Showing posts from December, 2013

Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

Since its release in 2012, Seraphina has garnered many honors and an incredible number of starred reviews from numerous review journals and other media outlets. As this was a rather intense year of reading, I was not able to immediately pick up Hartman's book and am now very much behind in reviewing the text. All that being said, I have finally had a couple of days to read it over, and I can't say I'm surprised that it managed to pick up so many accolades over the last few years.

This book is a deliciously crafted web of intrigue and suspense. Never knowing who to trust, Seraphina--the product of an unspeakable relationship--befriends Princess Glisselda and Prince Lucian and attempts to discover just what sort of terrible scheme is at play to undermine forty years of peace between the Goreddis and the Dragons. As this beautifully crafted tale moves forward, everyone becomes a suspect, and Seraphina's lineage is in danger of being revealed. With dragons hiding in plain s…

Being Henry David - Cal Armistead

"The last thing I remember is now. Now, coming at me with heart-pounding fists. My eyes shoot open, and there is too much. Of everything. Blurred figures, moving. White lights. Muffled waves of sound. Voices. Music. Chaos" (1).  So begins this intriguing tale of a young man who awakens in Penn Station one afternoon with no memory of how he got there, who he is, or why he's holding a copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden
While wandering through the train station, he meets a young man named Jack (and later Jack's sister, Nessa) who eventually gives him the name Hank. As Hank tries to remember his old life, he associates with a drug dealer, takes part in a Battle of the Bands competition, and attempts to piece together his life and past with the help of a wonderfully talented and tattooed research librarian / Thoreau interpreter, in Concord, MA, where he begins his search for clues at Walden Pond. 
Armistead's prose are swift and spare, moving the story forward w…

The Boundless - Kenneth Oppel

In The Boundless, you'll be a witness to murder, mayhem, sasquatch fury, and tightrope walking awesomeness, all within the bounds of a train, ironically named the Boundless. Oppel's narrative follows William Everett, a young man of few means, whose father is working on finishing the railroad across the continent. When an avalanche comes crashing down on a celebratory gathering as the last, gold spike is being hammered into place, William's father saves the founder of the railway from certain death. When the founder eventually passes away, William's father is named successor. During the maiden journey of the Boundless, a group of thugs hatch a scheme to rob the train of some very valuable merchandise, and William becomes caught in the crosshairs.

Oppel manages to cover issues of race, class, adversity, history, and many other themes, without ever succumbing to an overly didactic writing style, and the pacing will hold the attention of adults and young readers alike. I re…

Noggin - John Corey Whaley

After the publication of his debut novel, Where Things Come Back, Corey Whaley has a lot of expectations riding on his next book. Noggin ultimately lives up to all of these expectations (at least my own); the book is funny, charming, emotional, and bizarre. The very idea of a head transplant makes for a notable premise, but the way in which Whaley grounds this remarkable situation within reality is truly noteworthy. The characters stand out as both real and yet somehow illusory, but bursting with personality and heart on every page. I have honestly not been this impacted by a book in a while, and I cannot seem to get it out of my head. Corey Whaley most definitely exceeded my expectations with this new and original contribution to the canon of YA awesomeness.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This Review is from an Advanced Reading Copy - Out April 8, 2014)

Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis

A beautifully meandering and emotional tale of endurance and survival. Our protagonist, Lynn, is living in a world where water is becoming an incredibly scarce resource. After she loses her mother, her world becomes perilous and she no longer knows who to trust. With a pond in her back yard, Lynn has more to defend than might be possible on her own. She soon notices smoke on the horizon, and mysterious footprints by the pond, and Lynn realizes she may have to go to extremes to protect herself and others who have escaped the tyranny of the cities that are hoarding critical resources and forcing people into poverty just for a drop to drink. Mindy McGinnis is a wonderful new voice in YA, and this book is not to be missed.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This Review is from an Advanced Reading Copy)

The Sowing - Steven Dos Santos

The Sowing is a novel that intrigued me, especially after reading the first in the proposed trilogy. I love the mix of action, thrills, intrigue and queer romance. Dos Santos is quite adept at working queerness into the text without much intrusion into the politics of homosexuality. As an educator and a student of queer theory and sexuality within YA literature, I can say with all honesty that this is a fantastic addition to the slowly growing body of queer dystopian literature. Another much appreciated aspect of the novel is the pacing throughout--there are no lagging moments at all, from the first chapter--and even the secondary characters are very well-rounded and fully realized. Definitely a must-read for those who have already picked up the first part of the Torchbearer trilogy, The Culling.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This Review is from an Advanced Reading Copy - Out March 8, 2014)