Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Teen, Tween Reads

Last Minute Shopping? No worries, find a bookstore!

I saw a piece on the news today that said today – December 23rd – is the second biggest holiday shopping day of the year.

https://giphy.com/embed/3oEjI1erPMTMBFmNHi

via GIPHY

If you still have kids and teens on your shopping list, I humbly offer a few more suggestions to make the season bright.

Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, by Carrie Ann DiRisio and Broody McHottiepants/Illustrated by Linnea Gear,
(Oct. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781510726666

Recommended for readers 13-17

You know him. You may have loved him. He’s the EveryBroody – that dark, brooding bad boy main character that shows up in darned near every YA novel. He’s got a deep, dark history; he has trust issues; he may be an intergalactic prince, a scoundrel smuggler, or… dare I say? a sparkly vampire. Here, we get the scoop – straight from the Broody’s mouth – on what it’s like to be a Brooding YA Hero. It’s a writing guide with a wink and a nudge to YA tropes, with some straight talk – in the form of nemesis Mean Girl Blondi DeMeani – about smashing the patriarchy and recognizing the value of diverse characters. Give this to your fanfic writer, your feminists, and anyone who loved Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie. And if you’re not already following the @broodingYAhero account on Twitter, you are doing yourself a disservice.

 

Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature’s Nursery, by Stephanie Drimmer,
(Nov. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426329319

Recommended for ages 4-12 and beyond

It’s an entire book of baby animal pictures. The cutest, funniest, littlest baby animals. This is a win-win for everyone! Added to the pictures are the sweetest companion folktales, stories, and poems, to make this a great gift for new moms and moms-to-be, kids who love their baby animals, and middle-aged librarians who follow accounts like @emergencykittens and @fluffsociety on Twitter. Add a copy of NatGeo’s Animal Ark, for more beautiful photos and poetry by Newbery award winner Kwame Alexander.

 

A World of Cookies for Santa, by M.E. Furman/Illustrated by Susan Gal,
(Oct. 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt),$16.99, ISBN: 9780544226203

Recommended for readers 7-10

Take a tasty sleigh ride around the world and find out how children across the globe celebrate Christmas, from the different names Santa goes by (Papai Noel, Father Christmas, Christmas Baba, to name a few) to the tasty treats left out for Santa and his reindeer to enjoy on their journey. Try your hand at a multicultural Christmas with nine recipes for holiday cookies, included at the end! Pair with a copy of Clement Moore’s classic The Night Before Christmas and add a few cookies.

 

Top Elf, by Caleb Zane Huett, (Sept. 2017, Scholastic Press),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-05212-1

Recommended for readers 9-12

Santa’s ready to pass on the Big Red Suit. The call to competition goes out across the North Pole, and Ollie the Elf decides to go for it. Thing is, he’s up against Santa’s kids, a bullying elf named Buzz, Ramp, who swears he’s a kid, but looks and smells suspiciously grown-up, and even his best friend, Celia. How’s Ollie going to prove he’s the Top Elf for the job? This middle grade story is pure Christmas fun and adventure with a touch of Christmas magic. Stick this in a stocking for readers who love a good giggle, and add a couple of candy canes and some hot cocoa mix – maybe with a Minecraft or Lego mug. 

 

Ultimate Dinopedia, Second Edition, by “Dino” Don Lessem/Illustrated by Franco Tempesta,
(Oct. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $24.99, ISBN: 978-1426329050

Recommended for readers 8-13

It’s the ULTIMATE dinosaur encyclopedia! This updated edition is one of the most comprehensive dinosaur references going, with profiles on favorite dinos like the T-Rex and Velociratpr, to new finds like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. There are maps, comparison renderings to show kids how they stack up against different dinos, and descriptions of dino diets, geographic areas, and eras. There are over 600 dinosaurs in this volume, with profiles for 10 newly discovered dinos, and a comprehensive dino dictionary. Full-color illustrations from dinosaur artist Franco Tempesta come right off the page – look at that T-Rex on the cover! – and “Dino” Don Lessem – a world-renowned dinosaur presenter who also happened to be the dinosaur adviser for the first Jurassic Park movie – writes in a language that respects, but never speaks down, to readers. Kids love dinos. They’ll love this book. Tuck a tube of dino toys in the stocking and call it a holiday.

 

The Witch Boy, by Molly Ostertag, (Oct. 2017, Scholastic Graphix),
$12.99, ISBN: 978-1-338-08951-6

Recommended for readers 8-13

Aster is a 13-year-old, raised in a society of of supernatural beings. The girls are raised to be witches, the boys, to be shapeshifters. That’s the way it is, and anyone who falls outside those lines faces exile. Aster waits for his ability to shift to kick in, but is fascinated by magic, despite the disciplinary action and ridicule he faces. Aster befriends a non-magic neighbor named Charlotte, who goes by Charlie, who has her own frustrations with gender lines at her school; neither can figure out what the big deal is, saying, “You should just be allowed to do it!” Charlie discovers Aster’s magic abilities, and tries encouraging him to continue practicing magic; Aster will need that support when a mysterious force threatens his community; he may be the only one able to save them. A brilliant story about smashing gender expectations, The Witch Boy is a brilliant, compelling story about finding one’s place and speaks volumes to every kid out there who feels, at some point, like she or he doesn’t fit in. Molly Ostertag is the writer/artist on Shattered Warrior and the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist. The Witch Boy has starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and Fox Animation has feature film rights. Bundle this one up with Victoria Jamieson’s All’s Faire in Middle School.

 

Bet You Didn’t Know!, by National Geographic Kids, (Aug. 2017, National Geographic Kids),
$19.99, ISBN: 978-1426328374

Recommended for readers 8-13

Kids love fact books; when they’re accompanied by amazing photos and include facts like, “A storm on Neptune was a wide as THE ENTIRE EARTH”, “Chewing gum can make your heart beat faster”, or “The Bahamas once had an undersea post office”, this becomes GOLD. Pair this one with NatGeo’s Weird But True Christmas, and you’re set.

 

The World of the Bible: Biblical Stories and the Archaeology Behind Them, by Jill Rubalcaba,
(Nov. 2017, National Geographic Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1426328817

Recommended for readers 9-13

More than a book of Bible stories, The World of the Bible is a great reference for budding history buffs and archaeologists, going deeper into the text to study the time periods and geographic locations where these stories took place, to learn more about human history. Stories like Moses and the Ten Commandments and the Garden of Eden get a closer look, accompanied by classic paintings, photos, and illustrations of the lands where the events in the Bible took shape. Give to your budding young Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.

 

1,000 Facts About the White House, by Sarah Wassner Flynn, (Sept. 2017, National Geographic Kids),
$14.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-2873-2

Recommended for readers 8-13

Wild and crazy facts about the most famous house in America: The White House. Learn about White House ghosts, events like the Easter Egg Roll, and presidential pets. Check out photos of the interiors and exteriors of the White House and grounds, and view some of the history-making moments that took place there. Learn about the different people who live and work there, those who keep it safe, and those who built it. There are groups of fun lists, like 25 Rooms That Rock, and there are loads of cutouts and info bits throughout. It’s a fun reference on American History for history fans. Pair with a copy of Weird But True! US Presidents and you’re set.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Intermediate

5-Minute Stories for Minecrafters: Extreme Stories!

5-Minute Stories for Minecrafters: Extreme Stories from the Extreme Hills, by Greyson Mann/Illustrated by Grace Sandford, (Sept. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1-5107-2370-2

Recommended for readers 7-10

Buddies Zack, Sophia, and Anthony are Minecraft adventurers on the hunt for treasure. Over the course of eight short stories (or short chapters, since they do follow one adventure), the friends encounter zombies, spiders, exploding Creepers, and a dreaded Enderman! Written for a more intermediate audience, these are fun for a quick read-aloud during a circle time or for kids who are in the mood for something fast that doesn’t require a lot of commitment; something they can pick up during a homework or study break. Themes of working together and friendship frame the relationship between characters and influence choices they make while adventuring. Illustrations throughout the text keep kids in the story’s world, holding their interest.

Overall, a fun book to have available for Minecrafters. My library is loaded with them.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Middle grade paranormal thrills: Future Flash

Future Flash, by Kita Helmetag Murdock, (Jan. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $9.99, ISBN: 9781510710115

Recommended for readers 10-14

Laney has the ability to “future flash”: she often gets glimpses of the future when she makes physical contact with someone for the first time. She’s spent her life knowing Walt, who claims to be her dad, found her as an infant, in a car seat and wrapped in a blanket. She knows Walt isn’t telling her the whole truth when he talks about being her dad and about her mother, who died when she was a baby. She meets Lyle, a new kid in school, and flashes on him covered in blood and engulfed in flames. She tries to stay away from him, but unfortunately for both Laney and Lyle, the school bully has them both in his sights. As Laney tries to keep Lyle safe from both Axel, the bully, and from the future she saw in her flash, she will discover much more about the circumstances of her birth than she ever expected.

It’s not often you get a middle grade character with these kinds of circumstances – this tends to be more of a YA situation, so I happily tore through Future Flash. It’s a page-turner with a solid female character dealing with some way out-there circumstances. I have to wonder why Lyle kept coming back for more after their first meeting, but I did enjoy the development of their friendship. Things wrap up neatly enough that a sequel isn’t likely. Discussion questions are available at the end of the book.  Kita Murdock’s got a writing style that will keep you turning pages and in the action. Give this to your thriller and mystery middle graders, and your reluctant and struggling YA readers.

Posted in Science Fiction, Steampunk, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Time fractures can cripple cities in Timekeeper

timekeeperTimekeeper, by Tara Sim, (Nov. 2016, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781510706187

Recommended for ages 13+

My first entry in this year’s Diversity Reading Challenge is Tara Sim’s Timekeeper, a steampunk story taking place in an alternate Victorian London, where clock towers control time. A damaged clock affects the populace, and if a clock is badly damaged or loses a vital part of its machinery, the town “stops”: no one dies, but no one can leave; the citizens are stuck in a time loop. That’s what happened to 17 year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart’s father three years before, and Danny’s become a mechanic in the hopes that he can free his father one day. On an assignment to a clock in the London borough of Enfield, Danny meets Colton, who throws a figurative wrench in all of Danny’s plans. Colton is a clock spirit – the essence of time for the Colton Tower clock – and the two boys fall in love. Danny knows this can’t end well, but he risks everything to be with Colton, who will find a way to keep Danny coming back to Enfield.

Some of the people of London are against the clock towers. They want time freed, uncontrolled, and stage protests that get heated. Clock towers are attacked, and Danny is blamed. He has to find a way to clear his name, keep Colton safe, and keep his father’s town safe so he can bring him home alive.

Timekeeper is the first in a planned trilogy by debut author Tara Sim. The story is very detailed – budding clock aficionados, and readers interested in the science of time (horologists – thanks, Google!) will fall in love with the lyrical way Sim discusses the delicate parts of the clocks and the idea of a spirit manifestation of each clock tower. The romance between Danny and Colton is sweet and gentle, and Danny’s feelings for men is more or less accepted, with some minor snark from the novel’s bully.

Shadowhunters fans will love this one. Get your steampunk on and put this with your Gail Carriger books, your Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, and your old school Jules Verne and HG Wells collections.

Posted in Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

YA Suspense: Black Flowers, White Lies

black-flowersBlack Flowers, White Lies, by Yvonne Ventresca, (Oct. 2016, Sky Pony Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781510709881

Recommended for ages 13+

Sixteen year-old Ella’s dad died before she was born, but she’s always felt a connection to him. Now, her mom’s about to marry Stanley, a nice enough guy, in the process of reconnecting with his estranged son. Just after Blake – Ella’s soon to-be-stepbrother – shows up on the scene, things start getting weird for Ella. After her mom and Stanley marry, leaving Blake and Ella alone in the house together, things go really crazy. She wakes up to find bloody handprints on her wall; mossy handprints on her mirror – just like the one she left on her father’s grave. She and her best friend have a falling out, and Blake seems to be the only one who understands her… right? As Ella discovers little lies that her mother has told her over the years, she fears that she may have inherited her father’s mental illness. Is she having a breakdown, or is there something more going on here?

Black Flowers, White Lies is a good suspense novel that stumbles a bit with its characters, who are largely one-dimensional and hard to get on board with. Our heroine is s almost too neurotic to be sympathetic, and the  antagonist’s transparency comes through shortly after being introduced. Ella’s best friend is more of a classic frenemy, and her mother is seemingly too detached and self-absorbed through most of the book to notice what’s happening to her daughter. That said, the novel keeps you reading, wanting confirmation of everything you know is happening – and Ventresca ups the action in ways you may not see coming. I like the way the author paces her novels; I couldn’t put Pandemic down, and Black Flowers, White Lies keeps a similar pace, constantly building to its conclusion. books I liked the book and would booktalk this to mystery and suspense fans. A list of resources at the end guides interested readers to more information about topics touched on.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

dotwav – Are You Listening?

dotwavdotwav, by Mike A. Lancaster, (Sept. 2016, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781510704046

Recommended for ages 12+

Ani Lee is a 15 year-old hacker who’s been given a file to keep safe. It’s no ordinary file, and people are after it – after Ani.

Joe is a 17 year-old American living in London, working for a top secret arm of British intelligence. He’s got a chip in his head that helps him control his violent temper, and it gives him some pretty incredible abilities. He’s checking out a new music craze among nerds – X-Core – and a possible link between this underground music scene and the disappearance of an old school friend.

Joe and Ani meet as their investigations converge, and they realize that the .wav file is no ordinary sound file. There’s something in that file that’s causing some pretty crazy reactions, and it’s directly linked to the X-Core movement. Conspiracy theorists, put on your tin foil hats, because the plot goes all the way up and involves some very important people. People who will kill to get what they want.

I do miss a good cyberpunk novel, and dove into dotwav, looking forward to a good technothriller. And dotwav is a good read, it just didn’t knock my socks off like I hoped it would. Something in the execution just fell a little flat for me. There were quite a few instances of over-explanation and soapboxing that dialed my interest down, for starters. I didn’t feel like I was invested enough in the characters to root for or against them. I did like where they went with the .wav file’s origin, but the conspiracy faltered a little. The ending left the possibility of a sequel open.

Add this to your shelves if you have techno-thriller, cyberpunk readers. I’d display it with some Cory Doctorow books, particularly Little Brother; for readers bridging the middle grade-YA gap, I’d also put out a copy of Dragons vs Drones. I know I’m dating myself, but I’d talk up Mr. Robot and the James Bond movies – and all the cool gadgets! – to flesh out Ani and Joe’s backgrounds and make them a little more tangible to my readers.

Posted in Fantasy, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Beauty and the Beast, retold: Roses by Rose Mannering

rosesRoses, by Rose Mannering, (May 2016, Sky Pony), $6.99 via Kindle, ASIN: B01EEQ9D7Q

Recommended for ages 12+

The first in The Tales Trilogy, which will bring well-known fairy tales together in a war-torn fantasy world, Roses is the story of Beauty and the Beast. A nameless young girl arrives to live in the city of Sago, a ward of the wealthy Ma and Pa Dane. She is unusual, with silvery skin, white hair, and violet eyes; in a world where magical beings are feared and loathed, her appearance causes eyebrows to raise. At first, Ma Dane horribly mistreats the girl, even hiring a cruel nanny to beat her and verbally abuse her. As the girl grows older and Ma Dane is reminded of a promise she made long ago, her relationship to the girl becomes more of a showpiece, trotting her out so visitors can gawk at her. She’s given the name Beauty as a cruel joke. When Sago goes through an uprising where magical beings are hunted down, Beauty is sent with Ma Dane’s master of horse, Owaine, to flee into the hill lands for her own safety. Eventually, though, even the hills aren’t safe for Beauty, and she’s forced to run again: this time, to a castle and a Beast, who holds a terrible secret.

Rose Mannering builds an incredible fantasy world in Roses. I wasn’t sure where the book was going at first, to be honest; the Beauty and the Beast part of the story builds gradually, with the first half of the book giving us Beauty’s background. I would have loved more of Beauty and the Beast, because their relationship is masterfully shaped and formed. It looks like we’ll likely get more of these two in future Tales, as it looks like Beauty is going to be a key character in this trilogy.

There are themes of child abuse and bullying, secrets kept and mysterious amulets abound in this first volume. Fantasy and fairy tale fans will be thrilled with a new series to love, and YA romance fans will be drawn to it, because Beauty and the Beast is THE romance! (Beauty and the Beast fans: YES, there is a library, and YES, it is just as breathtaking as your imagination makes it.)

There are so many great YA fairy tale retellings to booktalk this with: your Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles, Sarah Cross’ Beau Rivage series, Colleen Oakes’ Queen of Hearts – these are just a few. You can start a book group with all of the fairy tales being rewritten these days; ask your readers to read the original tale and the revamp, and talk about the similarities, differences, additions to the worlds, even show the original movies. Our fairy tales have had new lives breathed into them as we hold onto them, which could be a whole topic of discussion, too. We have Disney Princesses as tattooed pin-ups and weapon-wielding warriors, and we’re imagining Disney Princes are real-life people. There’s a lot to talk about here!

Roses is a promising beginning to a new fantasy series. A good add to fantasy collections. The hardcover was published in 2013 and is now available in paperback. I read the Kindle edition for my review, which is also available. The second book in the Tales Trilogy, Feathers, was published in June.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Puberty, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

The Dorks are back! Pack of Dorks goes to Camp!

camp dorkPack of Dorks: Camp Dork, by Beth Vrabel (May 2016, Sky Pony Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781634501811

Recommended for ages 8-12

Lucy and her friends are back in the sequel to Pack of Dorks! The school year is done, and Lucy and her pack are headed to camp: Camp Paleo, where the group gets to live like cavemen for the next week. Because Sheldon thought it would be a cool idea. Sam backs out at the last minute to go to a gymnastics training camp, but Lucy’s grandma comes along for the summer, working as a lunch lady at the techy camp next door. Camp Paleo is decidedly not techy. The campers dig for fossils, learn archery, and have really, really cold, showers with bugs for company. Mr. Bosserman, the camp leader, is a grumpy old man, and Lucy feels her pack falling apart as the week progresses. Lucy’s got to look at some of her own choices and own up to things she’s said and done before she finds herself on the outs for good.

Camp Dork is a solid sequel to Pack of Dorks, which was brilliant in its depiction of a group of tweens coming together to embrace the things that made them unique. They owned their Dork label at school, but sometimes, you don’t want to be a label: you want to be a person, and you don’t want to be fettered by a word that supposedly describes all that you are. It’s something Lucy has to learn, and it’s something that readers are learning, right along with her. Camp Dork explores how people – especially tweens, but even adults – are perceived by different people, at different times, in different situations.

Camp Dork is a great summer read for tweens who are at the same point in their lives: discovering who they are, cultivating different interests and new friends, and maybe, fighting a little bit of change in their lives. If you loved Pack of Dorks, don’t miss Camp Dork. If you didn’t read Pack of Dorks, no worries – there’s enough exposition in Camp Dork to catch you up without you feeling lost.

I love the way Beth Vrabel writes. The dialogue just flows, and it’s at once loaded with inner frustration, wit and sarcasm, and honesty. I just saw on her website that another of her books that I really enjoyed, Blind Guide to Stinkville, has a sequel coming out this Fall, so I’ll be all over it.

There’s a really good librarian-created discussion guide to Pack of Dorks on Beth Vrabel’s website, which makes me feel like I need to start coming up with these things for all the books I read.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Play Ball! Welcome to the Show takes us to Boston!

welcome to the showWelcome to the Show (A Mickey Tussler novel, book 3), by Frank Nappi (Apr. 2016, Sky Pony Press), $9.99, ISBN: 9781634508292

Recommended for ages 13+

In the third book of Frank Nappi’s baseball series, it’s 1950 and Mickey Tussler, a pitching wunderkind with autism, Lester, his friend and fellow ballplayer, up from the Negro Leagues, and coach (and stepdad) Murph are playing for the big leagues now. They’re in Boston, playing for the Boston Braves, and Murph is managing the team, who’s not thrilled with the new leadership or their two newest players. At home, things are rough, too: Molly, Mickey’s mom, is not settling into life in Boston and feels increasingly isolated. She wants to go back to Milwaukee, but Murph, terrified that he’s about to lose everything he’s worked so hard for, begs her to give Boston a chance.

Mickey’s finding himself the darling of the crowds as they see what he can do, but the press is quick to pry and capitalize on his challenges, whether it be pushing too deeply into his personal life or misinterpreting his words. Mickey’s struggling with his memories and forming new relationships, with the game – and his newfound celebrity – presenting new challenges. It’s a game of balance, as Mickey, Murph, and Molly all have to figure out where they stand with regard to one another, the game, and everyone around them.

This is my first Mickey Tussler book, but I found myself able to quickly get myself up to speed, thanks to Frank Nappi’s excellent exposition; he lays out past events clearly enough that you have enough of an idea of what’s going on to dive right in. I’m normally not a sports fiction reader, but Nappi’s descriptions of the games, layered with inner monologue and wordless interplay between players on the field, kept me interested and wanting to see more. I’ve heard stories of pitchers and batters getting into it with one another on the field, with pitches buzzing ears (or more), and there’s plenty of that here. ‘Lots of axes to grind between teams makes for some good baseball, and we even get a bench-clearing brawl at one point. Beyond the baseball, we have a deep story about a family meeting challenges. All of the characters in Welcome to the Show are remarkably fleshed out: Mickey, Lester, Molly, and Murph have had two other novels to develop, but the supporting characters: Jolene and her brother, Mickey’s teammate, Ozmore, for instance, have interesting individual stories that make me want to know more. Mickey’s frustration and confusion radiates from the page, and does Murph’s feelings of frustration and helplessness give him greater depth.

I’d suggest this as more of a new adult book than a young teen book for some language and overall story; while Mickey is 17 in the first book of the series, by now, he’s a young man in his early 20s. Add this to collections where sports fiction is popular, and booktalk it to teens who loved Mike Lupica’s middle grade books and are ready to move up.

The first book in the series, A Mile in His Shoes, was made into a TV movie, starring Dean Cain, in 2011.   You can read an excerpt from Welcome to the Show here and watch the book trailer below:

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Beyond the Red: Intergalactic politics and species war with a dash of romance

beyond the redBeyond the Red, by Ava Jae (March 2016, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781634506441

Recommended for ages 16+

Kora is a reigning queen of an alien race that’s seen its share of violence: her parents were killed during a terrorist attack during her birthday; her people are locked in a race war with human settlers, known as red-bloods, that exist on her planet, and she’s been the target of assassination attempts. Her twin brother, Dima, holds a grudge against her – he and their deceased father felt Dima should have ascended the throne – not a woman – but birth order is destiny.

Eros is a half-blood soldier, raised by humans and yet, held at arm’s length because of his half-alien blood. His adopted parents and brother are killed during one of Kora’s army raids, and he’s taken prisoner, where Kora decides to make him her personal guard. She has some questions about his true identity, and decides he’d be a valuable asset to keep close to her.

Despite being wildly attracted to one another, they play it safe, knowing that Eros’ half-blood status could get him killed at any time, and would certainly be a death sentence for any children they’d have if they married. Kora accepts the proposal of a high-ranking diplomat, but an assassination attempt leaves her and Eros running for their lives. Now, they have to work together to save the human rebels and keep Eros’ secret on a much larger scale.

There’s a lot of storytelling and world-building in this debut from Ava Jae. The entire story provides the groundwork for a series, and the ending leaves no question about a sequel being in the picture. It just wasn’t my book, alas: it never hooked me. The story seemed to focus on a few points that were emphasized again and again: Eros’ physical attraction to Kora; Dima’s simmering rage toward Eros, his jealousy toward Kora; Kora’s vacillating on her attraction to Eros. We don’t know anything about the human encampment on this world, only that they seem to have been left there generations ago. I’m hoping more about the schism between the two races will emerge in future books, because that has potential for a huge story.

The novel is more young adult than teen for sensual content, violence, and mild language. Space opera fans and fantasy fans should give this one a look.