Category Archives: Young Adult

T*Witches: Dead Wrong

In the fourth installment of the teen witch series, Alex returns to her hometown in Montana to rescue her best bud from a bad decision and to confront her father.

Title: Dead Wrong
Author: H.B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld
Series: T*Witches, Book 4
Publish Date: April 1, 2002
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:

Alex and Cam return to Alex’s hometown in Montana to settle some scores. Numero Uno: Someone is trying to block Alex from being adopted by Cam’s family. Could it be Alex’s deadbeat stepdad? Numero Dos: Alex’s bud Evan is being blamed for a school death threat. When stepdad turns up Six Feet Under, the girls must power up for another battle with the forces of evil.


Kat Mandu says…

 

Dead Wrong takes us back to Crow Creek, Montana where spunky and punky Alex grew up. She and Cam have come on a mission to save Alex’s best bud, Evan. Not to mention deal with her dad, who is trying to gain custody of her.

Naturally, they find a lot more trouble than what they bargained for. Thantos and Fredo have been skulking around and now Alex’s dad is six feet under. Evan is tangled up with a group of jerky punks who are threatening to burn the local school to the ground. So the girls have got to get all their magic together and save the day.

There’s a lot of coincidental moments that get them out of trouble quite often I’m not exactly fond of, but also have learned to expect from this particular target age group. Again, my favorite part of the whole series is who the girls deal with real-life issues. It’s almost like the book was intended to be contemporary, dealing with issues you see more in real life… and then magic is thrown in for the twist.  Cam and Alex may be silly teenage girls, but they’re real enough that I’d want them to be my friends.

All in all, this is another great book in the series.

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing, Sweep by Cate Tiernan, and Witches’ Key To Terror by Silver RavenWolf.

 

Q & A time with Kristen Simmons

LunaLovesBooks2Simmons is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Here she shares some of the inspiration behind The Glass Arrow and a sneak peak at the novel.  

Q: Please introduce us to Aya and share some general background on THE GLASS ARROW.

A: Aya has been one of my favorite characters to write. Born into a world where women are endangered, where girls are condemned as breeders and misogyny is the norm, she’s learned to adapt and survive by flying under the radar. With her family – a small group of free women – she hides from those who would see her sold into domestic slavery. Aya is tough: she hunts, fishes, defends her family. When she’s captured and brought into captivity at the Garden, a training facility for girls, her life is turned upside down. All she can think about is reconnecting to the people she loves, and reclaiming her freedom, but she has to be smart in order to escape, and that may involve trusting a very unlikely ally.

Q: What inspired you to write THE GLASS ARROW?

A: A few stories on the news, and some social issues that seem to continue rising, but mostly my own experience. The transition into high school was difficult for me, as it is for many people. Before that time, I remember feeling like I could do anything, be anyone. I was valued because I was creative, and interesting, and smart, but once I stepped foot into high school, things changed. It didn’t matter what kind of person I was; all that was important was if I was wearing the right clothes, or had my hair done the right way. If I was pretty. Boys judged us based on a star system – “She’s an eight,” they’d say, or “Her face is a nine, but the rest of her is a four.” And worse, girls began sharing that same judgment, trying to raise these numbers to be cool, and popular. They’d compare themselves against each other, make it a competition. This, as I quickly learned, was what it meant to be a young woman.

That experience transformed into Aya’s existence – her journey from the freedom of the mountains, where she was important for so many reasons, to the Garden, where she is dressed up, and taught to be, above all things, attractive. Where she has to compete against other girls for votes come auction day. On that auction stage, Aya’s given a star rating based on her looks, which is what her potential buyers will use to determine their bidding. It bears a direct correlation to my life as a teenager – to the lives of many teenagers.

When it all comes down to it, I wanted to write a story where worth is determined by so much more than the value other people place on your body.

Q: A lot has happened in the “real world” since the novel first came out in 2015. Does it feel surreal looking back at the book now?

A: Ah, I wish it did! Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of these issues are still very, scarily relevant, not just for young women, but all people. It seems like every time I see the news there is another incident of someone being measured by their looks rather than their internal worth, of women being degraded and disrespected, and of advantage being taken of someone’s body and mind. It frightens me that these issues persist, but I never claim that THE GLASS ARROW was a look into the future. To me, it was always a way of processing the present.

Q: Congratulations for the surge of attention the book is receiving, thanks to things like the Hulu adaptation of THE HANDMAID’S TALE. What do you want readers to take with them after reading THE GLASS ARROW?

A: Thank you very much! I am delighted by the mention, and honored to be included in the same thought as the great HANDMAID’S TALE. If people do find their way to my book as a response, I hope they take away that they are so much more important than the sometimes superficial and careless values other people assign to them. As Aya says in the book, I hope they know that there are not enough stars in the night sky to measure their worth.

Q: Besides other classics like Margaret Atwood’s book, do you have any recommendations for readers wanting to explore more dystopian fiction and speculative fiction works?

A: How about METALTOWN by Kristen Simmons? That’s a great dystopian! Or the ARTICLE 5 series, about a world where the Bill of Rights has been replaced by moral law… Ok, ok, I’m sorry. That was shameless. I always recommend LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow, THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin, Marie Lu’s Legend series, and of course, THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy. Those are all thrilling, and excellent looks both at the present, and the future.

Q: What are you working on now, and when can readers expect to see your next book?

A: I have two books coming out in 2018, and can’t wait to share both of them. PACIFICA will be released March 6, 2018, and is about a world after the polar ice caps have melted, and a pirate girl and the son of the president find themselves in the middle of a building civil war. It’s a story largely informed my my great grandmother’s internment in World War II. In the fall, I’ll have a new series starting. THE PRICE OF ADMISSION, first in the Valhalla Academy books, is about a girl accepted into an elite boarding school for con artists. I hope readers love them both!

Q: Where can readers find you online?

A: I’m always available through social media – Twitter and Instagram at @kris10writes, and Facebook at Author.KristenSimmons. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and remember, you’re worth more than all the stars in the night sky.

Kristen Simmons is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series (ARTICLE 5, BREAKING POINT, and THREE), THE GLASS ARROW, METALTOWN, PACIFICA (coming March 2018 from Tor Teen), and THE PRICE OF ADMISSION (coming Fall 2018 from Tor Teen). She has a master’s degree in social work and loves red velvet cupcakes. She lives with her family in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Links

Website: http://kristensimmonsbooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.kristensimmons/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kris10writes
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kris10writes

Read on for an exciting excerpt from The Glass Arrow!

“Run, Aya! I feel them! They’re coming!”

I know a moment later what she means. The horses’ hooves are striking the ground, vibrating the gravel beneath my knees. I look to the brush beside us and quickly consider dragging Metea into it, but the horses are too close. If I’m going to save myself I don’t have time.

“Get up!” I am crying now. The salty tears blend with my sweat and burn my eyes.

“Leave me.” “No!”

Even as I say it I’m rising, hooking my arms beneath hers, pulling her back against my chest. But she’s dead weight and I collapse. She rolls limply to one side. I kiss her cheek, and hope she knows that I love her. I will sing Bian’s soul to the next life. I will sing her soul there too, because she surely is doomed to his same fate.

“Run,” she says one last time, and I release her.

I sprint due north, the opposite direction from the cave where I hope Salma has hidden the twins. I run as hard and as fast as I can, fueled by fear and hatred. My feet barely graze the ground for long enough to propel me forward, but still I can feel the earth tremble beneath them. The Trackers are coming closer. The Magnate is right on my heels.

I dodge in my zigzag pattern. I spin around the pine trees and barely feel the gray bark as it nicks my arms and legs. My hide pants rip near the knee when I cut too close to a sharp rock, and I know that it’s taken a hunk of my skin, too. No time to check the damage, no time for pain. I hurdle over a stream-bed and continue to run.

A break in the noise behind me, and I make the mistake that will cost me my freedom.

I look back.

They are close. So much closer than I thought. Two horses have jumped the creek. They are back on the bank now, twenty paces behind me. I catch a glimpse of the tattered clothes of the Trackers, and their lanky, rented geldings, frothing at the bit. The faces of the Virulent are ashy, scarred, and starved. Not just for food, but for income. They see me as a paycheck. I’ve got a credit sign tattooed across my back.

I run again, forcing my cramping muscles to push harder. Suddenly, a crack pierces the air, and something metal— first cold, then shockingly hot—winds around my right calf. I cannot hold back the scream this time as I crash to the ground.

The wire contracts, cutting through the skin and into the flesh and muscle of my leg. The heat turns electric, and soon it is shocking me, sending volts of lightning up through my hips, vibrating my insides. My whole body begins to thrash wildly, and I’m powerless to hold still. The pressure squeezes my lungs and I can’t swallow. I start to pant; it is all I can do to get enough air.

A net shoots out over me. I can see it even through my quaking vision. My seizing arms become instantly tangled.

“Release the wire! Release it!” orders a strident male voice.

A second later, the wire retracts its hold, and I gasp. The blood from my leg pools over the skin and soaks the dirt below. But I know I have no time to rest. I must push forward. To avoid the meat market, to keep my family safe, I must get away.

I begin to crawl, one elbow digging into the dirt, then the next. Fingers clawing into the mossy ground, dragging my useless leg. But my body is a corpse, and I cannot revive it.

Mother Hawk, I pray, please give me wings.

But my prayers are too late.

My voice is only a trembling whisper, but I sing. For Bian and for Metea. I sing as I push onward, the tears streaming from my eyes. I must try to set their souls free while I can.

Out of the corner of my eye I see the boney fetlocks of a chestnut horse. The smooth cartilage of his hooves is cracked. This must be a rental—the animal hasn’t even been shod. An instant later, black boots land on the ground beside my face. Tracker boots. I can hear the bay of the hounds now. The stupid mutts have found me last, even after the horses and the humans.

I keep trying to crawl away. My shirt is soaked by sweat and blood, some mine, some Metea’s. It drips on the ground. I bare my teeth, and swallow back the harsh copper liquid that is oozing into my mouth from a bite on the inside of my cheek. I am yelling, struggling against my failing body, summoning the strength to escape.

“Exciting, isn’t it boys?” I hear a man say. The same one who ordered the release of the wire.

He kneels on the ground and I notice he’s wearing fine linen pants and a collared shirt with a tie. If only I had the power to choke him with it. At least that would be vengeance for one death today. His face is smooth and creaseless, but there’s no fancy surgery to de-age his eyes. He’s at least fifty.

He’s wearing a symbol on his breast pocket. A red bird in flight. A cardinal. Bian has told me this is the symbol for the city of Glasscaster, the capitol. This must be where he plans on taking me. He’s ripping the net away, and for a moment I think he’s freeing me, he’s letting me go. But this is ridiculous. I’m who he wants.

Then, as though I’m an animal, he weaves his uncalloused, unblistered fingers into my black, spiraled hair, and jerks my head back so hard that I arch halfway off the ground. I hiss at the burn jolting across my scalp. He points to one of the Trackers, who’s holding a small black box. Thinking this is a gun, I close my eyes and brace for the shot that will end my life. But no shot comes.

“Open your eyes, and smile,” the Magnate says. With his other hand he is fixing his wave of stylishly silver hair, which has become ruffled in the chase.

I do open my eyes, and I focus through my quaking vision on the black box. I’ve heard Bian talk about these things. Picture boxes. They freeze your image, so that it can be preserved forever. Like a trophy.

I’m going to remember this moment forever, too. And I don’t even need his stupid picture box.

 

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

 

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

15750874 Title: The Glass Arrow 
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publish Date: February 10, 2015 by Tor Teen
Genre: YA Dystopia
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionOnce there was a time when men and women lived as equals, when girl babies were valued, and women could belong only to themselves. But that was ten generations ago. Now women are property, to be sold and owned and bred, while a strict census keeps their numbers manageable and under control. The best any girl can hope for is to end up as some man’s forever wife, but most are simply sold and resold until they’re all used up.

Only in the wilderness, away from the city, can true freedom be found. Aya has spent her whole life in the mountains, looking out for her family and hiding from the world, until the day the Trackers finally catch her.

Stolen from her home, and being groomed for auction, Aya is desperate to escape her fate and return to her family, but her only allies are a loyal wolf she’s raised from a pup and a strange mute boy who may be her best hope for freedom . . . if she can truly trust him.

 


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

You may be thinking: “Oh great. Another YA dystopian novel where the girl has multiple love interests and over throws an oppressive government all on her own at the age of 16.” WRONG! This standalone is about an headstrong girl stuck in a cruel man dominated world but the only thing she wants is to liver her life the way she wants. To no belong to anybody but herself. There is no teenager starting a rebellion. No tyrannical government leader. I love that this is what makes this book one of a kind.

I kept waiting for those protesters to do something drastic and the main character to take up their cause because that is what I am used to. But it never happens. The characters in this novel don’t have that luxury. If they even looked at someone wrong they got killed. Theirs truly is a ruthless world. So it was very refreshing to see that many of the characters looked out for themselves. It is realistic.

I alternated between devouring this novel and wanting to throw it against the wall. Purity is highly valued and fertile women from the wilds even more so because women from the city seem to have infertility problems due to diet supplements. The tone of this book is dark and heavy when it comes to the theme of abuse, sexism and sexual assault. this was usually the point where I would want to throw it against the wall and scream “For the love of God! Someone DO something!”

I love, love, loved the fact that the romance was very slow. It wasn’t insta-love and there were times where Aya was confused as to what these feelings were. Again this is something that is very realistic not just for girls but for teen and even adults as well.

badge5v5Overall The Glass Arrow is a thrilling read. There are a few instances of sexual abuse and allusions to rape. It can be slow in some areas. Simmons will be on my author watch-list from now on. I give this novel 5 arrows.

Other recommendations…

Check out these other great reads! Tracked by Jenny Martin, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Dove Arising by Karen Bao

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

Stay tuned for a Q & A with the author and an excerpt from The Glass Arrow!

Flames Like Vines by Sara Raasch

In Cerie’s short-story, Winter and Angra may not be involved in the princess’s world yet…but that doesn’t mean Summer doesn’t have its own troubles.

Title: Flames Like Vines
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes, Book 2.5 
Publish Date: September 8, 2015
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Discovered on WattPad! Read here for free!

Publisher’s Description:

“She was part of Summer, and Summer was part of her, and this land wouldn’t abandon her too.”

Ceridwen Preben, princess of Summer, has spent her life plotting against her brother, Simon, the Summerian king. Simon has embraced the ruling family’s reputation for using their conduit to keep their subjects in a state of bliss, and has spent his reign slowly driving Summer into ruin, filling everyone with carelessness and letting them turn a blind eye to Summer’s rampant — and deadly — slave trade. But Ceridwen refuses to let her kingdom disintegrate, and with the help of her fellow rebel-in-arms, Lekan, she hopes to undo Simon’s lethal dealings.

But when Ceridwen uncovers Simon’s deadliest plot yet, she starts to realize just how deep magic runs — and that even though her kingdom is one of sunlight, with light, there always comes shadows.


Kat Mandu says…

I really enjoyed this side of the Summer plot line. Ceridwen’s point of view has always been one of my favorites through the whole trilogy, so I’m glad she got her chance to shine in this novella.

I don’t have too terribly much to say because I truly enjoyed it. The writing is flowy and descriptive, Cerie is as sassy as ever, and the growing threat of something stirring beneath the surface of Summer’s magic is a nice little cliffhanger. As I’ve read the entire series, I know just what that threat is, however, for spoilery purposes, I won’t divulge in too much.

I’m hoping other readers will enjoy this as much as I did. Plus it’s free! So go forth and read! 

Our reviews in this series…

Other recommendations…

…you might try Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins, Ruined by Amy Tintera, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

The Universe Builders: Bernie & The Wizards

In Bernie’s world, everyone (including him) he knows are gods and goddesses capable of designing unique worlds for business, trade, and pleasure. Now he’s got to fix a “broken” one for his boss – and save the beings within the world before it’s destroyed. IF he can beat the bad guys inside.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

TitleBernie & The Wizards
Author: Steve LeBel
Series: The Universe Builders, Book 3
Publish Date: June 15, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author.

Publisher’s Description:

Gods vs. Wizards ~ an epic struggle for survival

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…


Kat Mandu says…

 

This is actually really a unique concept in the world of fantasy. Not often do you get to hear from an actual god as a narrator. Sure, I’ve read demi-gods (cough, cough Percy Jackson for example) but none with as much power as Bernie has. The world-building is really nice; basically, you have all these gods in control of everything, who are also able to create their own worlds or pay someone else to do so. “Builders” bring these worlds to life and then you have people like Bernie who are able to fix things in the world.

Bernie’s assignment is to discover why a certain world – Photox – is not delivering a certain good to the god who purchased it (in this case, weird peppers). The more he investigates, the more involved he gets with figuring out what happened to the farming race within Photox. Turns out there’s some nasty bad guys rampaging and destroying the villages and killing the residents. Bernie teams up with a village and its temporary shamanic leader, Reva to stop the bad guys – only it’ll be harder than he thinks, because these marauders are powerful enough to strike back even against Bernie.

I really love that Bernie is a good guy at heart, confounded by the way other gods treat the sentient beings they create, carelessly destroying the world despite what’s within it. I also like that his friends sometimes oppose his views, and don’t just go along with whatever he says. Overall, he’s a great character to read, caring deeply for the evolved humans he works with and the technical details of his assignment.

Another thing I love about this is the clear amount of research that went into some of the technical details you read. The author has spent a lot of time reading about genetics and farming and geography, etc. and you can clearly see that as the story continues.

My one complaint is that some of said technical details seem to draw out the story, making it even longer than it already is. I don’t mind lengthy books at all, but some of the descriptions make the reading slow down quite a bit, so it was hard for me to sit down and read it for long amounts of time.

But besides that, I liked it, so it gets a four from me! 

Other recommendations…

You might try some other godly stories like: Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, The Goddess War trilogy by Kendare Blake, and WebMage by Kelly McCullough.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.