Monday, July 30, 2012

Not Enough Words To Describe The Forsaken

So I literally just finished Forsaken and I am completely blown away by this detailed and meticulous story author Lisa M. Stasse has managed to write. I just love it when a debut author cracks the teen world pavement. Forsaken is the first book in a trilogy and I’m sure we will be seeing this book and the ones that follow flooding the shelves of bookstores. I was actually in the bookstore the other day and heard a girl talking about all the dystopian books she’s read, and had no clue what to read next. Of course I stepped in and discussed the book I was currently reading. I told her it was Lost meets Hunger Games with a hint of The Matrix. She snatched this book right up!



As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

Alenna is a brilliant character and I feel that a lot of readers will certainly identify with her shy and under the radar tendencies in the beginning. When she arrives on The Wheel she displays these same tendencies, but what I love is that the moment she realizes she has nothing to lose Alenna decides to fight for what she wants and has no second thoughts about it. She develops into a warrior but always remains weary of her leaders knowing that she can’t fully trust everyone. Alenna always tries to do the right thing when living on The Wheel even if it means hiding the biggest secret she uncovers while on the island to the friends she has made.

Liam is one of the best hunters on The Wheel and the one Alenna feels a unique connection to ever since she saw his face on the video footage back home in the U.N.A. I like that author Stasse wrote Liam in an honest way. Meaning that he never seems to be a character that wastes time flirting with Alenna or playing games. He’s just a guy who wants to defend what’s right and does it. He’s a bit of a reflection of the way the people act on the island. Liam has a the nothing to lose attitude so he displays no fear, only confidence that he can do what he puts his mind to.

Forsaken has so many different plots that keep this story going. After I finished I looked at the book and realized how packed it was with different character stories and how Lisa M. Stasse managed to leave some massive loose ends that will have me biting my nails till her next book. The reason for Liam and Alenna’s connection alone was a massive time bomb. While reading Forsaken I couldn’t believe how crystal clear the story played out, I was never confused while being immersed into the entanglement of The Wheel. 

Seriously let me just add this final bit about the other character in Forsaken, The Wheel. The Wheel is evil and favors no one. It’s harsh and careless and the machines that help run it are thieves in the night. Another group that lives on The Wheel are the Drones and they are the definition of creepy and madness. The Hunger Games would be a walk in the park to the people who survive on The Wheel.

Forsaken is a dystopian novel with grit and the characters that inhabit the book are remarkable. I encourage any dystopian genre lover to grab a copy of The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse as soon as you can. After finishing I can’t help but wonder about the great stories that go through the creative mind of Lisa M. Stasse.

Official Selections for Self-published Author's Feature in August

These are I Blog, You Read's official picks for the self-published author feature in August. Since my last post I realized I did not have a series that was in the works among my selections, so I have added two more titles in The Grisly High series from author Brian Rowe. After a diligent selection process I believe that I have picked a wide variety of titles that will showcase these talented authors. I am ecstatic about I Blog, You Read's One Year Blogiversary next month and the exciting changes going into next year.   

The Dreamwalker
by Kristen Robertson
Click cover for a sneak preview

                                                          Summary provided by author:
I have never believed in destiny, and I never wanted to.
But destiny brought me to a home and a life I never knew existed.
Destiny showed me who I really am...
My name is Olivia and I am a cognitive.
Olivia is a sixteen-year old girl with a mother who drinks too much and a stepfather who considers a day at the casino is the same as a day at the office. Olivia can think of only one thing to do, to escape.
Now on the run Olivia can only hope that the unknown in front of her will be better than the past she left behind. She meets Sebastian, a mysterious boy, who she can't help feel an immediate connection to. Sebastian reveals that she is not only a Cognitive but his destined-the one person in this world he can connect to-and she wonders why that idea doesn't seem completely crazy.      

If things weren't confusing enough, Olivia is visited by her father in a dream and learns that his only chance at survival is if Olivia can find him in time. Armed with Sebastian, an the rest of the Cognitives. she must save her father before she loses him all over again.

The Mine
by John A. Heldt
Click cover for more author info

Summary provided by author:
In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war.

With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

Hell's Game
by Teresa Lo
Click on cover for more author info

Summary provided by author:
On Halloween night in Deer Creek, Kansas, Jake Victor, Ashley and Ashton Gemini, and Kristin Grace convince Ronnie Smalls to meet them at the town cemetery, which local folklore has always rumored to be the Gateway to Hell. Their intention was only to scare him, but soon the wicked prank becomes actual horror as the group learns the Gateway is all too real. After demons snatch Ronnie and drag him to Hell, the terrified foursome vow to keep what they had seen a secret.

Two years later, the group receives a mysterious letter, an invite to play a high-stakes game in Hell. If they win, they release Ronnie’s soul as well as their own from eternal damnation. If they lose, they are stuck in Hell forever. Choosing to play, they face nightmare after nightmare as each level escalates in intensity and forces them to face the seven deadly sins.

Inspired by the legends of the Gateway to Hell in Stull, Kansas, Hell’s Game explores the cruelty that teenagers can inflict upon each other as well as the horrors that exist amongst mankind. It is a dark, action-packed young adult novel that will both scare its readers and make them question the true meaning of evil.

Indian Maidens Bust Loose
by Vidya Samson
Click on cover for more author info

Summary provided by author:

East and West may meet, but sometimes they shouldn't.  That's what Nisha Desai's conservative Hindu family thinks when a black-sheep American aunt and her trouble-magnet teenage daughters come to visit them in India.  The guests are seen as an invading force, equipped with weapons of mass corruption.

But to Nisha, the rich aunt looks like a one-woman foreign aid program and a way to escape the horrible suitors her father keeps foisting on her. She makes every effort to charm the visitors. This is not an easy task, for the aunt is a New Age space case, and the cousins’ appetite for disasters threatens to level the city of Ahmedabad. In short order, the demented cousins instigate an elopement, a public protest, and a riot that gets Nisha thrown in jail.

It's only when Nisha's father adopts a pet cow and convinces half the city it's the reincarnation of a Hindu deity that the two families are united in a common goal: to bilk thousands. The result is Madison Avenue's idea of a religious experience, which is not a controllable situation.

Vampire Underground and Zombie Playground
by Brian Rowe
Click on cover for author info.

16-year-old Brin Skar hates everything to do with the supernatural, so the obsessive film geek isn't happy when she discovers that her junior year Film class at Grisly High is devoted to the horror genre. She's even more disconcerted when she learns that six groups in the class will be writing and directing their very own horror movies.

Brin and five classmates travel to Bodie Ghost Town in California to shoot their creepy film, but they soon find themselves fighting a real terrifying threat when a clan of mean, bloodthirsty vampires emerge from beneath the surface and start attacking the group. The teens, headed by Brin and the egotistical director Anaya Frost, have no help from the outside and become outnumbered by the vampires a hundred to one.

But when Brin meets Paul, a helpful and smoldering vampire outcast who's had enough of his shameful life, she realizes he might be the only key to her survival.

Brin Skar is having a rough semester. She barely survived the grisly vampire attack in Bodie Ghost Town, the mysterious Paul is now a guest in her own home, and her dad Kristopher, dead for over a year, has emerged from the grave to try to kill his only daughter.

After two somber funerals and the baffling disappearance of her Film teacher, Brin decides she needs a break from all the pain and heartache. And what’s a better escape than a round of golf at the brand new Macabre Golf Course?

But as soon as Brin and her friends hit the links, strange noises and bizarre sightings begin to occur. And unfortunately for the group, the vampire encounter is going to seem like child’s play… especially when the zombies come out to play!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So Close To You is The Bee's Knees

When I heard that this book involved time travel and that it was set in the year 1944 I practically traveled at the speed of light to grab a copy. I just adore anything that takes place in this era and after reading Rachel Carter’s debut YA novel, So Close To You I was reminded why. In the book it is discussed why the younger people of this era act so much on impulse, for example eloping at a young age or deciding to become a nurse for the war instead of going to college with other friends. Because of the war, youth new that life is short so you have to take every chance life has to offer you. Throughout the book author Rachel Carter is able to capture that sense of, I can do anything with a character like Lydia, who time travels to this very year, she fits right in because she has that very same attitude.


Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.
When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.
Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices—and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

From reading the journey that Lydia Bentley embarks on, you know she is destined to be a great journalist. When trying to discover the secrets of her families past you are right in it with her and all the adrenaline pumping moments. She is constantly in the line of fire when shuffling through important military documents and being suggested as a spy from her very own great grandfather Dean. Lydia is very quick witted when dealing with such accusations, while being asked innocent enough questions about her family, by her family in 1944, she has to come up with answers so that she is not ever revealed as there future relative. Overall Lydia is just a young woman who has her families best interests at heart. The mystery behind her great grandfathers disappearance has had repercussions on her present day family and Lydia will stop at nothing to solve this very mystery and help her entire families misfortune. She is immediately likeable when reading the book because of this honest characteristic.

Wes is so dark and mysterious. There are still so many questions I have about him, but in a good way. My goodness and entire book could be written about his experiences alone. Wes is the young man who keeps showing up mysteriously whenever Lydia is on to some big discovery about the Montauk Project. So Close To You has an extra punch to it because of Wes. While reading you are constantly wondering the secrets of the Montauk Project but then whenever Wes appears you know an even bigger secret is about to be uncovered and this only helps Lydia get closer to both Wes and the secret.

Mary, Lydia’s confidant and great aunt is the bee’s knees, she was so much fun to read. She acts on impulse and always has a smile doing it. She would be a remarkable friend for any girl to have. For me Mary really sums the era of the 1940’s. She lives life to the fullest and is always there to lend a hand or encourage others who need it. Throughout the book she always stands by Lydia when her brother Dean is making early suggestions in regards to Lydia being a spy. It’s almost like Lydia is the shadow of Mary or what could be attainable by her someday in her own future.      

I love how this book has its full circle moments. While Lydia is stranded in 1944 she literally gets to climb her family tree. She learns how her family met the love of their lives and their futures together, and at the same time she is face to face with the person she could possibly see herself with. The ending of So Close To You is literally like a heartbeat. Everything happens so quickly but in the exact way you’d expect things to happen. Dean’s moments near the end of the book are just so genuine that I could see him in my mind and I was completely torn up about it. And my god the ending is just…I’ll just say that I was speechless for about fifteen minutes. After going through my thoughts I had another drawn out discussion with my husband. During this discussion I thought to myself, “Wow, this is really great that a book like So Close To You could actually strike a great conversation about family, and a lot of ‘what would you do’ questions.

Rachel Carter’s So Close To You is a book that anyone can read. If you like to read historical fiction you could easily get caught up into this wonderful book. If you are a time travel nerd like me then you will LOVE IT! You will come out of it with a new perspective of how we live today and hopefully look at your family in a new light if they lived during WWII. I strongly recommend this book and advise everyone to give it a chance. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tom Leveen's Zero, The Real Boy Meets GIrl.

I love when I can finish a book and say, “Well that was a nice change.” After reading Zero I have certainly built an appreciation for author Tom Leveen. The dialogue of his characters is so intensely real that you are engulfed completely in their lives. I adore dialogue in a book, only because I can visually set up a scene in my head that way. Plus the characters are more like firecrackers that can go off any moment. They can make you laugh or cry with a single word, and let me tell you there are a lot of firecracker moments in Tom Leveen’s Zero.

Here’s the thing:
For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.

Zero is someone who I can identify with now and when I was a teen her age. She’s strutting along this perfectly laid out path for her future but financial reality kicks her to the curb. Which it probably does often to today’s youth. I personally feel that author Leveen really gets today’s youth. He introduces Zero at her worst but challenges her to think outside the box with characters like Mike and her art teacher. Instead of letting her throw her own pity party they push her to still take her dream by the horns. Zero’s character speaks volumes to today’s youth, telling readers that it may be a bit harder to achieve your dreams but as long as you keep trying you can still get there. The end of the road may even be something that you didn’t know that you wanted.

I feel I know Mike personally only because when he encourages Zero with her art he reminds me of my husband. He always speaks the truth and when he says he likes something, he truly does. Mike is the drummer in the band Gothic Rainbows who also has a dream but he see’s it very differently then Zero. He has a great passion for life and wants to enjoy the ride in achieving his dream. He is not in a great hurry to get there but wants to get there all the same. His last moments in the book were so good because you can feel how much he wants to be with Zero and how he just wants to see her become a successful artist.

There were sexual explicit moments in the book. I will say that for me, these moments did not in any way control the theme of Zero. I personally feel that these moments were honestly detailed and played out very realistically. I appreciated that Leveen did not romanticize these moments in the book; instead he put Zero and Mike in the real world, the way it should be.

I have to mention Gothic Rainbows! After reading the description of their music sets and the clubs they played in through the eyes of Zero, I wanted to go there and listen. Leveen includes lyrics and the crowd’s reactions to the band that will have you wishing the same. I personally feel they are a t-shirt wearing worthy band.

I truly loved this book because of Mike and Zero. I can literally play the ending in my head over and over again. I understand it and have made peace with it. Tom Leveen really allows you to ponder Zero in your mind after reading. Zero is a book about first love and how life doesn’t go according to plan. Sometimes the plan gets torn into pieces and you have to put together something different, but something way better.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Zombie Corner: Try Something Strange and Deadly July 24th.

This was an extraordinary read and because of the multiple genres it covers I feel author Susan Dennard will gain a large fanatic following. I’ve never really read any steampunk novels that I know enough to remember, but if you have been interested in the genre this is the pool to dip your toe into. Something Strange and Deadly is a time period thriller that takes you into the late 1800’s and throws the threat of zombie attacks, a mysterious Necromancer, and a bit of a Sherlock Holmes like mystery in your face, and sprinkles it with a little budding romance. Now that your jaws have been dropped from all that Susan Dennard has managed to include in her little gem of a series starter, you should grab a copy on July 24th…but close your mouth because it isn’t very becoming.  




The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Okay so Eleanor is a bit impulsive at times, well okay all the time. This often causes trouble to the people she cares about but you have to have someone like her to create a great story. You have to remember while reading that it takes place in 1876 and they don’t know as much about zombie fighting as we do now. She may come off as na├»ve but I just see her as a realistic heroine, and because she is trying to locate her missing brother she acts with desperation that comes with a sense of legitimacy because of her situation. Eleanor does come from a higher society then the Spirit Hunters she gets involved with but don’t let that fool you. She is a character with fire that I cannot wait to read more of in this series.

Daniel is a leading man that I can see on the silver screen. He has this confidence in himself that can be intimidating to Eleanor only because she has never met anyone like him. I love that he is written as an intelligent man who sees the task at hand. He is an inventor of elaborate tools that enable the Spirit Hunters to fight swarms of zombies. The detail involved in describing his inventions by Dennard allows the reader to see them as these beautiful mechanical things that help them prevent more zombie attacks. But don’t get the wrong idea about Daniel; he can throw a punch like no one else’s business.

After reading Something Strange and Deadly I have officially become a giddy follower. There are so many standout moments in this book. My favorite is the first meeting between Daniel and Eleanor. It’s so good that I can envision them in my head and have probably irritated my husband because I can’t stop talking about this scene or the book. Oh and the Spirit Hunters are amazingly AWESOME! Joseph, the leader, is a tormented soul that wants to do the right thing and Jie is a character with serious backbone and guts that you don’t want to mess with. The action packed moments of the book are always best when they work together. Also I need to own a parasol like Eleanor because it is also a very important character in the book. If your interest is piqued by this alone, then my work is done.

Even though the story is told from Eleanor’s perspective I believe that anyone could get pulled into it. The love story is not the dominant story line but it’s still fun to read considering the time period the story takes place in. The zombies don’t completely take over the story either, equality amongst the genres are what I loved most about the book. While reading I thought of movies like Sherlock Holmes, The Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Adventure and Mystery are always in the front seat of Dennard’s novel and leave you on the edge of your seat until the end. I highly recommend Something Strange and Deadly and in the words from author Susan Dennard, “Aim for the knees!”