Cover Shot! The Registry by Shannon Stoker

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

The cover of The Registry doesn’t really stand out much for me, and I think it’s very similar to the cover of Kimberly Derting’s The Pledge, but the premise hooked! 

In stores June 2013

 

The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Interview with Paula Altenburg, Author of The Demon’s Daughter and Giveaway!

Please welcome Paula Altenburg to the virtual offices today.  Paula dropped by to chat about her new release The Demon’s Daughter, and she brought along a digital copy for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Paula Altenburg] Easy! I’m an obsessive/compulsive couch potato with (remote) control issues.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Demon’s Daughter?

[Paula Altenburg] The Demon’s Daughter is a dystopian demon western, set on Earth in the not-too-distant future. The story theme involves prejudice, and it’s about a young woman’s search for a place to belong in a harsh world that doesn’t welcome her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Paula Altenburg] I always come up with the characters first. Hunter and Airie’s first meeting was the first scene I had in my head. I wanted Hunter to be a bounty hunter at first, which is how he got his name, and I really saw him in a western/desert setting. He morphed into a demon slayer. Airie started out as a half demon bandit. I’d meant for her to be more of an outlaw, but as she grew, it was obvious her personality was much more innocent and gentle. She has quite the temper though, and Hunter finds that out the hard way. The story world grew up around the two of them with a little prompting from my editors. I’m all about the characters and have a little trouble remembering that the reader doesn’t “see” my setting if I don’t put it into words.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Airie?

[Paula Altenburg] Innocent, kind, and passionate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Hunter had a theme song, what would it be?

[Paula Altenburg] We Will Rock You by Queen.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Airie is never without.

[Paula Altenburg] Fire. It’s a significant part of who she is, kind of like breathing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Hunter’s pockets?

[Paula Altenburg] That’s a great question! Hmm. 1) Pretty stones, or anything someone else might pick up out of curiosity and want to save. He’s not a collector. 2) Bullets. He’s not much into guns either. 3) Hair ribbons. That seems like it should go without saying, but the guy has seven sisters so it’s not too much of a stretch. He hasn’t seen them in years, but he still really loves them and thinks of them often.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Airie’s greatest regret?

[Paula Altenburg] Airie never got to say goodbye to the priestess mother who raised her. That bothers her because rituals that should have been carried out had to be abandoned, and her mother was left without a proper burial.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Paula Altenburg] It doesn’t take much to get me going. My imagination’s pretty active. I’m big into “What if” scenarios, but I’m an abstract thinker and not visual at all. At some point I’d like to write a story that’s kicked off by Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” though. A song, an image, or a movie can all inspire me, but it’s usually an emotional reaction to one specific thing about them. In Hallelujah, it’s the line “He saw her bathing on a roof.” From there, an entire storyline jumps into my head.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Paula Altenburg] Quiet, coffee, and an idea. If I don’t have my scene in my head, my day is ruined.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Paula Altenburg]  I only read books that knock my socks off. Life is too short to read anything else. I will totally toss one aside if I’m not wowed by it because there are plenty more out there waiting to amaze me. Having said that, I have a bit of a love affair going with George RR Martin and his Game of Thrones series. He’s an author who does everything well.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Paula Altenburg] I was reading before I started school, so I’m not really sure what got me started. Johanna Spyri’s Heidi sticks in my mind. So does Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. My mother tells me I read the original versions. She’s a former English teacher and alternates between horror and fascination at my reading choices. As long as the writing’s good, I’m okay with it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Paula Altenburg] I’m a reader. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. Next up comes watching movies. I also like to run. I enjoy traveling too, but overall, I’m quite boring. (Notice that travel placed last on that list?) My husband’s European and we go often, but I’ll take my Kindle and sit on someone’s couch while he visits with family. His sister and I went to Paris and Brussels together a few years ago and visited every museum and art gallery we could find because we both love history. I talked her into taking a tour of the sewers in Paris and she hasn’t forgiven me yet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Paula Altenburg] Through my website at www.paulaaltenburg.com, on Facebook, and Twitter @Paula Altenburg. I swear I will friend and follow, and respond to all e-mails!

Thanks for having me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Giveaway Time!!

You can win a digital copy of The Demon Hunter’s Daughter by filling out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. Open Internationally.

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You can order The Demon’s Daughter from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

 

About the book:

Hunter is the only man capable of killing the demons that left the world in ruins. But when he’s hired by a notorious priestess to bring a thief to justice, the Demon Slayer gets more than he bargains for.

Airie was raised in an abandoned temple as a priestess’s daughter, having no idea of her true origins. In a time when any half-breed spawn of a demon is despised by mortal and immortal alike, not knowing the truth is the only thing keeping her safe.

Forced to flee her home in the wake of disaster and discovery of who she is, Airie must place her trust in a man who believes she should never have been born. And when a demon uprising threatens lives he has sworn to protect, Hunter has to make a choice: abandon Airie to an uncertain fate, or overcome his own personal demons and love her for who she truly is.

Interview with Sherri L Smith, Author of Orleans

Please welcome Sherri L Smith to the virtual offices today!  Sherri is the author of the recently released ORLEANS, as well as Flygirl.  She very graciously agreed to chat about her books and let us get to know her better.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sherri L Smith] I am a writer who likes to eat chocolate chip cookies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Orleans?

[Sherri L Smith] ORLEANS is set in a not-to-distant future in the former city of New Orleans.  After a series of man-made and natural disasters give rise to the deadly Delta Fever, the U.S. Government builds a quarantine wall from Florida to Texas and abandons the region to its fate.  In old New Orleans, now called Orleans, the survivors have gone tribal.  The story follows Fen, a sixteen-year-old girl in this world, as she tries to save the life of a new born baby.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sherri L Smith ] My mom was a New Orleans native and Katrina survivor.  The initial idea for the story came from my experience in getting my mother out of New Orleans after the storm.  Fen popped into my head one day and just started talking.  I left myself a voicemail with her words, and went from there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Fen?

[Sherri L Smith] Strong, loyal, fierce.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Daniel is never without.

[Sherri L Smith] His datalink, even when it can no longer help him.  How many of us carry around cell phones long after the batteries have died?  It’s like a security blanket.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Fen’s pockets?

[Sherri L Smith ]Paper money, lipstick, cell phone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Fen’s greatest regret?

[Sherri L Smith] Not being able to save her tribal leader, Lydia.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Sherri L Smith] Other books, my dreams, people’s personal stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Sherri L Smith] A computer or notebook and pen, a cup of tea, a snack.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Sherri L Smith] Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock, Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos.  I went to film school with Eric, but it wasn’t until years later that I found out he and his best friend from childhood had spent a decade of their lives remaking “Raiders of the Lost Ark” shot for shot.  They started at the tender ages of 11 and 10.  This book tells the story of that adventure.  It’s incredible, honest, and very funny.  I’ve seen the movie—it will make you cheer.  So will the book.  The “how will they do that?!” factor is insane.  (how do 10-year-olds make a giant rolling boulder?)  What surprised me the most was the wraparound story.  Eric and Chris are from Ocean Spring, Mississippi.  The book starts in the aftermath of Katrina.  It really struck home for me, seeing the destruction and then traveling into their childhood to learn exactly what these ruined houses once were, and how they formed the foundations of their lives. That was an unexpected angle that brings such bittersweet depth to an otherwise raucous romp.  Well, there’s more heart strings being pulled than that.  Suffice it to say, it was wonderful.  Definitely check it out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Sherri L Smith] Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.  I read it over 100 times as a kid.  I know I read little books before that, but Wilbur and Charlotte are burned into my memory as true friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sherri L Smith] When I’m not writing, I like to read.  A lot.  And I love to travel.  I like to cook.  I bake a lot of cookies.  Oh, and let’s not forget sleep.  I love that.  To sleep, perchance to dream! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sherri L Smith] You can find me through my website, www.sherrilsmith.com and my blog, The Middle Hundred (www.middlehundred.blogspot.com).  I’m also on Twitter, @sherri_l_smith, and there’s a Facebook page where updates are posted.  But don’t try to contact me through Facebook.  I’m generally too busy writing to check it.  I do respond to email if I can.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Sherri L Smith] Thank you, Julie!  It was fun.

You can purchase ORLEANS or any of Sherri’s other novels from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page

Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

 

 

Title:  What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t. . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable—hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.


Review:

Wow, wow, wow!  This is one of the most original YA books I’ve read in a long time.  The narrative is tense and compelling, and the setting, which is revealed in small, teasing snippets, is thought-provoking.  I admit that when I first picked this up, I was skeptical about it holding my interest.  Eva, the narrator, is the less dominate soul, and she shares her body with Addie.  Addie has complete control of their body, and Eva, at first, just seems to be along for the ride.  As they make two new friends, however, Eva is given the hope that someday she might have some control back over the limbs and voice she shares with Addie.  Once the government discovers that Eva still exists, however, she and Addie are imprisoned in a medical facility where the evil Mr Conivent promises their parents that Addie will be “cured.”  Using their ill brother’s medical treatments as the bait to take custody of the girls, Eva and Addie discover a sinister plot to cut one of the forbidden souls from the hybrids the scientists are experimenting on. 

Addie and Eva are deviants in their society.  Everyone is born with two souls, and by the age of ten, most of the lesser souls have “settled,” leaving only the dominant soul behind.  Eva and Addie never settled, but after being shuttled from doctor to doctor, they have learned to keep Eva’s continued existence at secret.  They pretend that they have settled because they realize how important it is to be considered “normal.”  They are tired of doctors, tests, and examinations, and they are afraid of what will happen if it’s discovered that Eva’s soul still very much entwined with Addie’s.

When Addie and Eva form an uneasy friendship with Hally, their secret is exposed, and they are confined to Nornand, a government institution.  They discover the terrible truth about the fate of the children who they have been told have gone home.  With their lives on the line, they desperately seek a way to escape the institution.

I liked both Addie and Eva.  They are scared to death, but they take frightening risks to find a way to freedom, not just for themselves, but for all of the hybrids at Nornand.  In order to learn more about what’s going on, they do some things that had my heart pounding.  Sneaking around and learning the secrets of Nornand, when it’s obvious that the doctors and nurses, and later, the review board, don’t care about their health, safety, or well-being, had me on the edge of my seat.  I hated having to put the book down to go to work!

I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t want to give away any spoilers.  I loved the main protagonists and the the secondary characters, and I completely bought into the plot.  I found What’s Left of Me to be a suspenseful, exciting read.  This book lived up to, and even exceeded, all of my expectations.  I enjoyed the time I spent with Addie, Eva, Hally, and Devon, and hope to spend more time with them in the future.

Grade: B+/A-

Review copy obtained from my local library

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Title:  Breathe

Author: Sarah Crossan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?


Review:

The premise of Breathe hooked me and made me what to read it.  I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and though I have been disappointed by many of them lately, Breathe kept me completely engaged in the plot.  That’s not to say that there weren’t any flaws, because there were quite a few, but I was so caught up in the story that I overlooked most of them.  One that was hard to overlook was the personality reversal of Petra, the leader of the Resistance.  When the chips were down, she went from being tough as nails to completely caving in and giving up.  I don’t understand how she was the leader of this rebel group for so long, how she sent her people out on dangerous, life-threatening missions that lead to many of their deaths, when she couldn’t even find it in herself to fight back when she’s confronted with a war.  Yes, the odds were so against her people that it didn’t look like they had a chance in Hell of winning, but just rolling over and giving up without a fight made me dislike her even more.  How she ever became the leader of the resistance in the first place is beyond me.

When Bea and her best friend, Quinn, head out of the pod for a short camping trip, their plans are disrupted by Alina, a member of the Resistance, who is fleeing from the Ministry.  Alina’s crime? She stole some plants.  Yup, in this horrific vision of the future, all plant-life has been destroyed, the oceans have been polluted, and as a result, there isn’t enough oxygen left in the atmosphere to support life.  The oppressive Breathe, the corporation that developed the pods and the life giving machines that fill them with breathable air,  making a fortune selling air to the citizens of the pod.  If you think having a gas meter or an electric meter is a pain, imagine having a monthly bill for the air you breathe.  The poor struggle to make ends meet, while the wealthy have so much money they can splurge on personal air tanks so they can jog or play sports.  Stewards patrol the streets, punishing those who walk too fast, or carry burdens without a permit.  In the public areas of the pod, there are strict rules dictating how quickly you can move or what you can do because you are sucking up all of that valuable free air into your lungs.  I love the concept behind this story!

After Bea and Quinn help Alina, their lives are thrown into chaos.  Quinn’s father holds a high ranking position in Breathe, and as a Premium, there is little that Quinn has had to do without.  Bea, on the other hand, has parents who are working themselves to death to pay for her air.  As she attends school and works hard to be promoted, Bea is consumed with guilt.  Her parents are always so tired, and always so worried about everything.  When she fails to secure a spot in the Breathe Leadership Program, she is devastated.  That was going to be her ticket to an easier life for her and her parents, and she blew it.  So a trip outside, to the Outlands, sounds like just the thing she needs to clear her head and forget her disappointment.  Quinn is providing everything she needs for the trip, so she might as well go and enjoy herself.  And she is, until they run into Alina.  Quinn, a very clueless, privileged young man, sees Alina, finds her beautiful, and immediately falls for her.  He’ll do anything in his power to help her.  Even hurt his best friend, Bea, who has loved him forever.

The love triangle did get a little annoying, because I didn’t think Quinn was worthy of Bea’s unyielding devotion, and Alina wasn’t my favorite character.  While I thought that Quinn and Alina deserved each other,  I didn’t want to see Bea hurt, because she is so kind.  She is willing to risk herself for others, without hesitation. Neither Alina nor Quinn have her best interests at heart when they both have the power over her to keep her from harm.  That was disappointing, because after everything that they had been through together, I expected better behavior from both of them.  Plus, Bea would have put herself in harm’s way to protect both of them, and they didn’t deserve that.

The ending is one of those non-endings that seem inevitable in YA books, and it left me disappointed.  I have been trying to resist starting new series until most of the books are out, but this was sitting on the library shelf, and despite a few reservations, I checked it out.  Now. When I knew the next book won’t be out until later this year.  Ugh.  I am glad that I read it now, but I worry that I won’t be in the same frame of mind when Book 2 hits shelves.

If you are in the mood for a fast-paced dystopian with a compelling premise, give Breathe a try.  I gobbled it up in a few short hours, and was engaged in the plot the entire time.

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop! Win London Eye by Tim Lebbon!

Welcome to my Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and  co-hosted by Babs Book Bistro.  This hop runs from January 1st – 7th 2013, and you can win lots of new reads.   Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away a finished copy of Tim Lebbon’s London Eye.

 

About the book:

The Hunger Games meets The X-Men in an exciting post-apocalyptic debut.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers.

The rest of Britain believe that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But Jack and his friends, some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday, know that the reality is very different.

At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London, and it is incredible. Because the handful of Londons survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

 

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

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Interview with Elsie Chapman, Author of Dualed

I am super geeked to welcome Elsie Chapman to the virtual offices today.  Her book DUALED, Random House, hits stores shelves February 26th 2013.  This is one of my most anticipated 2013 reads, so I’m thrilled to chat with Elsie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Elsie Chapman]  Mangler and consumer of words, nurturer of little humans and furballs, lover and friend, loud music hound, sushi and caffeine enthusiast.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Dualed?

[Elsie Chapman]  At its heart, I can say it’s a story about finding self-worth, and what it means to different people, under different circumstances.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Elsie Chapman]  My son asked me one day, how did we know we all didn’t have a twin out there and just didn’t know about them. So the idea pretty much took off from there. I wanted a girl MC who was strong but still vulnerable, and a main love interest who was able to let her be her own person.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe West?

[Elsie Chapman]  Loyal, solid, stubborn.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If West had a theme song, what would it be?

[Elsie Chapman]  Run by Snow Patrol. I listened to that one a lot while I was writing Dualed!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing West won’t leave the house without.

[Elsie Chapman]  Her gun. Or her set of switchblades.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Elsie Chapman]  Music, movies, lyrics, the odd quote.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Elsie Chapman]  Music, tea, time. I tend to write in major gluts, so if I’m on a roll, I just kind of disappear for a while.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Elsie Chapman]  The very last book I read that still had me thinking about it days later was The Curse of the Wendigo by Ricky Yancey. It’s book 2 of the Monstrumologist series, and I absolutely cannot wait until I have time to read book 3, The Isle of Blood.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Elsie Chapman]  For reading in general, I can’t remember. But I read a lot of Stephen King when I was young, and he was the author who kept me reading.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Elsie Chapman]  My to-be-read pile keeps growing, so I try to work on that. I’ll clear out the PVR, marathon some movies, bake. Most recently, while I was waiting for edits to come in, I decided to finally check out Tumblr. It was way too much fun so now I’m on that, as well. Though it’s not author or book or writing related at all, just super random stuff I happen to enjoy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Elsie Chapman]  You can find me at all these places! And thank you for having me on your blog, Julie!

Goodreads: goodreads.com/elsiechapman

Blog: elsiechapman.com

Twitter: twitter.com/elsiechapman

Facebook: facebook.com/elsiechapmanauthor

Pinterest: pinterest.com/elsiechapman

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

You can pre-order DUALED from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital

 

DUALED Blurb:

Two of you exist. Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

Author bio:

Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.

Review: London Eye by Tim Lebbon

 

Title:  London Eyes

Book One in the Toxic City Series

Author:  Tim Lebbon

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The Hunger Games meets the X-Men in an exciting postapocalyptic debut

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the world, protected by a military force known as Choppers. The rest of Britain believes that the city is now a toxic, uninhabited wasteland.

But Jack and his friends—some of whom lost family on what has become known as Doomsday—know that the reality is very different. At great risk, they have been gathering evidence about what is really happening in London—and it is incredible.

Because the handful of London’s survivors are changing. Developing strange, fantastic powers. Evolving.

Upon discovering that his mother is still alive inside London, Jack, his sister, and their three friends sneak into a city in ruins. Vast swathes have been bombed flat. Choppers cruise the streets, looking for survivors to experiment upon. The toxic city is filled with wonders and dangers that will challenge Jack and his friends… and perhaps kill them. But Jack knows that the truth must be revealed to the outside world or every survivor will die.


Review:

I am a little torn about how I feel about this book.  It was slow to pick up, but once the action started, it didn’t let up.  Until that ever unpopular with me brick wall of an ending.  This one screeches to a halt, without even the slightest hint of resolution or completeness.  Even worse, the ending opens up multiple story threads that need to be explored in the next installment.  While I don’t mind series, I do not like all of these non-conclusions.  Nothing is wrapped up, and the story lurches to a stop just as things were getting really, really interesting.  It’s like waiting in line at Cedar Point to ride the Gatekeeper, getting to the front of the line, and being told that the ride has to close due to inclement weather.  Come back next year for your anticipated thrill ride.  I am so not a fan of these kinds of endings.

London Eye is being billed as Hunger Games meets the X-Men.   Once Jack and friends enter the forbidden, toxic city of London, they are met with one life-threatening misadventure after another, and Jack is willing to risk his own life to discover the fate of his parents.  They were in London during the terrorist attacks that left it an empty husk of itself.  The only people left alive, everyone is told, are horrible monsters. The city has been completely shut off, with no electricity or access to fresh food.  People can not travel in or out without being picked up by the Choppers.  When Rosemary, an old woman with healing abilities, offers to sneak Jack and his friends inside, he jumps at the chance.  He needs to know what happened to his parents, and he won’t rest until he finds out the truth.

Beside the ending, my biggest complaint with London Eye is the pacing.  It is much slower than I’ve become accustomed to in YA dystopian novels.  If I didn’t like Jack and his younger sister Emily so much, I don’t think I would have stuck it out.  The story doesn’t pick up until about mid-way, and it ratchets up to crazy sauce (in a good way), the last 25 pages.  Which made the non-ending even more of a let-down.  I am getting to the point that I don’t even want to start a series until most of the books are already out, due to my ever growing levels of impatience.  With the deluge of titles hitting store shelves every week, I sometimes feel that my reading needs would better served if I held off on series until they are complete.  I am still stinging over the increasingly long wait times between GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. Yes, I am one of those entitled readers who expects closure from every book I read.  I like endings, and I need closure. 

Jack and his friends don’t believe the government’s spiel about what happened in London the day the terrorists attacked, releasing Evolve, a biological weapon that sickened and killed most of the city’s residents.  Those who survived were changed, turned into dangerous monsters.  Jack knows in his heart that his parents are still alive, and he just wants to find them and bring them home.  He has been struggling to raise his younger sister, and he knows that they both need their parents.  His friends Sparky and Lucy-Anne also want to discover the fates of their relatives who were in London during the attacks.  When Rosemary shows up, they throw caution to the wind and agree to make the dangerous, forbidden journey into London with her.

As far as the world-building goes, I found it a mixed bag.  I liked the idea of a deserted London, where enhanced humans hide from the vicious Choppers, a government body that captures and dissects the Irregulars in a vain attempt to discover what makes them tick.  As Jack and his small party infiltrated the empty streets, however, I didn’t get a sense that it was all that dangerous to sneak from safe house to safe house.  It wasn’t until the end, during a bloody encounter with the Choppers and the terrifying Superiors, that I felt invested in the danger of the story.   Prior to that, it seemed to me that if you just kept your head down and crept around like a mouse, you wouldn’t draw much attention to yourself and you could just lay low, so I didn’t buy into the hazards of being trapped in the ruins of London.

While I didn’t feel completely engaged in the plot until the end, I am invested enough now that I want to see what happens next.  A sense of urgency and a clear and present threat to Jack’s continued survival was finally, firmly, engaged at the end.  I wonder how he will save all those he cares for, and fend off the Choppers and the terrifyingly powerful Superiors.  I do feel, though, that this book and next could have been combined for a more complete and finished story.  Your mileage will more than likely vary.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher