Monday, November 28, 2011

Robison Wells. VARIANT

Benson Fisher has been tossed around for years from foster home to foster home. He’s never stayed anywhere long enough to make friends. He longs to go to a good school. So, when he’s accepted to Maxfield Academy on a scholarship for orphans, he’s thrilled. He thinks he’ll finally get the education he wants. Since it’s a boarding school, he’ll be able to settle in and make friends.

When he arrives at Maxfield, he realizes that it’s not exactly as the brochure promised. Right after the driver drops him off, the strangeness begins. Two of the students run out of the school and chase the car out to the gate. Later he learns that the two students were punished for running after the car. Then his orientation is lead by a student close to his own age, named Becky. You can imagine his surprise when Becky explains to him that all the classes are taught by students. In fact, the whole place is run by students. There are no adults in the building at all. But that doesn't mean they get the run of the place. Cameras are everywhere. Rule-breaking is still punished.

Benson asks to leave, but it’s too late. He isn’t allowed to leave. All the other students explain to him that no one ever escapes, and if they try, they die. Parents and family members aren’t an issue, since all of the kids are orphans and have no one to come looking for them. It gets worse as Benson realizes that he seems to be the only one who cares about escaping. But if his choice is attempting to escape and possibly dying or staying in the prison-like school, Benson feels he has no choice but to try.

What a chilling, marvelous ride! Every time I put this book down, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Literally you’ll want to read this in one sitting. The suspense builds slowly throughout each page until the end where you will be SHOCKED!

Benson is a great character, and you'll definitely root for him. The surrounding characters are surprising, but curious. You'll wonder about them. The action is well paced and exciting.

Check out the author here. This is is first YA book.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Maureen Johnson. THE NAME OF THE STAR

I love, love, love Maureen Johnson's books, so I didn't need any convincing to read this one. Although, at first, I somehow thought it was historical fiction, because of the cover. And that felt odd, coming from MJ. So, anyway, it's not historical fiction at all. It's a murder mystery and sooo much more! (although it does have history in it.)

Aurora, or Rory as she likes to be called, is from New Orleans. Her parents are professors, so she gets to go to England with them for a year. Her parents go to Bristol, while Rory gets to go spend the year at a proper British boarding school called Wexford.

Rory is doing her best to fit in and learn British terminology and important stuff like how the United Kingdom and Britain are not the same thing. Also that the English will play hockey in any weather. (not ice hockey - field hockey). However, rather than fitting in, Rory ends up standing out when she is a witness in a murder investigation.

All of London is on the edge when a string of murders replicate Jack the Ripper murders from over a century ago. Police think Rory is the only witness to the murders, so they get close to her and learn all they can about why this man is interested in her.

I don't want to give too much away, because the story has so many delicious discoveries. But I will say that this book has all of the wit, humor and sheer awesomeness that all of MJ's books have. If you've read her, you don't need my convincing to read this one. If you haven't read any of her books, then this is a fabulous one to start with. My reviews of some of her other books are here.

This is the beginning of a series called SHADES OF LONDON. I will be reading the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it! Check out Maureen Johnson's website here.

Check out the trailer here:

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Have you ever had a day where everything was going wrong and you got so frustrated that you made a poor decision because you were angry? Maybe you lashed out at someone unnecessarily and had to apologize later? Hopefully all that happened was saying something mean. But what if you were having that kind of day and someone lost their life because you became short tempered and angry?

Glen Bauer was taking his daughter home from school and he witnessed several incidents that ruined his mood. He decided to put a little scare into a kid that was driving reckless. But the little scare ended in dire consequences. Even though the scare only took a few seconds, the repercussions reverberated throughout Glen's life for years. After the accident, piece by piece, Glen's family was torn apart. His wife lost faith in him, and his daughter lost her family.

Once I began this book, I couldn't put it down. I was devastated along with Glen to watch how one moment in time can change your whole life. If there was ever a time when you wish you could go back and have a "do-over," this was it for Glen. But unfortunately, life's not like that.

You will not be able to put this one down. You will be on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. You will wish you could talk some sense into some of the characters. Most of all, you will root for Glen and his daughter.

This is an adult book, but appropriate for older teens.

Check out Will Allison here.  LONG DRIVE HOME is his second book, but he's written short stories, as well. I think he's a bright new star in the publishing world!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Beautiful Creatures

Ethan lives in uncomplicated, boring Gatlin County, South Carolina. Things haven't changed much since the Civil War, or as the locals call it the "War between the States." Ethan figures things there will never be any surprises, and he can't wait to get out of there after graduation.
However, as he puts it,
"Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
I never even saw it coming."

Now how could you not be intrigued with a beginning like that?
I was immediately drawn in by this multi-layered story. Ethan lives in a town with a rich history. People know their lineage back to the Civil War, some even know theirs back to the Revolutionary War. Ethan begins having mysterious dreams of a girl and an intense desire to save her but not being able to. He feels a strong connection to her, even though he has no idea who the girl is.

When a Lena moves into town, people aren't exactly welcoming. She's the niece of the neighborhood recluse. No one is fond of old Macon Ravenwood. They think he's crazy. So, in this small, close knit town, if you aren't just like everyone else, if you are a little different, you are not welcome.

However, Ethan is drawn to Lena. He isn't sure why until he begins to realize that she is the girl in his dreams. They have a connection. He begins to spend time with her even though his friends give him a hard time. The more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that she has some pretty big secrets. The secrets involve her family, his family and the history of the town.

I loved this book. The characters are rich, the setting is thick with texture, and the plot is quick and delightful! It literally kept me up many nights! There is a sequel and third book out too!
Check out the trailer: