Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—

Are about him.

What an extraordinary world. Coakley creates several very distinct cultures with rich and conflicting histories. There are two protagonists who have been raised each other (or at least their people), and right after hearing all the reasons to hate one, we get into his head and find how human and sympathetic he is....and then vice-versa.

The Final Word: If you like classic fantasy at all, this is a must read!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood - Tiki's blood...

What an amazing story weaver Hamilton is! Although The Faerie Ring is Tiki's story, it bounces between her POV - a desperate street urchin trying to care for a band of orphans - to that of Prince Leo himself, who is frantically trying to reclaim the valuable ring. Given how this novel centers around secrets and deceptions, I loved how Leo's occasional chapters ensured that the reader always knew more than everybody involved.

And I can't forget Rieker. This thief likes to drive Tiki crazy, but he also has secrets, and Tiki must learn to trust him if she ever wants to resolve the ring conflict and protect her orphan family.

I'm not doing this book justice. It's a wonderfully mysterious and suspenseful faerie tale (with just a drop of classic fairy tale) about a strong girl trying to succeed through tough times and mystical forces conspiring against her.

The Final Word: I absolutely love Tiki and her story. If you like Tithe or Wicked Lovely, definitely pick up The Faerie Ring.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Debut Challenge 2011: Complete

So that's it - the 12th and final book done for The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge! If you want to see my complete reading list, just look at "debut 2011" under the Genres sidebar tab.

I don't know if there was a lot of it published, or just what I gravitated toward, but this seems to be a year for sci-fi. Five of my twelve were dystopian novels, and wow are there some scary scenarios of what the world could become.

My favorite of all 12 was Divergent for its extraordinary society-building and compelling writing. Explanations cannot live up to the book itself, so just know that you should read it.

And the best part of this Challenge for me? I reviewed a bunch of books! Which means I ought to start looking for more reading/blogging challenges. I like reviewing - it just takes some motivation. If you know any challenges, or have debut recommendations, please leave a comment ^_^

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

I'd like to start with how jealous I am that Tessa lives above a bookstore and basically has a library for her living room. All right. On to the review.

I expected this to be a unicorn story, but it's really more of a modern mythology. The POV jumps between Tessa, dream-past-Tessa, the Fates themselves, and the ebil woman searching for the tapestry. Guibord does a wonderful job of balancing all those personalities and making each one vital to the overall story.

While Tessa's race to protect the tapestry (and the haughty but kindhearted Will who came out of it) made for a good story, my favorite part was the Fates themselves. They are absolutely creepy, and they have little patience for mortal troublemakers. Because of this, they become pseudo-villains even though both they and Tessa have essentially the same goals. Very cool.

The Final Word: An enjoyable fantasy

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Epidemics, floods, droughts–for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she’s rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can’t continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There’s something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

This book was slow going at first. Not that it wasn't well written; Jo Treggiari steeps her prose in description that makes Lucy's post-apocalyptic world incredibly vivid. But for the first couple chapters, there was only description of how Lucy goes about surviving, with the occasional break for how this world came to be. Things got much better once she met Aidan and his band of survivors, because we get actual dialogue. And here's where the story kept me reading.

What does it take to survive? What keeps this motley band of old timers and younglings together, keeps them resisting the Sweepers that attack and kidnap? Lucy, after half a year without speaking to another soul and years life was normal, allows herself to be folded into their camp and their way of life. And when that way of life includes facing off against Sweepers....there are implications that go all the way back to when the plague first started killing people off, and Lucy remained completely healthy.

The Final Word: A good premise, but rather predictable and heavy on the details.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can "remember" are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come.

When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it's time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.


Haunting, compelling, and a bit bizarre, Cat Patrick's first novel put me very much in mind of the Wake trilogy. London is used to dealing with her strange quirk, and apparently seeing the future is enough to explain to her each day why she remembers nothing of her past. Every night she makes notes about the day and reminders for the next day, because her "memories" are all of things that haven't happened yet.

So what does it mean that she doesn't "remember" Luke from the future, even though her notes say they've met?

The timeline aspect of this novel is a mind-trip. Please see the previous paragraph - there's no easy way to explain chain-of-events when the reader knows only what has happened, and London knows only what will happen (plus whatever reminders she's left herself), and neither knows exactly what is happening! Okay, that last part isn't strictly true, but watching London unravel the mystery of her "memories" and the condition that caused them definitely takes an open mind.

And for that, I really enjoyed reading it. I began by saying it reminds me of Wake, just because of the surreality of knowing what shouldn't be known. Forgotten has that same disconnected feeling, and I couldn't put it down because I was so caught up in that world.

My only reservation has to do with London's character, and only because I can't quite imagine what knowing the future is like: London takes on faith of her notes that Luke matters to her. She can't "remember" him existing tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Which means every day she basically meets him anew...she doesn't even know what he looks like before she's seen him or a picture of him! (Fifty First Dates, anyone?) Anyway, it was just a small questioning for me, and it's really only there because of the amazing premise of the novel. So not that big a deal.

The Final Word: Prepare for a crazy ride and don't plan on putting it down.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Series that Rock!

You know the books that just stick with you? It may be a series, or the author herself, but they just lodge in your brain and refuse to disappear. (And for me, it means they *appear* on my bookshelves, complete with post-it notes...) Well, I've got a bunch of those in my head right now, so I thought I'd share a few:

Tamora Pierce's Tortall books
It can be tricky to get into this fantasy universe, because there are, oh, five series and they work in chronological order. But my goodness, are they worth it. Each features a kick-ass heroine who lives in a knights-and-castles-and-magic realm. And reading them out of order won't leave you in a muddled pit of confusion, but it'll spoil the fun of seeing who ends up with who, and in what profession.... etc. If you are a purist, read them in this order:
  1. Song of the Lioness (4 books)
  2. The Immortals (4 books)
  3. Protector of the Small (4 books)
  4. The Trickster books (2)
  5. Beka Cooper (2+ books)
Meg Cabot's The Mediator
I read these books while I was in Buffy withdrawal, and they were wonderful in filling the gaps. Suze sees ghosts, and since they won't leave her alone until she helps with "unfinished business," of course she's going to get into trouble. So when she moves to California and discovers a hot, Spanish ghost haunting her room, of course I had to keep reading. It helps that her "mediation" skills err on the side of violence, and she has snappy come-backs to rival Buffy herself.

I've tried reading other books by Meg Cabot, but I like this series far more than her realistic fiction. And at 200-ish pages a book, it's easy to whip through the whole series. If you're interested, start with book 1: Shadowland.

Patrica Briggs' Mercy Thompson & Alpha and Omega series
What's the plural of "series," anyways? Patricia Briggs has created a fantastic werewolf culture that can't be confined to a single storyline. First, there's Mercy. She's a coyote among werewolves, but she'll do as she pleases - including tick her favorite wolves off - rather than submit to dominance games. All that independence gets her into trouble, though, with the wolves and the vampires and the fae. There are six books and counting; start with Moon Called.

Running parallel to Mercy's story is Anna's. She is Omega, a rare werewolf who provides peace and calm in the normally rigid pack. But she doesn't know this until Charles, son of the leader of the werewolves, rescues her from an abusive Alpha. Anna is completely different from Mercy. She is meek where Mercy is strong, quiet where Mercy is vocal... and yet, I think I may like her story even more. The two books so far have focused on her relationship with Charles; although there is some action, much more of Anna's struggles are internal. The two series reference each other, but run independently. Alpha and Omega starts with a short story by the same name, but you can also begin with the novel Cry Wolf.

That should be enough to start with, right? If you've read them, if you want to read them, of if you have a recommendation, leave a comment. My favorite part about being obsessive about a book is knowing that I'm not the only one.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.


Beatrice - Tris - has never fit in among the Abnegations. She certainly isn't as selfless as her brother. But to leave, to choose another faction.... it would mean leaving her family forever. So the decision to do so is an early clue that Tris is willing to take the harder path. And so she does. Her strength is amazing, especially given the brutal initation of her new faction.

I absolutely loved this book. The world has become a "perfect" place, in which five groups try to live the way they think is the best for world peace...but of course there are flaws, and the fact that you can only be one virtue is the least of them. Roth's future is well-developed, and her settings are vivid. In short, the writing is amazing.

And don't forget about the love interest. I'll keep it short, but since the summary doesn't tell you....there is a swoon-worthy love interest who steals the scene <3.

The Final Word: If this review doesn't sound like a rave, call it a rave now. This book is AMAZING and GRIPPING and INTENSE. If you could only read one debut this year, this may just be the one.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roeker

Since when do the dead send emails?

Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.

To: KateLowry@pemberlybrown.edu
From: GraceLee@pemberlybrown.edu
Subject: (no subject)
I'm here... sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor-the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her lovestruck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them-even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...


I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and Laura Roeker, the sisters who wrote the Liar Society, at the release party and got a signed copy (in pink sharpie, no less!). I can totally understand how these ladies created the quirky, inquisitive Kate. When I asked them what it was like to co-write a book, they asked me how anyone could write a book alone!

The Liar Society switches between flashbacks just before Grace's death, and Kate currently trying to solve Grace's mystery and actually find Grace, who seems to be not-so dead. It took me a while to get through, maybe because Grace tends to monologue, but seeing it to the end of the mystery is certainly worthwhile. And the novel was actually much heavier than I expected (the cover reminds me of the Gallagher Girls), what with Kate dealing with her grief over Grace.

The final word: An enjoyable book, but not a rabid must-read

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Clumsy and quiet, Nalia may not be the ideal princess, but she has spent all her sixteen years preparing for her role as future ruler of Thorvaldor. But her world is turned upside down when the king and queen reveal a bloody prophecy made at her birth, and the effects of that prophecy: she is not the true princess. She is a stand-in for the real Nalia, put in place to protect the heir to the throne.

With the time of danger passed, the true princess will return to court, and Nalia - now known to be Sinda, a commoner with no means of her own - is sent away without a second thought. But Sinda cannot adapt to life with her frosty aunt, especially given she has no knowledge of cooking or keeping a trade, and when she discovers uncontrollable magic inside her, she returns to the capital city. There, she reunites with an old friend and discovers that there is more to the princess switch than she could have dreamed possible.


How many twists can you put into a single story? When I first picked this book up, I thought I had it figured out: a girl finding out her life isn't as privileged as she thought and trying to live with her new circumstances, perhaps picking up love on the way.

Technically that is so, but O'Neal deserves much more credit than that. Just when I got comfortable with a turn the story had taken, Sinda learned some new revelation that completely revised the rhythm of the plot. And every one of those steps was important, too - we couldn't have skipped any of them.

And poor Sinda! When she was sent away from the palace, from her life, I thought she took it pretty passively. I know I would have demanded some answers. But as soon as a character pointed this very fact out to her, she made an effort to take charge of her life. I loved it. She grows so much throughout the novel, and her relationships with the other characters, especially her friend Kiernan and the real Nalia, made her real to me.

O'Neal has written a stunning first novel and I can't wait to see what else she comes up with.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

Tempest Rising is a whirlwind of magic and love and growing up. Tracy Deebs completely skips the "Guess what, you're magic!" phase of this genre; Tempest has known all her life that she's part mermaid, which allows the opening plot to be about her dread of turning seventeen, when the ocean will finally call her home.

Her story was simply sucked me in. The pull between Tempest's human boyfriend and the mysterious Kai, the betrayal of her mermaid mother's disappearance... I just couldn't put it down. And while parts of of the novel remind me of the Little Mermaid, surprise twists and reveals kept me reading right to the end.

The final word: A whirlwind read that deserves several days of undivided attention.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time bomb - males only live to age 25, and females only live to age 20. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape - to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attached to, Rhine attempts to break free in the limited time she has left.

What a beautiful, haunting debut.

Imagine knowing you only had a few years left to live, and yet you spent them fearing that you would be snatched up and sold into marriage. Imagine the future of your world, when you, and your children, and any future generations each have an expiration date.

I've said it already - DeStefano's debut novel is haunting. At sixteen, Rhine is completely aware of her limited lifespan, but she will fight to spend it as she pleases, not as one of three wives to a wealthy man. When the novel isn't focusing on her drive to escape, much of it explores her relations with her sister wives, and each girl feels quite differently about her imprisonment.

For all Rhine's dreams of love, there is little romance in Wither; she forms a close bond with the servant Gabriel but doesn't fixate on him, and is barely a wife to Linden. More important to her is her bond with her twin brother. For him, and for her freedom, she will escape.

Wither is the first in the Chemical Gardens trilogy. Suffice to say, I will be following the series and any of DeStefano's future works.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Amy said goodbye to her old life 250 years ago, before being cryogenically frozen for a trip through space. She is a passenger of the Godspeed, destined to explore and populate a new world. She is supposed to wake up when the arrive...yet she is yanked from her frozen slumber fifty years early. Now she must navigate the society that has kept the Godspeed running all these centuries.

Elder has lived on the ship his entire life, and he has always known that he will be the next Eldest, the leader of the Godspeed. But when he meets Amy, the only other teenager on board, she forces him to question the Elder/Eldest rule, and the workings of the Godspeed itself.

Who is to be trusted? As more frozen passengers are in danger of being killed, Amy and Eldest must work together to unravel the mysteries and hidden history of the great ship before it's too late.


I LOVE LOVE LOVED this book. Across the Universe is told in alternating POV, and the jumps between Amy and Elder are absolutely perfect. For a good chunk of the book, Amy is still frozen, but she has thoughts - thoughts of her old life, dreams of the future - and they create remarkable characterization considering she's spending her time sealed in a box. Meanwhile, Elder's perspective reveals the state of the ship: after a rebellion several generations ago, an absolute ruler was installed to keep order. But there's more to his success than strong leadership, as Amy will force Elder to realize.

So there's the worldbuilding; there's the romance; there's the mystery and suspense of someone pulling the plug on Amy's fellow pilgrims. There's the Beatles reference. There's the gorgeous cover art. And there's Revis's beautiful writing. My goodness, I could not put this book down.

The final word: READ IT!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Haven by Kristi Cook

"Violet doesn't understand why she feels drawn to the Winterhaven School. She just knows it's the right place for her. When she discovers the school's secret, it all makes sense: Everyone at Winterhaven has psychic gifts. For the first time in her life Violet doesn't have to hide her visions. She's always seen them as a curse, but now she can hone her ability and try to control it.

But she's thrown completely off balance when she meets the most alluring - and most mysterious - boy in school. She's never connected with anyone the way she does with Aidan, and the intensity takes them both by surprise. But as their relationship deepens, she begins to have visions of Aidan's death - and sees that she's the one who's fated to kill him."

-from the inside jacket

From the start of Haven, I was hooked. Violet has finally found somewhere she fits in: a school full of psychics. Not exactly the norm among the paranormal books these days. And while the school is more of a safety-in-numbers kind of thing than teaching them how to use their powers, Cook definitely uses the opportunity to build her cast. Violet is surrounded by telekinetics, empaths, astral projectors...and vampires.

Yeah, vampires. This is the point where I started having some issues. There is so much that Cook could have done with Violet's new, psychic friends, but instead the rest of the novel is peppered with supernatural cliches. The Boy, Aidan, can read minds and is inexplicably drawn to Violet...and guess what? He's a vamp (please see Twilight). Then we find out that when Aidan was mortal, he loved a woman who looks exactly like our heroine (Vampire Diaries) and that Violet is one of a select few girls who are destined to slay vampires (Buffy).

One coincidence, I can handle. I was actually interested to see how Cook would handle the mind-reading boyfriend in a unique way. Make him a vampire...okay, she's not the first to do that. But piling together three major plots from three very popular franchises distracted me from a lot of the book's highlights.

And despite the deja vu, I did enjoy reading Haven. Violet has a strong, distinctive voice and her visions - always of someone she cares about, always bad news - drove the mystery of the plot. I especially liked her new friends, Cece and Co, who were a wonderful dose of normalcy even when they were levitating purses and stepping out of their bodies.

So what's my final word? Even though the plot is flawed, Cook's writing style is captivating. The beginning was wonderful, the end less so. If you think you can look past the deja vu, go ahead and give it a shot.

This is Cook's first novel.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Cara is the quiet girl. Ever since she moved away from her best friend Zoe years ago, she's had trouble fitting in. So when Zoe shows up in her room, running away from home, she has to keep her safe. Zoe hides in her room, content to give Cara makeovers and advice on boys. Cara doesn't even mind if Zoe is a little obsessive-controlling; she's just glad to have her friend back.

Knowing that Zoe is around gives Cara the confidence to branch out. She makes friends on the track team and totally connects with Ethan, her crush.

Then tragedy strikes the town. A girl is found dead, another missing. And Zoe's moods oscillate radically, shifting from kind to cruel to needy until Cara can't keep up. Why did Zoe run away from home? And could she be involved with the incidents?


Cara may have gotten the nickname "Choker" because of an embarrassing event in the cafeteria, but Zoe is the one who is strangling her. Even from the first few pages, a prologue when the girls were neighbors and Zoe tried to get Cara to try her mom's "zombie pills," I was yelling at Cara to get away from that girl. The feeling only got stronger when Zoe returned as a teenager; I hated her mind games and the "but don't you love me?" nature of it all. And, every time, Cara gave in to Zoe's demands.

But I suppose that's what turned Choker into such a compelling read - rooting for Cara, watching each time she did try to stand up for herself and got closer and closer to actually succeeding. Who hasn't had a friend that played with her loyalties?

I've seen a lot of reviews that treat this book as an "intro thriller." I haven't read much horror/mystery myself, so it was kind of perfect in that respect. Dead bodies? Check. Murder mystery? Check. Heebie-jeebies? Triple check. And even though I was guessing the end pretty quickly, the true finale was powerful and startling.

Choker is a great read for the horror hesitant (like me) with a narrator worth rooting for.

This is Elizabeth Woods' first novel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

"In the year 2150, being a girl isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when your sixteenth (read sex-teenth) birthday is fast approaching. That in itself would be enough to make anyone more than a little nuts, what with the tattoo and all – but Nina Oberon’s life has taken a definite turn for the worse. Her mother is brutally stabbed and left for dead. Before dying, she entrusts a secret book to Nina, telling her to deliver it to Nina's father. But, first Nina has to find him; since for fifteen years he's been officially dead. Complications arise when she rescues Sal, a mysterious, and ultra hot guy. He seems to like Nina, but also seems to know more about her father than he’s letting on. Then there’s that murderous ex-government agent who’s stalking her, and just happens to be her little sister’s dad."
--from Julia Karr's website

I really looked forward to XVI. The idea that girls are branded with a tattoo that announces they are old enough for sex -- to keep them safe, of course -- Well, I just had to read it.

I loved Nina's interactions with each person. Her care for her sister, juggling her new and old friends, dealing with her sex-teen obsessed best friend... you just have to root for her, and that kept me racing through the pages.

However, I wish that Nina's dystopian world was more developed. For all the alluding to the XVI tattoo, we never really understand the government's reasoning behind it. How is branding you supposed to keep you safe?? And even though Karr had some impressive futuristic technology (for example, all of our gadgets have been reduced to a Personal Audio/Visual and a Family Audio/Visual), I felt like she kept throwing tech at us just to prove it existed.

XVI was a worthwhile read, but not an ohmigosh must read. Karr has a great message and strong characters to support that message, but her world needs just a little more work before it blends into the story.

This review is for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge at The Story Siren.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Super-duper contest at the YA Lit Six!!

So I've been reading this blog since they first got started, and they're awesome. The Y.A. Lit Six is a group of teen and youngish adult bloggers, some published, all writers. And they're holding a contest....with a read of the winners' manuscripts as the prize! So. Awesome.

Check out the contest! It ends March 15th.

The YA Lit Six