Book Review: Front Lines by Michael Grant

Book Review: Front Lines by Michael GrantFront Lines by Michael Grant
Series: Soldier Girl #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 26, 2016
Genres: Alternate Universe, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 576
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
1942. World War II. The most terrible war in human history. Millions are dead; millions more are still to die. The Nazis rampage across Europe and eye far-off America.

The green, untested American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled—the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

But something has changed. A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.

As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering. Not one expects to see actual combat. Not one expects to be on the front lines.

Rio, Frangie, and Rainy will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. They will fear and they will rage; they will suffer and they will inflict suffering; they will hate and they will love. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.

New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant has created a masterful alternate history of World War II in Front Lines, the first volume in a groundbreaking series.

Book Review:

FRONT LINES is a brilliantly imagined and wonderfully told alternate history of WWII. A Supreme Court decision has extended the draft to all US citizens regardless of gender. But will men welcome women into their ranks? What does the enemy think?

FRONT LINES is told through the eyes of three very different girls. Rio is the classic all-American small town girl, maybe fighting for her dead sister, maybe for the disatisfaction she feels with the expectation of being a wife and mother. Rainy is Jewish, determined to use her brains in intelligence to do her part to fight Hitler. Frangie is African American, has dreams of being a doctor, but has to deal with racism and sexism while trying to save lives.

The author doesn’t try to sanitize the anti-Semitic, racist, and/or sexist attitudes of the 1940s. All the girls deal with those attitudes, from their fellow soldiers and up the chain, as well as their families and the people around them. I appreciated the honesty, and that the author didn’t stick with just Rio’s perspective for the book.

FRONT LINES is one of those books I just loved. I devoured it. I could have read another 500 pages about Rio, Rainy, and Frangie, as well as America’s first steps into the war. The action takes place in Tunisia, the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Most YA WWII historical fiction is set in Europe, so it was good to see a different area.

The author has a way of drawing you into the book, building on the little things and the experiences the girls undergo, to really ramp things up. The beginning of FRONT LINES is a little slow, but well worth it. I also liked that Grant spent a good amount of time on everyone’s training. I always enjoy that, but I also thought it was a good way to show how some male opinions on women in the forces changed. As well as to show how important friendships were for the girls, as they needed others who understood exactly what they were going through.

Considering how much I loved FRONT LINES, it’s going to be a long, long wait for the next Soldier Girl book!

Socialize with the author:

Michael Grant:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Arena by Holly Jennings

Book Review: Arena by Holly JenningsArena by Holly Jennings
Published by Ace on April 5, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming...

Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...


The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside...

Book Review:

I’m a long time gamer, so my review of ARENA might be a bit biased. But if you’re a gamer and/or have always wanted to check out the virtual world, this might be the book for you. The idea behind ARENA is super fun, the execution is good, and there are just enough pop culture references to classic games to add to the geeky atmosphere.

Kali Ling is a warrior. Every week she fights to the death in the RAGE tournaments, watched by millions around the world. Move over, football and soccer and basketball. Gamers have taken over as the star athletes in 2054. Games have evolved as well, to the point where gamers plug into pods and play with their entire bodies in an immersive world.

There’s virtual sports, racing, RPGs and more. The RAGE games are a classic example of capture the tower PVP, played by teams of five. This season, Kali is making history — she’s the first female team captain in RAGE. But Kali’s not so sure she’s up to the challenge. She’s dealing with the death of a teammate, melding his replacement into the team, the expectations of the team’s owner and the media, and her own increasing frustration at being a cog in the virtual machine. It’s a lot to juggle, and Kali has to keep the team from losing anymore games while dealing with all of that, because if they lose one more time, they’re out of the tournament.

As a gamer who would love to set foot in World of Warcraft, I loved the idea of Kali and her team playing in virtual reality. Fighting the other team and defending their tower to the death. Death doesn’t kill them in real life, but real life injuries transfer to the game. I especially liked that the gamers had to be skilled in real life at martial arts and weaponry — if you can’t swing a sword in real life, you aren’t killing anyone in the game. It’s logical. The evolution from watching gamers stream on Twitch to watching them play in Super Bowl like matches makes sense, too.

I liked that ARENA detailed a lot of the team’s training and matches. I geek out over that sort of stuff, and I also enjoyed Kali’s efforts at team bonding with classic games like Mario Kart. I could tell the author had really thought about how virtual sports would work, such as regular athletes not being able to cross over successfully, because they don’t have gaming experience. Jennings also considered how celebrity status could impact the gamers, talking about drug abuse, anxiety and depression, and virtual reality addiction. There’s even some dialogue on women in gaming, Kali’s Chinese background, and finding a balance between virtual life and real life.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance between Kali and Rooke in ARENA. At least it wasn’t the dreaded insta-love, but something about it just felt a little off. To me, it would have made more sense if they stayed friends, but then I’m usually critical of romances.

Overall, I had a ton of fun reading ARENA. It’s a fun book, with lots of gaming action, but it also delves into a few deeper topics. I believe this is a standalone, but I’d enjoy seeing more of Kali. Based on her journey during ARENA and the ending, I think she has a lot more story to tell.

ARENA’s over 9000!

Socialize with the author:

Holly Jennings:
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– leeanna

Book Review: By Moon’s Light by Rachel E. Bailey

Book Review: By Moon’s Light by Rachel E. BaileyBy Moon's Light by Rachel E Bailey
Series: Dyre #1
Published by Bold Strokes Books on January 19, 2016
Genres: LGBT, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
In a modern world where Packs of werewolves exist side by side with a none-the-wiser humanity, what if one person stood between a lasting peace among the werewolf Packs and all-out civil war? A young female werewolf called Des is bound by a blood oath with the guarding of this person, the aging leader of all the Packs: the Dyre. But when the Dyre is murdered on Des’s watch, she’s sworn to protect the new Dyre, a young woman named Ruby. Des must deal with her emerging feelings for her stubborn new charge while they both try to uncover who’s behind the continuing murders of powerful werewolves. It’s stable employment—nice work, if you can get it…at least until the silver bullets start to fly.

Book Review:

BY MOON’S LIGHT is the first in a series called Dyre, a LGBTQ paranormal romance series about werewolves. I really wanted to like this book, because hey, queer werewolves! is something I’ve wanted for a while, but there were a few faults that kept me from really enjoying it.

The beginning of BY MOON’S LIGHT is a tad confusing. I had to read the first chapters a few times, because there were a lot of new terms — Loup, Hume, Dyre — thrown around without any real explanation. I could figure out that Loup meant werewolf, but I still felt like I had missed something important. While we’re on the topic of wolves, I wish that more had been explained about Des’s wolf, because I got the feeling Des wasn’t like other Loups, but because I didn’t know about other Loups, I don’t know if I’m right or wrong.

I also wish BY MOON’S LIGHT had more action to keep me interested. There were some big scenes, but then also a lot of … nothing. Events that didn’t really seem connected to what was going on. Maybe all those events will be important in the next book, but I wanted to see more page time on important stuff, like Ruby’s first full moon, instead of multiple pages of baby feeding. I guess what I’m trying to say is the author never really hooked me — I didn’t care much about Ruby or Des, or what was going on. I wanted to care and to be interested in them, but I didn’t know enough.

Even though I didn’t like the first book of the Dyre series as much as I wanted to, I would check out the next one. Based on the ending of BY MOON’S LIGHT, I think there will be more action, and hopefully some Ruby/Des without some Alpha wolf blocking.

Socialize with the author:

Rachel E. Bailey:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Book Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta SepetysSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on February 2, 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Book Review:

I’ve studied World War II for years. I’ve read countless books, both nonfiction and fiction, and watched a lot of documentaries. My undergrad degree is even in history. But somehow, before SALT TO THE SEA, I’d only heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff once.

One mention of such an immense tragedy.

I’m thankful to Ruta Sepetys for writing SALT TO THE SEA. I always enjoy historical fiction that introduces me to something I didn’t know before, which she certainly does. But more than that, the author has such a deft, confident hand that I could sense the amount of research she did and the respect she has for the survivors and victims of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Sepetys doesn’t overwhelm you with her knowledge, but inserts it subtly, weaving it into the backstories, thoughts, and actions of the characters.

SALT TO THE SEA is told through the eyes of four characters. Joana is Lithuanian, a nurse who always wants to help people in need, even if helping them might place herself in danger. Florian is Prussian, a boy with a pack of secrets. Emilia is Polish, a girl on the run from unspeakable horrors. Alfred is German, a member of the Kriegsmarine, and loyal to Hitler’s every thought. By using characters of different nationalities and loyalties, the author is able to show the many sides of Operation Hannibal, when Germany evacuated soldiers and citizens ahead of the Red Army.

The “chapters” in the book are short, often 2-3 pages before hopping to another character. For the first few chapters, this bugged me a bit, as I couldn’t get to know anyone with such short chapters. Then I got used to it and liked the short chapters, because the sparseness was more impactful than overloading me with details would have been.

SALT TO THE SEA is one of those rare books that I’ll be thinking about for a while.

Socialize with the author:

Ruta Sepetys:
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– leeanna

Book Review: House of Rejoicing by Libbie Hawker

Book Review: House of Rejoicing by Libbie HawkerHouse of Rejoicing by Libbie Hawker
Series: The Book of Coming Forth by Day #1
Published by Running Rabbit Press on May 31, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 369
Format: eBook
Source: Own
Goodreads
5 Stars
House of Rejoicing is Libbie Hawker's long-awaited return to the lush decadence and dark power of ancient Egypt.

In the waning years of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, when female power can only come at an unsettling price, four royal women struggle against the shadowy influence of Akhenaten, the infamous heretic Pharaoh. Akhenaten wields control of a strange, emerging religion unlike anything Egypt has seen. His power can’t be denied, but whoever can maintain her grip on the unpredictable Pharaoh will hold all of Egypt in her hands—and better still, will remain mistress of her own fate.

Tiy, once the undisputed might behind the throne, must choose to relinquish her hard-won influence, or manipulate the innocent in order to secure her hold on Akhenaten’s leash. Kiya, an idealistic foreign princess, will win Akhenaten with love—if he’s capable of feeling love at all. The celebrated beauty Nefertiti will use the Pharaoh for her own ends, turning the tables of a deadly political game to free herself from her ambitious father’s grasp. And Sitamun, kept imprisoned as the Pharaoh’s plaything, will defy the gods themselves to save her daughter from a similar fate.

Book Review:

I don’t usually review books I read for pleasure anymore, but I had to review HOUSE OF REJOICING. It’s the start of a new ancient Egyptian historical fiction series set during the Amarna period. AKA when Akhenaten raised the Aten above all other gods.

I’m always looking for good ancient Egyptian historical fiction. I’ve read a lot, but I always come back to Libbie Hawker (previously under the pen name L.M. Ironside). I’ve read her Thutmoside saga 3 times, so I was excited to see her tackle Akhenaten and Nefertiti. I like Hawker’s books because she grounds her stories in what’s known, but then makes educated diversions. I also feel like I’ve travelled back in time, thanks to the plethora of details and scene setting. I never feel like I’m reading about modern characters with an Egyptian window-dressing.

And then we get to the characters. Hawker takes the classic Akhenaten is crazy approach, but in a way that I found scary. Sometimes when authors go for that angle, he’s just laughable in his craziness. But in HOUSE OF REJOICING, Akhenaten is scary-crazy. And the author lays a better foundation for his craziness and focus on the Aten than I’ve read before, by spending a lot of the book on the end of his father’s reign.

HOUSE OF REJOICING is written from the viewpoints of four women. Kiya, a Mitanni princess sent to wed Amunhotep. Tiy, Amunhotep’s Great Wife. Sitamun, Akhenaten’s sister. And Nefertiti, raised by her father to be the next pharoah’s Great Wife. None of these women are fully good or bad; I liked and disliked all for various reasons, and also empathized with all of them. I like the way the author envisioned each of these women. Nefertiti is the ambitious beauty she’s always written as, but here she’s more than that. We see why she supports Akhenaten in his quest to glorify the Aten above all other gods. Partly for her own ambition, but also because she sees how dark the future could be, and that supporting Akhenaten might be the only way to gain any shred of control over him. And so on, with each character.

If you like ancient Egyptian historical fiction, I can’t recommend Libbie Hawker highly enough. I’m already looking forward to my next read of HOUSE OF REJOICING, and to the rest of the series.

Socialize with the author:

Libbie Hawker:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim ButcherThe Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Series: The Cinder Spires #1
Published by Roc on September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 630
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Book Review:

THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS is my first Jim Butcher book. I own many of his Dresden Files and Codex Alera books, but somehow just haven’t gotten to them. But when I read a sampler from the publisher which contained the first chapter of this one, I knew I had to read it right away. Gwendolyn Lancaster captured my attention, and I had to know what kind of world she lived in.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn a ton about that world, which saddened me. It seemed like a fascinating place, but there wasn’t much substance to it. There wasn’t a lot of worldbuilding; for the longest time, I didn’t realize Habble Morning was a place. I sorely needed an explanation of how the spire was set up. I assume later books will explain why humans live in the spires, but please, tell me what their world is like now.

The characters blended together as well. THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS didn’t feel like an adult fantasy book, but some mix between YA and adult. Which is fine, but give me characters with personalities! Rowl had the most personality, and he was a cat. On the talking cats — they were okay at first, but I’m not sure why they’re in the book. Another later-in-the-series explanation? They felt very kiddie to me. However, I’m not a cat person, so I might be biased there. But Gwen, Benedict, Bridget, and the others felt more like stereotypes than developed characters. Miss Manners Gwen, Benedict the super warrior, Bridget who talks to cats, etc.

My favorite part of THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS were the airship battles. They were the highlight of the book for me. I could clearly picture them in my mind. I could tell the author had thought those out. I really liked the image of the Predator singing as she went into battle; it was a neat touch, one I would have liked more of in the book.

I struggled a bit to get through THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS, because for long portions of the book, there just wasn’t much going on. I longed for more worldbuilding and memorable characters. However, after saying all of that, I think I would give this series another chance. I’m curious enough to want to see what happens next in the story, and maybe get answers to some of my questions about worldbuilding.

Socialize with the author:

Jim Butcher:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

Book Review: Chapelwood by Cherie PriestChapelwood by Cherie Priest
Series: The Borden Dispatches #2
Published by Roc on September 1, 2015
Genres: Horror
Pages: 434
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
From Cherie Priest, the award-winning author of Maplecroft, comes a new tale of Lizzie Borden’s continuing war against the cosmic horrors threatening humanity…

Birmingham, Alabama is infested with malevolence. Prejudice and hatred have consumed the minds and hearts of its populace. A murderer, unimaginatively named “Harry the Hacker” by the press, has been carving up citizens with a hatchet. And from the church known as Chapelwood, an unholy gospel is being spread by a sect that worships dark gods from beyond the heavens.

This darkness calls to Lizzie Borden. It is reminiscent of an evil she had dared hoped was extinguished. The parishioners of Chapelwood plan to sacrifice a young woman to summon beings never meant to share reality with humanity. An apocalypse will follow in their wake which will scorch the earth of all life.

Unless she stops it…

Book Review:

I don’t typically read horror, but Cherie Priest has been on my watch list for a long time, and who can resist a book featuring Lizzie Borden?

CHAPELWOOD is the second book in the Borden Dispatches series. CHAPELWOOD is set 25 years after the events of the first book, MAPLECROFT. A few familiar faces from MAPLECROFT are back, namely Lizzie Borden and Inspector Simon Wolf. I quite liked seeing these two older characters (sort of) save the day — all too often, heroes are young and dashing. It was a nice change to have two older characters who used their brains and hard-won experience.

MAPLECROFT and CHAPELWOOD are the only Lovecraftian horror books I’ve read, but I think they fit the sub-genre quite well. I thought MAPLECROFT was scarier, but I liked CHAPELWOOD‘s subtle mocking of racism and rich white men in power. I also liked Ruth Stephenson, the real female power in this book. It was great to see Lizzie again, but she was more of a side character this time, called upon by Wolf for her experience. Ruth takes matters into her own hands, even when the situation is beyond hopeless.

I did find a few too many random things in CHAPELWOOD that left me wondering what the heck was going on there, such as with Nance or Storage Room Six. I mean, a storage room that eats certain papers is cool, but I just didn’t get where it fit into the story. Maybe my confusion on those things is because I’m not super familiar with the sub-genre.

Socialize with the author:

Cherie Priest:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester

Book Review: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver & H.C. ChesterThe Shrunken Head by HC Chester, Lauren Oliver
Series: The Curiosity House #1
Published by HarperCollins on September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
What you will find in this book:

– A rather attractive bearded lady
– Several scandalous murders
– A deliciously disgusting Amazonian shrunken head
– Four extraordinary children with equally extraordinary abilities
– A quite loquacious talking bird

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-
thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events. When the museum’s Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts.

This sensational new series combines the unparalleled storytelling gifts of Lauren Oliver with the rich
knowledge of the notorious relics collector H.C. Chester.

What you will NOT find in this book:

– An accountant named Seymour
– A never-ending line at the post office
– Brussel sprouts (shudder)
– A lecture on finishing all your homework on time
– A sweet, gooey story for nice little girls and boy

Book Review:

Middle grade is a hit or miss age range for me, and THE SHRUNKEN HEAD was mostly a miss. Not to say I didn’t like it — I enjoyed the book while reading — but it’s not a series I’d continue. The book is average, nothing new or special, but one that would satisfy readers who liked similar books.

Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max live at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. They’re freaks with special abilities; Sam is the strongest boy in the world, Pippa can read pockets, etc. Some are more okay with their special abilities than others, and one of the best things about the book is how positively being different is portrayed inside the museum.

When the museum’s newest exhibit, an Amazonian shrunken head, is stolen, the four band together to try and save Mr. Dumfrey and their home. Death seems to follow the shrunken head, but is it really a curse or just coincidence?

As I said above, I enjoyed THE SHRUNKEN HEAD while I read the book, but it’s one I won’t remember tomorrow. It’s the start to a series, but I probably wouldn’t continue the series because I just wasn’t that interested. The characters are likely enough, and the dime museum was a good setting . There are a few atmospheric illustrations. But I’m not sure who the book is aimed at. It was a tad long, and I wish it would have firmly established the time period, rather than alluding to it. I’m not sure 3-7 grade knows when Spanish flu hit or the stock market crashed. But the writing and mystery seem too simple for an older age range, so I’m not sure.

Socialize with the author:

Lauren Oliver:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Book Review: The Scorpion Rules by Erin BowThe Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Series: Prisoners of Peace #1
Published by Margaret K McElderry Books on September 22, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
1 Stars
The world is at peace, said the Utterances. And really, if the odd princess has a hard day, is that too much to ask?

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

Book Review:

From the summary, THE SCORPION RULES sounds like the kind of book I’d love. The children of the world’s leaders are held hostage by the AI who took over the United Nations. If a country starts a war, that country’s hostage is killed. It’s a reasonably effective way of keeping the peace and keep everyone from destroying what’s left of the world.

Great premise. But as happens all too often in YA, the execution of THE SCORPION RULES is poor. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that was more boring. The only reason I finished this excruciatingly slow book? I was too lazy to get off my behind and pick a new book. That’s not a good reason, folks.

What happens in the book? A lot of taking care of goats and gardening chores. A lot of students double talking in code, because they don’t want to risk being overheard. A lot more taking care of goats and farm chores. A lot of history lessons. A lot of Greta… , I can’t really remember what Greta did, and that’s my point. THE SCORPION RULES was so slow, so boring, and so full of unimportant stuff that I glossed over 99% of it while reading, which is something I rarely do.

For example, the other hostages told Greta that she had the power at the school, that she was the one they followed. But WHY? I have no idea. If I was a kid at the Precepture school, there’s no way I’d have followed Greta or wanted anything to do with her. I was way more interested in Xie, Greta’s roommate and best friend. Xie actually had a personality.

I know I haven’t talked about what happens in THE SCORPION RULES, but honestly, I just didn’t care. The author didn’t make me care about the story or the world or the characters. When Greta finally figured out that the new hostage, Elián, was being tortured, I thought, “Good! At last something’s happening to someone.” But I wasn’t sympathetic towards him or Greta. The book was overwhelmingly dull.

Socialize with the author:

Erin Bow:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick NessThe Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Book Review:

Most of the YA books I’ve read in the past few months have blended together, either just okay or blah, books with a good premise but bad execution, or books that have unrealistic romances (for me) or whatever. I had THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE sitting on my shelf to review, and boy, do I regret not reading it sooner instead of trudging through the sea of blah.

In THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE, there’s some kind of supernatural invasion or trouble going on, but instead of following the Chosen Ones, aka the indie kids, the book is about Mikey and his friends. They’re ordinary. They just want to make it through senior year before something blows up the school. Again.

Each chapter starts off with a short bit about what the indie kids are up to, and those short bits read a lot like the average YA supernatural/paranormal romance. And then it’s back to Mikey and his friends, who are trying to sort out their comparatively mundane (but no less important) problems. Mikey’s dealing with OCD, anxiety, and having a crush on Henna. Mikey’s sister, Mel, is a recovering anorexic, whose past is thrust back in the spotlight now that their mom is running for the US Congress. Mikey and Mel are each other’s rock, and they’re both there for younger sister Meredith, because mom’s busy with politics and dad’s an absent alcoholic.

I connected with every character in THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE. For the first time in a while, I eagerly flipped each page, because I had to know what happened next. Usually I’m not a big fan of contemporary — I need something extra to spice things up — but here, everything was just so real. The book felt authentic to me in a way many YA books don’t. I appreciated the author’s honesty and realism on various subjects: talking about sex, having sex, friends choosing to be family and being there for one another, that hardness you feel when you’re almost an adult but your parents still make decisions for you, anxiety about leaving behind everything you know, etc.

Plus, there are some great talks between Mikey and his psychiatrist, such as taking medication isn’t a failure, and that mental illness isn’t anyone’s fault, and it’s as real as any other medical problem.

Socialize with the author:

Patrick Ness:
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– leeanna