Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Shadow Cats"- A Girl of Fire and Thorns Story

I don't always jump on board with every fad, but the new movement of short stories between books in a series is one I am whole heartedly standing by.  I mean what could be better than not only continuing a story you love, but also getting it from a different character's point of view.  This, my friends, is genius. 

"Shadow Cats" by Rae Carson is the most recent novelette I have read.  And, I absolutely loved it.  "Shadow Cats" tells the story of Elisa's sister, Alodia and is  a prequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  Now I've got to tell you, when I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I didn't like Alodia very much.  Maybe I just really felt sorry for poor Elisa, or maybe Alodia is a little snotty.  I don't know.  I just didn't like her very much.  But, "Shadow Cats" Rae Carson really knew how to to pull me back around so I love both sisters equally.  Well played, Carson.

In "Shadow Cats" Alodia takes center stage, and readers see her strength, courage, and determination.  We follow her and Elisa travel to attend a wedding of an acquaintance of their father.  Unexpectedly, when they arrive the girls see a land that seems to be suffering from a drought.  However, normal rain patterns exist.  No food is growing; no flowers bloom.  The natives begin to blame the newly arrived bride to be.  This isn't good for anyone.  As if that weren't enough, a bizarrely fierce jaguar terrorizes the land. 

Well, as you may have guessed it, Alodia takes matters in her own hands in order to save the land and help make a name for herself as a princess who was born to rule.  I for one am convinced.  Alodia is an amazingly strong person in all the ways her sister is not.  It is so amazing how completely different these girls are, but they are both so strong and perfectly suited to rule. 

Please read both The Girl of Fire and Thorns if you haven't and then follow up with "Shadow Cats".  "Shadow Cats" is only available as an ebook.  The second book in the trilogy The Crown of Embers will be available September 18.  That is plenty of time! 

Also, if you enjoy the novelette concept as much as I do, check out "Dream Dark", a Beautiful Creatures story, "Hana", a Delirium story.  Also, "Free Four" a Divergent story will be out August 7.  I love it; I really hope this trend continues.  Hint, hint.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Selection

I love books.  Almost everyone I read appeals to me.  But, I've got to say The Selection (watch the trailer here) by Kiera Cass really has my heart.  It's one of those books I've been nearly giddy to write about.  If you've been thinking about reading this one, skip it to the top of your pile and fast.  Seriously.  I love it, for real, for true, forever!  Let me explain.

I can best describe The Selection as a Hunger Games meets The Bachelor set up.  (Are you breathless yet?  You should be.)  America Singer is a sixteen year old girl living in a future version of North America called Illea.  In Illea citizens are ranked by their skills and talents.  Except, these ranking were handed out to families when Illea was formed.  So, you are ranked according to the skills of your great-grandparents, with whom you may not share this skill.  And, moving up casts is advantageous economically, but really difficult.  Most people pretty much remain in the cast in which they were born.  This means some people experience poverty and hunger continually, while others never know or worry about this problem.

This country is ruled by a monarchy.  In this royal family, princesses have arranged marriages with royals in neighboring countries.  But, princes, well, that's where the excitement is.  A prince selects his wife from a pool of thirty-five "daughters of Illea."  This process is called the Selection.  Girls of a certain age complete an application process and submit a photo.  Then the field is narrowed from thousands to thirty-five.  If a girl participates in the Selection, her family is paid for her services to her country and she and potentially her family will be able to move up in the caste system. 

America Singer is a five.  She and her family are artists.  Some are musicians, others produce visual arts.  As a five, America has never known the luxury of, well, anything.  She and her family usually have just enough, but sometimes that is a stretch.  She is uninterested in participating in the Selection as her heart belongs to the dashing Aspen.  Aspen and America have shared a secret love for the past two years.  There are lots of problems with this.  The biggest being that Aspen is a six, a servant.  If America and Aspen were to marry, America would become a six and her life would change.  As a result, Aspen pushes her to apply for the Selection.  Plus, there is also pressure from her mother and the fact that she will be able to help her family if chosen.

As luck would have it, America is selected.  She is now whisked away to live in the glamorous palace, where she and thirty-four other girls are expected to compete for the attention of the handsome prince Maxon.  America isn't really in to this.  She's determined to be here for the money.  But, things begin to change.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  I love this book!

The current America! 
Love her from Friday Night Lights!
I cannot encourage you to read this book enough!  If I could send a copy to everyone in the world, I would.  Here are some cool things I know about the book from reading Kiera Cass's website.  First, the next book will be out in the spring of 2013.  As of yet, the exact date hasn't been released, nor has the name.  Crass promises the name will be forthcoming soon.  Also, there is the possibility the series being televised by the CW.  One version of the pilot was shot, but the focus group did not think it quite hit the mark.  The good news there is that the network didn't drop the show, but is reshooting the pilot.  This means that if this time is successful, we might be viewing the show next spring/summer.  Exciting!  I imagine this would be a very beautiful show to watch.  Finally, Cass will be at YALLFest, which you know is also on my "Things I Can't Wait For" List!  I will be waiting on pins and needles for news about the next book and the show. 

Read this!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lost Voices

A couple of years ago, while on a school trip one of my coworkers looked over at me while he was reading the newspaper and said:
     "Hey, you like vampires don't you?"
     So, of course I replied, "Who doesn't?"
     He grinned a little and said, "Well, they will only be cool a few more minutes because mermaids are the next big thing."

Evidently, that article might be right.  Sarah Porter's mermaid tale (pun intended!) Lost Voices (watch the trailer here) is beautiful in so many ways.  In Lost Voices, Sarah creates a world where girls who are living horrible lives reach a breaking point at which they depart from their human forms and morph into mermaids.  Could you imagine feeling the pain or heartbreak of neglect of abuse only to realize you are not drowning, you have actually changed into a beautiful mermaid?  I've got to tell you, I love this twist on why mermaids exist.  I think this concept is very cool and hope it has provided some momentary mental escape for a girl in need.

I can't help but picture Catarina like this!
This world of mermaids is not all Little Mermaid-like however.  When fourteen year old Luce changes into a mermaid, she joins a tribe of mermaids led by the fierce Catarina.  While she is changing, she hears beautiful music only to learn she is the source of that music.  A mermaid's voice is a powerful weapon.  Powerful enough to sink ships, which is exactly what the tribe uses them to do.

The mermaid way of life is to exact revenge on humans for their cruelty by singing ships into disaster.  As in sinking them.  As in murdering all the people on the ship.  Luce isn't on board with this.  She, unlike the other mermaids, isn't able to separate herself from the kindness in her human past and become a murderer.  This, as you might imagine, does not go over very well within the tribe.  But for a girl like Luce, who has never fit in anywhere, it might be worth finding a real home to change her mind.

As Luce struggles to reconcile her feelings, new mermaids join the tribe.  These new additions change the dynamic of the tribe.  Luce must decide whether she can exist in this changing tribe or strike out on her own. 

Waking Storms, the next book of the trilogy, just became available about two weeks ago.  I look forward to learning how this story continues to unfold.  This is certainly one to check out.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Last Echo- Body Finder Series

The Last Echo
Warning: This includes Body Finder and Desires of the Dead spoilers.  Read those now to improve your life!  Check out my reviews of those here.

I love the Body Finder Series by Kimberly Derting.  Truly.  I will make a somewhat embarrasing confession that on the rare occasion there is a news report of a body being found, I immediately have the assumption that Violet Ambrose must have been on the case.  And then, well, I remember she is a fictional character.  When I remember this, I'm a little sad.  OK, maybe a lot sad.

In The Last Echo, Violet is working with is working with Sarah, Rafe and the others at the Center to investigate what seems to be a serial killer case.  As a part of the team, Violet begins to be a little more comforatble with her gift.  Even though all the people at the Center are able to do something unique, being around them provides a comfort of sort.  However, being part of the team is not without consequence.  Violet comes face to face with death on purpose now instead of it accidently stumbling upon it.  That's different.  That's dangerous.

Dead SilenceBecause of this new danger, Violet reconsiders her place on the team.  The problem is, that may not be her decision to make.  Creepy!  Oh, I cannot wait until the next book, Dead Silence is avaible in April of next year. 

I cannot wait to meet Kimberly Derting at YALLFest.  Check out the amazing lineup for the festival here.