronicles her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It gives a unique look into what life was like for the average person during that time in Iran, and is touching, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. Everyone can gain something by reading this book!

Check out the ALA’s case study on Persepolis

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Hmm I guess thats only 6, not 10. Why don’t you guys comment some of your favorites?

Below you can check out some virtual readouts! Go to the YouTube channel for more!

Banned Books Week – Day 1 – What is a banned book anyway?

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It’s Banned Books Week!

In 2015 we are celebrating Young Adult Literature!

Banned Books Week is a “call to action” to “remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant to them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.” – Quote from American Library Association

To celebrate Banned Books week (I am a librarian, after all) I’m going to do “banned books-related” blog posts all this week! Lets start with an introduction/explanation of “banned books.”


What is Banned Books Week?

It’s a weeklong celebration of the Freedom to Read and the fight against censorship! This year we are focusing on celebrating YA Literature. The American Library Association “promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.” Banned Books Week is a way of acknowledging those books which have been challenged or banned, a way of thanking those who fight against such censorship every day (your local librarians!), and a way of celebrating each time a challenge or ban has been thwarted, and such books have been kept on the shelves, where they belong. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported.

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So what is a challenged/banned book, anyway?

A challenge or ban happens when someone in the community attempts (challenge) or succeeds (bans) in removing an item from the collection (usually in a public or school library) because they find something within the material to be offensive or distasteful. Its not that they merely register their opinion on the matter and choose not to read it themselves, rather its when such a person (or group) tries to have the item removed from the entire community. They are trying to take away everyone else’s choice to have access to the material.

***”Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.”***

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Why would someone ban or challenge a book?

The ALA (American Library Association) says:

“Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
  2. the material contained “offensive language”
  3. the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

One person cannot decide what is acceptable for another person to read, except for decisions made by a parent for their child. Although I do encourage parents to be open-minded about allowing their children to choose their own books. I also encourage minors to have open and honest discussions with a trusted adult if you are concerned about a book’s themes or ideas. There is nothing wrong with finding a book to be unsuitable to you, or in waiting until a later time to read about certain things, or in choosing not to read about certain things. As always, however, it is and should be your personal choice!

You do you!

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Why focus on YA literature this year?

YA books are challenged more often than any other kind of book! Many of these books speak to young adults and touch on many of the issues that young adults are experiencing in their own lives, and provide an outlet for safe exploration of dark, frightening, sad, or even exhilarating experiences. And yet, many of these books are often challenged or banned, usually by adult members of the community who fear these topics may be harmful or unsuitable to the young adults reading them. In 2014, 6 out of 10 on the Top Ten Most Challenged Books list were Young Adult books!


Extras:

Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants talks about Banned Books


Wanted, highly dangerous! If seen lying around please pick up and read immediately!

Banned Books Wanted 1


I’m curious to know, have you guys read any banned books? What do you think about the reasons a book might be banned? What do you think about the fact that YA books are the most heavily challenged genre?

(ARC Review) Awakening by Catrina Burgess

The Awakening

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Release date: Oct. 7, 2015  – Book 1 of the Dark Rituals World
Author: Catrina Burgess
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Themes: Revenge, Magic, Romance
Rating: Starts out as 3 stars, ends at 4 stars
Why’d I read it?: I was attracted at first to the cover!

Notes: Please note that this series was apparently originally posted on Wattpad and was very popular there.


Synopsis:
** I received a free egalley of this book from netgalley in return for an honest review!**

After a terrible loss, Colina sets out to find the Death Dealers, determined to have them teach her their dark magics so that she might get revenge on those who wronged her and her family. She finds Luke and Darla, a brother and sister who are Death Dealers. Luke is reluctant to teach Colina, but when trouble comes to his and Darla’s doorstep he reluctantly agrees so that Colina can help him recover something that is taken from him. As they struggle to finish the necessary rituals, and enemies dog their every step, Colina and Luke also find themselves facing a growing passion. Colina will find that she has more to lose than she thought, and that revenge doesn’t come without consequences.

My Thoughts:

I would rate this as a 3.5 for the majority of the book, with the ending having perhaps 4 stars because I did not see that coming. This book reminded me a little bit of Marie Lu’s The Elites books in that the main character is a young girl forced to learn dangerous powers or magics and who is motivated by a burning need for revenge.

I found the beginning of this book to be much weaker than the end, and found myself enjoying it more as it progressed. The only thing I really disliked was the “instanta-like” the heroine felt for Luke, mostly because it felt inappropriate that she would be thinking such things so quickly because she truly should have had other things on her mind. I also felt that the characters were not as well developed as I like to see, however since this is the introductory book of a planned series (the second one comes out Oct. 14, 2015) I am willing to concede that the character development may be planned to be spread out over several books. The main character is not unlikeable, but I never really felt I connected with her. I also prefer when a book hows more than one perspective, but in this book we only get Colina’s perspective. I always feel this limits the scope of the worldbuilding and limits my ability to connect, but that is merely a personal feeling! The quest they were on was original, and the world seems to be a good urban fantasy type where magic users live among non-magic users. We didn’t get to see a lot of the politics involved in this segregated society yet, so I’m hoping to see more of that in book two. When the book started I was not feeling it, but by the end I was committed and I will be giving the second book in the series a try, especially since it comes out in just a couple of weeks!

There is action, suspense, and romance. I like romance in my books but I did feel Colina was a bit too focused on the romantic angst, considering her situation and how the two didn’t know each other very well. Despite the “insta-like” that started their relationship, however, they did face several obstacles throughout that kept it interesting, and the ending included a major obstacle I am interested in seeing how it is resolved.

Major cliffhanger ending warning!


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it? 

The next book is called Possession and comes out Oct. 14, 2015

You might like Marie Lu’s The Young Elites

Goodreads has other recommendations for you!


Extras:


About the Author:

Find out more about Catrina Burgess on:


(Review-YA) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys. New York: Scholastic Press, 2012. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0545424929.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $6.37. Kindle $4.99.

Synopsis:
Blue has always known (thanks to her clairvoyant family members) that she is cursed. Her curse says that her true love will die after she kisses him. So Blue has made it a point to stay away from boys, and from Raven Boys (wealthy private school boys), in particular. Since Raven Boys are arrogant and annoying, this has not been difficult. But Blue meets Gansey and his friends, all Raven Boys, and soon finds herself drawn into their Quest to find a mythological King, said to be buried somewhere near their town. Whoever finds this King is said to receive one wish. Now all of Blue’s plans are spinning out of control as she befriends, and begins to fall for, these Raven Boys.

My Thoughts:
I just discovered The Raven Boys this summer, and I loved it. I think I liked it even more because, based on the book flap description, I didn’t expect to like it. The description says that Blue has known her whole life that she is cursed so that if she kisses her true love, he will die. The description makes this story sound like a love story about Blue not being able to kiss the boy she loves, but it turns out to be much more a story of friendship among these five main characters. As they embark on their quest together, each of the five bonds with each other in different ways, and throughout the series we see the great love they all bear for each other. There are definitely themes of “bro-mance” as well as romance, and I quite liked seeing their loyalty and affection for each member of the group. I like that we are getting to know the characters so well, and there is no insta-love. The quest and world building are great, and the characters are quite unique and lovable. Some of the strongest aspects to this series is that the characters feel realistically drawn, and none are stereotypically “perfect” people. They have their own insecurities and quirks. I’m loving this series.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it? 
The next two books in The Raven Cycle are The Dream Thieves and Blue Lilly, Lilly Blue
Book four, The Raven King, comes out March 29, 2016


Extras:

  • Maggie Stiefvater’s website has extras including music written for/about The Raven Boys, the first chapter, & others.
  • Find The Raven Boys at your local library through worldcat.org
  • Find other recommendations on goodreads.com

About the Author:
Learn more about Maggie Stiefvater and her books on her website.


Citation & Credits
Book cover image: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.

(Review-YA) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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Maas, Sarah J. A Court of Thorns and Roses. , 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 978-1619634442.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $7.12. Kindle $8.57.

Synopsis:
Feyre is the sole caretaker for her family, and while trying to hunt to save her starving family, she kills a wolf. She was sure he wasn’t Fae (not that she’d mind killing a Fae), but she was wrong. Now a Fae Lord has come to claim vengeance for his slain friend. The Fae Lord offers her a deal, however, a form of mercy. He will abstain from killing Feyre if she agrees to return to his castle in a neighboring magical land, never to return to her family or home again. Soon Feyre learns more about her world and her host, and finds that nothing is as it appears. And she might have the chance for a real family, and true love. But ancient enemies and evil magic are affecting this magical realm, and threatening all those within it. Feyre will need to find a way to stop it, or else lose everything.

My Thoughts:
This is mother excellent contribution by Sarah J. Maas, author of the beloved and popular Throne of Glass series (see my review here). This is a beautiful, heart-pounding fairy-tale retelling, with enough twists to keep it original and unpredictable. The characters are well drawn, and the world is fully developed. Even though I knew which fairy tale it was based on, I still didn’t see quite a bit of the story coming! It is definitely a darker re-telling, but an instant favorite for me. I enjoyed the author’s ideas for the Fae mythologies, and how their powers and world are described. I also really liked how the mortal world and the Fae world are neighbors, so we get a sense of whatever happens in the Fae realm spilling over to affect Feyre’s world, too. It has a sweet love story, but the conclusion is a bit open-ended so that we are not sure what direction, exactly, the next book in the series will take. This is the first in what is sure to be another wildly popular series from Sarah J. Maas. I cannot wait for the next installment, which is as yet untitled.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it? 

Check out my Top Ten Fairytale re-telling recommendations

See my recommendation for Throne of Glass

This is the first in a projected series, so there will be more to come!


Extras:

  • Locate ACOTR at your local library through worldcat.com
  • Find recommendations from others who enjoyed ACOTR on goodreads.com
  • The first chapter is available to read free at teenvogue.com

About the Author:
Sarah J. Maas is the bestselling author of The Throne of Glass Series.


Citation & Credits
Book cover image: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.

(ARC Review) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Kaufman, Amie, and Jay Kristoff. Illuminae. , 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0553499117.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $10.44. Kindle $9.92.

Synopsis:
A dossier of classified documents is compiled after an Intergalactic disaster occurs, where one small and distant planet is attacked. The story of the attack, the survivors, an evolving artificial intelligence “being,” and especially young adults Kady and Ezra is told through this compilation of instant messages, emails, online journals, interview and surveillance transcripts, memos, medical and military logs, and so much more.

When Kady broke up with Ezra this morning, they thought the day couldn’t get any worse. But that was before their planet was viciously invaded and attacked by BeiTech Industries. Kady and Ezra are rescued, but by separate ships, with Kady on the science vessel Hypatia, and Ezra on the United Terran Authority’s battlecarrier Alexander. The Alexander escorts Hypatia and freighter Copernicus towards safety, and as their “jump” capabilities are not working, this journey takes months while the invading company’s Lincoln pursues them. Meanwhile the ships’ AI is malfunctioning in interesting but terrifying ways. As Ezra and many other civilians are conscripted into the Alexander’s military ranks, Kady escapes conscription by purposely failing the aptitude tests, hiding her ace hacking skills. As Ezra trains to learn to become a fighter pilot, Kady focuses on hacking through the ships’ information in pursuit of the truth of the situation, which the captains are keeping secret. As she discovers more and more alarming and shocking information, and as a a mutating virus sweeps through the ships, Kady and Ezra need to overcome their differences, and their distance from one another (emotional and physical) to work together to solve the problems plaguing the ships, all before the Lincoln catches up with them.

My Thoughts:

First let me just say “WOW!” That is the first reaction I had to this book, about 2 pages into it. This sentiment continued to bounce around my head throughout the entire reading of this behemoth, creatively told story. Also let me say for the record that I do NOT recommend reading this in e-book format, as its visual story-telling medium is not best suited for digital reading. I will be purchasing the hardcover version so I can re-read it and experience it the way its meant to be experienced.

So, now that I’ve expressed the WOW-ness of this book, let me get more specific. This is not an easy, light, “just to help me fall asleep” kind of book. Rather it is more like a devastating, cataclysmic, life-altering, “call into work sick tomorrow because you stayed up all night reading” kind of book. My favorite kind.

The Point of View: The story is told from an interesting and unconventional (i.e. AMAZING) point of view. Rather than the traditional 1st, or 3rd person point of view, we experience this story as if someone plopped a large brown folder full of confidential documents on your desk. We are essentially reading a report on the initial attack, and the events that followed, through a set of compiled documents including: instant messages, emails, online journals, interview and surveillance transcripts, memos, medical and military logs, photographs, and so much more. This is a completely unique method of story telling which I have never experienced before. Authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have just torn open a whole new vista of opportunity for sci-fi/speculative fiction story-telling. They have turned this genre on its head.

The Characters: The story has a huge cast of characters who we are introduced to through their personal and professional correspondences, but focuses mostly on three main characters. Kady is a young woman who excels at hacking, sarcasm, and is not in touch with her romantic side. Ezra is a sweet, funny, sentimental romantic. And the third character is AIDEN, an evolving artificial intelligence “being.” AIDEN reads quite a bit like Spock, which is very enjoyable to me. The incredible thing about this book is that even with such a huge cast of characters, Kaufman and Kristoff manage to give each one a distinct personality and voice, most impressively of which is AIDEN. Additionally they shy away from traditional gender roles, which means some female characters are often tough as nails leaders, and some male characters can be more intuitive or sensitive. This is something I’ve noticed in Kaufman’s other series with co-author Meagan Spooner (These Broken Stars) and which is an excellent addition to the sci-fi genre. So don’t expect all of the captains to be big, domineering men!

Illuminae is science fiction (or speculative fiction) at its very best. There is plenty of technology drama, intrigue, mystery, suspense, action, plot twists, and even romance (impressive given the main characters are not physically on the same ship). It has computer hacking and biological warfare. It has goose-bump inducing creepiness, gasp-out-loud twists, “edge of your seat” suspense and quite a lot of humor. This is by far the most artistically and unconventionally written story I’ve personally ever read, and I couldn’t have loved it more. This is a great choice for anyone who is a fan of science fiction and space opera, as well as those who simply enjoy a spectacular story. Though marketed as Young Adult, this novel easily crosses the genre and will be enjoyed by those of all genders and ages. Don’t miss this one, because it’s almost certainly going to be “the next big thing.”


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it? 

Unfortunately this book is so unlike anything else I’ve ever read that I don’t currently have recommendations for you. If you have any, I’d love to hear them!


Extras:

  • Illuminaefiles.com is the website dedicated to this series, it has a lot of fun extras, including an intro video that is an interview of Ezra, one of the main characters, character bios, and descriptions of the ships.
  • Entertainment Weekly has a sneak peak for Illuminae, including excerpts and a brief interview with the authors.
  • Kirkus wrote an excellent review for Illuminae.
  • See my review of Amie Kaufman’s other sci-fi novel, These Broken Stars

About the Authors:


Citation & Credits
Book cover image: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.

The 2015 Book-ademy Awards Book Tag!

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Hello everyone and welcome to December! Its been a wild year full of wonderful (and not so wonderful) books!

I thought I’d start a fun book tag to round out the year. I’m doing a kind of “academy award” ceremony for the books I’ve read in 2015. If you do the tag, feel free to change the categories as you wish! The goal here is really to celebrate some our favorite reads of the year, and to act as a way of recommending these books to our fellow readers!

Enjoy and happy reading!


Most Kick-Butt Heroine

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Celeana from Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Why?: Celeana is the best assassin in the world by the time she is 18. It’d be pretty hard to beat her for most “kick-butt” heroine!

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Most Intelligent Heroine
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Kestral from The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Why?: I just love that it is her intellect which is stressed as being her greatest asset. What a wonderful change from the typical looks or fighting skills!

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Most Swoony-worth male character
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Major Tarver Merendsen from These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Why?: This was a tough choice because theres so many but the Major is just so awesome; he’s strong and fierce, but funny and poetic also. I just love him.

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Best political drama
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The Winner’s  Series by Marie Rutkoski

Why?: I just love the complex and multi-layered political world that Rutkoski creates in her Winner’s series. The sequel, The Winner’s Crime is particularly intense!

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Best star-crossed lovers
angelfall

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Why?: This was a tough one because I love star-crossed or unlikely lovers stories, so I have a lot to choose from. But I’m trying not to repeat books during this post too much so I’m going to go with Penryn and Rafi from Angelfall. I love their journey and their differences!

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Best surprise (twist, cliff hanger, or ending)
darken the stars

Darken the Stars by Amy A. Bartol

Why?: This is the final book int he Kricket series and this series was full of twists and turns that I was not expecting. But the final book, Darken the Starsreally goes in an unexpected direction and the ending was completely shocking to me! I never saw that coming!

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Best fairy tale retelling
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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Why?: This was a really great fairy-tale retelling, and even though I knew it was a re-telling, I was still pleasantly surprised by a lot of what happens in the books. It manages to stay true to the fairy-tale, and yet avoids being predictable or repetitive. Sarah J Maas is shaping up to be a most excellent story teller!

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Best “didn’t expect to like it, but loved it” book
the raven boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Why?: Based on the synopsis of this book I really didn’t think I’d like it. I thought it was going to be just the typical love interest angst, and probably a love triangle. But the synopsis of this book is so not a good indicator of the book itself. I am blown away by the beauty and poetry of this story, and am obsessed with the display of friendship between Blue and the Raven Boys. What a surprisingly deep, touching, and wonderful story!

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Best side-kick or best friend character
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Kat from Alice in Zombieland

Why?: Kat is something of a break-out character in this series. She starts out as a side-character but she steals the show with her wit, wisdom, and honesty. I love “laugh out loud” antics!

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Best debut author book
An ember in the ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Why?: Kat is something of a break-out character in this series. She starts out as a side-character but she steals the show with her wit, wisdom, and honesty. I love “laugh out loud” antics!

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Best “little known” book
Across a star swept sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Why?: I cannot believe how much I enjoyed this book, especially because its actually the second book in a series, and its far better even than its predecessor. This book had a great romance, complex characters, great twists, and an very original story-line (even though its actually inspired by a classic!). I just loved the characters, the politics, and the moral dilemmas dealt with in this story. Excellent!

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Best series, overall
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The Starbound series by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Why?: I can’t say enough good things about this series (which is not complete). It has totally blown me away this year. Its a sort of romantic, and yet still intense, emotional, political, dramatic, and epic sci-fi “space opera” adventure. The characters are all fully developed and unique from each other, the authors play with gender norms, and the action and moral implications of the outcomes are fully realized. Its a superb and very original series. In fact I haven’t been able to find anything that compares in its genre!

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Best Book, overall
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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Why?:This book is simply mind blowing. The writing is complex and utterly unique. This book is standing its genre on its head and changing what we think of when we think of a “sci-fi” book. Fantastically compelling, action packed, and full of twists, this is a nonstop ride through literary excellence. If you’re only going to read one sci-fi book, you might choose this one


Ok thats it for my Book-ademy awards for 2015! It’ve read A TON of books this year, especially YA and it is really hard to chose a “best,” but I’m fairly happy with my choices!

I’d love love love to see what some of the “book-ademy” awards are that you would give this year, so I hope a lot of you guys choose to do this tag. Please feel absolutely free to change the categories, but a link to my is always most appreciated!

Happy Reading as we go into 2016!

I tag:

Nikka @ Paper & Trees

Alahna @ The Charmed Reader

Samantha @ Thoughts on Tomes

Michella @ YA Books Girl

The Bibliotheque

Emma @ Little Book Wyrm

Marie @ Mari Likes Big Books

Olivia @ Heir of Glitter

Aimee, Marga, & Zoe @ Deadly Darlings

Book Minx Reads

Michelle @ Michelle, Books and Movies Addict

Tab and Cam @ The Geek Couple

 

(Review-Ya) Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers

Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers

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LaFevers, Robin. Grave Mercy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0544022492.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Paperback $9.26. Kindle $7.49.

Synopsis: 
Ismae escapes a brutal arranged marriage and is shepherded to the convent of St. Mortain, the saint (or god) of Death. Here she learns that she is a “daughter of Mortain” and has gifts that make her fated to be an assassin, to deliver Death’s will on earth. After training at the convent, Ismae is finally given her first real assignment, something she has been eager for, for some time. Ismae is sent to court with the instructions to get close to, and kill, a man who the convent believes is a traitor to the Duchess. But, once away from the convent, Ismae doesn’t see treachery from this man, only loyalty and honor, and a driving desire to keep the Duchess safe, himself. Ismae finds herself in jeopardy of giving this man her heart, and betraying everything she’s worked for or believed in by disobeying the convent, and Death himself.

My Thoughts:
I was recommended to this book, and I later found it for free on Kindle Unlimited, so I figured I’d give it a try. I am so glad I did, because I adored it, and quickly read the next two books in the trilogy as well. This is one part historical fiction, one part fantasy, with a couple drops of romance. Set in a fictional representation of historical Brittany (France), the setting of these books is a bit different than the more traditional English or Paris courts, making a nice change. One of the things I liked best was that the author calls the main characters Assassins, and doesn’t shy away from actually having them assassinate people. A lot of the time we have these supposedly killer female main characters, but then during the course of the books they never kill anyone, unless its in self-defense. Well these books are different because these young women really do assonate people, and they are even eager to do so. It’s not that the main character is blood thirsty, but she believes that this is her calling, bestowed upon her by Saint Mortain, the god of Death, himself. The other thing I enjoyed is the world building of both life at the convent, and life at the court of the very young Duchess of Brittany. Both are given attention, making the side characters in both places quite well developed and fully realized. Threads of the stories of Ismae’s two friends are also interwoven subtly into this book, making sure that the reader looks forward to the books to follow. Another aspect I enjoyed is that although this is the first book in a trilogy, it is also a stand alone book. Ismae’s story is basically completely wrapped up in this book, and her friend Sybil’s story starts in the second book. I enjoy when the books of a series take place in the same world, but with a new character. This way they act as a series, but also its own self-contained standalone story.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next two books in the His Fair Assassin series are Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart

You might also like:

The Kiss of Deception (Remnant Series) by Mary Pearson
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


Extras:


About the Author: 


Citation & Credits
Book cover image: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Lu, Marie. The Young Elites. , 2014. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0399167836. Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook. Paperback $5.44. Kindle $9.99.

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Synopsis:

This is not another hero’s story. This is the origin story of a villain.

Adelina has had a difficult life. 10 years ago a deadly plague swept her world. It left most dead, but affected some children differently. Giving them powers. Adelina’s family was hit, her mother died and she lost an eye but gained… other things. Her father has abused and used her, her sister doesn’t help. Now her powers are surging and she’s claimed by a secret sect of others who say they are like her. But no one else is like her. There’s a darkness in Adelina, and every day she’s pushed closer to unleashing it. One betrayal too many and she’ll snap.

This isn’t the story about a hero, it’s the story about the making of a villain.


Booktalk: 


Themes include: Vengeance, trust, identity, power, betrayal.


Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is The Rose Society, coming out October 13, 2015.


Extras:


About the Author: Marie Lu is the author of The Legend Series and The Young Elites series.


Citation & Credits
Book cover image: Courtesy of Amazon.com
Book Talk: Kelsey Bogan. 2015. All rights reserved.