Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund“We can only be responsible for what we ourselves do.”

Persis Blake publicly plays the role of a rich socialite, spending time at parties discussing clothes and gossip. But in her private life, she is the Wild Poppy, a notorious spy who rescues people of Galatea from being Reduced and sneaks them over to the island of Albion, where she resides. When Justen Helo, a medic from Galatea, finds her ill after one of her missions and helps her return home, she decides to keep him close so that she can discover his true motives in Albion. What she didn’t expect was how she would begin to feel for him, and how much she would wish she could tell him the truth about who she is.

Across a Star-Swept Sea is actually a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars. While you don’t need to read the first book in order to understand this one, it definitely helps because some characters from that book reappear in this one. I absolutely loved the first book, and the second was just as good.

This book is actually a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I haven’t read but definitely want to after reading this one. Persis has always been very intelligent and has had a bright future ahead of her, but when her best friend Isla’s family is killed and Isla is made acting queen of Albion, Persis abandons school and her future in order to help her friend. She creates the Wild Poppy in order to help Isla make a difference while the council of Albion prevents Isla from actually doing anything politically about the rebellion in Galatea. In Galatea, the rulers are Reducing people–basically giving them a drug that makes them lose their mental capacities. The Wild Poppy saves these people who are Reduced and brings them to Albion to recover.

Justen Helo decides to abandon Galatea when he realizes what is really going on. He sees Persis as nothing more than a flaky socialite however, and doesn’t realize how much of a difference she is actually making. He begins to work in the lab, trying to find a cure for the Reduced, and tries to keep from Persis how involved he really was in the rebellion in Galatea. Persis uses the image she created for herself as a ditzy socialite to keep people from finding out that she is really the Wild Poppy, but unfortunately it keeps Justen, the one person whom she may actually want to be herself with, from seeing who she really is.

Peterfreund does a brilliant job building the world of New Pacifica. Her descriptions paint a vivid world and by doing so she creates an intricate and compelling story that you can’t put down. The flutternotes were the most interesting detail for me–little holographic notes that basically fly from one person to another through the air and then deliver a message to them via an electronic device on their palm. Every detail of this story was fascinating and unique and added a great sci-fi aspect to the plot.

Overall, Across a Star-Swept Sea was a fascinating story with great world building and beautiful writing. I look forward to reading more stories about New Pacifica!

Across a Star-Swept Sea was released on October 15, 2013 and is a companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars.

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Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

Sky on Fire by Emmy LaybourneA series of disasters caused a group of students to become stranded in a department store in Monument, Colorado in Monument 14. In its sequel, Sky on Fire, the majority of the students have left the store in a school bus, on their way to find help, while Dean, Astrid, and three of the younger kids remain in the department store.

I really loved Monument 14, so I was very excited to read this book. I liked the way the story was told in this book–since the group has split in two, the book is told from both Dean and his brother Alex’s perspective. This worked extremely well because the reader is able to see what is happening to both groups at the same time. I liked how Alex’s story is told as though he is writing a letter to Dean–this made his story even more personal.

I thought Dean was crazy to stay in the department store initially–especially for Astrid. She seemed to just be using him since her boyfriend left her pregnant and alone, and Dean seemed like an idiot for still trailing after her like a lost puppy. However, I really liked where their relationship went in this book. Dean realizes that she is not the greatest person ever, but he is still able to care about her and take care of her despite her faults. Astrid grows to realize how much Dean cares for her and seems to get more mature as the book goes on.

In the first book we didn’t really see much of what was going on outside of the department store, other than what the kids had seen or heard on the news. In this book, since Alex and the rest of the group leave the store to search for the airport in Denver, we finally get to see what the world outside of the store is like. Depending on what blood group each person is, they have different side effects from the chemical spill. The type O people have become aggressive and are attacking people left and right. Some people have tried to stay in their homes and wait it out but they are beginning to run out of food. Alex knows he has to try his best to find help and go back and save Dean and the others at the department store before it is too late. However, before he can save his brother he must overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles in his path.

Overall, Sky on Fire was a fast paced read that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I can’t wait to see what Laybourne has in store for the next book!

Sky on Fire was released on May 28, 2013 and is the second book in the Monument 14 series.

The Farm by Emily McKay

The Farm by Emily McKay

“They are as pitiable as they are inhuman. They are fear personified. Their emotions and minds given over to rage and hunger.”

Six months ago, people began turning into blood sucking monsters called Ticks. They rampaged the country, devouring anyone in their path. It was discovered that the Ticks preferred the blood of teenagers, so the government began gathering teenagers and placing them in Farms–fenced in prisons that not only keep them in one place, but raise them like cattle as food for the Ticks. Lily and her twin sister Mel have been living in a Farm in Texas for months, but Lily thinks that her sister has finally figured out a way to escape. As Lily begins to gather their supplies, a former classmate named Carter appears at the Farm, offering them help and information and arousing suspicion in Lily.

The Farm is a very different take on vampires, which to me was very refreshing! I am definitely over the whole vampire thing, but not when they are reinvented the way they have been in The Farm. The Ticks are not even really vampires, but some sort of a warbled version of a vampire. The real vampires are able to blend into society and appear human aside from the fact that they suck blood and are much stronger. The vampires are caught up in a political struggle to take control of the United States, and are using the humans as pawns.

I really loved the loyalty that Lily had for her sister. Her twin sister Mel is autistic, and has become more introverted and childlike since they were placed on the Farm. Lily takes care of her and is willing to do anything to protect her, but at the same time she knows how smart her sister is and doesn’t insult her by treating her like anything less than her equal. I loved the dynamic between the two sisters and the way they are both able to understand each other better than anyone else. Once they escape from the Farm, Lily has no other wish than to keep her sister safe, even though Carter has a different plan in mind.

The one thing that really bugged me about this book was the type of narration. The novel is told in chapters with alternating points of view, going back and forth between Lily, Mel, and Carter. This type of narration is not my favorite, but when it works, as in Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, I don’t mind it at all. However, in The Farm, while it gives us a little insight into Carter and Mel’s mind, I still didn’t see the purpose of the narration being from anyone other than Lily’s perspective. What bugged me the most though was that whenever it switched to Carter’s point of view, the narration switched from first person to third person, which was another move that just did not translate well and in my opinion, disrupted the flow of the chapters.

Overall, The Farm was an exciting read with a very original take on vampires. It was also a beautiful story about the love between two sisters and the lengths they will go to in order to keep each other safe. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who is tired of the traditional vampire story!

The Farm was released on December 4, 2012 and is the first in a series. The sequel, The Lair, is set to be released sometime in 2013.

Book to Film: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

“There is no ideal world for you to wait around for. The world is always just what it is now, and it’s up to you how you respond to it.”

R is a zombie that doesn’t remember his real name, how he died, or even how the zombie apocalypse began. He lives in an abandoned airplane and wanders an airport filled with fellow zombies on a daily basis. However, he is different from the other zombies–he doesn’t enjoy eating people, even though he knows it’s a necessity. He also dreams about having a better life, one filled with more than just riding the escalators day after day. When he eats a boy named Perry’s brain and receives his memories, he feels the love that Perry had for a girl named Julie. When R realizes Julie is about to be eaten also, he decides to protect her. As he begins to get to know her and develops feelings for her, he realizes that he is changing and becoming more human.

I was really excited to read this one because, aside from the fact that I love anything involving zombies, I had seen the film trailer for Warm Bodies and loved the thought of a story told from the zombie’s perspective. I am a stickler for reading the book before seeing the film, so I got myself a copy of the book ASAP. I loved how R is such an honest character–he tells it like it is and I enjoyed seeing the world through his eyes. Some parts of this book were absolutely hysterical, yet other parts were very heartfelt. I loved seeing R relearn how to speak and read and basically be human again. The writing style was very impressive, and the story itself questions today’s world and what we are doing to it.

So, as soon as I read the book I knew that I had to see the movie. Nicholas Hoult did a fantastic job as R–he really embodied R’s innocent and honest nature. Teresa Palmer was also excellent as Julie, however, film Julie was slightly less troubled and rough around the edges than book Julie. I felt that knowing more of Julie’s background in the book helped me understand her character a lot better, and in the movie she was slightly more one dimensional. Julie’s father was definitely more toned down in the movie, and we didn’t get as much of his background and the history of his relationship with his daughter as we did in the book. The movie also didn’t have as much of Perry’s memories as the book did, but I expect this was just a consequence of time constraints in films.

Overall, Warm Bodies was a beautifully written book that bridges genres, and its film adaptation was funny, entertaining and relatively true to the book. I enjoyed the book and film immensely, and highly recommend both!

Warm Bodies was released October 14, 2010 and while it would be great as a standalone novel, it is actually the first in a series. The second book in the series is currently untitled and is expected to be released in 2014.

February 2013 Preview

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile–I decided to go back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree and this was my first week back. I’ve been super busy going to school full time and working full time, and since my major is English, I’ve had a lot of reading to do for my classes and haven’t been able to get much pleasure reading let alone blog posts done. Hopefully I can figure out a way to manage my time better and get back on track!

I’ve read some really great books so far this month but here is a preview of some books that I’m excited to read this February:

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 has been sitting on my shelf for awhile and since its sequel, Breaking Point, is due out soon I’ll have to bump it up on my list. Breaking Point continues the dystopian story of a girl named Ember who is living in a United States where the Bill of Rights has been revoked. It sounds like an interesting story that I’m sure I’ll love!

Release date:  February 2, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me has been on my to read list for awhile now, and now that the sequel is coming out I think it’s as good a time as any. A dystopian/post-apocalyptic series about a girl with a fatal touch definitely piqued my interest, so I am very excited to read this one!

Release date:  February 5, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, a Cinderella retelling about a cyborg girl living in futuristic Beijing, was one of my biggest surprises of last year. When I read the description it didn’t really sound like something I would like, but I decided to give it a try and it was actually really great! Cinder‘s sequel, Scarlet, is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood but still continues the story of Cinder and Prince Kai. I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

Release date:  February 5, 2013

 

 

 

 

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

Wither was a fantastic and original story about a world where girls die at age 20 and boys die at 25. Young girls are being sold off to rich men as brides and are forced to bear children. Rhine Ellery becomes one of these girls, and tries her hardest to escape. The sequel to Wither, Fever, continues the story but in my opinion wasn’t nearly as good as the first book. Sever is the final book in the trilogy and I’m hoping it will be a great ending to the series.

Release date:  February 12, 2013

 

 

 

 

Fragments by Dan Wells

Fragments by Dan Wells

Partials is yet another book I own but have not read. A post-apocalyptic novel that takes place on Long Island, where I have lived my whole life, is definitely something I’m excited to read. I’m hoping to read Partials before the sequel, Fragments, is released.

Release date:  February 26, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

So it looks like February will be another exciting month for YA books! I just hope I can find the time to read all of the books I have on my list! What February releases are you looking forward to?

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

“I don’t want to be kept, not by anyone.”

Lark Ainsley is a sixteen year old girl living in a city enclosed entirely by a dome made of energy. The dome is all that protects the city from the monsters living outside in the wilderness. In order to sustain the dome, however, the city needs to harvest magical energy from its children. When it is Lark’s turn to be harvested, it is discovered that she is a Renewable and is able to regenerate her energy each time it is harvested. When she realizes that the Architects of the city intend to keep putting her through the painful harvesting process indefinitely in order to constantly use her energy, she decides to escape the only home she has ever known. She escapes into the wilderness alone in search of the Iron Wood where she hopes to find others like her.

This book had such incredible world building! I loved reading about the post-apocalyptic world that Lark traveled through to find the Iron Wood. The ways that magical energy created domes was really interesting–some domes froze the entire area under it in a specific time and others preserved an entire forest inside.

I really liked Lark; she is brave and while she does have trust issues after finding out what the Architects wanted to do to her, she learns to trust again by the end of the book. She both literally and figuratively makes a long journey from start to finish. She meets a wild boy named Oren who helps her survive even though they are both reluctant to trust each other. He is terrified of the Iron Wood and tries to convince her not to go there but Lark is set on finding others like her. Their relationship really grew throughout the book and there was a serious twist near the end that I never saw coming!

Overall, Skylark was an exciting book full of incredible world building and so many unexpected twists! I am definitely excited for the sequel, and I hope to find out more about what happened to make the world of Skylark the way it is.

Skylark was released August 1, 2012 and is the first of a series. The sequel, Shadowlark, is due to be released in 2013.

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes

The Moon Dwellers by David EstesThe Moon Dwellers is a post-apocalyptic story in which destruction on Earth led people to dig caverns underground in order to rebuild society under the surface. This led to the creation of the Tri-Realms, which consist of the rich and powerful Sun Dwellers, the middle class Moon Dwellers, and the poor and destitute Star Dwellers. Adele is a 17-year-old Moon Dweller whose parents were convicted of being traitors. She is sentenced to life in prison, where she makes friends with two fellow prisoners who decide to help her escape. Tristan is the son of the corrupt President, yet he does not share his father’s views on how the Tri-Realms should be ruled. On a visit to the Moon Realm, he passes by the prison that Adele is in and they both feel pain when they meet eyes.  Tristan decides to run away from home to find Adele so that he can get some answers about why he feels this way when he is close to her, but ends up becoming involved in something bigger than he could’ve imagined.

This book had the potential to be really great, but I was honestly really disappointed. I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic novels and a book about an entire society created underground definitely peaked my interest. My main problem with this book was the characters. There was a serious lack of character development throughout the book and the characters were very one dimensional. The dialogue was super corny also, which made it almost painful to read. Another big problem I had was the way the story switched back and forth between Adele and Tristan’s perspective. I’m not a huge fan of this type of narrative to begin with but what made this worse was the fact that every time the narrative switched, it repeated half of the previous chapter from the other person’s point of view. So basically it seemed like I was rereading the same scenes over which got really annoying after awhile.

On the other hand, the world built in The Moon Dwellers was fascinating and I really enjoyed reading about the life that had been built for these people underground. Once people moved down to the Tri-Realms, the government became corrupt and turned into more of a dictatorship in which the rich Sun Dwellers had everything they could ever want but the Moon and Star Dwellers were barely surviving. Of course, this sparked the Star Dwellers to rebel, which causes both Adele and Tristan to reconsider their own plans.

This story just got really dragged out after awhile. After pages of Tristan trying to find Adele and always just missing her, I was looking forward to a really fantastic scene in which they finally meet but it ended up being pretty anti-climactic. The romance fell extremely flat and while I assume it will progress and develop through the next two novels I honestly have no desire to read either.

Overall, The Moon Dwellers had a really interesting plot and a lot of potential to be a great post-apocalyptic novel but unfortunately, was disappointing and lacked any real substance.

I received a free copy of the ebook from the author for an honest review. The Moon Dwellers was released June 30, 2012 and is the first book in The Dwellers trilogy. The other two books in the trilogy, The Star Dwellers and The Sun Dwellers, are both available now.