Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

Grade: A+


Synopsis:

The war between the Uplanders and Downlanders is over. After six years of fighting, Cam Attling is the only one from his tiny town of Kayforl to return, and suspicion surrounds him. When his betrothal to Graceful Fenister is called off and his entire role in the community questioned, Cam leaves to find the Uplander lord who maimed him but spared his life, seeking answers and a new place in the world.

But this is not just Cam's story, it's about all those whose fates entwine with his. Graceful Fenister, who will go on to marry the last person Cam would expect. Cam's sister, Pin, who grows into a young lady who embraces Uplander culture. Lord Gyaar, who is haunted by Cam and the resemblance he bears to his own brother. Diido, who lost everything in war too, but finds a new life for herself when she meets Cam.

Ratings:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 10/10!
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 10/10!
Total Score: 66/70

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Cursing: Some.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some drinking and drunkenness.
Sexual Content: A few scenes, mostly mild.
Disturbing Images/Violence: References to rape/prostitution, domestic violence, images of war.

Review:

When I contemplate this story, one word comes to mind: Beautiful. The world is stunning, one of the most vividly imagined and complete universes I have experienced in writing. The characters are unique, deep, sometimes painfully true. And the voice Hinwood has created in them, their speech, their mannerisms and cultures--it is startling, captivating...beautiful. She somehow manages to portray the struggle and pain associated with the aftermath of war in an almost gentle way, with honesty and reality, that is all the more powerful for that. And what a beautiful cover, no? All in all, a breathtaking and mature read from a talented and imaginative woman. Can't wait for those to follow.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

RETRIBUTION Giveaway!

Today is the official release date for Sherrilyn Kenyon's book RETRIBUTION, the next in the Dark-Hunter Series:


...Harm no human…
A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he’d spend eternity protecting the humans he’d once considered prey.
Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief- Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters...

Reading Rocks has been given the opportunity to GIVE AWAY A COPY OF THE BOOK TO ONE LUCKY WINNER!
CONTEST ENDS AUGUST 12th. 
To enter, fill out the form below. US/Canadian addresses only please. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

Grade: A

Synopsis:

Every girl gets one. An XVI tattoo on the wrist--sixteen. They say they're there for protection.

Some girls can't wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina's normal life is shattered; and she discovers hat nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there's one boy who can help--and he just may hold the key to her past.

But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure...for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.

Ratings:

Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 7/10
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 56/70

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Cursing: Some.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some references to drug use, I believe, especially drugging by the government.
Sexual Content: Sex plays a very big role in this book, especially where teens are concerned. Also, rape and references to porn and sex slavery.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Domestic abuse, murder.

Review:

While I very much loved the author's dystopian perspective on our future--a future filled with advertising manipulation, a "tier" class system, and a corrupt government hiding behind a facade of protection--I simply could not connect with the main character, Nina. Her emotions were wild and unformed, and I did not believe her motivations. On the one hand, she would rant to herself about how obviously spoiled the government was and how she knew that free speech was being tamped down, but then she would passionately defend it in a conversation with another character. Also, the way she handled sex was whiny. Sex, particularly the teen variety, played a big role in this book, and while, yeah, the government of the future stamping girls with tattoos that  make them free game for guys is totally conceivable, but the way Nina dealt with it was totally beyond me. All in all, she didn't really come across so much a strong heroine as an angsty, feeble-minded child. But that's just me.

That aside, I thought the author's concept and execution of the future was great and totally unique--definitely something I was interested in reading about. She wove enormous amounts of mystery and intrigue into the exposition of the story that is gradually revealed as the story progresses--marvelous! Because of this, I will most certainly be returning for the sequel.


LINKS:

Julia Karr (read the first chapter here!)
Truth, the sequel, available 1/19/2012:


Friday, July 1, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Grade: A+


Synopsis:

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends--and planet--behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship.

Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.

Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldests' rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship's cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

Rating:

Character Development: 9/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 8/10
Plot: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 65/70

Obtained: Library.

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Cursing: Very limited.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Some drugging, some drunkenness, but nothing too bad.
Sexual Content: Lots, but it's all very animal and portrayed with a certain distaste. Also, near-rape.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Suicide, murder.

Review:

Incredibly action-packed and fast-paced, Across the Universe had me hooked from the start. Beth Revis manages to capture the immense and conflicting emotions surrounding the choice to leave Earth behind and life on a spaceship of limited size. The book is filled with tension, hopelessness, and loneliness, but is also a testament to the importance of the human spirit. I think Revis, best of any sci-fi YA author, has imagined the problems, internal and external struggles, and development of a society trapped in space extremely realistically, and her creativity is evident throughout. And through all of it, as is the nature of the genre, she speaks not only of the people of Godspeed, but of what it means to be human, to lead, to be alone in ways that are totally applicable to life on Earth--Sol-Earth, that is.

This, combined with the interesting cast of characters and the alternating perspective of Elder and Amy (two individuals with strikingly different worldviews but who are nonetheless full of the same vivacious humanity), creates a mysterious and fascinating story. I am so glad there are two more to come.

LINKS:


Beth Revis
AcrossTheUniverse.com
The Interrobangs talks about the controversy surrounding the cover

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Grade: Low A


Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended--and rather eccentric--family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestor's peculiar history, she's had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn't been introduced to "the mysteries," and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesley, watching movies and talking about boys. It comes as an unwelcoming surprise then when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past.

She's totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He's obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she's seen in any century...

Rating:

Character Development: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Setting: 9/10
Total Score: 53/70

Obtained: Free finished copy provided by publisher (Henry Holt)

Age Appropriate? PG

Cursing: Some, very limited.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: None.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some murder and violence.

Review:

All things considered, this book was fairly charming. It wasn't nearly as juvenile as the trailer made it seem, but nor was it a masterpiece. Gwen is mildly annoying at times, but has her moments of being quite cool. Gideon is, well...a guy, and there is absolutely nothing disguising the fact that he's "the One". But the concept of the magic is quite interesting, and I am relieved that this book is a trilogy, because there's simply too much intrigue to fit into one book of this length.

Was it worth the read? Definitely. The story is fast-paced but easy to follow, and there are some truly lovable characters you meet along the way. Gier also managed to keep the reader as ignorant as Gwen as far as who to trust, with no dramatically ironic clues whatsoever, a trait of the book that keeps it interesting and unpredictable. I honestly have no idea where the next two books are going, but I will certainly look forward to finding out!

LINKS:


Book Info

Thursday, June 23, 2011

POTTERMORE!



Last night, in possibly the coolest video ever, J.K. Rowling made her eagerly-anticipated announcement:

"Pottermore is a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books."

As vague as that is, readers still have to wait to find out more--Pottermore isn't open to the general public until October, but a lucky few will be given the chance to enter early on July 31st!

Probably the most exciting part of this ordeal is J. K. Rowling's teasing remark that she will be contributing "information [she has] been hoarding for years about the Harry Potter world"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Possession by Elana Johnson

 Grade: High A


Synopsis:

Vi knows the rule" Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Rating:

Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 8/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 6/10
Voice: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
Setting: 8/10
Total Score: 53/70

Obtained: Purchased from the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, Vermont (an adorable place that you should visit if you're in Vermont)!

Age Appropriate? PG

Cursing: Limited.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Umm...no.
Sexual Content: Very mild.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Nothing too bad. Some violence and murder, but it's never uncomfortably graphic.

Review:

Possession made me very, very excited. There were a lot of things about it that were perhaps a bit mediocre or sub-par. It isn't the best of it's kind for sure--but where it shined, boy, did it shine! It definitely stood out from the crowd and made me quite happy. An excellent, worthwhile read that was easy to forgive for its shortcomings.

Let me explain. It's biggest shortcoming was lack of clarity/believability/consistency in plot, narrative, and character relationships and development. Sometimes I was confused by what was happening or had just happened (but honestly, maybe that was just me) and the narrative often jumped around oddly. And character relationships... At the start, the romance was progressing at a natural speed, meaning it was going slow. Then, suddenly, they were like an old couple, completely spontaneously smitten and all over each other in love. It was cute and fun, but truly unbelievable. And finally, the "magic" (that really isn't magic at all, but I have nothing better to call it) wasn't ever really explained fully. It just suddenly existed. Poof! and she was a master. It was a bit odd and unsettling.

Now, all of that was minor in comparison to the main excellent thing about this book--the ass-kicking, real-life, strong-as-a-god heroine, Vi. The synopsis kinda makes her sound like a waffling girl-child, but really, she was great. Unlike so many (especially sci-fi) heroines--even ass-kicking ones--she was not overly, annoyingly emotional. I loved how she took everything in stride, didn't spend the entirety of the narration moaning about boys and feelings and instead just survived. And though she had emotions and internal struggles and all that, it wasn't overwhelming, it wasn't angsty the way so many YA girl-narrations are. She was tough the way she seemed. She was awesome. And she made the book very much worth reading (though the boy was certainly kinda fantastic too ;-)).

LINKS:


Elana Johnson
Elana Johnson - Blog

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pottermore


"Following the completion of the seven Harry Potter books and eight films, J.K. Rowling has something new to announce. Even though this is not a new book, we have been informed it is something equally exciting." -Mugglenet

So what is it? Well... no one really knows. But! We're gonna find out soon!


Do any of you wonderful readers have an inkling to what's happening on the wizarding front? Share your thoughts!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Trailer


From Amazon:
As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age.

Find out more!

Also, check out this behind-the-scenes video from the trip the author took to make the above trailer: