Tag Archives: fiction

Book of the Month
January 6, 2011 posted by Christina

Across the Universe – Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone–one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship–tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.”

Not to be confused with the song by the Beatles, Across the Universe is the debut novel by author Beth Revis. Combing elements of sci-fi, dystopia, romance and murder mystery and sticking them within the confines of the spaceship, Godspeed – 2011’s most anticipated releases start off with a bang.

The story is told alternating between the perspectives of sixteen year old Elder – who is next in line as the leader of the ship, and Amy – who till now was part of the cargo having been cryogenically frozen 250 years ago, to be woken up when the ship landed. Only thing is, she’s been woken up 50 years too soon by someone attempting to kill her….and she was only first on their list.

Amy is unlike anyone Elder has ever seen before – literally. Since the ship has been working with the same gene pool for 250 years everyone has become mono ethnic. So when Amy is violently woken up in all her red haired, fair skinned glory, Elder’s world is turned on its head.

But don’t think that the love story is a done deal. Amy is freaked out by her situation. Not only will she have to live out the rest of her days as an outcast on ship that makes a poor imitation of the Earth she knew, but she’ll also probably outlive her parents who are still frozen below.

Elder has his own set of problems, as the next in charge his mentor and current leader, Eldest has taught him very little about the ship and it’s many secrets. As he tries to uncover the truth about the ship and who is killing the frozens, he discovers just who he can trust and a lot more than he bargained for.

Usually a dystopia or sci-fi (in this case, a mix) can be a bit disorientating to read since there’s so much concept and world building that you need to grasp but Revis lets the world form completely seamlessly. The dual perspectives worked perfectly with a brilliantly plotted storyline that had so many twists and turns, weaving in the issues of free will, corruption and control, all of which made it feel haunting and disturbing in all the right places.

Our main characters are both strong and fierce, I loved that their emotions were completely real, especially Amy who does not automatically adjust to her new surroundings. She struggles with her fear, anger and confusion as well as with the four walls now containing her, which is exactly how anyone would feel. Though I found it a little creepy that she always referred to her father as Daddy, I still really liked her.

For Elder, up until now he’s felt more like a child than a future leader and really grows throughout the book, becoming what he was born to be. I loved that they weren’t in an all consuming love at first sight (well, maybe Elder was…;) ) relationship which would’ve made it feel fake. They have a lot of potential together and I really want to see what happens next.

It’s an epic dystopian sci fi that’ll make you very thankful your feet are planted firmly on Earth. It’s evocative and haunting but basically, it’s a frexing awesome book.

Pages: 398
Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “And the whoosh! The flash freeze filled the tiny chamber. I was in ice. I was ice. I am ice.

But if I’m ice, how am I conscious?… I can’t be awake for three hundred and one years. I’ll never survive that.”

Book Reviews
January 2, 2011 posted by Christina

Mercy – Rebecca Lim (Mercy, Book 1)

“As an angel exiled from heaven and doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, Mercy is never sure whose life and body she will share each time. And her mind is filled with the desperate pleas of her beloved, Luc, who can only approach her in her dreams.

In Paradise, Mercy meets Ryan, whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is now presumed dead. When another girl disappears, Mercy and Ryan know they must act before time runs out. But a host of angels are out for Mercys blood and they wont rest until they find her and punish her — for a crime she doesnt remember committing …”

In amongst the growing number of young adult novels based around angels – particularly the exiled kind, comes Mercy by Rebecca Lim. When there are quite a few books based on a similar topic, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd, or in this case, the bookshelf.

Mercy combines the concept of exiled angels with a forbidden and intriguing romance and adds a twist – a mysterious kidnapping.

When Mercy (in the form of an angelic soul) wakes up on a school bus, now bound in a body belonging to a girl named Carmen, she must immediately adjust and carry on as Carmen would’ve, while also trying to figure out why this time she has been placed in this particular body.

This is one of many times this has happened, since her exile (for a crime she’s unable to remember) she has been moved from body to body, life to life, many times, only remembering a few details from the previous host and doomed to do so indefinitely.

This punishment not only keeps her away from her true form but also from her love, Luc, whom she only sees very briefly in her dreams, only long enough to give her cryptic advice. If all this wasn’t enough she’s also being hunted by an angelic band of eight brothers, who only have one intent: to kill.

When she arrives in the town of Paradise, as part of the school’s choir as their star soprano, she discovers the family she’s boarding with is still harboring the pain of their shattered past when their teenage daughter, Lauren, was abducted from her bedroom two years ago. All believe her to be dead, except her twin brother Ryan. Together, Mercy and Ryan conduct their own search and rescue, determined to get Lauren back.

The story is artfully written and the plotline in Mercy is amazingly layered. Not only are we learning about the events unfolding for Mercy/Carmen in the human world, but we also get glimpses into her past as an angel and her relationship with Luc. Though the main focus is on the human life, it only makes our curiosity about her angelic one grow.

The combination of murder mystery with the paranormal was great and made the story feel very original. I was glad the identity of the kidnapper wasn’t apparent till the very end, allowing the feeling of suspense to carry through the whole book.

As the first in a trilogy (each book has an AMAZINGLY beautiful cover) Mercy is a fantastic start. The story will captivate you and definitely makes us curious enough to put Exile (book two) high on our list of books we’re looking forward to for 2011.

Pages: 280
Publication Date: November 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “If I get too comfortable, I will wake one morning and everything around me will have shifted overnight. All I knew? I know no longer. And all I had? Vanished in an instant. There’s nothing I can keep with me that will stay.
I must always re-establish ties.
I must tread carefulle or give myself away.
I must survive.
I must keep moving, but I don’t know why.”

Book Reviews
December 23, 2010 posted by Christina

Prisoners in the Palace – Michaela MacColl

“London, 1836. Seventeen-year-old Liza’s dreams of her society debut are dashed when her parents are killed in a tragic accident. Alone and penniless, she accepts the position of lady’s maid to the young Princess Victoria and steps unwittingly into the gossipy intrigue of the servants’ world below-stairs as well as the trickery above. Is it possible that her changing circumstances may offer Liza the opportunity to determine her own fate, find true love, and secure the throne for her future Queen?”

To most, Queen Victoria is better known as the Queen of Britain, the woman to start the trend of white wedding dresses, Britain’s longest reigning monarch or simply the serious looking old woman in royal portraits who famously declared, “we are not amused”.

But before any of that, she was simply Princess Victoria. A young girl, ruled over by her over protective mother, living an unhappy existence under the oppressive ‘Kensington System’, waiting in the wings to become Queen.

Michaela MacColl’s Prisoners in the Palace is based on real life events in the three years (which have been condenced into one) leading up to Victoria taking the crown, including excerpts from the young Princess’s real journal, but have been elaborated on to create the story we have today.

Some characters are real, such as the Princess (duh), her mother the Duchess, Sir John, Lehzen and other members of the royal family. Though others are fiction, their origin is from people who lived in the time.

The story is artfully told through letters, journal entries, newspaper articles, but primarily from the perspective of the fictional character Liza. After her parent’s tragic deaths in a carriage accident Liza is left with debts to settle and her dreams of her first season in society are crushed. Instead she takes a job as the Princess’s maid and the extra job of playing spy to the Baroness, who is trying to find out what Sir John and Victoria’s mother are planning.

MacColl paints an amazing picture of Georgian London that is quite true to life. Through Liza when she steps out of the palace we see both the life the rich lived and how unforgiving and cruel the London streets could be to the poor, where the options for survival were limited, particularly for a woman.

For the Princess, Liza’s arrival to the rundown Kensington Palace (which, many years later would be home to Princess Diana) is a dream come true. Sir John’s ‘Kensington System’ requires Victoria to be completely shut off from friends, her finances and the outside world “for her protection”, when in reality it’s a system that intends to make her submissive, stripping her of her free will making her completely dependent and under the influence of Sir John and her mother the Duchess. This power over the Princess would mean that they would be running the show, with Victoria as their puppet.

With the help of Inside Boy Jones (who is secretly living within the palace walls) and Will, a London journalist, Liza uncovers their plans and does everything in her power to break their hold over Victoria.

The characters in this book are rich with personality and the interaction between them was completely engaging. Victoria’s personality was surprising since she is quite childlike and initially very compliant and under the control of her guardians. As the story progresses we see her really take ownership and finds the strength needed to not only rule her life but rule her country.

The blur of fiction with reality is what makes the story completely fascinating. We all know how the story ends, Victoria goes on to become queen, but what’s interesting is how and what happened before hand to make it happen.

Though it’s a historical fiction novel and definitely has the feel and mannerism of the period down pat, the story flows smoothly and is written beautifully so that you don’t get the feeling of being weighed down by the rigidness that some historical novels have. Prisoners in the Palace was impressive, intriguing (as the cover states) and engaging, I definitely recommend it.

Publication Date: September 2010
Rating: : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “He’s been bilious since he set foot in England. What a boor!” Victoria shook her head in irritation. “I wouldn’t marry Albert if he was the last prince on earth.”

Blog Things
November 5, 2010 posted by Christina

Cover of the Week #7

You should never judge a book by it’s cover.

Sure….but they never said we couldn’t admire them. Cover of the Week pays homage to the beautiful and eye catching graphics that grace the covers of our young adult titles.

This week’s cover of the week goes to Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: July 2011