The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer

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The Shade of the Moon is book 4 in the Life As We Knew It series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The narrator in this novel is Jon, Laura’s youngest son (Miranda’s brother). I have to admit that I really dislike him for most of this book. He is weak, self-centered, and elitist. He has the advantage of living in the Enclave with the “clavers” even though he is classified as “slip” – he, Lisa, and Gabe “slipped” in with Alex’s passes that were meant for him and his 2 sisters. Clavers look down their noses at anyone who lives outside the enclave, and they refer to them as “grubbs.” Jon’s family are grubbs.

Jon falls in love with Sarah, a claver who is sympathetic to grubbs. She views life idealistically and is hopeful for a “normal” future where everyone can be equal. Jon’s brother, Matt, learns about a new colony being developed that is based on equality called New Harmony.

People who have been given special privileges and treatment are asked to make sacrificing choices. Their character is certainly tested, particularly Jon and Lisa. This novel is more about class rank in society and elitist/entitlement issues and not about survival like the other books. The ending is certainly left open for another book, but I do not know if there will be one. This author does not mind killing off important characters, so we are only down to a handful! 

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Wow! I LOVED this series from beginning to end! Juliette’s emotional transformation is exhilarating. She begins her story in an asylum where in order to stay sane, she counts everything. (Well, maybe she’s not so “sane.”)

Juliette’s touch is lethal. When Adam enters her life everything changes because he can touch her! Needless to say, the story gets a little steamy when she has never had anyone be able to touch her before…she, of course, craves touch. Adam is a soldier working for Warner. Ah, Warner. We think he is an evil psychopath…but there is a method to his madness. We glimpse Warner’s inner feelings in the novella, Destroy Me….which I recommend. Guess what? Warner can also touch Juliette. (Which also gets steamy.)

Ignite Me reveals Juliette’s metamorphosis into a strong leader who wants to take down The Reestablishment. Adam does not know or understand this girl anymore, but Warner does. Juliette is able to unite those left from Omega Point…those with the X-Men-style super powers with one main objective…Kill Anderson (Warner’s father and leader of The Reestablishment).

Books in this series include Shatter Me, Destroy Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me, and Juliette’s Journal. They are all excellent. I’m sorry this series is over, but the ending does certainly leave the continuation of the story as a possibility. Hint, Hint, Ms. Mafi! 

Stealheart by Brandon Sanderson

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David sees his father killed by the superhuman “epic,” Stealheart, and from that point forward David dedicates his life to studying the weaknesses of all epics – superhuman villains – and he ultimately plans to destroy Stealheart. David joins forces with the Reckoners whose objective is to kill epics. There are some surprises and twists at the end which was the book’s redeeming factor.

This story has a lot of action and adventure, and even though I love super “heroes”…super “villains”…not so much. A former student of mine encouraged me to read this book, so I persevered for him. Even though there is action and the characters are likable, I was bored! Forgive me, Josh, and forgive me Stealheart fans, but I have to be honest!

Books to look for…

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I’m sorry for being absent for so long! I promise it was NOT because I wasn’t reading. I have been reading and rereading some “classic” novels for a class, and I didn’t think you’d care for me to review Pride and Prejudice, As I Lay Dying, Things Fall Apart, Beloved, Huckleberry Finn. HOWEVER, one of the novels that I read was THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. It was a fabulous dystopian novel…not so much about the post-apocalyptic world in which they lived, but about the love story of a father and son surviving for each other. I loved it and highly recommend this book, though it is considered more “adult” than “young adult”…it would be a great novel for either.
I just read and reviewed for a magazine 2 noteworthy upcoming YA books. One is Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones which is described on the back cover as “The X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven.” Great story! This must be the first in a series, because although issues are resolved, the ending is the beginning of a new adventure. This is a Sci-Fi treat, so look for it coming out to stores this year.
The other book worthy of attention is The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu which will be released in June 2014. This novel I HIGHLY RECOMMEND for any fans of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and realistic young adult fiction. This book is filled with discussion-worthy topics, but the main idea focuses on a girl’s (Alice) reputation being destroyed by rumors. I LOVED it! Powerful novel!

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

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Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is Book II in His Fair Assassin series. (Grave Mercy is Book I.) I am a big fan of Grave Mercy because I love Ismae, a strong and caring female who just happens to be a trained assassin.

I really wanted Book II to continue following Ismae’s story, but the book changes main characters. Sybella is Ismae’s friend from the convent, also a trained assassin. However, Sybella is sent back to her father’s house as an assignment from the convent. D’Albret is an evil man who has plans to take control of the country either by forcing the Duchess to marry him or by conquering with military power. Sybella is promised that she may kill her father, but due to misleading information from the convent, the mark of death never appears on him.

Sybella must learn to accept her past in order to be able to embrace her future and learn to love, and most importantly to understand that she is loveable.

Though not as outstanding as Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph is an enjoyable read, but as its name implies, is very dark. Mortal Heart, Book III, will be coming Spring 2014. This book will tell Annith’s story – the friend of Ismae and Sybella still being held at the convent.

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

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The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross is a fantastic YA Steampunk novel! Set in Victorian London (you even meet the Queen herself!), characters have supernatural abilities and fight crime, specifically The Machinist. This is book 1 in The Steampunk Chronicles.

Finley Jayne can leap from second floor balconies, heal super fast, and has amazing strength. Fighting a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde personality, Griffin helps Finley merge her two selves. Much to Griffin’s dismay, she also receives assistance from the criminal mastermind (and handsome ladies man), Jack Dandy. You’ve got to love a love triangle including a good guy and a bad guy (especially when the bad guy is really a good guy at heart)! The novel ends with one of their friends being arrested and taken to America to be put on trial for murder. So book 2 in the series takes place in New York City. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to!

The Steampunk Chronicles include: The Girl in the Steel Corset (2011), The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (2012), The Girl with the Iron Touch (2013), and The Girl with the Wind Up Heart to be published in 2014.

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

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Curtsies&Conspiracies
Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger is a fun, steampunk adventure highlighting the escapades of finishing school student, Sophronia Temminnick. Whereas I did not just love the first book in this series Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies was excellent. I now see the reason why this series was referred to as “a steampunk Harry Potter.” The second book was better, I believe, because we see the dynamic between the vampires and werewolves, the finishing school, the Victorian government, and the Picklemen, and we meet more people. The story is taken outside of the school, which was nice. Sophronia shows a dark side to her character when she is willing to ruin a teacher’s character and indirectly almost kill a professor she likes. I am particularly interested in the vampire who assists Sophronia in the end, Lord Akeldama. I predict he will play an important role in her future. I also like Sophronia’s romantic entanglement with Soap, the sootie, and Lord Mersey, the aristocrat. Great book and lots of fun!

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

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The Dark Unwinding (2012) by Sharon Cameron has such great possibilities combining some of my favorite attributes – Victorian, romance, mystery, and a little steampunk (but not too much). However, it was just not exciting enough and needed to boost up the romance.  The Dark Unwinding is a boring version of a Victoria Holt novel. (I love Victoria Holt books.) That being said, I WILL read book two – A Spark Unseen (2013).

Katharine is sent by a family member to her uncle’s estate to proclaim him insane so that her aunt and fat lazy cousin may inherit the family fortune. However, once she reached Stranwyne Keep and got to know her special uncle with amazing clockwork design talent, Katharine is not so ready to declare his lunacy. In an ironic twist, it is Katharine’s sanity that is tested.

In the After by Demitria Lunetta

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In the After (2013) by Demitria Lunetta is an exciting apocalyptic survival story. I loved it!

Amy watches on TV as an alien ship lands in a park and “little green men” who can run super fast and kill humans super quick destroy life as she knew it. Now she lives “in the after.” She learns how to use sign language as she and a young girl, Baby, communicate with one another in silence so they do not catch the attention of the monsters that have excellent hearing. Amy is fortunate to have a home with solar panels for electricity (due to her environmentalist father) and an electric fence around her house (due to her scientist and paranoid mother). Very few humans survive “them,” but some do and frankly most of them are just as bad as the monsters. After 3 years, Amy and Baby are taken to a human settlement called New Hope where Amy’s natural curiosity and intelligence become her downfall.

In the End is scheduled to be released June 2014.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

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I read The Marbury Lens (2010) because it was listed as a YA steampunk novel. I don’t see that this is steampunk. I would categorize it as Sci-Fi.

Sixteen-year-old Jack has a horrifying experience when he is kidnapped and almost raped by a psychotic doctor. Jack is able to escape, but is mentally scarred by the experience. He and his best friend, Conner, go to London for a three-week vacation. Still recovering from his traumatic experience, Jack meets another strange man named Henry who gives him a pair of weird glasses. When Jack puts on the glasses, he is transported to an alternate universe where he is trying to save two younger boys, and his best friend, Conner, is their enemy. When he comes back to the present day in London, he acts like a drug addict with a mental problem. He doesn’t know what is real.

This novel is not a favorite book of mine. From the beginning of the book when he is kidnapped, I read in horror as he endured that frightening episode in his life…it is a very disturbing story, and frankly by the end I’m just as confused as poor Jack.

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