Letters To A Young Writer

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I received this ARC from Random House in exchange for an honest review.

This is not my first dance with Colum McCan and I now know it won’t be my last.  This man has a way with words, a humble regality.  Is that possible?  I highlighted sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph in an attempt to preserve the words in my mind.

I am not a writer.  I read, I read unceasingly.  I read at home, at work, on planes, in foreign countries and in the wilderness.  Reading this work, meant for writers, made me consider putting the book down for a bit and picking up the pen that I mostly use to correct the work of others.

A story begins long before its first word.  It ends long after its last.

This is a collection of letters on various subjects, aimed at encouraging the young writer.  What constitutes a young rider?  McCann himself isn’t concerned with that.  He points out that beloved Frank McCourt (who surely is reading this one in heaven) was 64 when he began.

To not know exactly where your story is going is a good thing.  It may drive you mad for a little while, but there’s worse things than madness: try silence, for instance.

I could gush on endlessly and copy, paste quote after quote.  Just read it.  It’s short.  It’s beautiful.  It’s the work of Colum McCann.  What a great book to beckon me back to this blog.

Stories matter.  They send our kids to war.  They open up our pockets.  They break our hearts.

Five of the brightest stars.

Expected Publication: April 4, 2017

Defy the Stars

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I received this ARC from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

Earth is dying.  The climate change crisis of the 21st century has been realized and then some.  Despite scientific advances and the colonization of other planets, Earth is just as chaotic and war-like as ever.

Noemi is from Genesis, the paradise planet Earth turned to as a new world.  This plan imploded when the people of Genesis decided becoming another Earth wasn’t what they wanted.  Genesis is a place of peace and no one knows that better than Noemi Vidal.

Like most people of Genesis, Noemi believes the Word of God…she can quote chapter and verse on the value of life, the importance of peace…Noemi knows what her duty to God is right now: Fight like hell.

A war has raged for decades and Noemi is a Genesis soldier aimed at stopping Earth for good.

She’s learned how to fight.  Next she had to learn now to die.

Abel is the most advanced Mech ever built.  When he and Noemi stumble upon each other will they continue the war?  Abel was created, not born.  Will he help or harm the cause?

A great mystery lurks within Abel, even now, one planted by Burton Mansfield long ago, waiting to be revealed.

I really enjoyed this novel, it had a plot that was able to plug into the Sci-fi genre in a clever way.  Noemi is relatable, yet flawed.  Abel made me question what it is to be human.  I look forward to the follow up books!

4 stars.

Expected Publication Date: April 4, 2017

 

Land of Hidden Fires

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I received this ARC from Grenzland Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

1943. Norway is occupied by the German forces and governed by a puppet ruler. If there is one thing I learned from this book it is the definition of the word Quisling, so named after the leader of Norway at the time. Quisling, a traitor who collaborates with an occupying enemy force.

Kari is the 15 year old daughter of Erling, a widower farmer. Life is hard, both economically and personally. Kari spots a downed allied plane and against the wishes of her father takes action. In this moment she declares herself part of the resistance. As she and Lance, the pilot, make their way to the Swedish border we are treated to her perspective as well as that of her father and a German officer determined to capture them for the sake of his career.

…but beauty isn’t the point of war.

There were some beautifully descriptive sentences that made the landscape really come alive but that’s about as much as I can compliment here. I found this novel quite one-dimensional, redeemed mostly by the historical details gleaned and its brevity.

To the south, thick storm clouds gathered over the mountains, pooling like spilled mercury. It felt ominous and still, like the world was coming to an end.

2 stars.

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Gilded Cage

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I received this ARC from Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review, which I am a couple of weeks late getting out!

There are two types of people in Britain (and the world); those with skill, the Equals, and those with none, Commoners.  Skill equals power, over nature and society.

Government is not what defines us, Chancellor. Nor is power.  Not wealth.  Skill is what defines us…

Ten years.  All Commoners are required to do ten years slavedays.  Ten years of serving the Equals as a slave.  Abi is lucky, she and her family will complete their decade on the estate of the most powerful Equal family.  She thought so anyway, until her younger brother Luke is sent to a slavetown instead.  The slavetown are factory neighborhoods, six day workweeks under brutal conditions.

Things aren’t what they seem.  The Equals aren’t known to be benevolent but are they entirely evil?  Will Abi and Luke do their time or will they dismantle the very foundations of Equal rule?

Your allies aren’t always who you think they are, Miss Matravers.  And neither are your enemies.

This book is in no way reinventing the wheel. The troupe isn’t new but it is interesting.  I’m keen on extraordinary powers and dystopia, this fits the bill.  I will definitely read the next book in the series.

Three stars.

Publication Date: February 14, 2017

 

True North-Cover Reveal

I got to review True Born (book 1) last year and am thrilled to have been asked to participate in the cover reveal of book 2!

 
About True North (True Born, #2):
Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.
While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.??
As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.
Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of True North (True Born, #2) by L.E. Sterling today!

Deliver Her

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I received this book from Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately I got this galley nearly a week after publication, so I didn’t have the time to get the book read and reviewed before publication.

Meg is a suburban mom dealing with suburban problems: a separation from her husband, a stressful job and the increasingly alarming behavior of her sixteen year old daughter, Alex.  Alex has been in a downward spiral since the death of her best friend and Meg is at the end of her rope.

They didn’t need another tragedy.

Unable to get her husband, Jacob, on board with the boarding school for troubled teens she has selected, she finds another way.  A “transporter” named Carl will take Alex to the school, to her fresh start.  It was a simple days journey, until it wasn’t.  Now Alex is missing.  Can they find her before the New England winter claims her?

Alex began to understand the miserable consequences of a bad decision.

This was an interesting read.  I liked the concept but found it very slow for my taste.  With the ever changing point of view I found that it dragged along too often.  Donovan is clearly a good writer, this one was just a bit off the mark for me.

Two stars.

Publication Date: May 1, 2016

The Girl I Used To Be

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I received this ARC from Macmillan Children’s Publishing group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was the perfect lazy Sunday read; short, mysterious and fast-paced.

Olivia wasn’t always Olivia.  When she was three her father killed her mother and left her behind.  She believes this for fourteen years until new evidence indicates that isn’t what happened at all.  Now 17 and living on her own, Olivia decides to return to her hometown and find out what really happened.

I’m not going to forgive.  Someone murdered my parents and left them underneath the cold sky and thought they got away with it.  They were wrong.

With the help of a new old friend, Duncan, and a kindly neighbor, Nora, Olivia creeps closer to the truth and tries to find home again.

To me, Nora’s house is full of things I long for.  But none of them are tangible.

Olivia hasn’t led an easy life and the answers she seeks only make it that much more difficult but she’s determined to find the truth and the peace that comes with it.

Home’s the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

This isn’t a complicated read but I will say that I didn’t guess the villain before the end which is in and of itself a feat.  I recommend this as a summer beach-read.

Three Stars.

Expected Publication: May 3, 2016

The Society

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I received this book from Netgalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a revenge plot.  That much is clear from the very beginning and you won’t forget it for even a solitary chapter.  Sam had it all; a well-to-do upbringing, a posh private school education and  the sort of best friend that ensures social standing.  That all changes when said best friend, Jessica, betrays her.  Now her father is in prison, her mother  has passed her off on an aunt who seems more and more out of it these days and now she really only has one friend (Jeremy).

How do you explain the culmination of years of torment?  Everyone has a breaking point, and I’d reached mine.

This is her senior year and she has vowed to make Jessica and her cronies pay.  She meets a mysterious bad-boy in the process and begins to lose herself in him and her plot.  Trinity Academy has “The Society”, its little version of Skull and Bones and Sam has her own little initiates to exact her revenge…will she succeed?

It took me a really long time to read this, mostly because it was so predictable.  I just couldn’t quite get into it.  As for the writing, it was sound, just nothing special.  I did appreciate the Author’s Note about bullying at the end.  Bullying in schools is a real problem, one we as a society should take seriously.  As a first grade teacher I show zero tolerance for it, and I hope we all do our parts.

Two Stars.

Expected Publication: May 3, 2016

 

 

True Born (True Born Triology #1)

true-born-epubI received this ARC from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

In this Dystopian society the plague is back with a vengeance and shows no signs of disappearing naturally or being cured. Dominion City is the last stronghold of Nor-Am, the center of what was once a powerful nation.  Life is all about survival for most, though for Lucy and Margot Fox, the twin daughters of one of Dominion’s most powerful men life goes on much the same as before.

By your eighteenth  birthday you’re supposed to know.  They’re supposed to tell you.  Splicer.  True Born.  Laster.

.The Lasters are living on borrowed time, just waiting for the plague to take them.  The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that involve splicing their DNA to stay a step ahead of the disease.  The True Borns are born resistant, with mutated genes that channel primitive changes in their DNA, from before we evolved into Homo Sapiens.

All that separates us, that poor woman and me, is an accident of birth.

As the Fox sisters approach their big reveal party their world is cast into chaos.  The Laster population is not just quietly dying out, they are making their presence know.  The True Born population their Splicer circle despises is suddenly on the scene, saving them from they don’t know what.  Nothing is as it seems, as it has always been.

…they’d let us die without ever telling us the truth.  Or, they would dangle it over our heads to force us into compliance.

 Lasters die, Splicers play God to save themselves and the True Borns are mutant shape-shifter freaks.  Right?  Suddenly Lucy isn’t so sure and she’ll do what it takes to keep her sister safe.  Dominion City isn’t what it seems.

Three Stars.

Expected Publication: May 3, 2016