Monthly Archives: August 2015

Erin Bowman’s Vengeance Road is the book I have been dying to share with you.

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Erin Bowman’s Vengeance Road is the book I have been dying to share with you.

Vengeance Road was one of my most anticipated reads this year (that cover had me salivating) – it isn’t often I find a YA western, and it is hardest to find any western with a female protagonist. This book absolutely lived up to my expectations. This is my idea of a five star book.  I don’t think you have to be a fan of westerns to really enjoy this book. There is a quest with plenty of action and adventure, there is a mystery with several surprising twists, and there is a coming of age story about a girl who loses her whole world and must rebuild herself. There might even be a little romance. Fans of Charles Portis and Louis L’Amour will certainly want to snap this book up, but if you enjoyed Blood Red Road or Stone Rider, you are going to want to give this a look.  Vengeance Road is publishing September 1, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

 

My Thoughts

Kate is a character who can stand tall and proud next to Mattie from True Grit or Echo Sackett from Ride the River.  She is smart and determined but she is also vulnerable and real.  The combination made her one of those characters who seems to live and breathe beyond the page.  The setting, too, is as artfully crafted as any western reader could want.  This isn’t a romanticized picture of a treasure hunt, the West or of outlaws.  Kate is on a dangerous journey through a nearly lawless land and an unforgiving landscape.  Trusting people can cost you your life.  The threats to Kate and her companions are real; Consequences can be deadly.  This book is also pretty impressive because of the pace of the story – it manages to keep the action going pretty consistently without seeming contrived.  It also manages to build backstory for a lot of characters without slipping into lulls.  I think it will hold the attention of even my most impatient and bloodthirsty high school guys, but it will also give my gals the emotional connections they crave with the characters. The only complaint I can see arising from a reader is the use of dialect.  Kate has the speech patterns that are comparable to what a reader might encounter in this time and place (or that you might encounter in more rural or isolated communities today).  It isn’t intrusive or overdone and it added to my picture of Kate’s character, but I know some people don’t appreciate the authenticity that regional dialect adds.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+ with the understanding that there is a lot of western violence.  Adult readers of YA will find this a rich and satisfying read as well.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jennifer E. Smith’s Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between proves that breaking up is hard to do

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Jennifer E. Smith’s Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between proves that breaking up is hard to do

I really enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and Jennifer E. Smith is popular with my high school readers, so I was pretty excited to preview this title, but I felt a little trepidation about the topic. It’s a break-up book, or is it? Either way, it looked primed for teen drama, which I’m not always up for. Fortunately, this is well written, and it was less painful than I thought it would be. I think it is a pretty good bet for readers who enjoy contemporary YA romance. I gave it four stars.  This book is publishing September 1, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

My Thoughts

The entire story takes place in the twelve hours before Claire and Aidan have to say goodbye and head to their respective colleges. The question is do we stay together, or do we end this amicably tonight. A lot can happen in twelve hours, and as they celebrate the good memories and argue about the future, a few unexpected surprises and mishaps alter their perspective of one another and their relationship again and again. I liked almost every character in this book, and I particularly enjoyed how Aidan and Claire are opposites but still so perfect for one another. The decision that they have to make is one that many readers will be familiar with, and the ugly scenes are just as present and important as the happy ones. While I didn’t get the resolution I kept hoping for, I was satisfied by the ending, and I think most readers will be as well. While my overall feelings about this book are positive, I do remember thinking a few times that both Aidan and Claire needed to call it a night because the conversation was getting old. There is a lot of talking, and though it is probably balanced pretty fairly with action, it is all the talking that I remember the most. I think high school seniors or new college students will find this the most engaging, but it is appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Liz Braswell’s A Whole New World puts a spin on Disney’s Aladdin

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Liz Braswell’s A Whole New World puts a spin on Disney’s Aladdin

I hesitated to review this book here because it is really for a much younger crowd. This is not YA.  It might not even be a middle school read.  It has gotten so much interest, though, that I thought it might be worth my time to give you a good idea of what you are getting so you can go into the book with open eyes.  For the right age group, this could be magical, but for an older crowd, this will be a little too tame and predictable.  This book is publishing on September 1, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

 

My Thoughts

I think fans of the Disney animated film of Aladdin will be happy with how faithful A Whole New World is to the characters and spirit of that version.  I haven’t seen the animated film since it came out, which might have been almost two decades ago now! However, I immediately pictured each character as their voice took up the dialogue.  The genie is the most memorable character for me, and he is still wise cracking in this version of the story.  My problem was that I still see them as animated characters while I’m reading this.  With all of the sophisticated reimaginings that have been coming out over the last few years, I think I was expecting something more since this was marketed as YA.  This is literally the Disney version with a twist.  While middle school readers might still find this engaging, I think YA’s and adult readers of YA will find this disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, this is well written and polished smooth, but it just doesn’t have the complexity to engage mature readers.  There is romance, adventure, and battle, but it is all focused on a single goal without really developing any subplots or deep character growth.  Everyone is either black or white, and it goes without saying that small time “bad guys” like the street rats are all just thieves with hearts of gold when given a chance.  Character motivations are limited to greed or noble things like love and compassion.  That is all well and good, but YA readers are usually going to call “bull” when they read something that feels contrived.  I think this is a book that you can share with an elementary classroom or read with your child who has enjoyed the movie, but I can’t see it getting a lot of interest in a high school library. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 4+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hilary Badger’s State of Grace – A Utopian YA 

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Hilary Badger’s State of Grace – A Utopian YA 

There aren’t many contemporary utopian books on the market, and we all know why. It just isn’t very interesting in a world without conflict.  This book does slowly turn into a dystopian, but chances are high that you won’t get that far into the book without a struggle.  The mindless bliss and the language are annoying.  Very annoying.  If you make it through to the dark side, there is an interesting premise, but this ultimately wasn’t a book I connected with.  I gave it a three star rating, but some reviewers at Goodreads were a little more generous.  State of Grace will be re-publishing September 1, 2015.

 

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Goodreads Summary

Ever since she was created, Wren has lived in an idyllic garden with her friends. Wren’s deity Dot ensures the trees are laden with fruit and the water in the lagoon is crystal clear. Wren and her friends have everything they could possibly need right there, in Dot’s Paradise.

If only Wren could stop the strange, disturbing visions she’s started having. Do these visions make her less worthy of Dot’s love? And what does Blaze, the most beautiful and mysterious of Dot’s creations, know about what’s going on in Wren’s head?
Wren is desperate to feel Dot’s love, just like everyone else. But that’s harder than ever when a creation she’s never met before arrives in the garden. He claims to be from outside and brings with him words and ideas that make Wren’s brain hurt.

Gradually Wren and Blaze uncover the truth: they’re part of a clinical trial of an ominous drug called Grace.

And as she deals with this disturbing knowledge, Wren confronts a horrific secret from her past. Now she must decide whether to return to the comforting delusion of faith or fight for the right to face the very ugly truth.

 

My Thoughts

State of Grace begins in a world where everything is perfect and it is really annoying.  The book opens in a lush and vivid setting where teens are encouraged to simply have fun in homage to Dot, the creator.  They are mindless and insipid, and it was almost intolerable.  Conflicts begin to arise, slowly but with malevolence, and it was hard to peg exactly what horror was going to unfold as utopia slipped into dystopia.  I really wasn’t engaged until the last third of the book, and I think that the last third was worth waiting for, but it takes patience, and if your threshold for silly is low, you probably won’t make it that far. Wren, the main character, does experience growth, and her story is one that, once all the pieces are in place, evokes empathy.  The same is true of Blaze, the other main character.  This was a fast read, and I finished it in a few hours, but I probably wouldn’t have finished the book if I hadn’t requested a review copy.  Overall, this was an interesting concept, and I think that it could be very appealing to YA readers who would find the ideas behind the utopian society intriguing because it is one free from the normal taboos. Language and situations are appropriate for mature high school readers.  It is not explicit, but there are several variations of sexual coercion that are referenced or take place.

I received son ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Fire Sermon – dystopian post apocalyptic YA that is definitely smarter than it first appears.

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The Fire Sermon – dystopian post apocalyptic YA that is definitely smarter than it first appears.

If you like dystopian and post apocalyptic books, The Fire Sermon is one you should consider adding to your To Be Read list.  The premise sounds ridiculous, but this is a pretty smart read, and I’m definitely looking for the second book when it comes out in February 2016.  I paid $13.99 for the ebook, which is beyond reprehensible (curse you, sample read, for pulling me in so thoroughly), but I found an affordable copy of a hardback used on Amazon for the classroom library because it is one I definitely want to share with other readers.

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Goodreads Summary

The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined first novel in a new postapocalyptic trilogy by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.
With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

 
My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well written, thoughtful, and gripping. For the most part, it is action packed, with only a lull near the beginning, but it was an necessary lull, so stick it out. Cass is a strong female protagonist whose only liability is her world view, which is actually her strongest asset. There is a romantic element to this story, but I will say it wasn’t blatant in its sensuality, so it isn’t full of hot moments but plays more of the companionship angle. I actually liked the concept of the twins. Though I thought it was going to be a ridiculous when I read the blurb, it worked really well. The ending might have a few readers crying foul, but I thought it made sense. My only complaint is the price. $13.99 for an ebook is ridiculous (yeah, I’m gonna bring that up again), and even though I feel I got my money’s worth, I almost didn’t read it on principle alone. I’m glad I overcame my impulse and read it anyway.
This book is available in our classroom library.

Tessa Gratton’s The Lost Sun is one book that I really couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. Someone should get a trophy for that!

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Tessa Gratton’s The Lost Sun is one book that I really couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. Someone should get a trophy for that!

I chanced upon this book after reading one of Tessa Gratton’s short stories, and I’m so glad I did.  I have never even heard of it, and that is pretty shocking, considering how well written it is.  If you enjoyed but outgrew the Percy Jackson books, you need this book on your radar.  The setting is so well constructed and truly feels like an alternate but believable contemporary world populated by Norse gods and Viking warriors.  It is magical and almost dream-like.  The characters, too, are so carefully crafted and impressive in their depth.  Don’t get me wrong – you can read this and just enjoy it for the action and adventure, but it has a sophistication that will appeal to those who like a little more complexity in conflicts and characters.   There is something here for readers of both genders, and I think it is one that YA readers of all ages can enjoy.

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Goodreads Summary

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” and Holly Black’s “The Curse Workers” will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard.

Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood–the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd’s Academy. But that’s hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That’s not all Astrid dreams of–the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they’ve been told they have to be.


My Thoughts

I particularly enjoyed the narrator in this book. Soren had a complex internal conflict that was so clearly developed. I actually liked all of the characters, and that is a true rarity! The world building was engaging, and the way the author introduced aspects of Norse mythology without info dumping was pretty impressive. It was nicely paced to create the feel of a quest, and I appreciated how it had goals that were met along the way so that I wasn’t left waiting foreverlong for an event to happen. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I don’t have a single complaint.

This book is available in our classroom library.

E. Latimer’s Frost has the concept but falls short on craft

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E. Latimer’s Frost has the concept but falls short on craft

I read a lot of indie authors, and I have a lot of respect for anyone who can write a whole book.  Sometimes, though, they need the polish and grooming that a big publishing house can provide, and that is the case with Frost.  It was a serial work written on Wattpad, and it has a cool concept but just not the focused editing and attention to craft that would make it worth your time.

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Goodreads Summary

Megan Walker’s touch has turned to ice. She can’t stop the frost, and the consequences of her first kiss are horrifying.

When her new powers attract attention, Megan finds herself caught up in an ancient war between Norse giants. One side fuelled by a mad queen’s obsession and an ancient prophecy about Ragnarök, the other by an age-old grudge. Both sides believe Megan to be something she’s not. Both sides will stop at nothing to have her.
Fire or frost. It’s an impossible decision, but she’ll have to act soon, because the storm is coming.
My Thoughts

I liked the idea of this book, and I even liked some of the execution – Megan’s genetic memories were a nice touch, and I’ll take a woman warrior any day.  The problem for me was really with the lack of craft.  Frost was an okay read, but it is uneven. The beginning of the book feels awkwardly paced and often rushed.   The characters actions are accelerated to get to the answers behind the mystery of their similarities, which results in half baked scenes and flat secondary characters.  I think it would have been better if more time was spent building up to the answers.  The second half of the book feels a lot stronger because the pace slows down and situations are given more time to develop. But even here the scenes are still vague.   I couldn’t picture the palace in my mind, and I felt like a lot of time was spent on wardrobe but too little time was spent developing characters and setting.  I still felt that almost all of the secondary characters are flat, and they really need some depth to make me care about them.  I didn’t really feel any sparks between any of the possible romantic interests, so that was disappointing, and I was surprised that Megan chose to cuddle up to the guy she did at the end because I hadn’t really felt the attraction.  Honestly, it still feels like a draft in terms of development and pacing.  I would love to see what a strong editor could do with this work because there is a unique and engaging idea here, but it just isn’t ready.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Until Friday Night is Abbi Glines’ return to the YA genre – a new series full of football, pick-up trucks and those ever attractive bad boys. 

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Until Friday Night is Abbi Glines’ return to the YA genre – a new series full of football, pick-up trucks and those ever attractive bad boys. 

Abbi Glines’ Seabreeze series was one of my favorites until it got too graphic and, frankly, rather gross.  Because of Low is one of the most sought after books in my classroom library, and my high school readers want more from her, but I just haven’t been able to provide the books they wanted in good conscience.  When I saw Glines was putting out a new YA series, I was excited. When I read the premise, I was almost girly in my glee – it sounded like a winner, but I have to say this isn’t as good as I wanted it to be.  I gave it three stars because I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t spectacular.

 Until Friday Night is publishing on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.

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Goodreads Summary

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.
As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.
West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

My Thoughts

This isn’t quite as good as I had hoped. I think that readers are most drawn to Glines’ books when she creates a scenario where a girl who feels like she is nothing actually turns out to be so special that a very hot bad boy is absolutely willing to mend his ways just for her.  It is a nice fantasy, and probably one that most girls have indulged in at some point in time.  This really worked well in some of her Sea Breeze books, and a Until Friday Night attempts to recreate the magic, but it falls short because of one character – West.  While most readers will find Maggie likeable enough, West is lacking some of the charm and depth it takes to convince readers that he is more than just a good looking guy.  His horrible treatment of girls doesn’t jive with the love he has for his own mother and the admiration he has for his parents’ relationship.  His father’s illness happened after he started treating girls like Kleenex, so that isn’t the hole he is trying to fill.  He isn’t broken – he is just a jerk, so it is hard to see how Maggie is the something he needs to change his ways.  His “reformation” feels insincere, and, honestly, their relationship is more therapy than romance.  If West had been eased into our lives, I would have been more receptive, but it was probably a mis-step to lead the series with him.  Unfortunately, West is the model that most of the male characters are patterned on in this book, and that means that Glines’ biggest strength, creating an irresistible community of characters that readers want to know more about, isn’t shown to great advantage, either.  For the most part, the guys are fairly indistinguishable from each other with the exception of Nash, and he is the one character I care about seeing more of.  There are no other girls in the book who aren’t there to stir up trouble, and I think that is a shame as well.  That being said, it is well paced to keep readers engaged, and though I wasn’t always happy with what was happening, it is compelling.  The premise behind this one is pretty interesting, and I was certainly curious to see how it would work out.  I had an immediate like for Maggie’s narrative voice, and I wanted her to find something good to hold on to in her life.  I might not have been convinced West was that thing, but I’m willing to bet that plenty of readers will be.

I am glad to say I will be able to put this book in my classroom library because the sensuality is scaled back enough that it is on par with other YA contemporary romances.  While I didn’t care for the scenes myself, there is a clear effort to connect intimacy with an emotional attachment.  There is a lot of cursing, but, again, we’ve seen it before in contemporary YA, so nothing too distressing.  I think this book will appeal to my high school readers because this is the world they know – football, field parties, and pickup trucks, and the setting felt right.  The drama is a little exaggerated, but you don’t read these books for the realism, so much as the emotion.  In the end, I would read the next book in the series, if only in the hopes that I will find another gem like Because of Low.

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell is a steam powered Cinderella reimagining with lots of surprises

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Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell is a steam powered Cinderella reimagining with lots of surprises

Mechanica took a lot of hits from reviewers that I usually agree with, so I was a little afraid to give it a go.  I was surprised to find that I really did like this book, and I was puzzled by so many negative responses to it.  Some said they loved the message but found it boring.  Others just wanted to complain that it sounded too much like Cinder (it’s nothing like Cinder).  I don’t know if we are about to see a fairytale retelling backlash soon, but even if you have read the ten other books that revisited Cinderella this year, I think you can still find a lot to delight you in Mechanica. There is a tiny metal horse that comes alive here, people! His name is Jules!  You just think you’ve read it all!

this book has changed publication dates (again), so it won’t actually hit shelves until Tuesday, the 25th of August.

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Goodreads Summary

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

 
Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

My Thoughts

Mechanica is an enchanting fairy tale retelling that combines steampunk and fae magic and has the seed of the Cinderella story at its core.  While it starts out pretty predictably, patient readers will find it eventually veers in a different direction that is both empowering and reflective.  You’ve read this story before, and maybe even read it set in different times and places, but Mechanica deals with it in a way I haven’t seen before.  This book isn’t focused on going through the plot points and hitting all of the predictable moments you have probably been internalizing since childhood.  This book is more about the character, and about her ideas of love which have been shaped and molded by her circumstances. It is about the protagonist (and the reader) recognizing how love doesn’t have to follow all the conventions and ideas that society tells us are indicators of love.  In order to get that point across, this book had to veer away from the expected and idealized trappings of love that almost inherent in a Cinderella retelling. This results in a lot of bafflement for readers who can’t see why the pattern deviates.  Smart, thoughtful readers, though, will recognize the value in the changes.

My biggest complaint is that it does walk a fine line between YA and middle school readability.  The complexity of Nicolette’s internal struggle is engaging enough for an older reader, but at times, the external struggle feels too young.  I was annoyed when the narrative over explained things I had already inferred, and this happened a lot when the step-sisters were in a scene.  The start of the book isn’t as sophisticated as other fairy tale retellings that are floating around (probably because it is sticking so closely to the traditional source at that point).  When the narrative begins to move away from the expected plot, the story becomes more complex.

Essentially, I think this can be a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers, and if you are at the more mature end of the reading spectrum, you need to stick it out because it definitely will surprise you.  I will add this to my high school classroom library because it does offer such an important message and I think the changes will be just controversial enough to prompt discussion and debate.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Chanda Stafford’s First is a YA science fiction dystopian that explores the idea that one person’s life is worth valuing over another’s

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Chanda Stafford’s First is a YA science fiction dystopian that explores the idea that one person’s life is worth valuing over another’s

Under this rather innocuous sounding summary is a rather horrifying premise.  I won’t ruin all the fun, but let’s just say that advances in science don’t sound so appealing once you really think about the ramifications.  This book reminded me of Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison.  They had similar concepts, so if you enjoyed one, chances are good you will enjoy the other.  I thought this book was the weaker of the two, but they both put a spin on the idea of immortality and privilege that I found engaging.

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Goodreads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.

When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.
With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, the boy who wants her to live, or the man who wants her dead.
My Thoughts

I liked the concept of this story, and I thought the world that the author created is pretty intriguing.  Mira is a well developed character with a lot of internal conflict and external pressure shaping her choices.  The moral dilemma she faces comes across as troubling and real, and I honestly waffled on which way I would go if I had her decision in front of me.  Socrates is a less engaging character initially.  He has a view about his decision to take a second, and it is only over time that he begins to grow and change as a character that readers will care about.  I think this story creates a lot of room for discussion and debate, so it would be perfect for a small reading group.  I did think the story had a few flaws.  First, I quickly guessed what the big mystery was, and I think most readers will as well.  I think the book is designed to allow readers to make the leap of logic that Mira can’t on purpose.  I see exactly why the author chose to delay the reveal, but as a reader, I just felt that the mystery dragged on for too long.  I also had problems with the lack of action.  This is a thinking book, so that is to be expected, but I wanted more than the farm and a room at the Smith.  Neither of these were deal breakers for me – I still enjoyed the read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.