Monday, September 27, 2010


Incarceron is a prison so vast that it contains not only cells, but also metal forests, dilapidated cities, and vast wilderness. Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, has no memory of his childhood and is sure that he came from Outside Incarceron. Very few prisoners believe that there is an Outside, however, which makes escape seems impossible.

And then Finn finds a crystal key that allows him to communicate with a girl named Claudia. She claims to live Outside—she is the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, and doomed to an arranged marriage. Finn is determined to escape the prison and Claudia believes she can help him. But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye, and escape will take their greatest courage and cost more than they know. Because Incarceron is alive.

Beth says 5 Stars...

Wow. I must say that this book rocked my socks off. First of all, the concept is so incredibly fascinating. You have the self contained living prison that is Incarceron, which is mind blowing in and of itself. However, the depths of the prison have yet to be explored and I can't wait to see where they lead. Fisher didn't just stop with one amazingly crafted world, though. She just had to be an overachiever and fashion another completely separate kingdom for a world within a world. You'll have to read it to find out which is which, though. Another delightful thing is the ambiguity in the time sequence. I was never entirely sure of when the book was taking place, if it was the future, the past, or something entirely separate and loved every minute of it. The book not only kept me guessing with the story, but it made me think. It assumed that its readers were intelligent and could be taken on a wild ride without condescension. The plot moves along at a delightful pace, and manages to keep it up despite constantly switching perspectives from Finn to Claudia.

The characters were fantastic as well. They weren't the best ever, but they fit into the flow of the book perfectly. The chemistry between Finn and Claudia was perhaps not as amazing as it could have been, but it wasn't the most important part of the story. They were much more interesting as individuals in their separate worlds. They handled situations completely differently which further emphasized how for removed they were from one another.

I honestly can't wait to see where this series goes. I have no idea what can be done for the second novel and can't wait to find out. This is a refreshing fantasy that assumes intelligence on the part of the reader and most definitely does not fall into the paranormal romance genre.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Awesomeness of Michelle Zink

(So as a disclaimer, Michelle would like everyone to know that this photo was taken on the 7th day of her tour and that she's super exhausted.)

So, last night I drove close to 2 hours to meet the fantastic Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate. If you haven't read her books you really should, because they're excellent, and I'm not just saying that.

So, to the event. I made my way to the Barnes and Noble and managed to not look creepy while wandering around for 10 minutes before finding the area for the chat/signing. Michelle was absolutely the sweetest, recognizing me from this lovely interweb. There wasn't a gigantic crowd, so we ended up arranging the chairs in a circle and just chatted. There was a rather varied group, consisting of some parents, middle and high schoolers (who had seen her at school visits earlier), and then myself and a lovely young teacher named Eva (who's in the picture up top as well). The topics varied, but centered around books and writing. It was so much fun and very intimate, plus I totally sat beside her :)

After the Q&A was finished she sat down and signed books for everyone who wanted to buy them, which was everyone. The store was also really awesome and raffled two books away. I didn't win one, but thought it was so lovely of them to do. Eva and I ended up staying later and just talked with Michelle while she signed stock. It was an absolute blast. Michelle was so willing to talk to everyone who came, no matter what age, but I loved the end as she was getting ready to go. I can't even put into words how sweet and wonderful she is! This was the first real book signing I'd ever been to and was an amazing experience. If Michelle ever comes to your area my advice is GO (and buy her books :P)! I wish this sort of thing happened every Friday night.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Line

Rachel lives with her mother on The Property. The good thing about living there is that it’s far from the city where the oppressive government is most active. The bad thing, at least to most people, is that it’s close to the Line—an uncrossable section of the National Border Defense System, an invisible barrier that encloses the entire country.

She can see the Line from the greenhouse windows, but she is forbidden to go near it. Across the Line is Away, and though Rachel has heard many whispers about the dangers there, she’s never really believed the stories. Until the day she hears a recording that could only have come from across the Line.

Beth says 3 Stars...

I really didn't enjoy this one, which was upsetting. The concept behind it is so fantastic that I wanted to love it, but couldn't. The issue I had was really with the writing. This was the most disappointing of the debuts for me thus far. All I can say was that the writing was stylistically odd. I never really felt connected to the characters because the perspective kept changing. The 3rd person narrative shifted focus whenever it was convenient, which just became confusing with the mystery elements of the narrative. The issue was that all of the people had different amounts of knowledge about the story, and this just created inconsistencies for me as the reader. I was never entirely sure of what was going on. These problems with the writing also really kept me from connecting with the characters. I need to be completely drawn into the world, and really wasn't. Without that pull, I didn't really care what happened to them, as awful as that sounds. Also, in order to get all of the necessary information in Hall had Rachel recite history lessons to her mother. It just felt forced and placed in there solely for the purpose of explanation. This is going to be a short review because I just don't have that much to say about it. It wasn't awful, but it could have been a whole lot better. What could have happened was that it could have lived up to the potential of the original idea and been a fascinating look at a scary future.
Book from Library

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known, and all she needs for happiness.

But life after the Return is never safe, and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.

Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.

One night beyond the Barrier...

One boy Gabry's known forever and one veiled in mystery...

One reckless moment, and half of Gabry's generation is dead, the other half imprisoned.

Gabry knows only one thing: if she is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past.

Beth says 4 Stars...

I'd been looking forward to this book for a while, because I really enjoyed Ryan's first novel and wanted to support a local author. I was extremely impressed by the writing. It was so different from The Forest of Hands and Teeth stylistically, yet managed to feel authentic. Gone were the stilted phrases and antiquated vocabulary that set her first novel apart. Instead they were replaced by the remarkable realistic and angsty voice of an average modern-day teen. I was expecting a sequel at first, and this wasn't one at all. There were a few familiar characters, but this wasn't a true continuation of Mary's personal story. The burden instead falls upon her daughter Gabry, but I'll get to her later. The plot was interesting, but it took a little while to really get going. Being in a different place threw me for a loop and I had to get my bearings. I didn't really get the point of the story until I was significantly into the book, but one I found it it was great.

So now we come to Gabry... not my favorite. She wasn't awful, but she just kept moping and angsting. I understand that there were some intense and crazy things going on in her life, but seriously? When she wasn't experiencing a mood swing she was scared out of her wits. I have this thing for the uber-strong female main characters, so one that comes across as a little weaker rather irks me. By the end of the novel she had grown on me slightly, but will never rank high on my awesome list. The other characters were much more satisfying. I loved both of the boys in their different ways. I also thought it was interesting to see another side of the same world from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I had a completely different sense of the things that had happened from Gabry growing up somewhere else. It really enhanced the world and story overall.

This really was a good companion novel. Even though the main character didn't rock even my shoes off, the story and enhancement of the world made it a worthwhile read. It's a different take on zombies. Also, I'm excited for the next book, because with this ending there has to be one. Things were getting insanely interesting... anyway, this is a fun series to offer an alternative to the paranormal romance for those who want something slightly deviant.
Book from Library