March 20, 2014

Cristin Terrill: "All Our Yesterdays"

Title: All Our Yesterdays  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Cristin Terrill [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2013
Age: 12+
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Time travel is mostly believable and well executed, and puts new spins on the concept. Narrative is peppered with nice twists, hints (to be caught later) and reveals. Dynamics among characters ring true.
Cons: A couple of unresolved or too far-off details. The writing would have benefited from a little more sophistication.
Will appeal to: Time travel lovers, of course. But pretty much anyone who likes a romantic adventure packed tight with action and feelings.

Blurb: Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present-imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. Marina has loved her best friend James since they were children. But on one disastrous night, James's life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was. Em and Marina are in a race against time that only one of them can win. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: How do you review a book that half the blogging world has sliced and reassembled in any possible way already? Is there a different, fresh perspective you can examine it from? An invigorating challenge :). Let's see what I can come up with...
I've had this book on my radar since the very first blurb was revealed - there wasn't even a cover yet. Now, time travel never fails to draw my attention, especially if it promises two different stories about the same character in two different time frames...and the possibility of them confronting each other. I was aware this book would have romance in it, too, and a once-spoiled girl - but somehow, even that early, I was convinced it would end up a winner. Which it ultimately did. Why? Here are my reasons...

a) Refreshing, well founded time travel. Now, it looks like you can break all kinds of time travel rules in fantasy, especially when it comes to TV shows: "Charmed" and "Supernatural" have taught us that much. But sci-fi is usually much stricter. I guess you're familiar with time travel golden rules n° 1 & 2...
  1. Golden rule n° 1: there's only so much you can change (see "Grandfather Paradox").
  2. Golden rule n° 2: you can't meet your past self, or the fabric of time would never survive that (though I don't think anyone ever explained us how).
Well, Terrill finds a way around the above rules, which allows us to enjoy an exciting ride without having to tear logic to pieces. Though the future and past selves are face to face only for a (relatively) short span of time at the end of the book, it's worth the wait. Also, I found Terrill's use of flashbacks interesting. While they are inserted matter-of-factly in most stories, here the author chooses to tie them to the characters, so that such flashbacks become part of their ongoing experience and don't interrupt the flow of the story. On the contrary, they are weaved effortlessly (though dramatically) into the narrative, and make us privy to a lot of information without sounding contrived.
Em and Finn's is a one-way trip, which adds a realistic and serious feel to the time travel aspect. Because they're not simply jumping from time frame to time frame - they're on a mission whose cost will be their annihilation. There's no coming back and finding a "magically" changed future for them. Only their younger selves will be left, and the bond Em and Finn have forged during their trials will be undone. Also, they end up partly changing the future at some point, so that they can't rely on their own memories and tell what comes next anymore. This adds to the drama and spices up the story even more.
My only problem with the time travel aspect is: since 14 previous versions of Em and Finn have tried to prevent the creation of the time machine and failed, what became of them after? They supposedly weren't erased, because despite their best efforts, the machine is still going to be built. But in case they were "sucked back" into the future (how?), they would simply resume their previous version. This seems to indicate that any failed attempt to change the future ends up with Em and Finn (and the past they've visited) vanishing and starting from scratch. It doesn't make solid sense though. 

On a side note, James is a genius at 18, and Finn not only will be able to operate the time machine in the future, but also to simulate a different date than the one he and Em are going back to. This is a bit of a stretch, but of course it's convenient. [...]

March 18, 2014

Offbeat YA's Secrets Revealed!

Hi lovelies!

Today I have the distinct pleasure of getting featured on Guinevere and Libertad Tomas' blog Twinja Book Reviews.

This is the second time I've been asked to answer some questions as a book blogger (see here for my first interview). I'm so glad that Guinevere and Libertad decided to feature my blog - among a few others - on TBR. They are doing an excellent job with promoting all kinds of diversity on their blog, especially focusing on multiculturalism - and I fully support that. Also, me and their other guests get to participate in the celebrations for TBR's first year! So Happy Blogoversary girls, and many happy returns!
Are you curious about their questions and my answers? Click here - and in the meantime, show Twinja Book Reviews some love :). Thank you!

March 11, 2014

Announcing LGBT Month by Cayce and Laura!

I've stumbled upon an challenge? I'm not sure...but it caught my attention, since I fully promote the right for everyone to be who they are, and to be accepted, regardless of - in this case - sexual preferences. Um, I don't even like the word "accepted". The LGBT+ community shouldn't even be an issue anymore. Unfortunately, in this time and age, there's still a stigma on its members. See, I don't like the word "members" either, because it makes me think of exclusivity - as in, you belong to a group, but you don't fit in anywhere else. Anyway, I was excited to find out there was going to be a LGBT Month (in April), and immediately decided I wanted to be part of it. Kudos to Laura (who first came up with the idea) and Cayce (who promptly adopted it) for hosting this event!

How pretty is the logo? :) And consistent too...
Now, what am I going to do for LGBT Month?

      1.  Definitely reviewing a couple of oldies but goldies:
           Trying Hard to Hear You by Sandra Scoppettone
                A close-knit summer theater group discovers that two of its members are gay. By the
                end of summer, the narrator writes, "two of us were going to suffer like we never had
           Deliver Us from Evie by M.E. Kerr
               Told by her brother Parr, this is the story of 18-year-old Evie, her Missouri farm family,
               and the turmoil created by Evie's love for the local banker's daughter.

      2.  Rewinding some LGBT related books I've already reviewed.
      3.  Writing a post about what I would like to see more in LGBT lit.

      4.  Participating in the discussion posts Cayce and Laura will come up with! 
Are you interested in joining in too? This meme/challenge/read-along is not too demanding. As a matter of fact, it's not demanding at all. You can be involved on many levels, or only opt for one. Read more on Laura Plus Books or Fighting Dreamer. You can sign up till the end of April. Are you in? :)

March 08, 2014

Kate Harrison: "Soul Storm"

Title: Soul Storm [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Soul Beach (3rd of 3 books)
Author: Kate Harrison [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Thriller/Mystery
Year: 2013
Age: 12+
Stars: 1.5
Pros: As with Book 1 & 2, peculiar, potentially killer idea. Fancy a colourful, exotic setting? you get 130 pages of that. A slowly developing love story? check. Sweet sibling episode toward the end.
Cons: Again, execution of said peculiar, potentially killer idea ends up being stretched beyond believability. Also, you get a few loose ends, convenient incidents and implausible demeanors.
Will appeal to: Hardcore romantics who also happen to be ardent supporters of social networks and virtual reality.

Blurb: Someone is stalking Alice Forster. She's sure it's her sister's murderer, but her parents think she's cracking under the stress of Meggie's death. Only in the virtual world of Soul Beach - an online paradise for the young, the beautiful and the dead - can Alice feel truly free. But there's trouble in paradise...Clouds are gathering. A storm is brewing. The killer is about to strike. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: After the slight improvement in Book 2, I was hoping that a trend was set, and that I would like this final installment more - despite the two lovebirds on the cover (you know me and romance, right?). Alas, by any means, no. And it's not even the lovebirds' fault.
I've debated with myself if I was being disappointed because of my age. If this series simply was more juvenile than I could bear. If I was being harsh on it because I had stuck my nose in the wrong place, and now I was blaming the books for that instead of me. But honestly, I'm not convinced it's the case. And I would do a disservice to my younger mates if I thought so. The main problems I have with this series are that 1) in many respects, it's too simplistic and 2) it tries too hard to weave supernaturality with reality, and it ultimately fails. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, but you have to give me something to hold on to. I can overlook small plot holes, but you have to tie all the major knots together in the end. Which is not the case here.
The book starts off right. Alice's family seems normal again; she's getting her driving license, and looking forward to what the future has in store for her. Freeing her sister is still her top priority, also because she's convinced that Meggie's killer is after her too - but apparently, she's not obsessing over Soul Beach like she used to. She even admits to herself that - maybe - Danny was right and they're going nowhere. Wow, brilliant deduction.
Alice grows more and more certain that she knows who her stalker (and Meggie's killer) is - but while she's concocting a strategy to uncover the truth, the killer plays a trick on her, and her family is convinced she has finally lost it. (Now, I have issues with this part...but then again, I'm not a parent). So Alice has only a choice confide in Lewis. Which is problematic, because he's a rational young man, and what she wants him to believe is totally off the wall. In the meantime, something horrible happens to the Beach. Whose fault is that? and can Alice get both Danny and Meggie back? 
Now, telling you what doesn't work with this last installment might end up in a huge, gigantic spoiler. Let's try to, anyway...(warning: long post coming). [...]

March 02, 2014

The Sunday Post - Monthly Edition (#1)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on our blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 

See rules here.

Note: I did want to participate in this meme, but since it's rare for me to post more than once a week, I opted for my own Monthly Edition. I even altered the button LOL (with Kimba's permission).

So, for my first ever (Monthly) Sunday Post, I'm going to cheat just a little ;). Because I'm including a couple of articles that date back to January 30. They mean a lot to me, and since I didn't get the chance to feature them in a previous Sunday Post, I sneaked them in here. Please bear with me :).

On the Blog

Jan. 30: A Reader's Quirks #3: You, Irresistible Afterlife Novel
Third installment in my feature. A close examination of my favourite genre, with a list of titles and a Linky for you to add your favourite Afterlife book title...or better, review!
Feb. 1: What's New: "Deadgirl" Gets a New Chance at Life + Sequel
One of my favourite YA novel had disappeared from the market after barely a year, due to its publisher shutting up shop. Now a new press has picked the book up (reissue scheduled for next in, autumn of course!), and it will also get a sequel. Don't miss it the second time around! This book deserves a lot more recognition than it got. Wanna know why? Read the above :).
Feb. 8: Rambling on a Saturday (in between Laundries)
Pretty much what the title says :).
Feb. 13: Book Review: "Lucid" by Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass
A 4 star book, though partly out of my comfort zone.
Feb. 18: Book Review: "Soul Beach" by Kate Harrison
*sighs* This one let me down.
Feb. 26: Book Review: "Soul Fire" by Kate Harrison
Sequel of the above. Slightly better.

Around the Web

Jan. 30: The Blogging Age

Summer @ Blue Sky Bookshelf wonders if teen bloggers are discriminated by some fringes of the book industry.
Feb. 19: Monologue Time: 2-in-1 Discussion (Professionalism & Commenting)
Amy @ Amy Re{a}d Bookworm (a.k.a. Spreading UK YA) discusses the use of GIFs in reviews and speculates whether they can affect reviewers' reliability.

Latest Additions to TBR List

"Blackfin Sky" by Kat Ellis (out May 14)

Just like any other morning, Skylar Rousseau is late for school, but when she is greeted by a blanket of silent stares upon entering Blackfin High, she discovers that the whole town thought she fell from the pier and drowned on her sixteenth birthday three months earlier. However, Sky remembers the last three months living her life as normal, and since she is a full living, breathing human being, she has no idea whose body is buried underneath her tombstone. Everyone seems reluctant to help except her steadfast friend and crush, Sean...and a secretive man who draws her to a mysterious circus in the woods. Sky must wade through impossibilities and lies to discover the truth about what happened to her, which proves to be a bit difficult when someone is following her every move with the intent to harm her. And Sky’s only hope of finding the answers she seeks may have already been turned to ashes.

"Nomad" by J.L. Bryan (published Jul. 2013)

They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood. 

By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight. 

What's Next...

Stop by Offbeat YA this month for...

Book Review: "Soul Storm" by Kate Harrison
Final installment in the Soul Beach trilogy.
Book Review: "All Our Yesterdays" by Cristin Terrill
Sometimes I go mainstream and it's worth it :).
Book Review: "Die Softly" by Christopher Pike
One of his classics from the '90s.

OK, that was it...what have you been/are you up to instead?