Between the Bookcovers

Blogging About the Books I Read

Author: Amanda Hocking
Published: September 28, 2010
Pages: 306
Rating: 5/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

Review:

Remy is left alone with her small brother in a world where a rabies type virus has turned most of the population into zombies. She has learned to protect herself and when her brother is transported to a government safe house she has to try to find him. The story follows her as she goes across the western US, picking up colorful characters along the way. There is plenty of zombie type violence and the action is nonstop as she tries to locate her brother as readers wonder what makes him so special that the government wants to protect him?

I was sucked into this book from the first page and found it hard to put down. Remy's is a wonderful character, strong and independent, but wanting to be with others makes her vulnerable. She is on a mission to find her brother, all she has left of her family. The other characters are also well done: Lazlo, a rock star, and Tatum, a soldier who goes out of his way to help Remy, and a tame lion they find on the side of the road. There is plenty of blood and gore here, with zombies who seem to be getting smarter as they evolve.

There is no guarantee that the characters will survive, and many don't as they run for their lives. The dark, hostile world Hocking has created is a joy to read about, and the love story thrown into the action packed novel makes this a wonderful read.


Rating: An Excellent story you will not want to miss.

Author: Katie Crouch
Published: May 3, 2011
Pages: 368
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.


Review:

Alex grew up in a commune in California, a life she thought was perfect until her mother dies in a car wreck and she is left alone. Soon she is sent to live with her grandmother in Savannah, Georgia, and finds that she is very out of place. Her grandmother is the head of the Magnolia League, a secret society within Savannah that rules the town. At first Alex thinks it is some type of social club, but soon learns that it is a secret group that relies on the magic of hoodoo, an African American folk magic. With hoodoo the power within the Magnolia League is unlimited: wealth, youth, love. But the price one pays for the power is high. Alex wrestles with the power of the magic and her desires to pursue her own life, but does she have a choice in the matter?

I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel. The use of the supernatural has become so common in YA literature today that many of the books seem to run together and it can be hard to find something new. Ms. Crouch has really provided something refreshing and interesting in her use of the hoodoo magic. I was not aware of this type of magic and found it fascinating. The use of a magic so powerful that those who practice it will not partake speaks volumes about the bad side of using magic to get your needs met. But magic has a seductive side too and those who are in the League cannot seem to see the dark side of using it to craft their lives.

The story grabbed me from the start and I found it hard to put it down. The setting of Savannah was perfect for the story and a place where hoodoo magic had deep roots. Alex is a wonderful character who longs to belong somewhere but has a hard time finding out what she really wants. Unfortunately for her, her grandmother is all too happy to dictate what she should do.

Following Alex's journey of discovery through the maze of hoodoo magic and how it has been woven into the lives of her family kept me on the edge of my seat as she found skeletons in the closet that I was not expecting. There was also plenty of romance and intrigue to be found in the story. I loved this book and cannot wait for the next installment, I can't wait to see how Alex's story turns out.

Rating: An excellent story you will enjoy




Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.


Author: Megan McCafferty Published: April 26, 2011 Pages: 336 Rating: 4/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.


Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Review:

In the near future, a virus has made most people over the age of 18 infertile. This has made it popular, even encouraged for teens to become pregnant for others as soon as they can. Babies are now a commodity, and educated, white females can demand high prices for their "deliveries" (babies are not discussed). In this world we find identical twin girls, separated at birth, now meeting for the first time. Melody's parents have encouraged her to hold out for the highest bidder, making her pregnancy a high priced deal. Harmony was raised in a religious community where girls are encouraged to marry at thirteen, and she has come to make Melody realize that pregnancy for hire should not be done.

When I started reading this book I wasn't sure I liked it. The ideas were so foreign it was hard to read. But as I delved into the book it became a fascinating look at what could happen in a world where the pursuit of money is more important than then babies you create. It soon became clear that the adults in this world had changed the way their children think, and had the ability to encourage them to sell their womb space to the highest bidder. I felt sorry for the teens who felt they had to join in and help populate the world.

The two main characters were at first glance so very different, but as the story progressed, the ways they were alike b
ecame more apparent. The story was told from two view points, each twin alternating chapters. Their characters were well developed with Harmony the easiest to like with her sweet language and good intents. The slang used by Melody made her a bit harder to follow, but you could see her realization of her real predicament as the story progressed. The secondary characters were also well developed and likable, even fascinating. It was hard not to be disgusted with the parents, although they were not present for much of the story it was clear that their own desires drove them to make choices for the girls that were in the best interests of themselves, not their children.

This is a book that made me think. Parental approval, even encouragement, to become pregnant along with the financial gain, and peer pressure, made giving birth just another teen milestone.
The way McCafferty set up the future world where this, along with constant advertising that was geared toward encouraging teen pregnancy made it clear that this is something that could happen if the circumstances were right.While the book could be seen as a lighthearted, fluffy read, the themes are real and deserve to be examined. Women are clearly devalued in this world and the way the characters eventually stood up for themselves made me want to cheer. The ending was a bit abrupt, but I soon found out that a sequel is planned, and I can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: An excellent story that will leave you thinking




Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review but did not get any compensation for the review.

Here are the new young adult releases for the first week in May:



Skeleton Creek Author: Patrick Carman

Description from Goodreads:

Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek . . . and Ryan and Sarah are trying to get to the heart of it. But after an eerie accident leaves Ryan housebound and forbidden to see Sarah, their investigation takes two tracks: Ryan records everything in his journal, while Sarah uses her videocam to search things out. . .and then email the clips for Ryan to see.

In a new, groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts -- Ryan's text in the book, and Sarah's videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book.



The Magnolia League

Author: Katie Crouch

Description from Goodreads:

After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story abou
t girls growing up in a magical Southern city.



Moonglass

Author: Jessi Kirby

Description from Goodreads:

From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.
While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago.
And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.


So Much Closer

Author: Susane Colasanti

Description from Goodreads:

When Brooke's crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner...





Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Description from Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.



Illusions

Author: Aprilynne Pike

Description from Goodreads:

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.


I am participating in the Spring Carnival Giveaway.





Easy entry to win The Subway Girl . Just leave a comment, you get an extra entry if you are a follower. International entries OK for this giveaway. Good luck!





Author: P. J. Converse
Published: March 15, 2011
Pages: 224
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

He is shy. Unassuming. Inexperienced.

She is Subway Girl. Cool. Unattainable.

From the moment he sees her on a Hong Kong subway, Simon is intrigued by Amy, but he doesn't have the nerve to talk to her. When he finally works up the courage, he realizes he can't. Because Amy doesn't speak Chinese, and Simon is failing English.

But somehow, Amy and Simon connect, and they find that they understand each other. Enough for Simon to admit that he is dropping out of school. Enough for Amy to confess that she is pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's baby. Amy and Simon feel lost in a world so much bigger than they are, and yet they still have each other.

In this brilliant debut by P. J. Converse, two unlikely teenagers discover that love has a language all its own.


Review:

Simon grew up in Hong Kong in a traditional Chinese speaking family. Owners of a small shop, his parents do not understand his need for education or the need to speak English. Now Simon is failing English in school and will soon have to leave school for a job that does not require a higher education. Amy grew up in San Francisco. When her parents separate her mother brings her to Hong Kong where she was raised. Amy is "the Subway Girl" a beautiful, mysterious girl who rides the subway back and forth to school without speaking to anyone. One day Simon decides to speak to her and finds out that she does not speak very much Chinese. Suddenly Simon has a reason to speak English, as he pursues Amy. But Amy is dealing with serious problems: an abusive boyfriend and an unplanned pregnancy. The novel follows two teens from very different backgrounds as they discover each other and work through their problems.


The story is told by Simon and Amy, each alternating chapters. Their voices are realistic and ring true for teens who have poor adult role models and lack the understanding of their peers. Their characters were well developed but I really wanted to understand the emotional impact of Amy's pregnancy more, instead it was treated as another event in her life, like a school event or movie that she had to attend.


Their relationship developed slowly, as one would expect with a language barrier. The difference in language was used help Simon improve his English, and maybe his life if he can pass the exam and stay in school. They come to rely on each other as Amy helps to tutor Simon so he can try to pass the test. Simon helps Amy as she deals with her pregnancy and the complications that come with it.


I do have to applaud Converse for tackling important topics like pregnancy, dating violence and abortion. The book left me wanting to know how life turned out for Amy and Simon and the ending was not perfect, but neither is real life and I think this is the message that Converse was trying to relay.


Rating: A good book that deals with important teen issues

About This Blog

I review mostly Young Adult literature, any genre. I also review other fiction, especially horror, science fiction and historical novels. I also have occasional giveaways.

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