Cover Shot! Incrementalists by Steven Burst and Skyler White

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 premise of The Incrementalists looks fascinating. A secret society of individuals who are reincarnated through the centuries.  I love stuff like this!

In stores September 2013

"Secret societies, immortality, murder mysteries and Las Vegas all in one book? Shut up and take my money." —John Scalzi
The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.
Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.

Review: Transcendence by C J Omololu

 

 

   Title: Transcendence

   Author: CJ Omololu

   Publisher: Walker & Co

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?

Review:

When I saw that CJ Omololu had a new book, I was eager to discover  whether I would enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Dirty Little Secrets.  I have to admit that I was a little leery, because the premise of Dirty Little Secrets is so unique.  I never ever thought I would read a book about hoarding, but I could not put it down once I started it.  I felt so much sympathy for Lucy, the young protagonist, who was left with a moral dilemma after her mother suffers a tragic accident.  Does she immediately call EMS, or does she try to hide her mother’s mental illness.  Lucy does some shocking things to protect mother’s reputation, as well as to save herself a great deal of humiliation, and I was transfixed from the first page to the last.  Even though I didn’t agree with Lucy’s actions, I understood why she was motivated to behave the way she did. 

The cover for Transcendence has me instantly transfixed.  I love how intensely the models are staring into the camera, and immediately felt a sense that they are both ready to face any obstacle to protect each other.  I wondered again what this story would be about.  Yes, that’s me admitting that I didn’t really read the plot synopsis; the cover and the author’s name were enough to sell me on this book.  So, did it measure up?  Yes, I thought it did.  Though it lacked the shock factor of Dirty Little Secrets, it also features an extremely likeable protagonist.  I think I would like Cole if I met her in real life, and so I wanted to see her emerge successfully  from all of her trials.  Even when she made a few bone-headed moves later in the story, I at least understood why she acted as she did.

Cole is a musical prodigy, and she has devoted most of her young life to the cello.  When the story begins, she is visiting London with her older sister and her father, who is on a business trip.  A tour of the Tower of London doesn’t go exactly as planned.  Cole passes out after have a vision of herself being beheaded on the Tower grounds.  She meets Griffon, a fellow American, when he comes to her rescue.  Back home in the States, Cole finds that the visions of the past are getting more intense, and she discovers that she is an Akhet, a person who can remember past lives.  As she learns more about her previous lives, it becomes apparent that someone is out to hurt her.  Can she trust Griffon, or is he the one she needs to be afraid of?

I loved the premise of Transcendence.  What would it be like to be reborn again and again, and to retain the memories of your previous lives.  Would you have a moral and ethical obligation to use all of the valuable skills you’ve acquired over the centuries to improve the lot of all mankind?  Or do you turn rogue, and live only to suit yourself?  In this game, Cole is definitely at a disadvantage.  After discovering that she’s not going crazy after all, she learns that Griffon has lived many, many lives, and he’s awakened to his memories long ago.  Cole is still awakening, which leaves her confused and uncertain of who she can trust.  She doesn’t possess a full picture yet; she’s still struggling to get a handle on the tumult of memories assailing her at the most inconvenient of times. 

There were a few times when the romance between Cole and Griffon skated along the ick line.  It shouldn’t have, but Griffon has clearly been around for a long, long time.  He has been married in other lives, and he’s raised families.  While it is slowly becoming clear that Cole has, too, she doesn’t remember them, and that made her seem far younger and much less worldly than Griffon.  When I stopped to think about it, it gave me the creeps.   Then I started to wonder what it would be like to have had found that one, true love, only to lose them a lifetime ago.  What would it be like to be so in love with someone that you were drawn to their essence again and again, or you were consumed with finding their essence again.  What would happen if you were Akhet, but the one you loved was not?  What if you were old and gray, and your true love was just a child?  What if you finally found your soul mate, but they loved someone else in that particular life?  The cycles of rebirth could pose a lot of interesting, heartbreaking challenges, and I am curious to see how the author tackles some of these issues in later volumes of the series.

I think I enjoyed Transcendence so much because of how much I liked the protagonist.  I was immediately invested in Cole’s lives, both present and past.  I was held in an agony of suspense as she tried to make sense of everything that was happening to her.  As she learns more about her past, she begins to question her present.  She has always cherished her ability to play the cello, but now she feels that she’s been cheating and lying, and that she has an unfair advantage over other musicians.   I never thought she was arrogant about her musical gifts, so to see how confused she became only made me like her that much better.  I felt a real connection with Cole, and I am looking forward to learning more about both her present and past lives. 

Grade:  B/B+

Available in Print and Digital

Review copy provided by publisher

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Cover Shot! Transcendence by C. J. Omololu

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?

I love this cover!  The intensity of the couple just jumps out, and made me do a double-take.  I like the simplicity of their pose, and how the focus is on the cover models.   They looks so real to me, not all polished and shiny and overdressed like so many YA covers are.  The premise looks awesome, too.  Dirty Little Secrets was such a good book, so I am looking forward to reading Transcendence by C. J. Omololu.

 

Love isn’t the only emotion to survive death . . .

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?

In stores June 2012

 

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Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

 

Title: Incarnate

Author: Jodi Meadows

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

ISBN: 978-0062060754

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

NEWSOUL

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

Review:

Incarnate is one of the more hyped books for the winter, and I was very eager to dive into the narrative.  This is an interesting take on the dystopian genre, which is which is one of my favorites.  In Ana’s world, there are one million souls, and they have been re-incarnated for thousands of years.  When Ana is born, however, she is a new soul.  A nosoul.  Nobody knows where she came from.  People are a bit afraid of her.  In order for her to exist, another soul had to disappear, so people aren’t happy that she’s joined them.  Her life means someone else’s permanent death, and a shocking shake up of the status quo.

Ana is left in the care of her mother, Li, a fierce woman who wants nothing to do with her.  Unlike other children, Ana is a blank slate.  She has no memories of her previous lives, because she has none.  What a terrible disadvantage for her to have to deal with!  While her peers are heading off on their own to continue the lives that they had temporarily left, Ana has no skills, no prospects, no expectations of things getting better for her.  Li is a cruel and detached caregiver.  She doesn’t see the sense in putting any effort into her duty when Ana probably only has one life.  Why become invested in someone who will only be around for the blink of an eye.

This is the aspect that I found the most fascinating about the book.  Everyone is thousands of years old. Everyone has a history with everyone else.  Everyone but Ana.  She is truly an infant to these people; young, ignorant, a disturbance in their carefully ordered society.  She doesn’t fit anywhere, and people are not shy about letting her know that.  They are dismissive of her, because they don’t know if she will be reincarnated after she dies, and they don’t think it’s worth their time to get to know her for her blip of a life.  The concept of a life not being worth much because it will likely be only about 70 years is a little disturbing.  While I understand the point of view of the citizens of Heart, I just can’t reconcile myself to anyone’s life being insignificant or worthless.  What a sobering concept for me.

I did find Ana occasionally trying.  After Sam saves her life and becomes her guardian, Ana worried about him treating her the same way Li did.  Sam never once showed an inclination to slap, hit, or otherwise punish her, so when she continued to shy away from him and push him away after spending so much time under his protection, I started to get a sense of overkill.  Li was a horrible mother; we got that message from the first chapter, when she gives Ana a broken compass and sends her on her journey to Heart – in the wrong direction. 

That one quibble was about my only complaint with this story.  I loved the world-building, and found the concept of everyone being continually reincarnated fascinating.  I also loved the mix of fantasy creatures that harried the people of Range.  I am looking forward to the next installment of the series, because I have so many questions that weren’t answered in Incarnate, and I am hopeful that some of them will be addressed in the next book.  Most important – where did everyone come from, and how are they being reincarnated?

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

 

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