2013 YA and MG Time Travel Reading Challenge: March Wrap-up Post + Review Linky + Giveaway of SIGNED Untimed by Andy Gavin

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hi guys, today I've got Andy Gavin, the author of Untimed, for an interview about his novel: the story world, the characters and the writing. Stick around for a giveaway!

How does being a video game programmer/designer help you in writing novels? As a serial creator (having made over a dozen major video games) it was interesting how similar the process was to any other complex creative project. Video games and novel writing are both very iterative and detail oriented. They use a lot of the same mental muscles.

Charlie. From All Things Andy Gavin
What was it like to write a YA time travel story? Was it easy or difficult to write for a younger audience? I don’t really write to a demographic. I probably should, but it just isn’t me. The characters take on a life of their own and fantastic elements aside, demand a certain level of realism. Untimed might have been easier to sell to publishers if I had kept the basic plot but targeted it at Middle Schoolers. Instead, it’s a 13+ book and I tried to make Charlie’s voice authentically 15, which means it has a bit of an edge. Teen boys think about shit and sex. Sorry, but it’s true. I rub up on issues that make some squirm, even if I deal with the lightly: teen pregnancy, drinking, slavery, etc. But to sweep these under the carpet wouldn’t do justice to the 18th century – or our own.

In the time travel novels I've read, the story world is a mix of contemporary and historical. The two story worlds are more or less as realistic as they could get. Why did you decide to mix contemporary, historical and a bit of steampunk into the time travel equation? First of all, I’m a pantser, and so the story and characters largely determine where they go. Untimed began with this concept of a modern teenage narrator who was unstuck in time and went from there. Somehow, I always imagined Charlie in Philadelphia, and that led me quickly to Ben Franklin, who is a favorite of mine. In an alternate dimension there exists a simpler Untimed, woven between modern and 18th century Philly. No London. No France. No China. That book would have been more like a Hollywood story, all packaged up neat and clean, but neat and clean isn’t the Andy Gavin style. I often like to speculate on much individual people and events shape history, so it was natural to play with this idea of a future (or present?) gone wrong.

When you were writing Untimed, how did you draw the line between facts and fantasy? I didn’t want the book to be too tame and neat. Despite being a fantasist, I strive for human realism in my books. I like to deal with real issues when they come up, which I feel makes for better drama. Fundamentally, while the central two conceits of Untimed are fanciful (time travel and Tick-Tocks), I tried to keep everything else realistic (if sometimes comic). Teens do have sex. They do drink. The past was a dangerous place, justice was more an abstract concept than a practical reality. A pair of teenagers stranded without resources or any real clue as to what is going on would find it tough going. I wanted to show people that the past didn’t have to be boring, and that while situations and society changes, people stay the same. I also wanted to illustrate that while people in the past are just as human, things really have improved in many ways. By having Charlie, who as a contemporary kid is our representative, experience different times first hand, it’s easy to contrast them. 

From the blurb: "there’s the simple fact that boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future." So why does this time travel rule exist? First of all, I had to come up with a unique new system that allowed multiple visits to the same time period, but wasn’t too overpowered. If your characters are too powerful, there is no jeopardy. So I had to invent all the restrictions and deal with the issues of paradox (and I think I have a crafty new solution there). Then I had to figure out how to make returning to the SAME action actually interesting for the reader. That was even harder. I also wanted some kind of mechanic that created emotional intensity. I hit on the forward/backward thing early on and it really clicked with me. I liked the idea that due to the rules, and the rarity of travelers, Charlie and Yvaine were really stuck together. One wrong hop without the other and they might never see each other again!

Title: Untimed

Author: Andy Gavin
Date of Publication: December 17, 2012
Publisher: Mascherato

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.

As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.

Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.

When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it.

And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!

About Andy Gavin

Andy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath, novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. He co-founded video game developer Naughty Dog and co-created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He started numerous companies, has been lead programmer on video games that have sold more than forty million copies, and has written two novels. 

Follow Andy: Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website


Thanks to Andy and Mascherato, we have one signed copy of Untimed to give away! You guys know the drill. Fill out the form. :) 

Rules: Open internationally You should be at least 13 years old. Ends April 30, 2013.

Review Link-up

Accompanying Tweets to The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan: D

Here I am again with another installment! Sorry if it's late, I was so busy I didn't realize I haven't posted these. Enjoy!

dabble, v.: Like the ukulele you never learned to play or the spoon collection that only lasted two spoons, am I destined to dust?

daft, adj.: Is it foolish to love words for foolishness, to think you can make a bad decision feel lighter by calling it daft?

dagger, n.: The thought that you might not love me at all.

daily, adj.: The minimum frequency at which I question our relationship; also, the minimum frequency at which I find it worth it.

dalliance, n.: There is nothing sophisticated about having an affair, no matter how you may dress it up in drama.

dam, n.: This is what doubt feels like – you are a heavy object trying to hold back the weight of water, knowing it wins in the end.

damage, n.: Every time you break up, a piece of you falls away, never to return, even if your lover does.

damsel, n.: It’s gotten to the point that you can’t think of her without also thinking of distress.

dance, v.: To turn your body into music.

dandelion, n.: My wish when I blow things away is often for them to come back.

danger, n.: I want to peel back the warning labels and find you underneath.

dangle, v.: Let magpies have their foil and cats have their tinsel; for me, nothing shines more than promise, as you bounce it up and down.

dapper, adj.: A sophisticated handsomeness that suggests a pocket square and a cravat.

dapple, v.: Before you wake up, before a word is said, I look at you in the light from between the shades, and you shimmer.

Stacking the Shelves (20)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Okay, so I thought there will be no StS post for this week but then eeeeeeeeeep, awesome packages! I pretty much hyperventilated when I saw what was in this week's mail. <3

For Review

(ARC) Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones

I've been pining for Siege for the longest time and I can't wait to read Boy Nobody. Boy Nobody's blurb is so awesome I requested it right after I read the blurb. And now here it is! Dead Jealous too! Gah, endorphins. <3 These three books made me so happy!

For Review

I got Patalosh for the Time Travel Challenge and the Hachette books for review! Eeeekkk! Still can't contain my happiness!

Thank you to the very kind and wonderful Victoria of Hachette Children UK and to Z. Altug!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Feel free to share your haul!

{Blog Tour} Review: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Friday, March 29, 2013

Once again, thank you to Pinoy Book Tours and to Alexis of Tor Teen for this wonderful opportunity to review Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons, the much anticipated sequel to Article 5. The short version? I love every bit of Breaking Point to Pluto and back again. That much. Check thy eyebags for proof.

Breaking Point (Article 5, #2)
Title: Breaking Point (Article 5 #2)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Date of Publication: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you, Kristen, for writing such a wonderful novel. I'm warning you, this review just might sound like me spazzing all over the place. I might get incoherent or talk in exclamation marks but that's how this novel made me feel. I read it yesterday and had to restrain writing this review for fear that I might just do exactly this. I guess even a day won't be enough to calm me down. You've been warned.

So at the end of Article 5, there was an extract from Breaking Point's first chapter. I usually shy away from those previews because if you know me, I HATE WAITING. I'd rather wait for the whole book than be given one chapter to go crazy over. But alas, the Article 5 series was different. I read the excerpt and wanted more. Of course, I am lucky to have Breaking Point already but I left it at my house in the province. Yes, I left it because I know I'll get distracted by it if I bring it to the dorm. I had exams and papers and everything you can think of and I don't have the time to read Breaking Point until everything's over. The next week, I brought Breaking Point at my boarding house but hid it until all exams are over, all papers turned in. But tiredness got the better of me and so I was only able to read it the next day. And boy, I didn't stop even for bathroom breaks. (Okay, Dianne, stop now, that's too much information.)

Breaking Point picks up right after Article 5. Ember and Chase had a fake sense of calm in the end of Article 5. Of course, they're together now but they're still bogged down by everything said and unsaid. Breaking Point starts off with a little bit of introduction to the gameplayers and I was  frantic at that point. I don't want introductions, I want more action. I was being cranky then because I can't wait to know what happens next! And cranky me is the ugliest thing ever. Haha! Anyway, I was rewarded in a while as THE ACTION WAS NON-STOP. I though Article 5 was chock-full of action but boy was I wrong. Breaking Point is the bomb. My brain sometimes found it hard to keep pace with my eyes and my hands as I read the words and as I flip the pages.

Kristen brought the plot to where it's truly headed but that did not make anything predictable. While I thought some of the twists and turns in Article 5 were pretty much predictable, Breaking Point had me on the edge of my seat. It also had me pacing while reading. I think that's too much, Kristen, making me go through that. But I thank you nevertheless because the adrenaline that flowed in my system while reading this rivaled those times I went to height rides. So gripping, so fast-paced, I keep wanting more and Breaking Point keeps on giving more. My expectations were met and surpassed.

I know my review of Article 5 was painfully long because I had a lot to say. My review of Breaking Point will be much shorter as I just wanna scream at the top of my lungs how awesome it is and shove it to everyone for them to read. Yeap, my roomies will never hear the end of my praise for this series until they give it a go. Heh.

If movies and TV shows usually have a lackluster sequel or second season, books generally have better general outings. With this series, not just better but mindblowingly good. I won't spoil because the fun is in not knowing what's gonna happen. Just expect a thrilling ride of a read. You won't be disappointed. Kristen, you did it again! I can't wait for the third book!

About Kristen Simmons

Kristen Simmons has a master’s degree in social work and is an advocate for mental health. She loves Jazzercise, her husband, and her precious greyhound, Rudy. Also chocolate. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida.

Cover Reveal: Almost Night by Emily White

Title: Almost Night
Author: Emily White
Date of Publication: August 27, 2013

Fourteen-year-old Lilly Grey exists in two worlds at the same time. She just doesn't know it.

As the only albino in a million mile radius, Lilly is used to being different. Pink eyes and white hair aren't exactly the best camouflage in the harrowing jungles formally known as high school. And yeah, she's used to being an outcast and seeing the world in a slightly different way, but she never guessed how literally "different" applied to her.

Not until a clan of shape-shifting dragons tell her she's not just albino. She's a unicorn and the only mortal alive who can live on both Earth and its antithesis, Morcah. Now all those times she thought she saw a floating brown blotch in the sky or eyes peering out at her from the bark of trees make sense. She's been seeing Morcah, a land that exists in the exact same spot as Earth, just in a different phase.

But it's not all sunshine and rainbows for this unicorn. As the only one who can live in both phases, she's also the only one who can bring Morcah--and all its inhabitants--to Earth. And creatures who've been trapped on Earth since the Dark Ages are willing to do worse things than kill to make that happen.


The cover was designed by Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art with the font designed by Ashley of The Bookish Brunette.

About Emily White

Emily White lives in NY, wedged between two of the Great Lakes and a few feet of snow and ice. She's spent most of her life running away from the cold, and even spent a year in Iraq, but now contents herself with writing her characters into warm, exotic places in faraway galaxies. When not tapping away at her computer keys, she can be found reading, reading, and reading some more. And when she's not doing that, she's usually playing video games with her husband, peek-a-boo with her kids, or walking through her garden, wondering why the bugs insist on eating all her vegetables. 

Check out Emily White's books, Elemental (Spencer Hill Press, 2012), Fae (Spencer Hill Press, 2013), and To Love or Die in a Steamy-Reamy World (December 2012).

Spotlight + Guest Post: Earth-Sim by Jade Kerrion

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Title: Earth-Sim
Author: Jade Kerrion
Date of Publication: February 2, 2013

Jem Moran has a reputation to prove and a secret to protect. The prestigious world simulation program seems the answer to both her problems, but only if she can succeed in spite of her partner, Kir Davos, and the uncooperative human beings who populate her planet. From the Great Extinction to the Renaissance, from world wars to intergalactic treaties, Jem’s conflict with Kir will shape Earth’s history, and their opposing management styles will either save or doom our planet. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.

Guest Post

Facades and the Truth
by Jade Kerrion

Do you have facades? I do. I have a façade that stays pleasantly sociable at large gatherings even though I would rather be at home lounging in my comfy clothes. For some other people, the difference is even more pronounced. The “me” at work might be diametrically different from the “me” at play.

In Earth-Sim, in a world when image enhancers can be employed to remove freckles or straighten a broken nose, facades are more than just the personality you display to the world. It can also literally be the face you display to the world, and Jem Moran is a girl with two faces.

If you use a façade, can you still identify the truth? That’s the question that Jem has to contend with as she wavers between the two faces that she wears—one famous and the other unknown…one beautiful and the other not. The reason for her façade is legitimate, but the facades create complications for Jem (and lots of fun, too, but mostly just lots of complications). How do you know if love is love if the “you” isn’t real? Can the person who fell in love with one version of you eventually accept and love both versions? And what should you do when the façade you prefer isn’t the “real” you? 

In writing Earth-Sim, I wrestled with the idea of facades and their impact on the truth. I managed to stump myself on the very first question: what is the difference between a façade and a facet of your personality The determining factor, I think, is “Is it real?” A façade is ultimately false, and when destroyed, reveals the truth beneath. A facet, on the other hand, is just a different way of perceiving the same thing. Cut diamonds, for example, have facets. If worn for a long time, facades can become comfortable—just like your favorite pair of denim jeans. At that point, they may have integrated so fully into the person that they become a facet—just another way to perceive the same person.

How does this apply to my novel? Earth-Sim takes readers on a frequently whimsical and occasionally irreverent romp through Earth’s history as seen through the eyes of the two students and android assigned to manage our planet. In a way, Earth-Sim, too, has multiple facets.

On the one hand, Earth-Sim deals with serious life themes that include coming to terms with our true identify in spite of the facades we display to the world. The novel highlights the value of strong cross-gender platonic friendships, and wrestles with the difficulty of maintaining them. It emphasizes the fact that we all bring something of value to the table, and celebrates the diversity of approaches in dealing with problems.

On the other hand, Earth-Sim showcases Earth’s history in a seamless blend of popular culture, science, and religion. Fact and fiction fit together into a jigsaw puzzle that explains the extinction of the dinosaurs, the ten plagues of Egypt, and the Black Death. Did you want to know the truth about the Loch Ness Monster, the city of Atlantis, and that flying boy with the red cape? That’s in Earth-Sim as well.

For a moment, I was tempted to ask the real Earth-Sim to please step forward, and then I realized, it’s sometimes just better to sit back and enjoy all facets of a book—or a person—for what it, he, or she is. I hope you enjoy Earth-Sim.

About Jade Kerrion

Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Perfection Unleashed and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, have been described as “a breakout piece of science fiction” and drawn rave reviews for their originality and vision. Her novel, When the Silence Ends, is a Young Adult spinoff the Double Helix series. She is also the author of Earth-Sim, a whimsical and compelling view of Earth’s history through the eyes of the two students assigned to manage our planet.

Stacking the Shelves (19)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I reinstated my book-buying ban after I finally got a look at my TBR pile. I will not buy a book until I catch up on my TBR pile and on my reviews. I'm foreseeing no StS posts in the near future as I don't think my mailbox's gonna be busy (except for My Ex From Hell!!!!!!!!!). Anyhoo, so here's what I got this week!

For Review

Thank you so much to Claire of Fremantle Press for these lovelies!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Feel free to share your haul! :)

{Kick-Butt Characters Giveaway Hop} Spotlight: Robin in the Hood by Diane J. Reed

I was supposed to review this but then THESIS. Sigh, come back soon for my review but for now, I'm spotlighting Robin in the Hood by Diane J. Reed. Find out in the blurb why she's kick-ass.

Robin in the Hood
Title: Robin in the Hood
Author: Diane J. Reed
Date of Publication: October 14, 2012
Publisher: Bandits Ranch

“Is it any wonder I became a bank robber?” said Robin.
But she never dreamed she’d fall in love…

15-year-old Robin McArthur thinks she has it all figured out when it comes to bilking her wealthy dad for guilt money as a substitute for his genuine affection. Until one day he suffers a stroke, and she learns the brutal truth.

They’re broke.

And everyone from bankers to bookies has come to collect.

His only saving grace is what he reveals to Robin in between drools: He truly does love her, in spite of all his mistakes.

Panicked and desperate, Robin figures she has two choices. Either surrender to the pestering caseworker and live in a skanky foster home, or take a chance and sneak her dad out of the hospital to make a run for it. Little does she know that stealing a car and hitting the road means that before the day is through, she will rob her first bank.

Now an outlaw, Robin finds a backwoods trailer park to hide her dad from authorities. There, she encounters Creek, a local bad boy who also commits crimes to provide for their motley neighbors. Realizing she could use Creek’s help, Robin proposes an ingenious plan—they should team up to rob banks together. But when their partnership leads to a romance that turns Robin’s world upside down, she soon begins to discover that people are more precious than pocketbooks, and real love means opening your heart to the kinds of treasures money can’t buy…

Purchase from Amazon

Who's kick-butt now? A fifteen-year old robber? Oh yeah. So with this, here's what you can win!

(1) a paperback copy of Robin in the Hood

(2) CDs from the playlist I listened to while writing the novel that include music from Taylor Swift, Phillip Phillips, Lady Antebellum & Eminem
(3) a romantic red candle
(4) Enchanted Forest body lotion
(5) a pair of touch-key gloves
(6) the Kick Ass movie DVD (filled with kick-butt characters!)

A whopping WOAH! You can win all that and this giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! Go on peeps, join the giveaway and add another to your list of kickass heroes and heroines.

Thank you so much to the lovely and kind and all things nice Diane J. Reed for this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hop on to the other blogs!

{Blog Tour} Review + Giveaway: There Comes A Prophet

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thank you to Giselle of Xpresso Tours for hosting this giveaway and to David Litwack for the paperback review copy. You can also win an ebook of There Comes A Prophet right here so stay back and read on!

There Comes a Prophet
Title: There Comes A Prophet
Author: David Litwack
Date of Publication: July 9, 2012
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing
Genre: dystopian YA

Who among us will cast aside a comfortable existence and risk death to follow a dream?

A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.

Nathaniel has grown up longing for more but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.

If he reveals the truth, the words of the book of light might come to pass:

“If there comes among you a prophet saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Admittedly, when I saw that There Comes A Prophet is a dystopian young adult novel, I immediately signed up for the tour. I love dystopia so much, it's not healthy. Haha! I know it was wrong not to read the blurb but with regards to dystopia, I'm much of a genre-reader. I will read anything dystopia. So imagine my surprise when I got the book and checked out the back. I didn't know it was a fantasy-dystopia novel, with religious undertones too. I'm not too keen on fantasy and quests and I'm certainly not religious. Uh-oh, I mentally kicked myself in the shins. But I signed up for the tour and so, I trudged There Comes A Prophet with trepidation.

The start did not grabbed me immediately and so, I grew nervous page after page. But then things got really exciting and I was glad I did not put it down. There Comes A Prophet is a short novel and after the initial lull that might have been just my sleepiness talking, I just read page after page and not long after, I was done with it. The quest was fast-paced and it successfully made me invested in everything. The characters were really engaging and endearing and matured during the course of the novel. Moreover, the dystopic society David Litwack built in this novel was nothing short of amazing. It's a different kind of dystopia, yes, like I said, it has fantastical elements. Plus, the religious undertones I was so worried off? Didn't mind it. It was actually cool how he incorporated that without sounding preachy. Additionally, Litwack's writing style was easily understandable (usually my problem with fantasy) and totally apt for the tone of the novel.

All in all, a nice and surprising read. I recommend this to fans of dystopia, especially to those who love fantasy as well. Genre mash-up is so cool.

About David Litwack

The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned. There Comes a Prophet is his first  novel in this new stage of life.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.


Follow the Tour

{Blog Tour} Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Thursday, March 21, 2013

As part of the Article 5 tour hosted by Pinoy Book Tours, I am posting my review of Article 5 today. Thank you so much to Precious of Pinoy Book Tours for the chance to participate in this kickass tour and to Alexis of Tor Teen for providing us bloggers our own review copies. So without further ado, let's kick it off!

Article 5 (Article 5, #1)
Title: Article 5 (Article 5 #1)
Author: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date of Publication: February 11, 2013 (Paperback)

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I think it's no secret that I love dystopia. I gobble it up like a squirrel with its acorn. And so, I was so eager to join the Article 5 tour hosted by Pinoy Book Tours. Precious at Fragments of Life has raved about Article 5 to me for the longest time. However, I also read mixed reviews and so I read this with trepidation. I was afraid that I won't like it but fear not! Kristen Simmons did not disappoint me and I continue to be a worshipper of dystopia. Yeap, I enjoyed Article 5 so much.

Unlike many dystopian novels, Article 5 isn't too far from reality. The setting here can actually happen, possibly anytime, but of course I'm not hoping for it. So it wasn't hard to get accustomed to the setting because it's Martial Law. The war just ended. No police, just soldiers. Laws being passed and vetoed without consultation and representation. All types of media not run by the government closed. Murders and executions. It's a horrifying time to live in. In the midst of all this chaos, Ember Miller is barely subsisting along with her mom. However, one day, the only boy she has loved, comes into her home and arrests her mother for violating Article 5, or having a child or children out of wedlock. Chase Jennings was drafted into the Federal Bureau of Reformation as a soldier. He left Ember Miller and has now come back, changed - empty, vacant. Ember's mom gets arrested while Ember is sent to reformatory school. Ember loves no one except her mom - and maybe Chase but she hates him now - and she's going to do anything to save her and reunite with her. That's how Article 5 starts and for me, it was a great start.

Kristen gives us a feel of the world this novel is set without having too many descriptions, which was a feat. She need not describe much because the violence and helplessness can already be felt, can already be seen. However, there were also times that there was much telling than showing but that was forgivable for me as I only noticed it at certain times. This novel is chock full of action in every page. High stakes? Definitely. The adrenaline this novel gave me was bountiful. There were tons of running, fighting, strategy, guns and weapons. I read this novel until 4AM and just stopped because I need to be up by 7AM. This is on a school day. Yes, I completely forgone sleep just for this novel. I just couldn't put it down. I love action movies and it also reflects in my books because action in books is certainly a major plus for me.

So on pacing, I'd say it was gripping. However, the twists and reveals were kind of expected and were not that surprising. This novel banks on its action and if you're not a fan of action, you might not be into this book. The romance was not steamy too, without heavy or detailed make-out sessions and whatnot. I was actually thankful for that because Ember and Chase had a lot of obstacles and misunderstandings to go through and solve before they reach that point. Pre-army, they weren't touchy and I would have hated if if they jumped on each other immediately. There were a lot of feelings to be resolved and with them not too much into talking, it took a while. But it was definitely worth it. I hate how in movies, people still find time to kiss when they're in danger. Come on people, RUN! So it was believable here. I wouldn't describe their romance as cute or anything but complicated.

I do admit though, I got frustrated at these two characters at times. Of course we know what's happening and what really happened but they don't know it yet. And with them not into explaining themselves, I just wanna shake them and tell them to start talking, get over everything that happened in the past, don't be hard on each other and just freakin' help one another. But of course, their actions were perfectly in line with their personality and so, it was understandable and I let that feeling go. I just read on, page after page, new set of eyebags after another.

Ember was seventeen and Chase nineteen but due to the war and all the hardships they've gone through, they sound really mature for their age. Still, I pictured them as teens in my mind. However, I couldn't get a feel for the soldiers' age that much. I don't know if they were of the same age as Ember and Chase or quite older. It might have been mentioned but in my mind, they all appeared young. I am happy to report that Ember definitely grew as a character within the span of the novel. Ember herself admitted that she has changed. I don't think Chase grew within the novel (which can make him border as a stock character) and he also has a messiah complex with Ember. Ember is a very empathetic girl and she's the type who wants to help everyone. However, Chase, since joining the army, became stone-like. The only one he cares about is Ember and he would do anything for her. He has lost a lot in his short life and he treats Ember as home. Now, I know this is fiction but I just fear that without Ember, Chase would just be a shell of a person. I wouldn't want that to happen. I do hope this bit changes within the series. I want him to be his own person, even though he pretty much defines himself with regards to Ember.

Overall, I recommend this to action buffs like me and to dystopia fans. Fast-paced with high-stakes action, Article 5 is the book you'll be reading all throughout the night.

About Kristen Simmons

Kristen Simmons has a master’s degree in social work and is an advocate for mental health. She loves Jazzercise, her husband, and her precious greyhound, Rudy. Also chocolate. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida.

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Cover Reveal: Made of Stars by Kelley York

Monday, March 18, 2013

Title: Made of Stars
Author: Kelley York
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Date of Publication: October 2013

When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they’ve never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance's quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.

Then Chance's mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent...they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?

Pre-order from Amazon | B&N

About Kelley York

Once upon a time, Kelley York was born in central California. And it's there she she still resides with her lovely wife, step-daughter, and an abundance of cats, while fantasizing about moving to England or Ireland. She has a fascination with bells and animals, is a lover of video games, Doctor Who, manga and anime, and likes to pretend she’s a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or at least write about them.

Kelley is a sucker for dark fiction. She loves writing twisted characters, tragic happenings, and bittersweet endings that leave you wondering and crying. Character development takes center stage in her books because the bounds of a person's character and the workings of their mind are limitless.

Her first book, HUSHED, was released by Entangled Publishing in December 2011. Her second and third books, HOLLOWED and SUICIDE WATCH, were released in 2012, and her next Entangled book, MADE OF STARS, is slated for October 1st, 2013. She is currently seeking representation.

Stacking the Shelves (18)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

So this has got to be my biggest haul, I think. I tweeted about it but I don't think I've shared it in my blog. At the end of February, I kinda gave up on the whole semi-book-buying ban I imposed on myself. I purchased 9 books and a pre-order for Every Day by David Levithan for around $59 on The Book Depository. What a deal, right? I mostly bought books on sale that sound good or are in my to-read and to-buy list for some time. I finally have my own copy of The Lover's Dictionary! (Wee! So they all arrived yesterday and I was so happy when my sister called and told me all the titles that came! So piccies!


I also finally own Attachments! Been meaning to read it ever since I got addicted to books again but couldn't find a copy. So yey!

For Review

Fair Coin and Quantum Coin finally arrived! Both are for the Time Travel Challenge and are so shiny and tempting. Earth-Sim was sent by  the lovely Jade Kerrion for review. Watch out for her upcoming guest post this March and my review soon!

For Review/Touring/Sharing/Giving Away

And finally, six review proof copies of Life in Outer Space! I was seriously shocked when this package arrived. Jennifer said she would send a few copies but I totally did not expect 6! She just told me to share it to my blogger friends. Still not entirely sure what to do with all of these but I'm thinking of giving some away and touring the others? Who's up for a tour? And yes, these are proofs so no pretty colored cover but you can always purchase. I assure you, Life in Outer Space is great. I got home Friday with my packages waiting for me and I started and finished reading it this Saturday. Yeap, that good.

So infinite thanks to Meghan of Prometheus Books, E.C. Myers, Jade Kerrion and Jennifer of Hardie Grant Egmont for all of the review copies! And of course my parents for the books I purchased. Seriously, the happiness this haul brought me.

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hope you had a nice haul too and feel free to share them!
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