Tag Archives: #YA

Facsimile, by Vicki Weavil

For a ticket to Earth, 17-year-old Anna-Maria “Ann” Solano is ready to jettison her birth planet, best friend, and the boy who loves her. Her mission is easy: escort Dace Keeling, a young naturalist, through the wilderness of the partially terraformed planet Eco. Ann’s determination to escape the limitations of her small, frontier colony never falters, until Dace’s expeditions uncover three secrets. One offers riches, one shatters Ann’s perceptions of herself, and one reveals that the humans stranded on Eco are not its only inhabitants. This is the story of a girl who must choose between fulfilling the dream that has always sustained her or save the planet she’s never considered home.

I was trapped in the passenger seat on a long road trip, so I ended up reading Facsimile in about six hours. Facsimile has a slow beginning. The premise was interesting, but it was difficult to connect with the characters. There was this odd love triangle, but it didn’t seem to work for me. I had just finished reading the Generations series by Scott Sigler, and I was hoping that Facsimile would be similar. There are a lot of parallels – children left to cope on their own; no adults around to guide the youth who just want to get off the planet; a strong female protagonist.

I think that the narrative was a bit too long. There were some interesting social justice components, but they seemed forced. I think if I had to sum up my quibbles with Facsimile, it would be “forced.” The story just didn’t seem to flow smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still read a sequel, because the overall story was interesting. In the end, I’d award Facsimile 3.5 stars.

Vicki turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. An avid reader who appreciates good writing in all genres, Vicki has been known to read seven books in as many days. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, listening to music, gardening, or traveling. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.
 

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Discord, by Katy Haye

Beth forgot her past. What if there’s nothing to remember? Beth has spent six months at the remote Steptoe House in the English countryside and still can’t remember a single thing from before her car accident. The doctors say that’s normal. They say traumatic brain injuries heal at their own pace and insist the music therapy they prescribe to their patients is the key to recovery. But something is off at Steptoe House and Beth can feel it. There’s a wrongness there — a discord between what is and what should be. Strange voices echo down the halls at night and shifting shadows beckon. And Beth doesn’t dare tell anyone she’s been talking to ghosts. So, when new patient Toby arrives, she’s relieved to find a friend she can trust, a confidant to share her ghosts with. Plus, he’s really cute. Together, they will tackle the mystery of Steptoe House and uncover more than either of them ever bargained for.

I saw Discord, by Katy Haye on Netgalley, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve read some really interesting sci-fi lately with protagonists with memory loss and/or brain damage. It’s interesting to see how different authors handle this serious issue in society – even in future societies. I don’t know if this is because I’m finally graduating this May with a mental health undergraduate degree, or if I’m just a weirdo.

Not to worry, Discord is an easy read for many age groups. The story just doesn’t make sense for about the first two-thirds of the book. Not in a way that I couldn’t follow the narrative, but in a way that the narrative just confounded me. Elements that I read were just a little bit off, and my expectations were constantly challenged. It was as if I were an anthropologist that had all these ideas of how a story should be, and then I got to experience the story, and many of my ideas didn’t quite match up. I was close, but not exact.

Any way, enough rambling. Discord is an odd story. I totally dug it, and some of my complaints about teen angst and relationships are likely due to the very small suite of characters. One you read the reveal, and the oddities make sense, Discord is a cool sci-fi foray, and for 99-cents, you should pick it up for a read. I’d read the sequel, Dissent, when it comes out in just over a week. I’d rate Discord four stars for a rather interesting method of storytelling.

Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else’s imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling. When not lost in a good book, Katy may be found on her allotment growing veg and keeping hens in order to maximise her chances of survival in the event of a zombie apocalypse or similar catastrophe (you never know!).

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Mansions of Karma, by Ruth White

Twelve children tragically left alone to run the world – their world being a pristine Goldilocks planet far, far from Earth. Without guidance, without technology, without a blueprint, they grow into teens living by their wits, and wait for a promised starship to rescue them. Lily, the oldest in the group, cooks meals and performs other parental duties, thus becoming something of a mother figure to the younger ones. Their greatest comfort is a spiritual vision – the legendary Mansions of Karma – which appears in the sky periodically to remind them they are not alone, but forever a part of the great, universal life force. They also have a gift left to them by their parents – the memory of the disintegration of their home planet, Earth. Will they allow the same fate to befall this new Eden?

At its core, Mansions of Karma is a YA sci-fi story with slight elements of romance. It’s suitable for all ages, and there isn’t any strong peril to scare younger readers. The story is engaging so that you want to keep reading to see how it all pans out. There are a few necessary time jumps and they’re handled nicely.

The story is pretty straightforward: A colony on a distant planet suffers a catastrophic illness that kills all the adults. The titular eleven-year-old Lily is the oldest, and she has to keep the younger children and herself alive long enough for help to arrive … if it arrives at all.

The story has an ending that works. It’s not a cliffhanger, but a few plot points are left unanswered. I didn’t feel cheated with the ending, and I’m glad that there’s a sequel coming, although even without a sequel, this self-contained story can easily be read in a single evening. A four-star read. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read it for free, and the 99-cent price is worth it.

Ruth White was born in the Appalachian hills of Virginia. She lived there until she graduated from high school and went away to college. Though she left the hills, they never left her. Ruth started writing at a very young age. She remembers trying to write stories before she was even able to put long sentences together. Eventually Ruth became a teacher and then a school librarian. Working in the public schools among adolescents fueled her desire to write. When not writing, Ruth likes to walk in the park with her golden retriever, listen to books on tape, and watch movies. Away from home, She likes to visit schools and talk to young people about books and writing. Her daughter usually travels with her, and they have a great time together.

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Curse of Stars, by Donna Compositor

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Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer. Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler. Only it’s a favor he doesn’t want. In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope ignites. Together they may have a chance at escape, something no other Crier has done. Except a ruler hellbent on draining them of every last diamond tear isn’t their only hurdle. If they escape they’ll be hunted to the ends of the earth, if they survive the trek to safety. If they stay the ruler will leech them dry. Sabi would rather die trying than lie down and die, even if that means running away into even more danger.

I saw Curse of Stars on Netgalley, and I was interested in Donna’s work. The story is a rather novel take on a standard YA trope: A young woman is something more than she had originally thought, and she’s thrust into a situation where her true hidden talents are revealed resulting in her impressing the first cold and now hot native who just wants her to reach her full potential and rid both worlds of a particular evil that scores of trained persons couldn’t defeat in all the years she was hidden in exile on Earth.

Following existing tropes is not necessarily a bad thing, and Donna’s story definitely has an interesting take. Sabi Perez cries diamonds. The bad guy wants her for her ability. But wait, she has hidden allies! The story is most definitely dark, even bleak. There’s lots of action, and what romance is in the story is minimal. Young Adult novels tend to be cheery or angsty, so it was nice to read a YA story that that didn’t shy away from difficult situations or ignore the negativity that the world Sabi ends up in is not a nice place. Donna doesn’t ignore the fact that people are sometimes selfish, and do things to hurt people to get what they want. The tense storytelling requires you to keep reading until the end.

Fans of YA will enjoy Curse of Stars. It’s pretty much standard fare as far as the genre is concerned. Fans of dark fiction, or even grimdark fantasy will also enjoy it. Personally, I’d rate it just shy of four stars. Hopefully I’ll see Donna at Phoenix Comicon this year, and I can say “hello.”

donna-compositor

Donna Compositor has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.

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http://www.imaginewrite.net/
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More of Me, by Kathryn Evans

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Teva’s life seems normal: school, friends, boyfriend. But at home she hides an impossible secret. Eleven other Tevas. Because once a year, Teva separates into two, leaving a younger version of herself stuck at the same age, in the same house… watching the new Teva live the life that she’d been living. But as her seventeenth birthday rolls around, Teva is determined not to let it happen again. She’s going to fight for her future. Even if that means fighting herself.

 

I have a pretty regular reading schedule. I know how long it should take me to read a book based on page counts. When a book is engrossing, I end up breaking my reading rules and reading more. I almost finished Kathryn Evans’ More of Me in a single night. The book is compelling, and finding a chapter break that I could stop for the night was almost impossible.

The story deals with many issues and worries that teenagers have before “officially” becoming adults. Relationships, the future, past mistakes, and family secrets are already pretty tough for sixteen-year-old Teva, but toss in her “condition,” and you just have to keep flipping pages to find out what happens next.

What happens is a taut thriller with mystery elements wrapped up in a science fiction young adult novel. I was a bit skeptical with the premise, but it quickly captured me and wouldn’t let go. I’m glad I took a chance on this story when I saw it on NetGalley.

I wasn’t sure about Teva’s reality several times in the story. Like Paul Cleave’s Trust No One, I kept flip-flopping to what I thought was really going on. The author dropped enough clues and red herrings, which kept me engrossed throughout.

More of Me is definitely a five-star read, and when you start it, make sure you have time to read the whole thing. The kindle version doesn’t come out until June 13th, but the paperback can be had now for just over ten dollars including shipping.

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Following a degree in drama and a short career in theatre, Kathryn Evans quickly realised she was likely to starve unless she got a proper job. She didn’t get a proper job, she married a farmer and set up a strawberry farm. And now she’s writing books, will she never learn?

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Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen

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Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand. And just like that, Nettie can see. But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

I had high expectations when I saw Wake of Vultures on NetGalley. I’ve read Delilah Dawson before, and I knew she had a supernatural series under the pen name, Lila Bowen. I’m not shocked that Wake of Vultures exceeded my expectations. Although an old west novel with vampires, werewolves and cowpokes isn’t exactly my thing, I knew that whatever Delilah wrote, I’d likely enjoy.

As others have said, Wake of Vultures has a feel like an episode of Supernatural. On the old west half of the mash-up, I’d say that old-timey themes like Magnificent Seven, but what really came to mind, was Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman.

I enjoyed Wake of Vultures; plan to read Conspiracy of Ravens and the other two books in the series when they come out in 2017 & 2018. Five stars for this wonderful story.

Delilah S. Dawson writes dark, edgy books for teens and fantasy with a wicked edge for adults. The Blud series is available now and includes WICKED AS SHE WANTS, winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. SERVANTS OF THE STORM debuts August 2014, and Kirkus called the Southern Gothic Horror YA “an engaging page-turner” and “a standout, atmospheric horror tale.” April 2015 will see the launch of HIT, a YA pre-dystopia about teen assassins in a bank-owned America.

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Infinity, by Jus Accardo

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There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life: One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective. Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking. Three: Everything she knew was a lie. Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life: One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions. Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret. Three: Someone wants her dead.

I’ve always been a sci-fi fan, so when I saw a parallel worlds story on NetGalley, I requested it right away. Parallel worlds have been done in the past. Sometimes excellent: Sliders seasons 1 & 2. Sometimes poorly: Long Earth #4. I’m afraid that Jus Accardo’s foray into the trope was just okay.

My biggest issue with Infinity was that there were no adventures romping through parallel worlds. The characters talked about it briefly and described a few of the worlds, but the author never took us to another world. I’d be willing to say that because this first story is more of an introduction to the series, the lack of world-hopping can be excused. I’d pick up the second book when it comes out, but if it too has no world-hopping, or spends the entirety of the story in one world, then it’d lose me as a reader.

There was quite a bit of teenage angst, and a sloppy romance angle thing going on. A few situations had me scratching my noggin trying to suspend my disbelief, and although the author attempts to explain the motives behind the villain, the motivation was hard to swallow. The premise of the story was interesting but fell a bit short of the execution.

Overall, I didn’t feel that I wasted my time reading Infinity. I will admit that after about 50% of my read, I received an ARC of another book I wanted to read, and I just wanted to get Infinity done so I could start on the other book.

Sci-fi fans will probably like Infinity, by Jus Accardo. I suspect that the parallel world adventures will pick up in book two. I’d rate Infinity three and a half stars.

jus-accardo

JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food. Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing, as well as the Darker Agency series, and the New Adult series, The Eternal Balance. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

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