Review: Minders by Michele Jaffe

mindersTitle: Minders

Author: Michele Jaffe

Publisher: Penguin

Pub. Date: January 30, 2014

Genre: Young Adult

Rec. Age Level: 12+

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For years, Sadie has worked with one ultimate goal in mind: being accepted into the prestigious Mind Fellowship program, a program that seeks to educate the future’s best minds. She knows little about the program, but what she does know – that the it pushes boundaries, selects only the best, and is a frontrunner in technological advancement – would make it a shining achievement on her already impressive resume. Sadie learns she will undergo a process in which her mind will connect with a randomly selected subject’s; she will see and feel everything he experiences, but he’ll have no idea she’s there. Sadie is expected to stay objective, to observe her subject without the bias of emotion, but she soon finds that task is much easier said than done. All she’s told about her subject, Ford, is that he’s on the fast track to criminality, information that immediately biases Sadie. Though privileged and sheltered, it doesn’t take long for Sadie to realize that people, even those from the wrong side of the tracks and with infuriatingly annoying tendencies, are complex… and that there’s always more than one side to every story. As the days she spends in Ford’s mind turn to weeks, she finds herself reevaluating the way she looks at the world. Pulled into his quest to solve his brother’s murder, Sadie is surprised to find herself feeling for Ford… and maybe even falling for him.

Oh, where to start with my love for this book? There’s crazy, advanced science, a mystery, dark threatening forces, gorgeous, crumbling Detroit architecture, and a complicated, swoon-worthy romance. What more could you want? Read this book!

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Happy Release Day, Alienated + Win a Nook Simple Touch!

Today is an awesome day for two reasons: 1. Alienated by Melissa Landers hits stores today (!!) and 2. To celebrate, Melissa is giving away a Nook Simple Touch to one lucky winner! Below you’ll find an announcement from Melissa, in which she discusses her book and the generous giveaway!

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About the Author

melissa landersMelissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information, or just to say hello, visit www.melissa-landers.com.

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Hey, fiction lovers.

I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce that my debut YA sci-fi romance, Alienated, is finally available from Disney-Hyperion! Cue the dancers and toss the confetti, because it’s been a long wait!

In a nutshell, Alienated is the story of valedictorian Cara Sweeney, who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to host the nation’s first intergalactic exchange student, the gorgeous but emotionally-stilted Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) from planet L’eihr. The tone is light and humorous, but I explore some deeper themes as well.

What do reviewers have to say?

alienated “The storyline is out of this world and character development paired with authentic voice is superb. Filled with intrigue and suspense, this book will appeal to both sci-fi and contemporary YA fiction fans.” –VOYA

“Interstellar relations heat up in this start to a new romantic science fiction series. Landers [explores] larger social, ecological, and ethical issues in this tense, fast-paced read.” –Booklist

“The perfect blend of sizzling romance, action, and suspense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Smart, funny, and epic. I am now awaiting contact from planet L’eihr.” Julie Cross, bestselling author of Tempest.

“Intergalactic exchange students? Yes, please! I fell in love with this story and couldn’t put it down.” Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

If you like hot, swoony science fiction as much as I do, I hope you’ll give Alienated a try. It’s now available in stores and online.

Indie Bound

 Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depo

(free international shipping at Book Depo)

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To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Nook Simple Touch. I’ll even throw in a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can fill your new e-reader with whatever you want!

Now for the fine print: This giveaway is open to US residents only. (Sorry, international friends, but you need a US billing address to buy digital content on the Nook.) Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

To enter to win a Nook Simple Touch, go here to enter!

Review: The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles

the lost planetTitle: The Lost Planet

Author: Rachel Searles

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan

Pub. Date: January 28, 2014

Genre: Middle Grade

Rec. Age Level: 8-12

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A boy wakes in a room he’s never seen before. In fact, he has no memory of anything… not even his name. It’s only after the man tending to him finds a chip embedded under the boy’s skin that his identity, or at least his name, is discovered: Chase Garrety. Armed with his name and little else, Chase sets out to unravel the mystery of how he ended up on the planet Trucon, wounded and without his memory. He teams up with Parker, the boy who found him unconscious and in mortal danger of the monsters that plague Trucon. Parker talks Chase into “borrowing” a spaceship that belongs to Parker’s mysterious benefactor, in the process, giving the slip to his cyborg nanny/bodyguard. What starts as a joyride soon morphs into danger when Trucon is destroyed in a fiery explosion and the boys unwittingly rescue the man accused of coordinating the attack. As secrets are revealed and Chase is driven by the faintly remembered phrase, “Guide the star,” the boys are no longer sure who to trust. Met by danger at every turn, Chase and Parker struggle to stay one step ahead of those who seek them, including the government, the mob, the accused terrorist, and even Parker’s guardian.

Nonstop action and an absorbing premise make THE LOST PLANET a thrilling MG debut from Rachel Searles. These characteristics, paired with fast pacing, also make this title a great pick for reluctant readers who prefer to jump right into the action or don’t have the patience for a long introduction. The well-placed, surprising twists within THE LOST PLANET will keep readers engaged as they struggle with Chase to unravel his past and determine which forces within the novel seek to save or destroy him.

Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

avalonTitle: Avalon

Author: Mindee Arnett

Publisher: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins

Pub. Date: January 21, 2014

Genre: Young Adult

Rec. Age Level: 13+

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Jeth Seagrave used to live a normal, relatively comfortable life, but that all changed after his parents were accused of treason and killed. Left in the dubious care of his uncle, who gambled away Avalon, Jeth’s parents’ ship, and, by extension, Jeth’s future, Jeth is left with few options. Jeth captains a crew of teenaged mercenaries who work for one of the most powerful crime bosses in the galaxy. The ragtag team is unassuming and remarkably good at their job: stealing unsecured metatech, a hot ticket item on the black market, that allows ships to travel quickly and under the radar of the government. Jeth saves every penny he earns and dreams of one day buying Avalon back from the man who controls him. His dreams are almost within reach when he’s offered one final job, use Avalon to travel into a dangerous patch of galaxy, where rumors of missing ships and strange happening abound, and locate a lost ship with invaluable metatech aboard. What seems like a straightforward, if dangerous, job soon spirals out of control when Jeth uncovers hidden truths about his parents, the government, and the technology he’s spent years hijacking.

One of the biggest reasons I picked up AVALON is how similar it sounded to Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY. And, I can assure you, it has the same feel. My only complaint? The action in AVALON is much slower. Honestly, it was too slow for me. I could easily set this book aside and never felt any great pull to pick it up again. I kept hoping that it would pick up, but, in my opinion, it never did.

Otherwise, I enjoyed AVALON. The characters are interesting, the premise promising, and the background compelling. But, without the pull of action, this book fell short of my expectations.

Would I read another book set in this world? Possibly, if it didn’t depend heavily on the events of AVALON… because I worry that I won’t remember enough detail from this book and it’s unlikely that I would reread this book first. If there was another book that could function as a standalone, I’d give it a shot because I genuinely do enjoy Arnett’s writing and the premise of AVALON.

This book wasn’t well-suited to my tastes, but I think there are some readers out there who will really love it.

Review: Control

controlTitle: Control

Author: Lydia Kang

Publisher: Dial/Penguin

Pub. Date: December 26, 2013

Genre: YA

Rec. Age Level: 12+

More by author: n/a

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The year is 2150 and Zel, her younger sister Dyl, and their father are, once again, moving. The trio moves often, jumping from one state to the next, but this time is different. This time, Zel’s father is acting different and doesn’t seem to have a clear cut plan… and things go from bad to worse when, shortly into their trip, their vehicle is slammed into and totaled. Zel’s father doesn’t make it through the accident and, then, Zel and Dyl are mysteriously tested and then forcibly separated. Zel’s life is quickly spinning out of control. She’s lost her father and her sister and is suddenly overwhelmed with the knowledge that there are individuals, Dyl included, with mutated genes that give them special abilities and powers. Dyl has been taken by Aureus, a group that seeks to exploit her abilities, but first they must figure out what those powers are. As Zel races the clock to uncover the secrets hidden within Dyl’s DNA, she forms unexpected bonds with a group of mutated kids her father and new guardian, Marka, have kept hidden and safe from the evil clutches of Aureus and discovers shocking truths about her past, present, and future.

Lydia Kang’s debut has been compared to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books, but, to me, it had a similar feel to Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers books. Ultimately, Control was not what I expected. It’s been a long time – probably since I read the Darkest Powers books – since I’ve read something quite like this. There is something that I can only describe as gritty happening within the pages of this novel. The characters aren’t perfect or stereotypically beautiful or attractive, but, as you sink further into the world and story, you find your idea of what is beautiful and attractive changing. The love interest, who you might not normally label attractive or “hot” is suddenly your biggest crush, even though your were a bit miffed about his looks at the start of the book. I love that. As Zel comes to appreciate the unique qualities and outward appearances of the kids she meets, we, the readers, do too!

As much as I loved all the secondary characters in Control, I did find myself frustrated with Zel quite often. I suppose, if she would have been smart all the time, not much would have actually happened in the book, but she really had an issue with thinking things through. That drove me absolutely bonkers sometimes, as she regularly made situations much worse than they had to be by being stubborn and not listening to reason. Still, I had to admire her determination and unfailing love for her sister.

I’ll definitely be reading next installment of Zel’s story, Catalyst, which is slated for a 2014 release. She changed a lot through the course of the novel and I came to appreciate her strength by the final pages. I’m excited to read what other kids with powers exist that Zel and her group are sure to meet!

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