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Category Archives: YA fiction

Progeny by Tosca Lee

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Progency_without-quoteSo . . . I just finished reading Progeny by Tosca Lee and I have to talk about it! This was really good YA fantasy. I was hooked from the storyline and the main character was likeable and relatable. One of my favorite things about this book was how well the author wove spiritual themes into a fantasy novel (that’s not strictly a Christian novel). She’s not afraid to create flawed, realistic characters in this fantasy setting, while at the same time explore questions about God’s existence and add in religious elements. Since I’m someone with a spiritual bent to begin with, this aspect of the story really connected with me. But even for someone who is nonreligious, this aspect just rolls into the storyline completely seamlessly. I’ve found that with lots of YA fantasy books, I enjoy the first novel in a series, but then find myself not invested enough to want to keep going. With this one, I’d like to know what happens in book 2. I know not every story can hook me like Harry Potter or Hunger Games (where I want to buy the next book as soon as it releases, even if it’s at midnight!) so it’s nice to read something that pulls you in and makes you want to keep going with these characters.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee brings a modern twist to an ancient mystery surrounding Elizabeth Bathory, the most notorious female serial killer of all time.

Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. It is a story about the search for self filled with centuries-old intrigues against the backdrop of atrocity and hope.

 

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Terra Soul by S.J. Abraham

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Terra%20Soul%20Cover_zpsd6ycqimvLoveys, I want to tell you about a story I’m excited about! So I had the privilege of working on this super-fun, YA, sci/fi novel and I loved it! Here’s the book blurb:

Ayla thinks she’s just a comic-book nerd with a photophobia until the day a space fold forms in her living room and her father drags through it to the alien world of Karanik, her birthplace. When she discovers that soul-drinking aliens have infested Earth, she must embrace who she truly is in order to save it.

This story is great for young adults, boy and girls. It’s got aliens, teen angst, adventure, basically the world coming to an end and all that great stuff. I really enjoyed it and I think this author will have more amazing stories to tell. So check out Terra Soul on Amazon!!

https://www.amazon.com/Terra-Soul-S-J-Abraham/dp/0997625813

 

Promised by Caragh M. O’Brien

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13010211Hi friends! Well, Promised is the final book in the Birthmarked trilogy. Here’s what I love about this trilogy, it’s such an interesting storyline! From the beginning with Birthmarked, this idea of having to give up your kids for the “greater good” just adds a deep level of intensity and emotion. Then taking Gaia to this place where the women have control over everything–such an intriguing dynamic. And with Promised, Gaia returns as a stronger woman, but still with insecurities and moments of immaturity and indecision. I have to say, however, that Gaia is a very good character. She’s very flawed, but she’s interesting, and at heart, she’s a good person with good intentions.

Her relationship with Leon is an up-and-down kind of thing. They obviously care for each other, but they always seem to be keeping things from each other and doing things without talking them through with their partner. Leon’s feelings for Gaia are obviously very deep and he’s devoted to her. Sometimes Gaia seems less devoted. I read a review where the reader felt like Gaia harbored feelings for Peter and Will, and I can definitely understand that perspective. But she’s proves several times that she’s committed to Leon.

I did feel like the ending came with some depressing aspects. *SPOILER AHEAD*

The fact that Gaia’s ability to have children with Leon was taken from her felt so heavy and sad after all they had gone through. Also, the fact that they had taken her eggs, so while she couldn’t carry her own babies, women around her would be carrying them and having them and Gaia would never know who her own children were–that just felt devastating to me. Maybe it’s the mom in me, but that felt like too much. I was, of course, glad that Gaia and Leon end up together and can raise her sister. But the other part was so dark and depressing.

Anyway, overall, this series is so different from everything else out there, and you have to appreciate the creativity that goes along with that. I enjoyed the writing and all the suspense and action in this final book. I definitely recommend this book for YA futuristic/fantasy readers.

 

Sever by Lauren DeStefano

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New%20Severx-inset-communitySo remember how I raved about Wither, the first book in the Chemical Garden trilogy? Right, and then I just muddled through Fever, a little unsure about how much I liked that one but still needing closure? Well, Sever just came out! The final book in the trilogy. I picked this one up at the library and read it in the span of about 24 hours.

I gave myself a little time to reflect on my feelings after reading Sever, before writing this review. To be honest, I was annoyed when I first finished the book. (I’m trying to avoid spoilers because I know my sister Sara hasn’t read it yet. We’ll see if I can pull that off.) Without giving names, an important character dies in this book and I was frustrated by that.

But after thinking it over, I feel that maybe that specific death helped pull together the other characters and leave room for moving on. I think perhaps I’m just a little tired of all the depression in these YA futuristic/fantasy books. Beginning with Mockingjay, I just felt the depressing aspect outweighed the enjoyment. I recently finished read Promised (Birthmarked trilogy, we’ll talk about it soon), and again, I felt the ending was heavy and sad. I think maybe these authors are so intent on being real, that they end up being depressing. For me, if I’m taking time out of my schedule to read, I don’t want those hours to leave me depressed and unsatisfied. A little realism is good, but please don’t make me depressed.

Anyway, back to Sever, I liked the pacing, and the twists and turns were good. I like to be surprised and I definitely was. And now that I’m a few days removed from the story, I think my overall opinion is good. The story wraps up pretty well. If you’ve read Wither and Fever, definitely read this one. You’ll want to know the ending, just expect some sadness. Wither remains my very favorite of the three, but I’m glad I stuck with this series to the end.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

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ImageOhmigosh. I just finished Angelfall by Susan Ee and I am trying to get a hold of all my thoughts! As usual, I was introduced to this book by my sister Sara. She got it for Christmas because it was on her wish list, and she immediately handed it to me and said that I needed to read it ASAP because it’s awesome. So, so right. At the beginning, it reminded me of Hunger Games because our main girl has a younger sister she loves and needs to take care of and a mother who is unreliable and emotionally unstable. But that’s where the similarities ended really.

Basically, angels have descended and completely destroyed the modern world. If I had one complaint, it would be that I don’t feel we got enough history. There are so many unanswered questions about what actually happened and who’s in charge and so on. I know the author was setting the scene for the next book in the series, but I think we needed a little more to go on. Anyway, our main girl, Penryn (love that name!), is on a mission to save her little sister from the scary angels and she has to team up with Raffe, an angel, to do it. They form sort of a shaky alliance at first, but over time, they really do need each other for survival. The ending sort of leaves you hanging, but it feels like an appropriate ending and it worked. I will definitely be reading the next book.

What I found so cool and interesting was the supernatural aspect of this book. For a believer like myself, the thought of angels and demons and all that isn’t so unfamiliar. I am really interested in seeing how the author develops the “God” figure. She has Raffe, an angel remember, as an agnostic. I was thinking, there’s a verse in Scripture that tells us that even “the demons believe, and tremble” (when speaking of believing in God. James 2:19). For me, this was a really thought-provoking book. Raffe talks to Penryn about the angels that fell from heaven and the nephilim (I think I’m spelling that right). Those aspects of the story came from the Bible so I found them to be really intriguing.

Overall, great characters, great pacing, and a fascinating storyline. Though I have to warn you that there are some dark parts and things that make you cringe. Still, this was a really great book and I’m hooked on the series. 🙂

 

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

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So I just finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth, the sequel to Divergent. I have to say I’m always a little skeptical that a sequel will live up to its predecessor, and lots of times, if the sequel isn’t strong enough, I drop out of the series. I loved Divergent. And Insurgent was a really good follow-up. *Spoilers ahead so beware.

We pick up with Tris and Tobias and I felt like the author did a good job of portraying the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship and developing their characters. I never got tired of following Tris through the story, though some aspects disappointed me somewhat. All the lies and secrets between her and Tobias don’t really set the foundation for a mature relationship, but they each have their reasons for that. Still, Tris choosing to side with Marcus at the end felt over-the-top to me. I could understand her logic, but I wish she’d included Tobias in her thought process and been honest with him. I wish she’d tried harder to convince him of what she thought was right instead of seemingly stabbing him in the back by siding with his abusive father. Still, despite that, you know that Tris sees what she’s doing as more important than saving her relationship with her boyfriend–and you’ve got to appreciate that. She’s a strong female character–very flawed, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And for once, we see a girl who will sacrifice her relationship for what she knows is right. She stands for more than romance! 🙂

Moving on, I really disliked Marcus’s character. I don’t like how the author wants us to see both good and bad in him. We can see that in most characters, that doesn’t make him a good character. If he’s not held accountable for his bad choices, then it just feels like injustice. I was thankful that toward the end, Tris clarified that she wouldn’t help save him if it came to that. She wasn’t overlooking what he had done. (Though it felt like it at times.)

I hope we see more of Caleb in the next book, his betrayal was a shock but made me wonder if there’s more to him than what we saw. And I’m glad to say that I will be reading the next book as soon as it comes out. Veronica Roth has done a great job with this series so far and I’m excited to see where she takes Tris and Tobias!

Author Interview with Fantasy Author Amy Green!

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Hi friends! So I’m super excited to introduce you to a friend of mine and a YA fantasy author. Drumroll please . . . Amy Green!

I actually got to know Amy because she was an intern at our publishing company for the summer. Which means she’s still in college, people! She’s one of those lucky ones who got published her first time around at a young age. So she was spared the years of rejection letters. You may or may not be able to relate to that, but I think it’s encouraging to see new people finding their way onto bookshelves. It can happen for you too! OK, let’s chat.

 

BB: So you’re a writer! Were you one of those kids practically born with a pen
in your hand? Give us a glimpse of where your love of story came from.

AG: Whenever I played Barbies with my twin sister, she would insist that we either have a wedding or a fashion show. This routine got boring pretty quickly, so I would create elaborate plots (Tourist Barbie gets locked in an Egyptian pyramid! Princess Barbie meets a gypsy who turns her into a talking mirror!), and then throw in a fashion show at the end, usually when Barbie was trying to find the perfect disguise for her secret missions.

Later, when I was old enough to actually write down my stories, I tried to make them just like my favorite books—at least in length. I wrote my first “novel” in seventh grade. (43,000 words…ironically, 1,000 words longer than my first published book.) It was terrible, as were the next four that I wrote in my middle school years. And the problem was, I knew it, and it frustrated me.

My mom (and teacher at the time) encouraged me to keep going. I’d get better in time, she said. And, as usual, she was right.

BB: You’ve written two books so far, how would you describe them? Where did the inspiration come from for
those stories?

AG: I’ve written two Christian fantasy books, Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel and Escape From Riddler’s Pass, published with Warner Press in 2011 (with two more on the way soon). They’re classified as juvenile fiction (ages 8-12), but I often find them in the teen section of bookstores because the main character is fifteen. I’ve heard from both kids and teens who enjoyed them.

I wrote Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel because my sister, studying elementary education, wanted a children’s book for her eighteenth birthday, and that seemed like a better deal to me than spending money on a present. I’m not sure where the idea itself came from, but it probably came in the shower. Most of my ideas do, for some reason.

BB: Since you’re a writer, I’m assuming you’re a reader! What books are you
currently reading? Do you have a favorite book you recommend?

I’m currently reading Pride and Prejudice (I’m a little ashamed to admit it’s my first Jane Austen novel) and Culture Making by Andy Crouch. One of my favorite books is Me, Myself, and Bob. It’s the autobiography of Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggiesTales, and the story of what happens when you let your dream become more important to you than God.

BB: What are your goals for the future?

AG: All writers fall somewhere along the outlining spectrum—some list every detail of the plot ahead of time and write in the gaps, and others start at the beginning and make it up from there. I’m in the second group, and all of my career goals are as vague as my outlines—finish projects, write more juvenile and YA books, read classic books on writing, figure out where the market is going and go there first, try curriculum writing. If I get too specific, I’d probably treat the goals as a checklist and miss some surprise opportunities on the way. My end career goal is getting more education so I can teach writing, probably at a college level. But first I have to graduate college. Working on that one right now.

BB: What advice do you offer aspiring writers?

AG: Don’t do it alone. Find a group of writers to swap manuscripts with. Or just find a reader who will give you honest and detailed thoughts on what you should change. It’s not only about having good editors, though—sometimes just talking with others who have a similar passion has been the boost I needed to keep working on a long project when writer’s block was dragging me down. I’ve probably learned more from my fellow writers than I have from books or classes.

Fabulous! Thanks so much for stopping by, Amy. You can check out her blog here.