New Release: THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS by Emily Barr

9780399547010THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS by Emily Barr / YA / Released May 2017 by Penguin Random House

It’s not a lie if you can’t remember the truth.

“Mesmerizing, electric, and achingly lovely, The One Memory of Flora Banks is unforgettable. One of the best YA novels I’ve read in a very long time.”
–Jennifer Niven, 
New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So, when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world—in Svalbard, Norway—Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

But will following Drake be the key to unlocking Flora’s memory? Or will the journey reveal that nothing is quite as it seems?

Already a bestselling debut in the UK, this unforgettable novel is Mementomeets We Were Liars and will have you racing through the pages to unravel the truth.

New Release: FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh

9780399171635FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh / YA / Released May 2017 by Penguin Random House

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

New Release: ONCE AND FOR ALL by Sarah Dessen

9780425290330ONCE AND FOR ALL by Sarah Dessen / YA / Released June 6, 2017 by Penguin Random House

From Sarah Dessen, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of SAINT ANYTHING and JUST LISTEN, comes a new novel set in the world of wedding planning!

Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really  wants.  Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.
Sarah Dessen’s many fans will adore this latest novel, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story with humor, romance, and an ending that is so much more than happily-ever-after.

Review: LAST LIGHT FALLING by J.E. Plemons

41UGn5Ah-uL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_LAST LIGHT FALLING BOOK 1 THE COVENANT by J.E. Plemons

Dog Ear Publishing, March 2014 ~ 3 Stars

If your fate has already been chosen for you, would you change it?

Fifteen-year-old Arena Power blindly accepts her destiny in a world filled with tragedy, chaos, and a lingering wickedness that will tempt every man’s soul until the last days on Earth. Set in the United States in the year 2053, America, like most of the world, has undergone catastrophic earthquakes, famine, and an economic collapse, which has rendered the nation hopeless. It has turned to other nations, like Russia and China, to help restore what was once a world power. Unfortunately, the new America has grossly caused civil unrest that will eventually be the precursor to a much bigger war of biblical proportions.

Orphaned at the age of nine, Arena and her twin brother, Gabe, have learned to rely on each other through the toughest times. Not only do they share the same birthday and the tragic loss of their parents, they both have a birthmark on the back of their necks in the shape of a crucifix. This is only but a small sign of the destiny that will follow. On their fifteenth birthday, they receive a mystery letter and key from their estranged Uncle Finnegan. This key will unlock their fate, and it will be up to a priest, who has vowed to protect them since birth, to unfold the layers of their destiny-to undo the evil that has spoiled the world, and to help unleash God’s wrath upon those who have turned from Him in the last days of history.

LAST LIGHT FALLING weaves righteousness with evil, treachery with truth, and shows just how far the will of man can survive on faith alone. Arena and Gabriel’s fate will determine that course of history for which has already been written. They were not born to save the world; they were chosen to prepare it for the final days.

51Q0vrx30eL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_LAST LIGHT FALLING BOOK 2 INTO THE DARKNESS by J.E. Plemons

Dog Ear Publishing, May 2015 ~ 3 Stars

Arena has left the nation’s administration with a dead president and a weakened military, and while the tragic memories continue to scar her, the government struggles to regroup without its leader. For the people who still remain in hiding, it’s evident the country is all but lost, and with Russian operatives taking over, the nation’s hope of recovering is grim. After months in hiding, Arena and her brother, Gabriel, fight to survive the aftermath while they trudge through unkindly terrain across the country to rejoin their friends, but what they soon discover may staunch their journey. The government’s failed attempt to rebirth a broken nation has caused civil unrest like no other. After reuniting with their friends, Arena’s decision to stay changes when she discovers the secrets of a refugee camp behind a clandestine group of rebels, known as the Southern Resistance. With an opportunity to escape to a permanent safe haven, Arena risks her life to lead the new fellowship. But the darkest days are upon them, and with a new war brewing, Arena’s path will take a dark turn as her survival is in jeopardy. Into The Darkness captures the cruel truth behind our darkest secrets which may often cause us to question our faith. In this graphic second installment of the LAST LIGHT FALLING series, J.E. Plemons continues the grim story of Arena Power’s fate, testing her faith while she and her brother search for an answer to their survival in a brooding world filled with chaos.

Review: The LAST LIGHT FALLING series introduces the reader to fifteen-year-old twins, Arena and Gabriel Power destined to lead the fight not to save the world and its inhabitants, but to prepare it for the apocalyptic end of days as foretold in the Old Testament. A master of all weapons, Arena accepts her role a little too easily while her brother has more difficulty accepting their supposed destiny. This makes him more likeable as a character and a person at the beginning of the story. He’s willing to do what needs to be done to change his world, but unlike his sister doesn’t see most people as expendable. Virginia Roth in the Divergent series showed how making just one choice changes lives not only that of the heroine’s when she opted for a new faction rather than remaining with the one where she was born. However, Arena Power isn’t a Tris Prior and obviously doesn’t share the other girl’s ability to empathize with those around her.

Meanwhile Arena does get along fairly well with him and their foster parents, but looks for trouble when she’s at school. Her behavior and motivations remain inconsistent much of the time. She isn’t sure what she wants other than to kill pretty much everyone who annoys her and the list of these folks continues to grow as time passes. Of course, then there are the days when she actually finds someone she likes such as Jacob, a shy teen from school. Their initial, mutual attraction escalates far too quickly into a lifelong passion. The same thing happens with Gabriel and his first girlfriend, Juliana. These two couples may meet nearly as soon as school starts, but this kind of romance generally needs time to flourish. In addition to the rapid fire romance and Arena beating up bullies, little of an educational nature occurs at school. It isn’t clear if this is a symptom of the disintegration of their society or just the way of life in 2053.

Arena barely connects to most of the other students or any of the teachers which is probably good since they are all destined to die horribly and she doesn’t seem to particularly care. Neither will most readers. Only a few of these characters have names and the majority of these people are mere place-holders. The urban setting of a town that is supposedly ‘poor’ also lacks credibility. In The Hunger Games, readers love Peeta because he burns the bread, then throws the damaged loaves to Katniss who in turn uses them to feed her little sister. Here, the foster parents manage to not only provide nourishing meals for Arena and her brother, they also have enough food to feed guests despite the severe economic downturns. Everyone subsists on credits provided by the government, but it isn’t clear if their foster parents are paid to care for Arena and Gabriel or somehow manage on their own.

Arena displays yet another flaw in the way she holds other girls in contempt. Again, there is little to choose from between these stereotypical teens and their interests, i.e. clothes, make-up, boys. It is a bit of a stretch because if everyone truly struggles with everyday survival and their town continues to crumble to pieces, how can anyone afford to buy anything new, much less flaunt it? The soldiers who maintain order and represent the totalitarian government are a different set of placeholders. As a brutal mob, they rape women and children, pillage through the town, slaughtering the men and teens. Their horrendous abuses become more difficult to believe when the story continues, especially when this fictional American military would rather torture and kill their own citizens before defending their country from the attacking Russians.

Often dystopian fiction portrays a battle between good and evil. In the Last Light Falling series, it becomes a case of evil versus evil. There is little to choose from between Arena and her allies as the civilized world slowly dies. The measured pacing of each book emphasizes the hopelessness of the situation. Mr. Plemons definitely knows the Biblical story of Armageddon, but Arena’s constant harangues of how terrible America has become will exhaust many readers and her lectures often slow the action, although since this has numerous, gruesome scenes of rape, torture and slaughter, that’s not all bad. In addition her lack of compassion and inability to show mercy as well as the constant episodes of violence and gore may prove difficult to overcome.

Reviews provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the Jan 2016 edition of The Book Breeze.

Review: THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

This si Where it EndsTHIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

By Marieke Nijkamp

YA / Released Jan 5, 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire, 288 Pages

I don’t think there are many things more terrifying than a school shooting. THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS immerses the reader into the minute-by-minute terror from the viewpoint of four students over the span of 54 minutes. What added to the terror was the fact that it was all over before the police could even mobilize.

I didn’t walk away with any insights as to how a kid could shoot other kids. Only that sometimes things happen that causes a fracture in someone that isn’t seen until it’s too late.

Superbly told, this tale will haunt you. I couldn’t put it down even though there were times I just wanted it to stop. I have often referred to a book as a “must read” but THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS is more of a read if you dare.

New Releases

51H3OL5vfwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_THE SALT BOX by Eleanor Stem Young Adult SF/Fantasy

A pristine planet is about to undergo a terrible change. Hepitia, the Star Goddess, watches a spaceship careen out of control through her galaxy. Embroiled in an old quarrel with her goddess sisters, Hepitia allows the ship to crash land on a green and silver planet, knowing it will unleash chaos where Arianhod and Ulyia rule. Augustus carries the last of his species in the spacecraft. They crash on a forested hill the natives consider a god-place. Before long Augustus finds the planet is unlike anything he’s ever experienced. Megaliths stand silent in the forest. Strange beings flit in and out of their vision. There are strange water-filled portals to the goddesses’ Otherworld. When a young man of the planet and a daughter of Augustus’ people disappear, the two species come together to search for their lost ones. When they locate Ruulf and Isabeaux, what will they find? Who will live and who will die?

51PRIPolzpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_THE RETURN OF TACHLANAD by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Young Adult Fantasy Once upon a time in the beleaguered land of Lothria… A princess under a magical aura, her absent-minded sorcerer grandfather; a conflicted warrior prince; a young ne’er-do-well who finds an unlikely friend while on an impossible quest; an imprisoned queen, her betrayed king, their enchanted son and his beautiful enchantress; half-human man-eating rebel slaves; a band of blood-thirsty assassins…and Tachlanad, the legendary Sword of Names, missing for generations…

When the queen receives an omen, it can mean only one thing: the fate of all she loves hangs in the balance. The land and its people will topple into chaos if a tenuous alliance cannot be preserved. Her husband misled by sinister forces, her son gone missing, she sends her daughter and father on a journey far to the west to reach the impregnable stronghold of “the True King in Hiding.” There they will seal the truce with her marriage to the old king’s unwilling son and unite against the evil power that seeks to subjugate them. Unless the Imperon has his way.

An epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers, The Return of Tachlanad is the first book in the “Sword of Names” series.

New Releases

IA BossIA B.O.S.S. by John Darryl Winston YA Dystopian Released Nov 27, 15 The most important thing in the world to thirteen-year-old orphan “Naz” Andersen is keeping his little sister safe from the mean streets of the Exclave. But after losing his best friend to gang violence, he begins to discover that the voices in his head, his nightmares, and sleepwalking are actually telekinesis and telepathy: a gift from his father of whom he has no memory. But when tragedy strikes again, Naz uses his newfound abilities to bring his friends’ murderers to justice

GoldRushWedding_EBOOKGOLD RUSH WEDDING By Suzanne Lilly Historical Sweet Romance Released Nov 29, 2013 by Pitner Publishing in ebook Lucinda Martin York and George Arnold Jr. have been through floods, fires, and freezing cold together in their pursuit of gold in California. Lucinda dreams of becoming one of the first women doctors. George dreams of building a mining empire. They are deeply in love and their friends and family are in Sacramento ready to celebrate their marriage. Only one thing can tear them apart. This 5 star reviewed short story in the California Argonauts series of gold rush novels is available for free.