Posts Tagged ‘YA fiction’

Book Review: Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters

Published by Kirsten on July 9th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Break My Heart 1,000 Times by Daniel Waters
Hyperion 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4231-2198-5
Available: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle

The sight of ghosts has become commonplace to Veronica and her friends since the “Event”. Ghosts are everywhere–walking about in classrooms, standing on street corners, going to the mailbox, and even reading books in the local library. Veronica also sees the ghost of her father sitting at the table reading the newspaper every morning, while the ghost of a teenage boy named Brian hangs out in her bathroom. These days though, it seems the ghosts are gaining power.

It’s not long before Veronica realizes maybe it’s not the ghosts she should be quick to step around, but the living instead, as Mr. Bittner, one of her teachers at Montcreif High, begins to stalk her in the creepiest of ways, like popping up at the coffee shop when she stops in for a quick cup of tea, and staring at her a little too long in class. Why is he following her?  What does he want?  And why does the ghost of Mary Greer appear on his front steps every morning?

Fans of author Daniel Waters, who also wrote the Generation Dead series, will likely sink their teeth into this stand-alone supernatural story filled with paranormal suspense, ghostly chills and fast-paced action.

Recommended: YA Ages 12 to 18

Contains: Minor Violence

Reviewed by Tina Mockmore


Book Review: Definitely Not Kansas: Book One in the Nocturnia Cycle by F. Paul Wilson and Thomas Monteleone

Published by Kirsten on May 12th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Definitely Not Kansas  Curses! The problem with missing out on getting up a review in a timely fashion is that this book, Definitely Not Kansas: Book One in the Nocturnia Cycle, initially published in a limited edition, is not currently available. I hope the publishers will put it out as a trade paperback or at least an ebook soon, though, as that’s the best way to reach the market this is actually intended for. Most readers of YA or middle grade fiction aren’t seeking out small presses for their reading material, and this sounds like a book that would definitely snag their interest. Here’s the review for Definitely Not Kansas, anyway, though, because with a recommendation this enthusiastic, certainly those outside the horror community ought to know about it. You know, like librarians. Who can’t purchase a book that is out of print, so come on, great publishers, and get that book out in a more easily available edition! Read on for a great review and go hassle these folks into getting it out into more hands.

–The Editor



Definitely Not Kansas: Book One of the Nocturnia Chronicles by F. Paul Wilson & Tom Monteleone

Borderlands/Gauntlet Press, 2013.


We’re definitely not home anymore, and I doubt Dorothy would last a minute in Nocturnia. Munchkins would likely find themselves on a menu in this imaginative, fascinating homage to Oz.

The last time Borderlands Press and Gauntlet Press combined their talents to produce a single book, readers were treated to Shadow Show, which garnered a Bram Stoker Award.  So when the two presses decided to collaborate again, fans wondered how the presses could top that title.  The result of their partnership is a young adult novel penned by two well-known authors.  F. Paul Wilson and Thomas F. Monteleone are no strangers to awards, blockbuster books, or each other.  Where many collaborations fall short due to varying factors, these two created a fantastic, delightfully horrific world , with writing that flows effortlessly. It could be due to the fact that they’ve been buddies for decades or that they both know how to tell a lean, mean, story.  Merging styles is difficult– here, however, the writing is seamless and it feels like a single author penned the entire novel.  Not once does the reader feel as if he or she is holding a book; instead, the covers disappear as the reader falls into the grand world Wilson and Monteleone have created.

Definitely Not Kansas owes something to The Wizard of Oz, of course, but that inspiration is merely jumping off point.  Nocturnia is a much darker, more frightening place and when the tornado drops Emma and Ryan into the strange world, the similarities end and all bets are off.  On a quest to find Telly, their missing older brother, Emma and Ryan are pulled through a vortex where reality ceases to exist. Nocturnia operates in parallel to Emma and Ryan’s world, separate and deadly, as readers discover the origins of these creatures on Earth and even the flowers can kill.  The nation of monsters is a nation of states which exist uneasily with each other and something much darker frightens them all.

Humans are considered slaves and cattle, bred for labor– and food — in a land inhabited by vampires, werewolves, zombies, and more. This could be considered a “kitchen sink” story, cashing on popular tropes, and likely would be just that in lesser hands. Yet here, the setting is character, and the creatures reside in a well-constructed world where they are anything but clichés.

Emma and Ryan propel this tale as they take the reader along a journey of survival and discovery. Both are strong lead characters and the cast of monstrous villains are anything but cookie-cutter caricatures. Surprises await around every corner and one can only imagine where the next book will travel.

An interesting afterword is included, on how the series was created by both authors, and will only further intrigue the reader. Monteleone and Wilson obviously love living in Nocturnia, and it shows on the pages.  It’s doubtful that readers will be able to resist, either, on this frightening, but fun, ride.

Nocturnia takes the reader by the throat and the heart, and never relents. Anyone who loves a good story, and who still embraces the youth within, will tumble head over heels into the vortex for this new series.


Reviewed by Dave Simms

The Chosen One: YA Dystopias @ your library

Published by Kirsten on March 5th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

So, it has come to my attention that Divergent, based on Veronica Roth’s YA novel of the same name, is coming soon to theaters. In fact, Barnes and Noble has put out a list of suggested teen reads to try out as fans of the books await the movie. I know Divergent is part of an incredibly popular series, but the thing that strikes me about it the most is its emphasis on choosing a life path. This actually isn’t an uncommon theme in teen and tween literature, and it’s central to the plot of some really excellent books (and some others that aren’t so great, but I digress). It’s absolutely worth it to check them out.



  The Giver by Lois Lowry

You can’t go wrong with this Newbery Award winner that tells the story of Jonas, living in a future utopian society, who is chosen, in a ceremony with his peers where they are all assigned jobs for their adult lives, to be the Receiver of Memories, the one person allowed to know the memories of the past in human history. It’s not as action-oriented as Divergent, but packs a much more powerful and memorable emotional punch. The Giver is part of a four-book series, but the first is the best and definitely stands alone. A movie based on the book is due out later this year.



  The City of Ember by Jeanne duPrau

The city of Ember is an underground city built as a last refuge in a world about to be annihilated by nuclear weapons. Two hundred years later, everything, from food to electricity, is running out. After the ceremony where Lina and Doon, along with their peers, are assigned their future careers, the two of them trade places, and discover a puzzling mystery they must solve to save the residents of Ember from darkness. This has more action than The Giver, and more of a mystery at its center, and is a compelling read even for those of us well over the target age range. The City of Ember is also part of a series, and all of them are great reads. It has been made into a movie already, with Bill Murray as the corrupt mayor. and I really enjoyed it.



  Enclave by Ann Aguirre

This is the first book in the Razorland trilogy, and it’s quite a bit more graphic than the first two books, probably on par with Divergent. In yet another post-apocalyptic underground world (one decidedly more primitive than Ember) Deuce goes through her naming ceremony and becomes a Hunter in her enclave, a sort of tribal society. As a Hunter, Deuce is supposed to find and catch food and rid the tunnels around her enclave of Freaks, ravening zombie-like creatures. Although she’s a believer in the way things work in her enclave, her exposure to a wider world and a partner who’s not so convinced lead her to question the actions of her leaders.



  Across the Universe by Beth Revis

A science fiction thiller told from the point of view of  two teenagers– Amy, the only person not specifically chosen for a role in settlement of a new planet, and Elder, whose future leadership of the spaceship Godspeed was chosen early in his life. There’s mystery, cloning, genetic and hormonal manipulation, general lying and betrayal, and a surprising amount of action given that this all takes place in a closed environment. There’s suicide, near-rape, and euthanasia in this book, among other things, although I think Revis handles it all pretty well. The target audience for Divergent should enjoy this.



 Legend by Marie Lu

June is the elite of the elite, being groomed for a position high up in the military in a dystopian society that’s more or less under military rule. Day is a rebel trying to undermine it.  What could possibly go wrong when their lives intersect?



 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Here’s one that’s interesting because almost everyone is chosen, eventually. It’s not wanting to be chosen that makes Tally stick out. Or, to make it more complicated, it’s wanting to be chosen but having to pretend she doesn’t want to be chosen and standing out as special when she wants to blend in. And then changing her mind. And changing it again. While it could stand alone, I think, it’s a good thing it’s part of a series because I have no clue where it’s going to end up. Westerfeld pretty much turns the tropes on their heads.