Review: Secondborn by Amy Bartol

Fantasical and exciting! I was sucked in from the very beginning. Amy Bartol knows how to write fantasy that is gripping and emotional.

Roselle has lived her life in front of cameras. Being a secondborn, her life is not her own. When’s she’s transitioned, it seems that very few people are on her side. She must find a way to survive and make this new life her own. Each decision she makes not only affects her, but the world around her as well.

I liked Roselle. A lot. She’s 18 and had this new life thrust upon her and had to choose to give up or fight. She’s got a lot of spunk and it’s quite wild to watch her. What I most especially like is that I know this is the type of book my daughter will love. A girl who isn’t the damsel, but the knight. I can’t wait till she reads this!

“I want to write the story of my life to suit me. I want to see the world without restrictions. I want to use my mind to obtain freedom, like she had.”

I really enjoyed diving into this new world. As with most first books in a series, there’s a lot to cover and introduce you to. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t overwhelmed with all the information. I tend to struggle with first books. My brain can’t seem to keep up. On top of that, the scenery was described in a way that I could imagine being right in the midst of it all. There are quite a few characters for you to love, and perhaps a couple to hate. My mind is turning with all my theories for the future. I’m gonna need the second book ASAP.

Well done, Ms. Bartol!!

~Melpomene

Buy Secondborn http://amzn.to/2vp2tMM

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

*1***Spoilers without spoilers***

yea…you read that right…..

So I won’t go into the whole entire picking the novel apart bit by bit….there’s really no need for that….it’s been done waaaay too many times…..This book is studied in schools, banned in schools, made into an opera, a film and is on so many book lists it’s just insane….is it deserving of all of that hype? yea…I reckon it is….I read a quote funny enough whilst reading this book….A story came out in The Guardian and it went like this…

“Some books haunt the reader. Others haunt the writer. The Handmaid’s Tale has done both.”

Yea….I reckon I can see that too….it certainly has haunted me and I can see how Atwood would feel haunted as well….

So I am gonna skip all of that and just tell you….read the book. If you love it…well, you’ll be glad you did….but this is one you can hate and still be glad you read as well….there is so much to ponder here…I can’t see how you would regret not trying this one out….

I would just like to briefly touch on the ending…

Here is the spoiler not spoiler bit I mentioned at the start…..

So many people hated how it ended….I for one loved it….but I often do love those types of ending….

but further than that…..why did it end like that?

This is what I have pondered the most about….obviously Atwood wrote all of her musings AFTER the fact…so why did she stop…..we know that she must have survived at least for a bit after the novel ends, right? She cared enough to write what she did….why? Did she have hope? For Luke? The child? Mankind? Women? Herself???? Was she offering hope? Was she trying to tell everyone that there wasn’t hope? Why…why…why…..more importantly….why did she stop writing?

I wonder if she stopped because she lost all hope…..if without the slim light that her hope offered…well…if it all just extinguished for her…her writing…her hope….even her life….

or was that hope realised and she just chose to walk away from the memories of the past….

I’m pretty sure it’s one of the other….I don’t think in my mind there is any other way….I don’t believe she died in the midst of her writing…I don’t believe she lost the book….

I believe she walked either into that light…or away…

So it leaves me ponder….is there life if there is no hope?

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

01mat This is the first book in my November reread. I’m reading it with my daughter. I like finding books that we can read together and discuss what’s happening. It makes her excited to read and if that’s what I have to do, I will do it.

Synopsis
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I remember reading this, for the very first time, and sitting down, in a Tim Hortons, crying my eyes out. This book had so many parts that made me feel like a teen myself. The situations that Cassia was put into, were so unfair, my heart was breaking. To not be able to choose your mate, has to be one the hardest things a person would have to deal with. And then to find out, they may have been wrong, and someone else might have been the person for you, that would make a young person go nuts. You don’t know who to believe. You find yourself drawn to the one who isn’t your match. You realize that the life your leading isn’t ideal anymore.

“Do not go gentle into that good night.”

Cassia starts to realize that the life she has isn’t the life she wants. She wants to choose. She wants Ky. She knows she can’t have him, but the heart knows what it wants. She notices things are changing and to change with them, would be to accept this world, and she isn’t sure she can do that anymore.

Watching Cassia and Ky grow closer, was so sweet and innocent. My heart was breaking for Ky and the life he has had. He has lost everything and was taken to a place where he is nothing. But when he meets Cassia, he knew he found his place. But nothing is your own and everything around you can be taken away, including those you love.

This is book one in the series. Thankfully all the books are out, cuz I totally forgot what happens next!! It’s not a cliffhanger, but we are left hanging just a bit. So I am jumping right into the next book, and my daughter can try to catch up, but I have to keep going!!

~Melpomene

Buy Matched

Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

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I absolutely loved this book. I love dystopian/apocalyptic stories and went through a phase when that’s all I would read. I’ve read almost every angle that’s been covered. Cyborgs, utopian societies, altered life forms, walled-off cities, rampant viruses, mutant beings, total environmental destruction…I’ve sampled them all. And then along comes this little gem that doesn’t fall into any of those categories and really isn’t very dystopian at all.

Meet Ella, or so she’s been named by her new owners. She’s one of a new breed, humans genetically engineered to be pets. These are the new status symbols for the rich and famous. And Ella comes from the best of the best, Greenwich Kennels, where young girls are taught how to walk, talk, smile, and perform on command for their wealthy owners. When Ella is purchased by Congressman Kimball and his family, she encounters a world she didn’t know existed. The family is both rich and powerful, and Ella is brought home to live in the lap of luxury. All she has to do is entertain young Ruby Kimball and smile prettily for the Congressman and his friends.

But her training didn’t teach her how to deal with her more human emotions. Emotions like sadness when hearing beautiful music, amazement when tasting candy for the first time, and passion when she falls for the Congressman’s son, Penn. She knows she’s been given a good life and lives in fear of being sent back to the kennel for doing something wrong. But beneath all the glamour lies an undercurrent of trouble. What happened to the family’s last pet and why was she returned to the kennel? And then there’s the Congressman’s creepy hands becoming ever more familiar day by day.

The correlations between human pets and animal pets are eerily accurate. Ella has her own special diet and isn’t allowed to eat with her owners. She’s told what to wear, what to do, and where to go. She has a “collar” with her name and address engraved on it. She’s even been microchipped in case she gets lost. And when she misbehaves, she’s put on a chain. She’s not expected to have an opinion, just to please the family.

This was one of those can’t-put-down books for me. Once I started it, I just had to find out what happens to Ella. She’s such a likable character, an innocent at the hands of people who just want a pretty plaything to show off. I loved her innocence and amazement at experiencing things for the first time-a banana split, a butterscotch candy, a midnight swim, a first kiss. Kate Jarvik Burch has crafted an amazingly engaging story that had me from the first page, the first line even. Grab this one, and be prepared for a marathon reading session!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Perfected (Entangled Teen)

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

20140111-211005.jpgI’ll start off with a disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories. That being said, at times they all tend to run together with story lines that are too similar to keep them separate in my mind. Boy/girl surviving in a harsh future world that’s been changed forever by a virus/alien invasion/advanced technology/drought with a love story thrown in for good measure…you get the picture. But this new offering by Ann Brashares offers a different take on the oh-so-popular genre.

Seventeen-year-old Prenna comes from a world that’s been devastated by a killer mosquito-born virus. Millions of people have died, and society is in ruins. In order to save themselves as well as the entire human race, a “community” of those with a natural immunity to the virus is formed. They decide to travel back in time in an attempt to change the course of events that set the world on a path to destruction. The community has a set of present-day rules that must be followed: never attempt to interfere with events, never reveal that they are from the future, never form a relationship with someone outside of the community. Prenna doesn’t question these rules until she falls for Ethan who, as luck would have it, is one of the few outsiders who can “see” that she’s actually from the future. Turns out there’s actually a bit of a conspiracy going on with the higher-ups of the community.

This was one of those books with several intersecting story lines. Yes, Prenna is the main character and Ethan is her love interest. But there are many other things going on at the same time. It’s a good book, just very hard to describe or summarize neatly. Read it if you enjoy well-written futuristic stories.

~Thalia

Buy it Now: The Here and Now

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

20131129-123657.jpgReaders of post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian stories must suspend their disbelief for the duration of most of these stories. Plague-induced flesh-eating zombies, alien or cyborg invasion…these make great stories but are a little too far “out there” for the average reader to truly believe. Scarcity of clean drinking water, however, is something that is far too believable.

Not a Drop to Drink takes us into the lives of Lynn and her mother as they try to survive in a harsh, futuristic world where safe, clean drinking water is a commodity worth killing for. Their primary focus is to protect their pond at all costs. Cut off from the rest of the world, they rely on nobody but themselves. Lynn, in fact, cannot recall ever talking to anyone besides her mother. She’s a tough survivor who knows what has to be done when faced with danger. After all, her mother has raised her that way. But when tragedy strikes, Lynn is forced to let down her guard and allow others into her life. This comes in the form of their long-standing neighbor as well as strangers Eli and young Lucy. Of course Eli becomes the love interest. Isn’t that a requirement for a young adult novel? Still, the romance is more of a sideline and doesn’t distract from the inner toughness and maturity that Lynn exhibits throughout the story. It was also nice to see her transformation from a hard-as-nails, unemotional teenager into someone who truly cares for others and puts their well being before hers.

I enjoyed this book tremendously, and in large part because it felt more plausible to me than most of the other books of this genre that I’ve read. Clean water to drink is something that most of us take for granted. But how long would we be able to survive if our supply was limited? What measures would we take to protect what little we had? And what would we be willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others? While I won’t pretend that this was a particularly deep or thought-provoking story, it did make me think “what if” a bit more than others have recently. This book has great character development and the author provides a well-described environment that helps the reader understand why certain tough decisions had to be made. This one is a well-written, strong story!

~Thalia

Buy it Now: Not a Drop to Drink

Review: Pawn, by Aimee Carter

18221310 If you liked Divergent and The Hunger Games, then you will like this book. It’s kind of a combo of both. I’ve been waiting til closer to the release date, to read it, since I knew I was gonna like it, but I didn’t want to talk about it so early and make people mad. 🙂

In Kitty Doe’s world, you take a test, when you turn 17 and that will tell you what job you will do and how you will live. You need a VI or higher to live a comfortable life with enough food to survive. Anything lower, you’ll be lucky to live til 18. And if you do, you’ll end up Elsewhere. That is one place you don’t want to be. Kitty just took her test, and is now a III. That means she is pretty much nothing. She will barely make it. But here is nothing she can do about it, but try and survive, even if it requires her giving up something so sacred.

When she decides to leave and find a way to survive, until Benjy can take his test, she is offered a chance to be a VII, no questions asked. And she took it. She then finds herself Masked as the Prime Minister’s niece, Lily, and then forced to reverse all the damage the girl has caused.

There are so many characters that you think are good, but turn out bad, and vice versa. Kitty has to determine who she is with and how can she get away, before she is no longer needed.

“Never forget the potential one solitary pawn has to change the entire game.”

There were quite a few twists and turn is this story and a few scenes which shocked the crud outta me. Kitty is trying to figure out how to survive being someone else but also trying to change the game to fit her. She is not your simple pawn.

The Prime Minister’s family is quite twisted. Their dynamics were way to crazy, and a little creepy, to even list. Some of their activities, for instance their visits to Elsewhere, were so disturbing, I was shocked. A few times I was wondering who was good and who was bad. But I guess everyone is a little of both.

It seemed that there was a lot going on, in just one book. Everything moved very fast. I’m not sure if I liked that or not. But after that ending, I am dying to see what comes next!!

~Melpomene

Harlequin Teen
Buy it now Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion)