In the newest edition of my podcast, I review No Safety in Numbers, and No Easy Way Out, both by Dayna Lorentz. My reviews start approximately 23 minutes into the podcast. I refer to these books as “Bioterror at the Mall” and “Lord and Taylor of the Flies” because they are all about what happens when a bioweapon is released at a Westchester mall on a Saturday afternoon.
Trust me, it’s not pretty, it is a great series of books, and you won’t go to the mall ever again!
The Time Riders series, of which there are now eight, may be billed as “adventure books for boys”, but readers of any age who love adventure, adrenalin, and terminators will enjoy these books. The premise is fairly simple: 3 young people are snatched moments before they are scheduled to die by the mysterious Foster, then brought by him to New York circa 2001 and told they are now part of a secret “agency” that patrols time. Foster rescues Irish steward Liam O’Connor from the Titanic in 1912, pulls Saleem Vikram from a burning apartment building in 2026, and saves Madeleine Carter from an airplane moments before a terrorist bomb goes off in 2010.
To read the rest of the review, please visit my blog.
Take the anger and grit of The Outsiders, the intellectual and geographical dystopia of 1984, and a good dose of satire a lá Harrison Bergeron, and you have these two young adult novels by Veronica Roth. Set in Chicago sometime in a future where everyone is a member of one of five factions, the story begins with the main character, Beatrice Prior, facing her aptitude test that will determine which faction best suits her. Beatrice was born into the Abnegation faction but displays an aptitude for both this and two other factions, Erudite and Dauntless, which makes her Divergent. As the woman administering the test advises, this is a very very bad outcome and the catalyst of this trilogy. Beatrice’s story is set in motion on her Choosing Day, when she leaves her family to join the Dauntless faction, a group of characters straight from an S.E. Hinton casting call costumed with 21st century fashions and infused with a much dimmer outlook than Hinton’s simple boys from the 1970s.
Read the complete review on my website.
This series uses the same formula as The Luxe with the author removing a main character and placing the action 30 years into the future. Instead of the Gay Nineties it’s the Roaring 20’s, the summer of 1929 to be exact. Two girls from Ohio, Letty and Cordelia, hop a train on Cordelia’s wedding day and head to New York City. One girl wants to see her name in lights, the other wants to find the father she never knew. A third girl, Astrid, befriends our heroines early on in her role as the girlfriend of Cordelia’s long lost half brother, Charlie. Add a feud between rival bootleggers, a daredevil pilot, and a rich boy who wants to be a writer, and you have the Bright Young Things trilogy.
F. Scott Fitzgerald this is not, but if you like your gangsters tough, your gun molls blonde, your chorus girls naive, and your plot lines standard issue, this is a series you’ll love. I enjoyed it almost as much as The Luxe but the ending seemed forced to me. Without ruining the fun of reading the series, I will say that the author wrote herself into a romance that couldn’t end happily so she ended it abruptly. This is a series meant for a young adult audience, but as with the former series, there’s enough bodice ripping and bed hopping to entertain a more jaded adult. Complete with some gun fights, car chases, a murder, and a submarine, Bright Young Things, Beautiful Days, and The Lucky Ones are more than just throwaway reads on a summer’s day; they’re an enjoyable visit to the era of flappers and bootleggers.
Take the movie Collateral, change Tom Cruise’s character to a deadly Lithuanian chick a la La Femme Nikita and Jamie Foxx’s character to an 18 year old high school kid from Connecticut, you have Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick.
Gobi the Lithuanian exchange student arrives at Perry’s upper middle class suburban home because his parents believe this will be a good experience for their son and daughter. As Gobi’s stay in the US comes to an end, Perry’s Mom and Dad coerce Perry into taking Gobi to the prom, sealing the deal with Dad’s Jaguar. So far, so John Hughes. Then, about a half hour into the prom, Michael Mann takes over the direction, and it’s gun shots, car chases, and explosions …
To read more of my review, please visit my blog at voxpopnj.com.
I reviewed the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a few weeks ago, and once again thank @JensAnsbach for recommending this amazing fantasy series. The second book, Days of Blood and Starlight, reminds me of the second installment of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series: the first half is slow but builds a bridge between the first and third books, and the second half gains momentum to end with a cliff hanger that makes the reader impatient for the final book. I have mixed feelings about this move to trilogies in both the young adult and adult arenas. While I don’t believe that authors set out to write trilogies to pad their royalties, I highly suspect that publishers encourage this format to make as much profit from a storyline as possible.
Read the rest of my review on my website.
In my previous post, I reviewed the first two books in this series, The Luxe and Rumors. The second two books in the series, Envy and Splendor, follow the same set of characters, Elizabeth, Diana, Penelope, and Caroline through their pursuit of marriage and sex partners, usually not found in the same person. Just like the six seasons of Sex in the City, the characters and relationships become more and more outrageous yet we suspend our disbelief because their bad behavior is such fun to witness!
Read my review in its entirety on my website.
Imagine if Candace Bushnell wrote The Age of Innocence or the creators of Gossip Girl went on to film Downton Abbey; if either came true, we’d have The Luxe series of young adult books by Anna Godbersen. Set at the very end of the 19th century, we have a story complete with a Mary known as Elizabeth in these books, perfect, hopelessly in love, and a bit dramatic. Sybil makes a stronger showing as Elizabeth’s younger sister, Diana. Unfortunately, these books lack a middle sister, and if you’ve been following the third season of Downton Abbey, you know that Edith may well the the most interesting sister of the three.
Read more of my review on my website.
This is the story of Karou, a girl with hair that grows bright blue right out of her head and who wears a necklace of beads that grant small wishes. She lives in Prague, the city of tragedy, melancholy, and dark European mythology, attends an art high school about as far removed from the high schools of Fame and Glee as possible, and has an older, manipulative, good looking blonde ex-boyfriend.
Oh, and she was raised by a guy named Brimstone who has a ram’s head, collects teeth, human and animal, and who resides with an basilisk named Issa that’s much nicer than the one in Harry Potter.
To read more of my review, please visit my website.
Narrated by Death, The Book Thief is the story of a girl in Nazi Germany born to communists who steals a book and then another, her foster father who teaches her to read each night when she awakens from a nightmare, a Jewish refugee hidden in her basement who writes books for her on whitewashed pages of Mein Kampf, a broken woman who has a library in her home and never reads but encourages the girl to choose book after book, and a cast of characters who demonstrate the power of words. This book may be categorized as Young Adult, but I think the language, the events, and the message can be as meaningful for a person at middle age as it is for a 14 year old.
To read my entire review, please visit my website.