stevens-dividedThe MECH power has been reawakened. They have driven the Guardians from their home, taken their powers and Selestia has been plunged into darkness. Trapped on an island off the coast of the Centreland, Mellea can only watch as her home is torn apart by the MECH’s leader, Doctor. When an unlikely ally creates a serum that will restore the Guardians, Mellea must fight the clock to find the Montarus family before Doctor makes her final move. But what good is a key if the lock is missing?

In Divided, the sequel to Bound, MJ Stevens fills us in on the characters’ back stories, enriches the world building and develops the story-lines. Mellea continues to be a very strong character and leader.  She has little time to find the Guardians, fill them in on what’s happening, and try to restore their powers because the MECHS have overrun the land, and there is no way Mellea’s people can win the battle without their powers. Many have given up hope.

I really enjoyed the first book, especially the love/hate relationship between Leo and Mellea. I was very excited to see that we didn’t lose any of that here. There are a lot of characters in this story and as they come together, so new connections form and others break. During this time of war, several of the characters have a hard time dealing with each other, and stress levels are high. There is a also a surprising twist when it comes to the main character, which is fantastic!

A lot of the story is told through dialogue with spots of either intense action or character development. There are times when a lot of information is given, and I had to take a break to digest what was happening. Stevens’ themes focus on family and how important sticking together is.

I have really enjoyed the books so far, and I recommend them to readers who like science fiction adventure. The characterization and world building is great; so are the story lines and conflicts. But best of all are Leo and Mellea–their back and forth relationship is entertaining, and I got a little emotional at times. Love, them!

 

 

 

 



randall_dreams300Sixteen-year-old Kara Foster is an outsider in Japan, but is doing her best to fit at the private school where her father is teaching English for the year. Fortunately she’s befriended by Sakura, a fellow outsider struggling to make sense of her sister’s unsolved murder some months ago. No one seems to care about the beautiful girl who was so brutally murdered, and the other students go on as if nothing has happened. Unfortunately, the calm doesn’t last for long. Kara begins to have nightmares, and soon other students in the school turn up dead, viciously attacked by someone . . . or something. Is Sakura getting back at those she thinks are responsible for her sister’s death? Or has her dead sister come back to take revenge for herself?
Kara’s mother has just died and her father takes a post in Japan as an English teacher. She is fluent enough in Japanese, that the language is not much of a barrier, but the understandings of their local legends becomes one. Upon arriving to her new school Kara discovers a girl has been murdered, and nobody has been captured. She is referred to as “Bonsai‘- Loosely translated as being cut away and moved from her home, no roots to grow on.  She is not laving luck making a lot of new friends, but there are some that feel that she belongs and she begins to settle in. There is still some taunting and rudeness from the other kids, and then the bad dreams come. And she is not the only one experiencing them. Then students begin to die. Is there a killer loose at the Monju-no-chie School and will the nightmares stop?

Every time I had to set it down, I thought ‘What is going to happen next?’ I was very happy to find that there were no slow parts in the story. It moves along at a great pace and there are plenty of scary happenings. The dream scenes will give you goose bumps and make your heart beat a little faster. Kara is an intelligent character and does not back away from her other schoolmates when she needs to. She is also curious, which brings an element of detective work and problem solving.

The author spells out the Japanese words to help readers pronounce them. This book includes great supporting characters, but my favourite character is the main one, Kara. She is so down-to-earth and easy to relate to, but I also found Sakura very entertaining. Most of the kids at the school are having the same bad dreams, and seeing or hearing the same cat, and then the cherry blossom smell appears. These are awesome scene set-ups that make you ask, ‘Is it time for somebody else to die? Are these the signs of death?’

This story will keep you on the edge of your seat. I was ecstatic to see that there will be two more books for The Waking series. I loved this book. I recommend it to those who like the movie The Ring or The Grudge. It’s a fantastic read for when you want something creepy, as well as a new international setting.



Krista McKeeth_2_tnKrista McKeeth continues her vlog review series by discussing a young adult SF thriller by Debra Driza.

 

 

 

 

 

 



LunettaThey hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

Hardcover, 455 pages  Published June 25th 2013 by HarperTeen  ISBN   0062105450 (ISBN13: 9780062105455)

Amy finds herself alone after the invasion that decimated all living things on the planet. Fortunately, her home is protected by an electric gate because dangerous creatures with enhanced hearing abilities are attracted to noise. This is Amy’s concern when she has to leave her house for supplies, and plays a role in bringing home Baby, the child she finds still alive in a grocery story. Baby is extremely quiet and has somehow been able to survive on her own. They soon make up their own hand signs for communication.

Amy learns how to survive, as well as the basics of how the creatures work, so she can stay alive. After several years of no contact with other humans and scavenging to survive, they are picked up and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors. Yet this new situation, living with other people, may lead to Amy to run back to her previous life of hiding from the creatures. She had always focused daily on survival, but when they are rescued, it seems that all her years of hiding and fear should be put aside and forgotten. That is not so easy.

There is the constant feeling of paranoia and not knowing what they will find while out scavenging. There is always danger, not only with the creatures, but other survivors too. Amy is patient and cautious—intuitive enough to stay alive. What I enjoyed most about this story is the atmosphere: a lingering feeling that hovers over the story and fills you with anticipation until the end. It’s good that this is just book one of the series. Before, life was considered normal, but after…there is no normal anymore.

I enjoyed this story and am looking forward to continuing this series. If you like invasion stories, post-apocalyptic settings, and strong female leads, I believe you will like this too.



carter-pawnKrista:

Cover

Pretty plain cover. I appreciate it because it’s one that doesn’t have a girl in a dress on the cover, even though it could with this story. It’s nice to see something simple.

Characters

There are actually a lot more characters than I was thinking there would be when starting the story. Not only do we meet those people most important in Kitty’s life, but all of the Hart family and their closely trusted circle.

Favourite

By the end of the book my favourite character was Benjy. If I were stuck in this situation, I would want him as my sidekick: dependable, honest, and trustworthy.

Least Favourite

There were more people I didn’t like than I liked in this one! It was very surprising that the further I read, the more dislike I had for each member of the family and their actions. This took me off guard. I would have to say the most hated from the first time we were introduced to her was Augusta, the oldest surviving member  of the family line.

Beginning

Kitty has just taken her test and rated lower than she expected in the cast system her world so depends on. She has just turned 17 and feels that her life has just plummeted to nothing and she would rather die. Her boyfriend Benjy and her “mother” encourage her to live and convince her that she is destined to help the population fight the unfair ranking system.

Storyline

Kitty is picked up off the streets because of her similar look to Lila Hart. Given no reasonable choice, she is forced into pretending to be Lila after being “Masked” to look exactly like her. As she stands in for Lila, the family slowly begins revealing secrets of how they really rule the land and the operate the ranking system. She soon gets caught up with the political labyrinth players and the rebellion.

Ending

You thought you could see what was coming, but I never expected things to go the way they did! It was like being on a roller coaster where you were expecting to drop downwards but it pulled you sideways instead.

Thoughts

I can honestly say that I have not read a teen book with so many twists. I think there were so many big revelations throughout the story that I could actually feel my head spin. I am usually a huge fan of books that are just as fast paced and action packed as this one, but at the end I felt pounded with so much to take in. I felt out of whack, needing to still take it all in. It was a pretty dark and powerful read if you look at it in a more critical way — politically and socially.

Quote

“But the world is out there, and it understands that the illusion of knowledge and freedom is not the same as the real thing. Eventually, it will fade, and there are those who will do whatever it takes to make that happen sooner rather than later.”

 

 

aimee carterBel:

Cover

I borrowed the audio book from the Brisbane City Council Library and Bolinda Online audio books. The cover art is a round maze with an eye visible though most of the paths. A blue chess piece sits in the top right hand corner of the slate grey background. The book is read by Lamecce Issaq.

 Characters

There are so many characters to hate in this book. The lovable ones are certainly a catalyst to continue reading the series.

Favourite

Kitty. Kick ass, and brainy. Some of her decisions are a little questionable but her motivations make sense.

Least Favourite

Hmmm. Augusta. Again you can understand her motives, but that doesn’t make them right, or forgivable in any way.

Beginning

Kitty is given a really low score on the standardised test to see where she will fit into society, which means a menial job and having to move away from the love of her life Benji.

Storyline

Kitty takes an offer to go from a 3 to a 7 with the intention of being able to stay with Benji. Strings are attached however, and what would a good dystopian book be without some totally corrupt political themes.

Ending

I didn’t pick it, and I am desperate to read on.

Thoughts

With the standardised testing in Aussie schools becoming such a focus, the thought that a single exam determines the rest of your life is just a little too close to home.

I was a little weirded out by the masking process and how easily it seemed to be to recover from such dramatic procedures. Anyone who’s ever seen that gosh awful make over TV show The Swan… that’s what I pictured through this section of the book. EWWW!

I was a little perplexed about the lack of reaction from the character Celia over Kitty’s new circumstance. As a Mum, if this happened to me, I’d be beyond not okay with it.

I did LOVE the book. I’ll be looking to read on throughout 2015.

Quote

I picked this quote because it is pretty much the pivotal argument through the whole book, and I would hazard a guess as to the inspiration for the title of the book.

“They may be weak when the game begins, but their potential is remarkable. Most of the time, they’ll be taken by the other side and held captive until the end of the game. But if you’re careful—if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then?”
I shook my head, and she smiled.
“Your pawn becomes a queen.” 
~ Kitty having a conversation with Celia about chess.

 

Carter_captiveJoelene:

Cover

A brilliantly blue eye framed by something that resembles machinery. Fits the futuristic dystopian theme.

 

Characters

The cast of characters isn’t huge in Pawn, so it’s easy to keep track of who everyone is. The Prime Minister’s family make up most of the players and it ends up seeming a bit like a political family drama.

Favourite

Greyson. He’s probably the smartest guy in the book. Trying to sort out that mess of family is way too complicated. He’s also more empathetic than the others; accepting people as they are rather than forcing them into what he wants them to be.

Least Favourite

Kitty. She really does live up to the book title. She never risks herself; she just lets the larger players push her to where they need her to be.

 Beginning

When Kitty scores low on the test that will decide her future, she thinks that any chance of a good life is forfeit. Then the Prime Minister makes her an offer that she can’t refuse.

Storyline

In a futuristic dystopia, Kitty is an unwanted extra child. When the Prime Minister offers her a chance at more than she could have dreamed, she takes it. What she doesn’t realise is that taking the offer might mean losing herself and becoming someone else – specifically the Prime Minister’s niece, Lila Hart.

 Ending

There’s more upheaval in the end of Pawn than I was expecting. The game is going to change drastically in book two!

Thoughts

Carter took a lot of the issues with growth and technology that worry us today and incorporated them into Pawn. What if technology existed that meant we could replace one figurehead with another without anyone knowing? If humans don’t regulate the population now, what will it mean in the future?

There are also some truths in the novel. Even now the world is told to believe that if a person works hard enough – wants something desperately enough – they will achieve it. We believe the lie, and don’t question the ugliness beneath it. Pawn builds its foundation on that unpleasant notion with the idea that a test given to the poor and rich alike is not equal.

Quote

“On my birthday, you gave me a present,” I said. “It was a purple flower from a vendor selling perfumes. A violet. You said – you said they never gave up, like me.”

 

 

Carter_TestLisa:

Cover

I absolutely love this cover. If you have the US hardback version, the book jacket slips off, and reveals something even more beautiful. Looking at this cover before indulging in the book, it completely suckers you in. It’s mysterious, different, and bold in a strange way. After reading Pawn and looking back at the cover, you find a whole new meaning to it and each of its elements. Gorgeous!

Characters

There are quite a few characters in Pawn, but each and every one of them is unique and interesting. Obviously, some are meant for you to hate, but I can appreciate an amazing villain!

Favourite

Of course my favourite character would be Kitty, and I’m sure many of you will agree with me. She’s totally kick butt and doesn’t let anything scare her. She’s the perfect character for this role; she’s someone strong who won’t back down on her beliefs.

Least Favourite

As I said before, I can appreciate an amazing villain. When I think of my least favourite character, my mind automatically goes to Augusta or Daxton, simply because the reader is made to despise them. But looking back at them, they are perfect. Daxton is crazy in the head, and does some really messed up stuff, while Augusta is the older lady, who thinks she can still rule a modern world in the old ways.

Overall, I LOVED these two characters, but if I had to choose my “least favourite” it would be them.

Beginning

Pawn follows the story of a teenage girl named Kitty Doe. Anyone with the last name “Doe” is the child that was illegally born, because there is a one child minimum law. While most Does are sent to a place called Elsewhere, some are lucky enough to go to local group homes.

Once teenagers turn seventeen years old, they take an aptitude test, that determines what their ranks are in society. Ones and twos are usually sent to Elsewhere, while threes do the dirty work, fours and fives live comfortable while sixes and sevens are royalty.

After taking her test, Kitty scores low, and is tattooed a three on the back of her neck. She knows she will spend the rest of life working in the underground sewers, or renting out her body to disgusting men for money.

Middle

But when Kitty is approached by a man, who she later discovers is part of the royal family, with an offer to become a seven, Kitty can’t turn it down. She doesn’t know what the catch is, or what he expects of her, but becoming a seven is much better than staying a three, or being sent to Denver, or Elsewhere.

End

While I wish I could give you as much detail about the end, as I did with the beginning, I can’t. I want you to feel the same excitement, nervousness, and anxiety I felt with I was completely wrapped up in Pawn.

All I can tell you is that this story was absolutely amazing! And I’m dying to go out and buy myself a copy of the second book in The Black Coat Rebellion series: Captive.

Overall

I love Aimee Carter and have read all of her books, so this month’s read was a very exciting one for me!

When I first started Pawn, it reminded me of The Selection. Obviously, there are thirty-five girls standing here, to fight for the position that Kitty is in, but the general idea of a poor girl comes into the kingdom and starts to change this in their society is the same. Pawn also had different rankings in society. In The Selection, the higher numbers where lower ranking, in Pawn the lower numbers where lower ranking.

Overall, I enjoyed Pawn, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed The Selection series as well as The Chemical Garden trilogy.

 

 

Discussion Questions

Kitty has dyslexia and it has an affect on her test results. How do you feel about the very generalized way of ranking people this book has
Would you sacrifice yourself for the greater good?

How does the book compare to Kiera Cass’s The Selection?

Do our other club members use audio books often, and out of the three formats (ebook, physical book, audio book) which did they use for this month’s pick?

How close are we, as a global society, to using standardised testing to ‘match’ people to their ideal jobs?

Feel free to take the discussion to out GoodReads home.

 

 

 



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