Friday, July 04, 2014

The Dark Shore--Kevin Emerson


Title: The Dark Shore: Book Two of the Atlanteans
Author: Kevin Emerson
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2013
Pages: 470 p.
Source: Library
Compensation: None


I reviewed the first book in this series a couple of years ago and while I liked it, life got in the way and I kind of forgot to look out for the second. But then VOYA sent me the 3rd to review and I realized I needed to catch up.

There will be some spoilers in this review (for The Lost Code) if you haven't read the first one yet. Consider yourself warned. 

Owen has discovered that he is part of a lost race of people -- the Atlanteans -- and that he has to fulfill destiny in order to save the planet and humans. He is the Aeronaut-- the one of the Three who can fly a special Atlantean ship to get to the Heart of Terra (Earth). The Mariner (Leech ) can locate it and the Medium can speak to it. The Three need to work together to get the job done and protect themselves from the evil EdenWest who have their own plans for civilization.

Owen had hoped that his girlfriend Lilly would be the Medium but she hasn't lost her gills yet and she hadn't seen the Siren. His hopes are dashed further when they learn of a girl in the South claimed to be the Third Atlantean. She is the center of the Heliad-7 cult controlled by the Benevolent Mother. The Heliad-7 believe in living in the light instead of fearing the sun's dangerous rays and sacrifice long lives for more meaningful ones. Owen and his team are rescued by Heliad-7 when they run into trouble with EdenWest. At first he thinks they've finally found a place of safety and understanding, but he's not entirely sure he can trust the "Benevolent Mother" or the mysterious Third Atlantean. Something strange is going on with Lilly as well.

At first I thought I didn't like this book as much as the first. Everywhere they went, Owen and his team ran into people who knew about the Atlanteans and their journey, but Owen had no idea what was going on when he was at EdenWest. He had never heard of the Atlanteans when he lived in the Hub either. I was confused as to why this seemed to be public knowledge and Owen was in the dark. But by the end of The Dark Shore it all made sense. It was definitely gripping and intense and hard to put down. I finished the book in less than 2 days and that's a pretty big accomplishment for me these days. It wasn't just a filler book to get to the end of the trilogy--a lot happens in this book. There's more world-building, character development, and mythology. There are some really heavy topics as well--ecology, religion, government-- that would make it a great choice for a book club. There are a couple of twists at the end: one is predictable and the other was not (for me). Now that I'm all caught up, I'm looking forward to reading the next one. You'll have to wait until it's published in VOYA before I can post it here though.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Better off Friends--Elizabeth Eulberg


Title: Better off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point (Scholastic), 2014
Pages: 278 p
Source: Publisher
Compensation: None


I get a lot of my books from the library and VOYA, but I'll also get books randomly mailed to me. Quite a few wind up being too juvenile so I skip them since I never actually asked for them. But once in a while I'm sent something that actually looks promising and YA. This is one of those books.

11-year old Macallan has had her world flipped upside down when her mom dies and is looking forward to the distraction of schoolwork. Levi is the new homesick kid in school looking for his first friend. Macallan is not really interested in anything with Levi until she discovers they both love an obscure British television show. They bond over the show and instantly become best friends. The older they get the harder it is to remain best friends when other relationships and love interfere. 

The book starts out with Macallan and Levi speaking directly to the reader, each with a different font, to set up the story. They continue speaking to the reader after each chapter. The chapters alternate Macallan's point of view with Levi's. Besides the font change, they each have distinctive voices and it's easy to tell who is narrating the chapter. Eulberg has done a good job of distinguishing her characters without resorting to simply using crass language for the boy's perspective. We're able to see both sides of the story so we don't automatically sympathize with one or the other. 

I've said before that I'm not much of a romance reader. I don't mind it if it's part of a larger story but if it's pretty much just pure romance it doesn't keep my interest. This book was different-- it is a romance, but it's about friendships and family and so much more. Better off Friends is funny and interesting and a good addition to any YA collection.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Chapel Wars--Lindsey Leavitt


Title: The Chapel Wars
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2014.
Pages: 292 p.
Source: VOYA
Compensation: None

Holly has always been the responsible hard working grandchild, but it is still surprising when Grandpa Jim’s will leaves the 16 year old his wedding chapel. Equally as surprising is the letter she is supposed to hand deliver to a boy who just happens to be the grandson of her grandfather’s rival chapel owner and sworn enemy. Not at all suprising is that Holly falls in love with Dax and the two must hide their Shakespearean romance from their families. 

Lindsey Leavitt has written a funny, touching story of dysfunctional families and a loving grandfather’s last attempt at fixing things. Holly is the perfect example of a leader. She makes hard decisions for the company, even if they go against her personal wishes, and she does so with strength and grace. She may be confused and lost on the inside, but she still takes control of the family business and they trust her decisions. A good mix of funny and sad, the romance is just enough to be entertaining but not too much to overshadow the main story. Leavitt waits until the very last page before revealing Grandpa Jim’s letter to Dax, a strategy that works perfectly for our appreciation of the book. In a world of trilogies, The Chapel Wars stands alone as a funny, realistic, heartfelt novel that teens of all ages will enjoy.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Allegiant--Veronica Roth


Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2013.
Pages: 526 p.
Source: Purchased Kindle ebook
Compensation: None


Allegiant picks up where Insurgent leaves off. While I generally try to avoid spoilers here, it's harder to do when reviewing a sequel. Rest assured I will not give away any surprises from Allegiant, but details from Divergent and Insurgent may be revealed. If you haven't read them yet, consider yourself warned. 

When we last left Tris and Tobias, she had betrayed him to work with his father to expose the truth the Erudite wanted so very much to hide and at the very last minute Tobias decided to trust her over his mother and helped to expose that truth. That the people outside the wall put them in there to help them develop into Divergents and that when there were enough of them they should open the gates and help the people outside the wall. The decision to stay or to travel beyond the wall is made a little difficult when Tobias's mother imprisons Tris and her friends. She is released and they make plans to escape the city and see what's on the other side of the wall. Once there they discover that things aren't quite what they thought--as usual--and Tris and Tobias face the ultimate test of their relationship. 

This final installment in the trilogy is told in alternating viewpoints, which makes perfect sense for the story. We've always known Tris's motivations and feelings, but only saw Tobias through her. Alternating the narrators lets us see both of their thoughts and decisions and fears. There were times when I briefly forgot who was narrating what, but for the most part I could keep track. 

I know there has been a lot of strong opinions about the ending of the book. While trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible here, I will say that I think it ended the way it needed to. Not that I was happy, not that I didn't feel emotionally wrecked afterwards, but that the ending remained true to the story and the characters. I liked this one just as much as the others and read it just as quickly. 

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