the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘YA

It was just last week that I interviewed Jon McGoran, author of the new YA novel Spliced.  What lovely timing to be hosting a guest review of Spliced today!  My very good friend Kristin Centorcelli, enjoyed the hell out of Spliced. And I’ll bet her name sounds familiar to a lot of you . . .

** Edited to add – Jon McGoran is also over at John Scalzi’s Whatever blog today, talking about the Big Idea behind Sliced.  The interview, this review, the Big Idea at Whatever? Trifecta of Sliced goodness! **

Kristin Centorcelli ran My Bookish Ways, wrote and edited for SF Signal, and now reviews for Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and Criminal Element. She also hoards books and expects that, at some point, the hoard will collapse, and her body will be found under mountains of them. She’s ok with this.

 

Spliced, by Jon McGoran

available on Sept 29th, 2017

Guest reviewed by Kristin Centorcelli

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Full disclosure: I haven’t read a book by Jon McGoran that I didn’t like, and when I heard he was delving into YA territory, I was intrigued, and excited! My excitement was warranted, because he brings all of the environmentally conscious elements of his writing to the table, throws in some very cool science, and gives us a hell of a heroine in the process. Spliced takes place in and around Philadelphia, in what I’m guessing is the fairly near future: there are mail drones (and police drones) buzzing around, people live clustered together in cities, with the outer neighborhoods, dubbed “zurbs,” having crumbled under environmental onslaught. Think buckled sidewalks, swimming pools as hazards, and lots of greenery, except where coal wells have poisoned the land with their output. People do live in the zurbs, and some even thrive, growing their own food and using solar power, but for the most part, it’s considered a wild place, dangerous even.

 

But!

What you want to know about is splicing and chimeras, right? Splicing involves injecting non-human DNA into humans, creating strange/scary/beautiful results, aka chimeras. Our 16-year-old heroine, Jimi, wants nothing to do with splicing, but her best friend (and maybe more?) Del, shows her a new tat he got of an iguana, which comes as a surprise to Jimi, but she puts it aside as harmless rebellion, until Del goes missing after a confrontation with the police, who are generally not very tolerant of chimeras, and Del was hanging out with a group of them at the time. Jimi’s interference gets her in some trouble, and it also gets her sent to stay with her Aunt Trudy out in the zurbs. It sucks, but all Jimi can think about is finding Del. She’s worried that he’s gotten spliced, and her worries aren’t unfounded. In fact, the worst has happened, and Jimi must find a way to help Del before it’s too late.

 

In seeking to help Del, Jimi gets a helping hand by a chimera named Rex, and is introduced to his diverse group of friends. They’ve been squatting in the zurbs, and lead a hand to mouth existence. They already suffer from somewhat of an outsider status, but it’s made worse when legislation called the Genetic Heritage Act is signed into law, effectively declaring chimeras non-humans. It’s a disgusting piece of work, and it’s igniting violence all over the city, targeting the very people that Jimi has begun to call her friends.

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Coming this summer from Apex Books is MARS GIRLS, a YA adventure set on everyone’s favorite red planet.  Written by award winning author Mary Turzillo, Mars Girls follows the frantic and frenetic adventures of Nanoannie and Kapera.  Both girls understand the dangers of living on Mars, but still, life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls!    Click here to preview the first chapter of the book.

What others are saying about Mars Girls:

“Mary Turzillo has crafted an extraordinary tale of teenaged adventure on a harsh planet. Heroines Nanoannie and Kapera use bravery and ingenuity to survive on a vividly imagined future Mars.”
—Brenda Cooper, author of Edge of Dark

“Mars Girls delivers real-feeling characters in a fast-moving, exciting space adventure.”
—Kij Johnson, author of The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

“Great fun! A rollicking adventure across a uniquely imagined Martian landscape.”
—S Andrew Swann, author of Dragon Princess

 

And what would a blog tour be without a giveaway? Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to get entered in the give away for a free e-book of Mars Girls.   Mary Turzillo and Nanoannie and Kapera have been blog touring all over the blogosphere, head on over to these other posts to read reviews, interviews, and more!

 

Blue Book Balloon reviewed Mars Girls

Interview and give away at Dab of Darkness

The Journey to Mars Girls guest post at The Grimdark Files

Review at Rapture in Books

Review at Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

Interview and give away at Books, Bones, and Buffy

10 Bad Habits reviewed Mars Girls

Unlikely Friends Driven Together by Disaster, a guest post and giveaway at Ardent Attachments

Would You Go To Mars? Guest post at I Smell Sheep

Religions on Mars, according to Mary Turzillo Guest post at Skiffy and Fanty Show

Women Write About Comics interviews Mary Turzillo, the original Mars Girl

Why I Wrote Mars Girls guest post at Frank Errington’s Blog

Frank Errington reviewed Mars Girls

Wow, that’s quite a trip around the blogosphere!

The tour ends here, at Little Red Reviewer, with an interview with Mary Turzillo.  This may be the end of the blog tour, but it’s just the beginning of Nanoannie and Kapera’s adventures out in the wild.  If this book looks like something you or someone you know would enjoy, head over to Apex Books or Amazon to order yourself a copy.

About Mary Turzillo:

Mary Turzillo’s 1999 Nebula-winner,”Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award. She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots. SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award. She’s working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN’S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex. She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

 

Let’s get to the interview!

 

Andrea Johnson: Who was your favorite character to develop and write in Mars Girls?

Mary Turzillo: It’s hard to choose. Nanoannie is a more complicated character than she at first seems, since her desires and enthusiasms are so conflicted. She wants adventure, but now that it’s happening, she’s rather it had more designer suit-liners and fantasy boyfriends, and fewer slightly burned hands, slimy kidnappers, and unwanted real-life lovers. She seems all surface, but despite her silliness, she has backbone.

But I’m also rather fond of Cayce. He’s such a player. In fact, I like him so much that I gave him a cousin by the same name in an upcoming novel, except the cousin is younger and a rather nice guy.

AJ:  Without giving any spoilers, can you tell us which scene was the most fun to write? Which scene was the most difficult to write?

MT: It’s hard to talk about scenes very farther into the novel with out giving out spoilers, but here goes. Out of context I’m not giving too much away.

I enjoyed writing everything in the novel. If I didn’t enjoy a particular scene, it meant I’d just have to ditch it, because if I didn’t like it, how could I expect the reader to enjoy it? But my favorite was, curiously, Kapera doing her EVA. I researched space-walks thoroughly, and I even have a mug from Kennedy Space Center of the cooling radiators on the International Space Station. I wanted to show her courage and ingenuity and the fact that she persisted.

The hardest passage to write was Marcus’s account of what really happened at Smythe Pharm, because the plot had gotten pretty complicated by that time. I also had to get inside Marcus’s mind. I’m writing about him in another novel, a prequel to this one, and he’s an interesting, tortured soul with a strange background. He’s been a criminal and also a devoted family man. This is all background, but it had to be subtext.

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Burning Midnight McIntoshBurning Midnight, by Will McIntosh

published February 2016

Where I got it: Received ARC (thanks!)
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What if, for a very small fee, you could be better at math? Or could fall asleep easier at night? Or could digest anything? Or had better eyesight? Or could hold your breath a little bit longer? Or any one of a hundred other things that could make your life just the smallest bit easier? Wouldn’t that just be the best?
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Thanks to mysterious marble sized orbs that fell from the sky, everyone’s life is a little easier. All you have to do to reap their benefits is find a matching pair and burn them. Burn the slate gray ones for a beautiful singing voice, forest green for enhanced senses, copper to become ambidextrous, chocolate for enhanced strength, and so on. The rarer colors are of course, more expensive, but anyone can afford a common color, or even find the common ones in their own backyards and randomly all over the city. Orbs can only be used once, but the skills they impart last a lifetime.
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Teenager David Sullivan, who goes by Sully, had his fifteen minutes of fame when he found a Cherry Red, one of the rarest and most valuable orbs. Young and naive, he was talked into selling it to a famous collector. And then a team of lawyers cheated Sully out of the money. Well, the collector, Alex Holliday, says it was done fair and square. It’s not Holliday’s fault Sully didn’t read the contract through.  It’s an event that’s come to define Sully’s life.
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Is there such a thing as a free lunch? Some people feel the orbs are evil, that they are harmful. Some people refuse burn them, yet still buying and selling them to make a living. Sully and his working class friends often burn only the commonest, cheapest orbs. As it is, the little bit of money Sully makes at the flea market barely makes up for the family’s lost income when his mother loses her job. Sully feels protective of his Mom, he’s all she’s got.

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But what are the orbs, really? Should we be burning them, willy nilly, with no thought of what it could do to us, long term? Holliday continues to brag about all the colors he’s burned, making speeches and putting his prized orbs on display in his department stores. He reminds me a little of Zachary Quinto’s character in the first season of Heroes, “collecting” every talent he can. Ugggh, I want to punch Holliday in the face.

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pen palPen Pal, by Francesca Forrest

published Feb 2014

where I got it: Received review copy from the author

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From the cover art, my husband thought this novel might be a romance. Personally, I had no idea what to expect. But I was hooked about 5 pages in. It was as if at the same moment, Em threw a fishing line into the ocean, and Kaya lowered a line into the lava lake, and they both caught me and reeled me in. Good thing this book has quality binding, otherwise my copy wouldn’t be in such good shape by now because I pretty much carried it around everywhere.

 

I very recently read Long Hidden, which features marginalized characters and stories. Everything in Long Hidden was historical fiction, stories and situations that should never be relegated to the margins, but still, are history. I didn’t plan to read the books concurrently, but while reading Pen Pal I watched marginalization in action, happening right in front of my eyes.  And it was shockingly sobering.  Due to adult content, Long Hidden probably isn’t appropriate for the under fifteen crowd. But Pen Pal is perfect for the YA crowd, and for any reader looking for stories from the margins.  And if you’re just looking for a damn good book with two empowering women, Pen Pal is that too.

 

On a lark, young Em puts a message in a bottle, and throws it into the ocean.

“If you find it, please write back to me at this address. Tell me what the world is like where you are”,

says the end of the note. From her home in a floating community in the Gulf of Mexico, the bottle finds it’s way to a tiny island nation near Malaysia and into the hands of Kaya, a political prisoner whose prison hangs over a volcano.

 

Written in an epistolary fashion, Pen Pal is the intersection of Em’s and Kaya’s life, and it is fantastic story. What could a twelve year old girl from a  floating community have in common with a suspected insurrectionist? More than you might think.

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00012]

As part of the Book of Apex Vol 4 blog tour, I feel very lucky to be able to interview Alethea Kontis.  An award winning author, she describes herself as among other things, a princess and a force of nature.  Alethea was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and give me more information on her short story “Blood From Stone”,  her current projects, adventures on YouTube, and how she stays sane.

Let’s get to the interview!

alethea kontis 1

LRR:  Your story, “Blood from Stone,” is a dark fantasy about a woman who seduces the man she loves and they succeed with their alchemical magic. What inspired this story?

A.K: “Blood from Stone” is based on the Grimm Brothers’ “Fitcher’s Bird” (some are more familiar with Perrault’s “Bluebeard”). “Fitcher’s Bird” is the tale of Fitcher’s last three wives, all sisters, the last of whom ultimately reveals his true nature (because she heeds the warning of a noisy bird) and leads the townspeople to murder him at his wedding. But what about Fitcher’s first wife? What kind of woman twisted this man into such a serial killer? Had he always been a sociopath? And if so, what sort of woman would have fallen in love with him in the first place?

Few have tried their hand at telling this part of Fitcher’s tale, and I am honored to be one of them. To prepare for this story, I researched the real-life historical figure that Perrault’s Bluebeard was based on: Gilles de Rais. Gilles de Rais was a baron who fought beside Joan of Arc, but he went on to squander his fortune until his family was forced to place him under something similar to house arrest.

His get-rich-quick schemes then turned to summoning demons, with the help of an Italian magician called Prelati, dark magicks that involved the sacrifice of countless children, whose bodies they subsequently burned in the fireplace (which is why no exact number is known). Once an author hears a history like that, how does she not write it?

I encourage readers who enjoyed “Blood from Stone” to explore further into the real life of Gilles de Rais.

LRR:  I found “Blood from Stone” to be dark and very adult. But you also write a lot of children’s and YA fiction. Is writing for different ages a different mindset? What’s the trick to being able to write kid’s stuff one day, and very adult fiction the next day?

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You know how sometimes I write reviews that look like a cross between a Jackson Pollock painting and a Monet painting? This is one of those. Impression, reaction, response, something that sticks with you.   tldr? scroll to the bottom for the meaty bits.

TheNeverendingStory1997EditionThe Neverending Story, by Michael Ende. translated by Ralph Manheim

published in 1979

where I got it: borrowed from a friend

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Are you of an age with me? Did you watch The Neverending Story  all through the 80s? That beloved movie formed a large portion of my childhood, and made a mark on me deeper and more permanent than any tattoo ink. I was always looking for the door marked “attic” at my elementary school.  I had a crush on Atreyu long before I had a crush on Han Solo.

neverending movie

And who couldn’t like a story like this?  Bastian is being chased by bullies on his way to school and takes refuge in a bookshop and ends up stealing an intriguing book. He sneaks back to school, hides in the attic, and reads all day and into the night. And what an adventure to be found in this book! The magical realm of Fantastica is dying, and only a certain warrior chosen by the Childlike Empress can save the world.  She chooses a young boy, Atreyu, who is around the same age as Bastian. Atreyu’s quest? To find a human child, and bring that human child to the Childlike Empress to give her a new name, for without a new name she will die, and all of Fantastica will die around her. But how is Atreyu to find this human child, when Fantasica has no boundaries? But Atreyu must succeed, otherwise The Nothing will destroy all of Fantastica.

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the spirit thiefThe Spirit Thief, by Rachel Aaron

published in 2010

where I got it: the library

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The entire internet has been afire about Rachel Aaron’s Eli Monpress series for a while now, and it’s no secret I’ve a major weakness for thieves in fantasy environments, so how could I resist a story about the greatest thief ever?  The first volume wasn’t exactly what I expected, but surprises are always a good thing, right?

The infamous thief (and wizard!) Eli Monpress is certainly the focus of the story, but we learn about the world through Spiritualist Miranda Lyonette. She’s been sent to the Kingdom of Mellinor to keep Eli from stealing an important artifact.  Lucky for us, she’s rather unsuccessful in her mission, otherwise this would be a very short and rather un-fun book.

Upon her arrival at Mellinor, Miranda finds that Eli has completely ignored the artifact and has instead kidnapped King Henrith and is holding him for ransom.  Out of the woodwork steps the King’s brother, Prince Renaud, who claims the throne for himself and convinces everyone that Miranda is secretly working for Eli and against the kingdom.  As Miranda unravels what’s going on, she’ll have to choose which is more important: following the rules, or doing the right thing.

Miranda is a court-trained Spiritualist, which means she’s made binding agreements with the spirits she works with. She offers them physical protection and a portion of her own energy, and in turn she can use their magic upon request. It’s a very formal agreement, and she’d never think of using a spirit against its will, or hurting it in any way.  Wizards who go against their training, who take advantage of the strength of spirits, are known as enslavers, and should be destroyed at all costs.

Eli’s relationship with spirits is completely different. He doesn’t offer protective contracts with them, but he doesn’t force them to do anything either.  He just talks to them, almost as if they were just other people he was having a conversation with. He’s certainly not a spiritualist, nor is he an enslaver. The Spirit Court isn’t sure what to make of him.  And that’s just one reason why there’s a huge bounty on his head.  Eli Monpress, the man who steals everything that’s not nailed down, and when he wants something that’s nailed down, he convinces the nails to give him a hand.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.