Tag Archives: young adult

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

{Book Review – The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber}

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

For fans of Ender’s Game and Blade Runner comes a story of video gaming, blood, and power.

Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel—Earth’s charming young playboy—the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

From the award-winning author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, step into a diverse cast of characters spanning from the electric metropolises of earth to the chilling alien planet above, in a story of re-finding yourself in the midst of losing the one thing you love. Before it all evaporates.

My thoughts:

I was excited to finally read a Mary Weber book. (The Storm Siren series is on my to-read list! I hear the world-building is great in those books.)

This young adult novel is set in a dystopian and intriguing future world after World War IV. Told in alternating third person points of view between Sofi and Miguel, I found Sofi’s character arc to be the strongest and most developed. There’s much to like about Miguel, but I found I wanted a little more of how his past affects him and what his true motivations are much earlier in the book.

The premise is absolutely intriguing and includes a fight against human trafficking. However, I found myself a little too confused about the details of the world and how it works (particularly the FanFights, as well as the government structure) until about the fifth chapter. But, if you can stick it through that confusion, there’s enough to follow and pickup subsequent details in later chapters. I also found too many side characters (particularly within the Corp higher ups and governmental officials) were thrown at us in the first ten chapters or so, making me having to pause reading and flip back to figure who was who again. The characters in the second half of the book are much more streamlined and easier to follow.

The plot keeps the reader’s attention in this book, along with themes of misplacing and gaining trust, governmental challenges, ethical issues, and family bonds. A YA book club would find much to discuss from the book.

The discussion questions in the back are framed well and allow readers to dive deeper into the themes within the book. In fact, some of the discussion questions (like about Miguel’s internal character arc) gave me a better understanding of some of the themes and characters than I found within the novel itself.

For fans, there will be a sequel, coming in March 2018! Check out the info about Reclaiming Shilo Snow, which is already available for preorders, too. I’m intrigued enough (and the cliffhanger!) to want to check out the sequel next year.

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2018)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

Book Review – The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

I love when fiction tells such a relatable, powerful story that the reader has to consider their own lives, their own judgments/thoughts, and how to change the world around them because of actions told within a story.

When I find myself talking about a book to others around me while and after I read it, I know it’s impacting me in positive and challenging ways. The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds (Thomas Nelson/Blink, 2015) was one I found easy to want to talk about.

The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

From the publisher:

Atticus Hobart couldn’t feel worse. Not only does he have the world’s most overactive imagination, he’s in love with a girl he can’t talk to, is the class bully’s personal punching bag, and to top it all off, his dad just left the family. Into this drama steps Mr. Looney, an older than dirt and crazier than insanity itself seventy-seven-year-old substitute English teacher with a very unconventional approach to teaching. But Atticus soon discovers there’s more to Mr. Looney’s methods than he’d first thought. And as Atticus begins to unlock the meaning behind his own name, he finds that his imagination can help him forge his own voice, and maybe-just maybe-show him that the power to face his problems was inside him all along.

My thoughts:

If I could give comparable tiles for this book, I’d actually liken it to something like the school-focused movie Stand and Deliver in many ways and even a little like Dead Poets Society in regards to the teacher (not necessarily so in plot, so don’t worry). The teacher, Mr. Looney, is an inspiring, interesting, unique character full of intrigue and wisdom (but wisdom shared in relatable and readable ways). The main character, Atticus, also offers much for readers to relate to — he’s not popular, he has struggles at home, he feels he’s unable to please his father and finds it hard to connect with possible friends.

The plot keeps the reader turning with action, questions, thoughtful observations and more. The author paces the information revealed and action very well, with high intensity scenes following by “quieter” scenes to allow the reader to recover and consider. While this isn’t a perfect book (I wondered why no one would see or hear one instance of bullying in the school … noise carried very easily in the halls of my high school; the ending felt a bit rushed though wrapped up satisfactorily without everything ending “perfectly”), it’s one that could spark important and needed conversations for ages 13ish and up. (Because of some tough themes, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend under 13, and definitely pre-read first for that age or younger.) The author weaves themes of bullying, acceptance, unconditional love, true community, the negative impact of seeking power, truth, true courage, and redemption in various ways.

Teachers (and parents) reading this book along with their students/kids can ask questions to gather what their readers feel about these realistic situations (with both school relationships and family relationships). The book also incorporates a bit of literature (namely, To Kill a Mockingbird, but also a bit more) and information about reading and writing/revising that could spur an educational unit along with the book.

“Courage is the ability to keep going no matter how hard life feels.” – p. 160

What is one of your (or your family’s) favorite books that cause to reflect and actually inspire change your own thoughts/actions?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund (Zondervan, 2015)

New Christian YA Books with Historical Focus {plus giveaway!}

I’m a firm believer that adults can learn from and appreciate middle grade and young adult novels as well as the intended audience. Good middle grade and young adult focus on growth, observation of the world around, reflection on one’s place and how to affect that world, and the heart. They’re powerful genres.

Experienced Christian fiction novelist Jody Hedlund is branching into the young adult (YA) world with her newest release, An Uncertain Choice (Zondervan, 2015), set in 14th century.

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund (Zondervan, 2015)

 

I particularly love how Jody obviously researches every time period she writes about, so I’m going to highlight a few historical facts she incorporates into the story throughout this post.

Only on her parents’ deathbed does Lady Rosemarie find out about an ancient vow her parents promised in order to receive special blessing from the monks to have a baby. She must enter the convent at age eighteen and live a life of celibacy and service.

When her father’s most trusted friend enters her kingdom just one month before Rosemarie’s 18th birthday, he brings news of a second option within that ancient vow – if Rosemarie falls in true love and marries before her 18th birthday, she is excused from the convent vow. With this news, he brings three of the bravest knights and challenges her to give them each a chance and see if she falls in love. As the month progresses, foul play and conflict escalate, and Rosemarie battles with which choice she should pursue: marriage and possible betrayal of a faithful vow or true love with a husband to serve God jointly.

From the first chapter, Jody incorporates specific historical setting details, like “fresh rushes strewn across stone floor.”

Did you know? “Fresh rushes” were long green stems covering the floor and usually sprinkled with herbs to aid cleanliness and insulation in wealthy person’s castle. The stems may have been loose or some may have been woven into mats. Rushes may have been left for up to three months, which would have made truly “fresh” rushes to be particularly pleasing. (Sources: here and here)

In classic Jody Hedlund-style, numerous conflicts are present throughout the entire novel, keeping the reader turning pages to find out what happens. Jody successfully offers three varied personalities between the three knights, and allows the reader to learn about all three and watch Rosemarie’s growth.

Did you know? Marriages in medieval times were often arranged, though some were chosen by one of the spouses. Several components of wedding ceremonies practiced in medieval times are still common in traditional Christian marriages today, like the exchange of rings and the woman standing on the left, the man on the right. (Source)

Jody keeps the reader guessing for a while on the identity of the main enemy, as well as what Rosemarie’s final choice will be.

Did You Know? Monks practice tonsure – or shaving their heads – likely for a variety of reasons, including to show their renouncement of modern fashions and concerns, to emulate possible practices of Christ’s disciples, and to affirm their commitment to the monastery. (Source)

Jody includes conversation on marriage, choosing your own path, reflecting on God’s purpose for you, and living truthfully. Teens and young adults will enjoy reading this book for the topics, character emotion, and history.

“Marriage doesn’t put an end to one’s ability to serve God and bring him glory. In fact, I’ve seen many married couples who have done more for God together than was possible as individuals.” – p. 98, An Uncertain Choice

Jody also prefaces An Uncertain Choice with a novella titled The Vow. I definitely suggest reading this brief story first to get acquainted with Lady Rosemarie’s world, meet her parents, and understand the background of the circumstance she finds herself in when An Uncertain Choice opens. Even in a short novella, Jody knows how to ramp up the internal and external conflict!

"For it is often the hardest tasks that build the most character." - from An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

Be sure to visit Jody’s Events page for more giveaway opportunities and unique content on the Noble Knights Blog Tour.

Noble Knights Blog Tour for An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

Now, a giveaway! Jody is graciously offering one signed copy of An Uncertain Choice to one of you! (US residents only, sorry!) Enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms of giveaway: This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end at the end of the day (Eastern) April 2, 2015. All entrants must be 18 years old or older. Enter through the Rafflecopter widget above. Incomplete entries will be deleted. Once a winner is selected, I will contact them via email. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, I will select another winner.

What medieval story do you know most about? What fascinates you about this period in history?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a part of Jody Hedlund’s launch team. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is an honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.