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    2011 Reading Challenge

    Fiendishly Bookish has read 3 books toward her goal of 250 books.
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    Sunday
    Apr252010

    New Juicy Review: Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony

    Book:              Restoring Harmony     

    Author:            Joelle Anthony          

    Publisher:       G.P.Putnam/Penguin    

    ISBN/ASIN:     9780399252815         

    Rating:            4.5 Stars   

    Buy:    | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders

    Watch the Book Trailer

    The stranglehold of government is a strong but familiar theme in Joelle Anthony’s debut read Restoring Harmony, a young adult tale that is set in the near future after a global economic collapse thrusts the world back to its primitive roots. When the last drops of oil are seized by competing governments and hoarded, there is not much left to fuel the world. This inevitably thrusts the planet into a global economic crisis and industry comes to a standstill. In the years following there is still no end in sight. Borders are closed, regular utilities like electricity and water are at a premium and out of reach. Everyday men and women scrabble to just survive, and barter is the commerce of the times.

    Despite Anthony’s stark setting, it is thoughtfully contrasted by its humble protagonist, Molly McClure who gently pushes into the hearts of readers with her effervescent patience and ageless wisdom. When Molly’s parents arrange for her to illegally slip into the U.S. to bring back her grandparents she finds that her carefully planned journey goes awry. Another world exists outside her safe farming community, that she never knew of- where people prey on one another. Each step of the journey is filled with its share of obstacles and the help of a mysterious boy, Spill ends up changing her life. 

    The budding attraction between Molly and the Organization’s “go to” boy Spill, is tender and fun. Spill’s aunt runs the Organization so there isn’t a way out from his life of crime. But Being in Molly’s sphere has changed him remarkably, and at the back of his mind he realizes there is another way to live in their broken world. Seeing this transformation and the growing relationship between them is the highlight of Anthony’s tale. It shines a brilliant light on the possibilities. When in some cases, hope has been forgotten.

    Restoring Harmony is a hidden gem wrapped up in a dystopian wrapper because of the themes that Anthony illuminates. Rather than dwell in the past over lost lives, lost materialistic goods, and the endless pursuit of well…labor for others, Anthony poses an alternative through Molly and her family. Embracing their sheltered lives in their Canadian farming community, Molly and her family have learned to rely on the land, their hard work to provide as well as maintain a close knit community. Things like music and conversation in an age where technology has become mainly obsolete now are valued. Anthony prompts us to question our hardwire…to question ourselves …as well as question what exactly are the meaningful things in life…

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review

    Saturday
    Apr102010

    New Juicy Review: Dark Life by Kat Falls

    Book:              Dark Life     

    Author:            Kat Falls    

    Publisher:       Scholastic        

    ISBN/ASIN:    9780545178143         

    Rating:            5 Stars (FB's Top Ten of 2010)

    Buy:    | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders | Indiebound |

    In Dark Life Kat Falls illuminates two disparate worlds existing in humanity’s future. One a lush, blue-hewn world where humans live in symbiotic harmony with nature under the sea. These intrepid pioneers of the deep emerge shortly after The Rising, led by the best scientists and engineers to colonize the last territory: the sea. The other, is populated by “topsiders” still clinging to the old ways and the last chunks of land not submerged by the oceans rising. Crammed in cities where space is a commodity, and subjugated under governmental emergency measures to keep the peace, competition for resources and viciousness rule. 

    But living subsea has altered the children of Benthic Territory. Besides being hardy workers, and learning to farm the sea for plankton and kelp, they can pilot subs, jet fins, mantaboards, flareguns, and harpins. They have adapted to the serene and yet sometimes harsh conditions of the deep better than those that live “Above”. And in some, evolution has bestowed a Dark Gift upon them-an otherworldly trait better suited for the dark fathoms than the light of day.

    For Ty Townson, the territory’s only teenager, and his sister Zoe, living subsea on the homestead with their family and friends is full of life and adventure. Kids in the territory grow up faster than topside, and when Gemma Straid an escapee from a Commonwealth orphanage careens into Ty on an abandoned sub, life takes an unexpected turn.  Hampered by her search for her lost brother who disappeared within the territory, and the threat of the vicious Seablite Gang, Ty learns to double-task and the adventure is a go from page one.

    Dark Life is carefully and patiently thought out. Fall’s world-building has allowed for no margin of error. From the architecture and technology of the subsea homesteads, to the mentality of the Commonwealth, topsiders and the prospectors, it is all intensely believable. She’s thoughtfully plotted how a teenager like Ty would reflect being brought up entirely subsea, on the cusp of manhood with an amazing secret. Ty will end up having to make a life or death decision to protect his family, the homestead, and the future of Benthic Territory. But making that decision will alienate Gemma forever. Can he make that choice?

    Dark Life is radiant, ingenious, and spontaneously fresh. I couldn’t help but be reminded by Star Wars, The Abyss, Seaquest, and that first Farstation episode of TNG, or the very first time I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Dark Life is a top-notch adventure for all ages that has definitely made my top ten for 2010. I expect it will have a permanent spot there.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review 

    Monday
    Mar082010

    New Juicy Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

     Book:              Birthmarked

    Author:            Caragh M. O’Brien

    Publisher:        Roaring Brook Press

    ISBN/ASIN:      9781596435698

    Rating:            Five Stars 

    Buy:   | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Border’s | Indiebound |

    Read an Excerpt

    Caragh O’Brien explores the bonds of kinship in a deteriorating dystopian society that brings to a head many provocative themes, and forces us to ponder some difficult questions and even more troublesome answers. In Birthmarked, three hundred years into the future, humanity’s survival depends on diversity. But the citizens of Western Sector Three don’t know that. For countless years they have been sacrificing their select newborns to the Enclave for basic necessities, never to see them again. One girl will unravel the mystery and thrust these two societies into chaos.

    Birthmarked was such a compelling read because it’s chock full of substance. O’Brien’s world is one of obedience. Where the technology, the advancements of a bygone era, hydroelectricity, computers, and the means to grow food are all controlled by the Enclave. Their rules are harsh and unforgiving to those that disobey them. Those outside the walls live a simple life, largely uneducated and supply…babies to the Enclave unknowing that genetic defects are so prevalent within the upper castes.

    O’Brien does not purposely soften the tone of her story merely because it is young adults who are her audience. Rather the adversities that Gaia Stone goes through in Birthmarked, bonds the readers to her plight. When Gaia starts to unravel the mysteries that are left to her after her parents are jailed, she must confront the consequences of her actions. What ultimately happened to the babies that she and her mother “advanced”? What became of her two older brothers? What does Leon want with her? What is the significance of the tattooed “freckles” and worse, how will the Enclave use that knowledge especially as their situation worsens? She has the power to destroy or join together both societies…will she do it?

    There is harsh death as well as the balm of new life within O’Brien’s world, which makes it realistic and meaningful. I have read plenty of YA dystopian novels but none of them can come close to the subtly expressive and thought-provoking themes that Birthmarked contained. I was enthralled from the first page, contemplative, and reveling throughout the entire story. It was simply an amazing debut read. Every reader will want to accompany this courageous heroine on the journey to discover exactly what she is capable of, unravel the mystery of the coded ribbon, and whether she can step unfettered into the future. I definitely want more and am anxious to find out what happens in the next book!

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review

    Friday
    Feb192010

    New Juicy Review...The Clone Codes

    Book:        The Clone Codes

    Author:      The McKissacks

    Publisher:  Scholastic

    ISBN:         9780439929837

    Buy:  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders | Indiebound |

    Rating:      Three Stars

    The Clone Codes is a children's futuristic sci-fi novel about Earth in the year 2170 on the cusp of intergalactic travel. But pushing into the vacuum of space does not always mean a society is advanced, or has paid its dues with regard to science, ethics, and technology. Gross segregation occurs worldwide as clones are used in schools, homes, and businesses. Little more than slaves, genetically altered and chipped to be easily controlled, clones are the center of a glaring slaveocracy, a dark mark on humanity. 

    The McKissacks want to focus on the plight of clones, the fight for sentience, the exploration into what is human and "real" as well as intermesh critical historical references and personages. But the overall feel of the book seems more like a class history lesson than the tangible conflict that one would expect when dealing with these issues.

    As a teenage girl whose mother was just arrested for seditious and treasonous activities and exploring her own genetic roots, Leanna Deberry is strangely benign when she discovers the unfathomable. When dealing with issues of sentience, one would think that Leanna would run the gamut of emotion. A wide emotional spectrum is expected because well..the issue is LARGE when dealing with what makes a human...Human. Philosophers have agonized about this for countless centuries...Descartes in particular. This theme has also played out in so many sci-fi novels that I cannot even list them here, but the ones at the top of my list are Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Asimov's I, Robot.

    Taking into consideration the intended audience, middle-schoolers will find The Clone Codes an interesting and fast read that will fire up their creative neurons, but anyone older, even tweens might recognize it for the light fare it is. Overall, I did enjoy the book, the setting, the colloquialisms, the descriptions of technology, and the pace were all very engaging but missing that elemental emotional component. Remember...Watership Down might have been a children's book, but within its pages were tangible bittersweet emotion and compassion that endeared it to readers for generations.

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review

    Wednesday
    Oct142009

    New Juicy Review: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

     

    Book:       Girl in the Arena

    Author:     Lise Haines

    ISBN:        1599903725

    Publisher: Bloomsbury

    Rating:      Four Stars

    Finding Girl in the Arena is akin to uncovering a vintage Chanel in a rummage bin at Les Puces. Fresh new ideas have been mined by Haines and twisted just so to give us a compulsive read about Lyn, the teenaged daughter of seven gladiator fathers who have fallen in the arena.

    In Haines' world gladiatorial games rule the lives of populace. Everywhere. All over the globe. The rules of the game, like Roman law are set into stone. Colleges and training universities teach it. Gladiatorial families breathe it. It is its own religion for the masses: blood sport. In every technological medium, in the very near future, plebeians and citizens alike are glued to the epic and bloody battles.

    Haines takes that twist and shanks the knife in deeper. She dwells on the power of the GSA (Gladiator Sports Association), the many-headed hydra who controls the sport world-wide, and its direct influence on Lyn and her family. And the only way that her family will be free of the GSA is for Lyn to take measures to free herself of their control.

    What is so distinctive about Girl in the Arena is that Haine's manages to converge modernity with an edgy alternate reality quite well and in terms we understand. It's engaging, and absorbing and readers will like a strong heroine who will take charge of her life and fight for her family. The plot is definitely interesting, and the back-story was well-done.

    But what I had expected when initially reading this book was that with such a buildup and the obvious title alludes that Lyn is an actual competing gladiator, and that is simply not the case. We do finally get to see Lyn in the grand finale going head to head with Uber in the arena but we have to wait for it. Overall, Girl in the Arena was a distinctive read for me, a nice change from the saturated plot lines out there (vampires and more vampires).

    A Fiendishly Bookish Review